Posts Tagged spiritual
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.
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.
In the Sophian Gnostic tradition the Transference of Consciousness is an essential practice. It is a practice to shift of our center of consciousness from the physical body to a spiritual body, a body of light. Although in our tradition and indeed in the Tibetan traditions it is most often a practice given for conscious dying, it is also a practice for conscious living, representing an esoteric or mystical understanding of resurrection and ascension. To experience a shift of our center of consciousness into a body of light, whether astral, spiritual or supernal light, is to experience a very different view of name and form, and personal history, a very different vision of this body and this life – one that is transcendental. Even a glimpse of this greater reality of our being on an energetic level can be empowering and transforming.
Although this practice may appear to be a very lofty practice, I believe that the essence of this practice is also, and have always been essential in the evolution of consciousness in humanity. If we feel ourselves attached to name, form and history, it is very difficult to change our consciousness because we will feel ourselves trapped in our present form. Although we would like to change our consciousness we would time and again find ourselves up against the wall of what we think our limitations are.
Although we are quite capable of thinking alternatively, we have no way into it, because we have had no experience of it. What we actually learn and see is contained within our social and environmental parameters. What we do is also determined by what we can do and need to do in order to survive, given the environmental, technological and social context. What we do determines a particular sort of relationship with our environment. We participate in our environment, in a particular way, to achieve particular objectives. The outcome is a human being that has a particular way of relating to their environment and pays attention to particular phenomenon in the world depending upon social and physical context.
In our minds the form of something both gives it its power and restricts its power. In our minds, the form of something defines the potency or strength and innate nature of something. “An elephant is big and strong, it therefore does big and strong things.” A way of thinking about this link between form and potency is identity; some people or things do certain things and others different things.
Now, ironically that which I have written in the last two paragraphs is actually exact quotes used by anthropologists to explain primitive modes of thinking. All I changed in the texts was to replace “them” with “we” and took out “so and so postulated”. I did this to show how little we have actually changed in mode of thinking from the so-called primitive way of thinking. The reason for this is exactly the reasons outlined in the above texts.
This sort of thinking, involving the body as our insertion point into life, underlies the
phenomenological studies of Husserl, and later Merleau Ponty, that contributed to contemporary
considerations of embodiment and cognition. In 1967 Horton suggested: ‘In evolving a theoretical scheme, the human mind seems constrained to draw inspiration from analogy between the puzzling observations to be explained and certain already familiar phenomena.” We therefore look towards the familiar to explain the unfamiliar and because we do this we are actually stuck in a loop of consciousness. What really differentiate us from past cultures are our skills, also explained in Anthropological context as; development, in hand with practice and training in a particular environment, generates the skills apparent in different cultures.(Ref)
“Mode of thought is more resilient than mode of production,” according to Philip Duke in “The Foraging Mode of Thought” where he introduced the notions “that certain phenomena have different rhythms of change and that these rhythms have different effects on society and the individuals in it.” In other words although we now live in a society where we are no longer foraging hunter gatherers, we still think in that way. Today our hunting grounds are malls and the world of business.
New thinking have always originated in the visionaries among us. In tribal societies these visionaries were the Shamans and medicine men. In the West the visionaries are philosophers, mystics and artists. What they all have in common is that they are able to transfer their consciousness into a body of consciousness that is beyond the bound body of consciousness of the times in which they lived, which is exactly what the practice of Transference of Consciousness is.
Most Anthropologists agrees with an idea of Lévy-Bruhl that what really distinguished our present day thinking from so-called primitive cultures was, that primitive people lived in a world that had no distinction between the natural and the supernatural. “In this world that ties people into relationships with phenomena, it is possible to exchange abilities or powers.” It is in the sense of taking on an ability that Lévy-Bruhl recognized that Bhororo people of Brazil can actually become parrots. Similarly, Khoesan can become lions and that this was, not a metaphor but a reality in their minds. (This will also be an accurate description of what is achieved in the Transference of Consciousness.)
This concept was called by Lévy-Bruhl, “Participation mystique”, or mystical participation, and refers to the instinctive human tie to symbolic fantasy emanations. This symbolic life precedes or accompanies all mental and intellectual differentiation. (Ref) Jung used the term throughout his writings and the concept is closely tied to that of projection, although the Jungian “projection” is an unconscious projection rather than a conscious projection as is done in transference of consciousness or the techniques used by Shamans to transfer their persona into other planes of being or to access the spirit realm to transfer power. We may well ask why we unconsciously project our feelings; could it not be that we instinctive are already aware of the potential of transference of consciousness?
At the outset, of practicing the transference of consciousness, gathering our consciousness as light within our heart, envisioning the image of a holy and enlightened being in a body of light, and projecting our consciousness as light into that light-presence, and merging ourselves with them, is nothing more than a flight of fantasy – an imaginative exercise. However, over time, with continued practice, it can become more than fantasy. We may actually experience a shift of our center of consciousness into a body of light, whether astral, spiritual or supernal light, and in this experience we will discover a very different view of name and form, and personal history, a very different vision of this body and this life – one that is transcendental. – Tau Malachi
Dying and death are very similar to going to sleep and dreamless sleep – according to the Zohar sleep and dream are 1/60th the power of death, and is the same basic process in consciousness, although the vital connection between the body and soul are not severed in sleep as in death. Therefore, this very same practice of the transference of consciousness can be used as we are going to sleep, as a practice of “dream union,” or an invocation of luminous and lucid dreams.
This in itself reflects what was called “primitive thinking” – “making no distinction between the natural and the supernatural.” Life is a Dream” therefore we can transfer our consciousness into “bodies” that is beyond what we are at present.
The place of this transference of consciousness is at the top of the head, the top of the skull, hence the “Place of the Crossing on Mount Golgotha,” the skull.
This same center is also called the center or star of the Divine I Am, which becomes an interesting contemplation when the nature of this center as a point of transition is known and understood.
Although the practice of the transference of consciousness may seem like a very lofty and advanced practice, and on some level it is, nevertheless it is a practice any of us can take up and benefit from, even if nothing more than used as a visualization of what we can become. It is especially useful during times of crisis where we have to cross boundaries of transitions.
Transference of Consciousness is the way through which we can transcend the event horizon of our current physical limitation, which transcends thinking only from what we know to what we consider beyond the horizon of our imagination. In a sense it is exactly dying consciously in order to live consciously. For in order to move beyond our current limitations in consciousness we need to die to our former way of thinking through the process of resurrection and ascension. In order to make a radical leap in consciousness we need to go beyond the present event horizon of our mode of thinking.
The Keeper of the Key 1
The Keeper of the Key II
Keeper of the Key III
Keeper of the Key IV
The Keeper of the Key V
Prelude to Keeper of the Key VI
The Keeper of the Key VI
The Keeper of the Keys VII
The Keeper of the Keys VIII
The Keeper of the Keys IX
The Keeper of the Keys X
It was as if I was surrounded by the light of the full moon in a crystal-clear sky and I felt completely calm, all feelings of failure, anger and fear seem to dissolve into the clear light. Incredible warmth filled my being and the light changed into that of brilliant sun light. I felt all desire dissolve into the brilliance of the light and I drifted in sheer bliss, and then it was dark and I felt no more.
I became aware of the warmth of the sun on my skin and a minty herbaceous scent drifted into my consciousness. The scent stirred hazy memories and feelings inside me but they were too indistinct to take any form. I was lying on what felt like straw, or perhaps dry grass, but I felt strangely reluctant to open my eyes. I took a deep breath and inhaled the scent of earth. Still I did not want to open my eyes and tentatively reached out to feel what surrounded me. I could feel the dry hard powderyness of unturned soil the rough coolness of stones and as I reached out further, I could feel the smooth slenderness of dry grass. I knew that I was somewhere in a wild veldt. With conscious effort I opened my eyes. The brightness of the light dazzled my eyes and I closed them again. I felt surprised that I could see and I slowly opened my eyes again. At first all I could see was bright light and the slowly vague shapes started to take form and for brief moments I could see what appeared to be small sparks jump from the surrounding vegetation.
I waited until my eyes became accustomed to light before I ventured to stand up. I found myself standing in a field of tall dry winter grass that stretched beyond the horizon with a few clumps of umbrella shaped thorny trees scattered amongst the swaying grass. I had no idea where I was, neither did I know who or what I was or what I should do. I part of me wanted to sink back down to the earth and another part of me felt a desire stirring. The longer I stood in the warm sunlight, the more distinct the desire grew. I must go somewhere; I must be somewhere.
But in which direction shall I go? I turned to look at all the directions and they all appeared much the same to me with nothing in particular beckoning me. I closed my eyes again and could feel a soft breeze tugging on my hair caressing my skin with its breath. I could near buzzing insects and birds twittering in the distant trees and the air smelled sweet to me. I could feel the warmth of the sun on my back becoming warmer and warmer the longer I stood there without moving and suddenly I clearly knew which direction to go. I will follow the path of the sun.
As I was about to take my first step, I felt a warning stab of fear. I could feel the presence of a snake and in the long grass I will not be able to see a snake on my path and there was a great likelihood that I will step on it. I was barefoot and had no protection with me but I also could not just remain where I was. Suddenly, a man with white robes and with a long white beard and hair appeared in front of me. “Fear not the snake, for he is as much part of nature as you are, become one with nature and he will not harm you. Close you eyes and receive the spirit of the snake into your being.”
I closed my eyes and breathed in what felt like warm air which tingled all the way down into my lungs. “The snake knows you, it will not harm you; it will slide away. You must not be afraid if the lightning strikes in front of you. You must just go through and say, ‘I am your child, one of you’. ”
I felt a warm breeze on my skin, and in its caress I felt my fear drain away. I could walk fearlessly through the grass, experiencing freedom in the touch of the grass, the warmth of the sun, and the breath of the wind. On my way through the grass I saw a black snake slithered away to find a comfortable spot on a sun-warmed rock.
To be continued …
Let me be like grass that had been eaten to the ground, but always grows again.
Let me be like a fountain that had been trodden into mudiness, but always becomes clear again.
Let me be like the morning red that always triumph over the darkness of the night…
Success and excellence are the shinning baubles dangled in front us as the ultimate of life’s experience. Even in most spiritual writing these days most is focused on excellence and success. “Ten steps to Success”, “Ten Steps to Lasting Happiness”, “How to get all you Desire” and so forth. If you look at the amount of literature available on those subjects and how many sales they have generated, then the world should currently be experiencing a boom time and the world should be filled with happy people. Yet, what we see in the world is just the opposite. How many people are experiencing an economic boom and how many people are happy? What is wrong with the picture that we see in relation to the theories? The empirical evidence seems to belie the theory.
The problem with most of these theories is that they depict only a partial truth. They show only a small fragment of the whole picture. Life is change; that which is without change, without growth is dead. To be alive means that we have to experience seasons of growth and seasons where everything seems to stagnate and even retrograde. We are also part of the whole and therefore part of the spirit of the times. No matter who or what we are, we will find ourselves influenced by a greater or lesser degree by the season that humanity find themselves in. No one is exempted from this, unless of course we have completely transcended our corporeal form. Furthermore if we are part of the whole we cannot be truly successful if a part of us is not successful, nor be truly happy if a part of us is not happy.
Contrary to what is often said success and excellence can only be measured in relation to something else. In other words, success is seen as relative to failure and excellence is relative to mediocrity. Even if you do not measure your moments of success or excellence against the excellence or successes of others, it still has to be compared against what you see as success or failure. Thus we are not practicing non-attachment. We will either be striving to achieve relative success or excellence and thus be attached to avoiding failure and be attached to striving for success. If we are attached to something we set ourselves up for disillusionment and no matter how successful we may appear in the eyes of the world, we will still experience failure in our own eyes. Success or excellence can only be experienced in a moment. Yesterday’s success is tomorrow’s failure, and yesterday’s excellence is tomorrow’s mediocrity.
I find it interesting that in tracing back the word failure it seems to root from the latin word “fallere”, which means to deceive. To be deceived is to given cause to believe what is not true and thus involves the belief of a misrepresentation of the truth. This is indeed what we perceive when we think we are a failure or when we belief that we are failing because we can only see the partial truth.
In the current spirit of our times failure and mediocrity is seen as the modern day leprosy. In the Western world we have little or no preparation, or guidance for the process of transformation. We enter our transitions from one phase of life to another with no real preparation. As a result we only learn through the school of hard knocks. Even in this we are told to avoid mistakes and failure at all costs. We are applauded for our successes, and punished for our mistakes.
Nicholas Molina, reflects about the irony of success in his article “The Failure of Success”
… Eighteen years of a lack of failure teaches Harvard students to avoid it at all costs; we become extremely risk-averse. Ironically, classes might teach about the risk-reward relationship, but students who are too afraid to fail can only understand the former part of that relationship after experiencing it … Even those golden children who sail through Harvard as they’ve sailed through high school fail, in a sense. They’ve failed to experience failure, and their education is impoverished as a result. I’ve learned, sometimes painfully, to accept that it’s not possible to achieve everything and that only when we risk failure, are great gains possible … In the end, I realized that the criteria I’d been using to judge my education at Harvard were all off the mark. Even if the lessons that will be most valuable in the next chapter of my life have been those I’ve learned outside the classroom, my time at Harvard has been well spent. My only regret is that I didn’t learn the importance of taking risks earlier. That’s probably the most important lesson of all.
We are not shown that our mistakes and failures can show us new opportunities, new undiscovered potentials, and we hide our failures in the recesses of our past. With the result, young people look at those who have succeeded and see only the success, and do not know what it took to get there. The pain of growth is seen in itself as a failure, a lack of strength, unworthiness. If a dark night comes upon anyone, we feel that either we are punished, or are just a failure, or that life is just cruel and unfair. We have no understanding of the process of growth. We do not know, or we have forgotten, that chaos is the very source of creation.
How we perceive success and failure is a dualistic view. In the holistic view of success itself, the view of failure plays an integral part. In our limited view, we do not see ourselves as part of a unified field and we do not see life as a constant process of creative evolution. Evolution is composed of two movements; progress and regress. Seen over a long period of time it is a wave-like motion which is like an incoming tide, every progress moving further forward and every regress receding less far backward. Actually each regress is making the foundation for the next progress. If we look at the each regression in the process of evolution in this light, we find that each regression is a secret operation of the next progression working itself out. In other words, each regression shows us which aspects within ourselves still need to be worked on. The same applies to success and failure, for it is through our failure that our ultimate success is worked out.
Failure is nothing more than the limit to which we can succeed in a given cycle of progress, and represents regress necessary before the next progress. Likewise, we may say that each success is the manifestation of the work accomplished during previous failures. Tau Malachi
When we therefore look at success and failure from a more panoramic view with a non-dual awareness there is no such a thing as failure, only a process of development through trail and error towards eventual success.
What we are experiencing in the world at present is a period of regress in our creative evolution. We are experiencing a period where we must look at our previous so-called period of success and see what within that period still needs to be worked on, and what within that period no longer serves or next step in our creative evolution.
I had a dream where I was talking to Wise man with a black Cobra on his lap. While we were talking he was stroking the Cobra and the Cobra had its mouth clasped on his hand. My attention was diverted from the conversation to this. He smiled at me and said, “It will not hurt you, when you approach it without fear, its mouth is just affectionately clasped on my hand, do you want to try it?” The Cobra looked so serene and affectionate that I thought it made perfect sense. In trust I held out my hand, but as I felt the hardness of its mouth enclose my hand, I felt fear in a fleeting instant. It coiled back and struck fangs into my outstretched hand. Suddenly I was alone and I looked at my hand, the two fang pricks clearly visible on my finger. It was already red and swelling.
I awoke with a gasp of breath, checking my fingers and I instantly remembered the ancient initiations where the initiate is given poison to drink, or indeed the lethal bite of a snake, to transmute or die. Illumination or death.
The apparent failure of our tests, our flaws, our weaknesses, is like the symbolic bite of the poisonous snake.
“The symbol (the serpent) serves to indicate the subtle nature of that illusory lower self which first ensnares the ego, but which ultimately proves the means of enlightening the evolving soul.”
Each stage of our growth contains the seeds of its own betrayal. Each one of us are born with a lethal wound, one that will either bring us illumination or will kill us. It is the way the Divine Trickster trick us into finding our own individual strengths, our unique voice in the Universe. Our wounds reveals themselves to us through our childhood environment, those limitations, those apparent shortcomings that we have to transmute, whether they be mental, physical, spiritual, or emotional. The form of our wounds is unique to each individual. We can ignore our talents and positive abilities but not our wounds, for if we do it will surely kill us.
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be”
We cannot operate in this world if do not have an identity – a beingness. From our beingness all our actions flow. Whether what we think we are is true or false we cannot function in this world without an identity. What we think our function is in this world, naturally also flows out of what we think we are. However, from time to time, through our living and experience, we discover that what we thought we were is not what we are. Even when we have Gnosis of what we are at a particular moment in time, the very Gnosis will result in changing what we discovered that we are at that particular moment in time. Discovering who we are is an ever evolving process.
When you understand all things
can you step back from your own understanding? Lao Tzu
Our falling apart is an imaginal process, like the collapse of
cities and the fall of heroes in mythical tales – like the dismemberment
of Dionysian loosening which releases from overtight
constraint, like the dissolution and decay of alchemy…
Afflictions point to Gods, Gods reach us through afflictions.” – James Hillman
(It is the process of our falling apart that I described in my series of the Dark Nights of the Soul)
It is human nature to reside in complacency unless something forces a change in us. In our urgency to find an antidote, a cure for our affliction, we are led deeper than we would have been if we just passed the test. Our very flaws can if we acknowledge it, be the cause of our evolvement. We are at a point of our evolution where we can become conscious creators and stop the mindless destruction we are currently engaged in, and live in synergy with our fellow men and all life forms on this planet.
The Keeper of the Key 1
The Keeper of the Key II
Keeper of the Key III
Keeper of the Key IV
The Keeper of the Key V
Prelude to Keeper of the Key VI
The Keeper of the Key VI
The Keeper of the Keys VII
The Keeper of the Keys VIII
The Keeper of the Keys IX
An image appeared in the mirror of a dusty alley set between red mud brick buildings. Curled up against one of these buildings I saw a motionless figure. I felt myself drawn to the figure through the mirror. As I merged with the body I felt intense feelings of failure and I knew that the body I now inhabited was dying. Memories came flooding through and I knew I was blind.
So proud was I when I began this life. As a seer priest I was respected and had a place of honour among my people. So distant and so far away now seem that time of my arrogant youth. Here I am now, a blind beggar among strangers. I knew I was dying. I no longer had any strength to lift my body to beg for food. No one will mourn my death. I died a long time ago, on the day I lost eyes. That day still burns as clearly in my mind as did red-hot iron poker that burnt out my eyes.
I felt no resentment towards those who blinded me. It was the custom amongst our desert tribes to and to burn out the eyes of those vanquished in battle. I should have seen the trap but I did not. As seer priest it was my duty to keep my people safe. On that day I did not just lose my eyes, but I also lost my sight.
My body was feeling a great thirst and I knew that the time of my passage was close. I did not want to see anymore, that much I could see now. I did not want to see anymore cruelty, if I could do nothing to prevent it. Suddenly I could see with clarity that my failure was to give up. I could have returned to my people and shown them another vision, but instead I withdrew from life into my self pity. When my people needed my vision most, I failed them. I failed to rise from my darkness.
I was feeling my bond loosening with my body and I became aware of two identities within the body at the same time. I was separating from the memories but could still feel the sense of failure. A deep compassion stirred inside me and I embraced the soul as it separated from the body, merging once again in love. As we drifted towards the light, a vision of hope filled our sight and in the darkness there was light.
Upon a cold winter’s night.
I found myself alone.
A stranger in a once familiar land
A world of dark despair.
So many dead and many dying
their own pain,
monsters of humanity
roam the night
Doors and windows bolted
Against the fear
of human behaviour,
in search of innocent prey
Eyes cold and dead
A world where sanity is lost
I call for help
But silence greets me
Answers eludes me
Anger rises inside me
Against my own helplessness
But even my anger
Falls into the mud of despair
I am tired
Caught in a web
I find myself in a marsh
Where it is cold and dark
No light to guide me
Too tired to struggle
I am afraid I will sink into
The mud of despair
Into my infirmitas
In the darkness I see
A light dancing,
I reach out
And fall sobbing
In the mud
I feel rising
Like far-off rumble of thunder
With lightning flashes of joy
How swiftly you can shake the mud
From your wings
Remember you can fly
Soar into the blue heights of joy
Knowing that love surrounds
Even for a brief moment
That nothing can harm you.
To be continued …
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
I felt absolutely paralyzed, as if I was immersed in a lake of pure fear. I could not even scream so overwhelming was the fear. I knew that there was no way out, no turning back. The first coils of its bulk reached me and rubbed against me. I could feel its immense embodied power in the coils. Almost simultaneously in that instant when it touched me and when I reached a point of unbearable fear, in that instant my fear dissolved into love. An all-consuming love, a love, such as I could never have imagined. I wrapped myself around its body and immersed myself in the love so that I was no longer feeling the love but became the love.
I became conscious of being as I drifted to the surface of the river, the flames of the braziers calling me back harbour. Dazed, I joined the others surfacing from the river. In naked silence we stood before the blacksmith. His dark eyes was filled knowing compassion as he handed each one of us a black robe.
“Now take up your shield, and follow me …” he said simply, turned and walked back up the steps.
With numbness I found my shield and as I saw the serpent embossed on its surface I felt breathless in recognition. Layers of meaning just flooded into my awareness. Tears reached up from deep inside me as I realized what I was taking up as I took my shield. I have the key now I have to find the door.
In the dark of the night
where deathscapes of hopelessness
haunts the unwary traveler of the Path
The Shield of illuminated Faith will protect me
From the flaming arrows of despair
From giving up the quest
And I will don the helmet
of hope that will illuminate
my path through the land of shadows
To be continued …
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.