Monthly Archives: October 2016

Scriptures

I’ve been reading the bible today in order to get inspiration for this week’s talk. As I read the story of Samson, I realized that if I was reading this in order to see how historically our heroes have behaved, I wouldn’t be able to see any good in Samson. He sets people up to fail. He sees himself as deserving of special treatment. He thinks his cool hair makes him special and strong. Whatever, dude.

Luckily, I know better than to read any holy book or wisdom tradition literally. Samson is a lot more than an Old Testament super hero with entitlement issues. His metaphorical and metaphysical story is about entertaining thoughts that either hinder or heal us. Of course, if you want to know more about him, feel free to listen to the recording of the talk from this Sunday.

Spirituality points me beyond the obvious story. Take our election story for 2016. The one everyone loves to hate is Mr. Trump. The established political machine loves to hate him because he’s upending the process, not playing by the rules and refusing to pretend that what we’ve always done is actually in the best interest of the country as a whole. Women love to hate him because he speaks with the voice of the good-ol’-boy system that systemically places women at risk not just of sexual assault but at risk of being blamed if they are victimized. Other billionaires hate him because he is the stereotype of the heartless robber baron.

If I just look at the first level of this story, Mr. Trump is the bad guy. He’s the wolf that threatens the sweet girl with the red cloak. He’s Dr. Evil. Let’s look underneath, though, shall we? I mean, that’s the place where we find spiritual truth, right?

Donald Trump has been a bright light shining in the darkness that many of us would prefer to leave dark. He shows us how we have recreated the civilization of Ancient Rome. I don’t mean the part that created the Senate or spread “civilization” across Europe; I mean the part right before Nero started playing his fiddle. This is the Roman Empire that created bread and circus, which now shows up as reality TV and prescription medication overuse. The Donald holds up a mirror to all that we don’t want to see about ourselves. He’s our shadow side in form. And he’s going to suffer, if he isn’t already suffering, for personifying the worst of who we can be.

In the end, Samson is able to bring down the temple of the false god on all the heathens. Mr. Trump is rocking those temple pillars right now. The question is will we stick with the top level of this story? Will he stay a reality TV star or will we see him for the spiritual gift that he is – the person who was willing to take on our false beliefs so that we could see him clearly.

 

Autumn leaves

I saw this great meme on Facebook about how, in the autumn, the trees give us a beautiful example of letting go of what’s dead. This is a statement about surrender.

And here’s the thing; I have a love/hate relationship with that word. Our whole culture has a love/hate relationship with that word. What our philosophy teaches is that Spirit takes on form (this physical world), has some experiences, and then abandons the original form to take on another form. Spirit is good at surrendering that first form and has been doing it for billions of years. Can you imagine if Spirit had refused to let go of the form of dinosaurs? Our daily commute the office would be far more exciting.

On the one hand, surrender means that I lost. It means that I gave up on something. When I got divorced, the hardest thing to do was surrender those wedding vows and all the promises I’d made and dreams I’d dreamed. I thought being married meant I never had to be alone again, that I’d always have the support of my spouse and that I was done with being seen a not-fully-matured as a woman in this society. And I’ll be honest – there’s a certain safety in being married. That wedding ring gets rid of a lot of unwanted attention.

On the other hand, things I believed about marriage and what it all meant needed to be surrendered if I was going to live in the real world. Arguing with what is and trying to force what I believe should be the truth will never lead to happiness. Surrender means freedom from the fight. Surrender means allowing the truth of this reality to be true and to be what I work with. Let me tell you, it was much easier to take on a new “form” in my life once I admitted that the original form was dead.

Ah, but how do I know the difference between time to persevere and time to surrender, you ask. Well, I can’t tell you that. You’ll have your own set of signals. I know that for me, if something is making me miserable and I’m getting myself all tied up in knots around my judgment of what I’m seeing, it’s time to at least temporarily surrender it. I can’t tell you how many times I walked away from writing something because it just wasn’t coming out, only to come back later and have it write itself. In the time in between, I’d been focusing on other things, maybe doing something physical rather than intellectual, and quietly surrendering what I thought needed to be written.

I could have stayed in my marriage. Lucky for me, I’d seen what staying in an unhappy marriage looks like. Because I was willing to surrender, I now work in a career that is my calling as well as my job. He went back and married his old girlfriend and (I’m told) has a happy life and career in the military. I like to believe he and his family are happy in the life that would have made me miserable. I know I’m happy in the life that he would have hated. What has been surrendered is the idea that one of us had to be wrong for each of us to have the life we love.

Surrender has led to some of the most beautiful new growth in my world. And yes, some of the old stuff has claw marks on it, but there will be other opportunities to let go gracefully.

Trigger Warnings Part 2

God likes to make sure I have the lesson by giving me a practical application of the things I write about. So soon after I published the last post, I had an experience. I had been invited to see the Rocky Horror Show, which is something I’ve wanted to do since high school. I’ve seen the movie a couple times, but both times was either talking to other people or by myself and so not really all that into it. So we went to the show. I was gifted with a ticket, for which I was very grateful. I let them put the V on my forehead with bright red lipstick. I greeted several members of the congregation (you know who you are!) and laughed and had a great time during the first half. I talked to the producer during the intermission and was dared to wear the V to service then next morning. I was all in on that one – what harm could it do? Plus the producer said he’d make a donation if I did it.

Then the second half started. It begins with a scene in which Frank-N-Furter crawls into bed with first Janet and then Brad. Now, I know this is meant to be a comedy. I know the original show came out in 1975. I know the transvestite Doctor is a character that is meant to be over-the-top sexualized.  But during that scene, I got triggered. The scene (in my mind) exposes the rape culture that we live in. Even though both characters protest, even though Janet indicates she’s expecting her fiancé rather than this stranger, the Doctor engages continues the sexual assault.

Maybe it’s because I’ve worked with children who have a history of sexual assault that doesn’t look like the stranger-offering-candy story. Maybe it’s because of the latest political scandal that exposes a candidate’s attitude towards women as sexual objects. Maybe it’s just because I’m me and have the training and experience that I have, but that scene triggered me to the point that I had trouble paying attention to the rest of the show. I considered leaving but didn’t want to be rude. That in and of itself is part of the cultural attitude that American women deal with and participate in – not speaking up because it might be seen as rude.

As I said in my last post, my opinion is not really the point. The point is my consciousness and what I am able to learn from my experiences. So I didn’t wear the V on Sunday. I didn’t refer to the experience on Sunday because I was still trying to get my balance back. I don’t think less of the others who were there, or who participated in the show, in any way. I just realize that this show is not something I’ll ever need to go to again, and that I can share my reasons if asked.

And at the same time, I can ask that others consider what we might need to change in our behavior and thinking in order to create a world where sexual assault is the rare occurrence rather than the experience of most of the women I know. The statistics say that one in five American women will suffer from attempted or completed rape. Those are just the cases that go reported. Those are just the cases that include actual rape as opposed to catcalling, groping, threatening and all the other stuff that happens. I’m willing to give up certain forms of entertainment in order to let those experiences disappear from our culture.

As always, feel free to comment and share your own experience.

Trigger warnings

I think I should come with a trigger warning. Actually, I think spirituality should come with a trigger warning and as a spiritual leader, I should have one tattooed somewhere obvious. I decided this when I woke up to rain this morning and realized that sitting on the couch and getting caught up with the news was going to be my spiritual practice.

I saw whole bunches of opinions on which charity is most trustworthy if you want to help folks in Haiti now that they’ve been flooded. I saw opinions about the Susan G Komen foundation and whether or not they really are a great help in the search for a cure for breast cancer. And I saw lots and lots of opinions about the latest scandal in the presidential election.

I doubt any of you are under the impression that I don’t have a personal opinion about climate change, immigration, the election or how a person should speak to or about another person regardless of gender. However, my job isn’t to spout my opinion. It’s not unlike my advice: free to everyone and worth every penny.

My job, and my calling in this world, is to look at what my opinion and how I express it says about my own state of consciousness. So for instance: in my opinion none of the current nominees for president is perfect. In my state of consciousness, none of them need to be. Asking for any individual to be perfect is asking for that person to lie to me. If we require everyone in public office to be perfect, we will only have liars running for office. People who are real, people who are willing to get their hands dirty and who admit when they mess up or change their stance on the issues because they have learned new facts – these people are the ones I like and tend to trust. Authenticity is one of my core values; human perfection is not.

Some folks will quote Dr. Holmes as having said two different things about the same issue. Depending on when he was writing, he might contradict himself on a specific issue. If the man had never changed his thinking in the course of his forty plus years in his career, I certainly wouldn’t be teaching this philosophy which is based on the idea that we can change our thinking.

Although I have the greatest of respect for our founder, I don’t know that I would necessarily ask him questions how to live my life and deal with my specific issues. He gives us pointers on how to think, how to examine our thinking and encourages us to actually think for ourselves. He can’t tell me how to be a woman in the 21st Century, dealing with the issues of this particular election. Similar situations, yes. This specific election, no. I can make intelligent guesses based on what he faced in his time and how he handled it.

And that brings me to the trigger warning. In this election and in every part of your life, as a spiritual human being, you will be triggered. As you become more conscious, you will be triggered more. Eventually, you will come to see all those buttons that get pushed as a gift – they show you where your shadow is hiding, where you have healing left to do in your consciousness and where your green and growing edges are. Consider yourself warned by the Chief Button Pusher at the Center for Spiritual Living Prescott.