Friday, September 30, 2016

Resistance is a GOOD thing

Image credit: Dungeons & Dragons "Spell Compendium"
“You can't (and shouldn't) always act on your feelings. Sometimes I truly believe that the very thing(s) we are drawn to in life are the very things we should avoid altogether. That is where the lesson and growth sometimes lie, in the resistance of the situation. Learning to deal with your own personal temptations and learning the lessons they contain. Temptation equals desire and sometimes, the very thing(s) we desire are the issues we are here to work on. So look at all the situations in your life and ask yourself... is this a situation that I should act on or a situation that I am here to learn to avoid and release myself from?!” - Shawna in “The Guardian Angel Community”
Resistance is the act of standing against some force or some change. Often resistance is considered a negative thing or annoying to deal with, and therefore something to overcome, because people want to make something else happen. Spiritual leaders or social activists sometimes lament that their ideas aren’t appreciated, or are outright opposed by others. However, resistance can be seen as not only a positive thing, but also necessary.
Philosophically, anything truly new will by definition require time to be understood and assimilated, but that often reflects outwardly as skepticism or rejection at first. If something were accepted right away without resistance, then that would imply the concepts were already mostly integrated with whatever audience, and all one did was act as a catalyst for what was already there and ready to emerge (although that's still a useful service to provide too). Therefore, it should be expected that some level of frustration and resistance accompanies every agent working for change.
Resistance is a fundamental aspect of physical exercise, in which pushing or pulling against weight strengthens muscles and builds endurance. Similarly, inner struggle and effort is needed for emotional growth and spiritual evolution. The classical Garden of Eden was a place where there was only goodness, and as a result the first humans were relatively unaware and unconscious of their situation. It was only after they ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that they could experience negativity and suffering, and therefore could appreciate, prefer, and consciously work toward the good.
Competition is an activity that can lead to evolution and excellence. When one is by themselves without any opposition, then they tend to plateau at a particular level and remain content there. However, when exposed and compared to others one is stimulated to do more. Consider how world records are continually broken and technology is continually advanced. In the animal kingdom, competition for food, mates, and general survival stimulates evolution.
Resistance can also be a good thing if the change in question is negative or not what you want. It’s common for different people to have different directives. Some people promote a particular philosophy, political viewpoint, or so on, and are condescending to anybody who doesn’t support them, believing that they’re just resisting what’s obviously right or the only way.
As with many things, balance is important to have with respect to resistance. A little resistance training during exercise leads to stronger muscles. However, too much resistance can sprain a muscle. Similarly, having some challenge present in life builds appreciation. However, too much challenge or difficulty can kill or permanently injure, make one give up, and so on. In child rearing, too little resistance or discipline can lead to spoiled brats who have no respect for others or themselves, while too much discipline can be child abuse or cause various psychological problems. This balanced philosophy can be applied to many areas in life.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Glamour of the "New"

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“The planet does not need more ’successful’ people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who you have no fear of living with side by side. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with ’success’ as we have defined it.” - David Orr
A common preoccupation is with things that are “new”. This can apply to the technology, in which people seek the newest gadgets or latest games, and are constantly upgrading and replacing. It can also apply to spirituality, in which one is overly focused on what they perceive as new concepts and energies, and as a result dislike anything current. Certainly such spiritual activities are valuable, and there are many souls who are (whether publicly or behind the scenes) dedicated workers helping to bring needed changes, however there are positive and not-so-positive ways of going about it.
First, new is not necessarily better, as anybody who’s dealt with challenging software “upgrades” can attest to. ;-) A focus upon the new or on the future can become a distraction from what’s real in the here and now, and one can miss the beauty of the current situation and what can be learned from it. Preoccupation can result in a “spiritual materialism”, in which one is always seeking the latest and greatest thing, discarding what was previously new like how a socialite throws out last month's fashions because they’re no longer the “in” thing.
Similar to the initial quote above, ultimately we don’t need “new” things. What we really need is to better work with the many things we already have. There are already plenty of interesting ideas that have been conceived, enlightening books that have been written, and valid spiritual paths out there. Esoteric studies aren’t called the “Ancient Wisdom” for nothing! We need more people to actually realize and properly live some of these paths. Being yet another organic farmer living off the grid isn’t new and won’t make you famous, but our planet definitely benefits from it.
Sometimes people try to appropriate new ideas, and see themselves as the “owner” of them. As a result, they either try to personally overprofit from an idea, or bask in the glory seeing themselves as some great and unique Teacher who has enlightened the masses. Either way, they tend to resist others who have the same or similar ideas, suggesting they’re stealing or corrupting “their” idea.
In general, nobody owns ideas. It turns out you can’t patent an idea, but only a specific implementation of an idea. Some people dream to invent an idea and sell it for millions. It’s easy to visualize how the world would be better if only everybody did this or used that item. Certainly the initial idea is important, but that’s only the first step of many toward real evolution. Creating something new is 10% initial inspiration and 90% further perspiration.
Any idea or concept is built on top of many ideas that have come before. For example, the concept of “Facebook” wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for social media, which wouldn’t exist if the idea of the internet weren’t present, which depends on computers, which depend on transistors, electricity, and so on. Bringing forth a new idea is great, but anybody who does so should realize that they’re “standing on the shoulders of giants”. Every concept from iPhones to the Oneness of Humanity is really the next bead on a very long string, or “an idea whose time has come”. As a result, people don’t really invent or own ideas, as much as they’re group participants in the ongoing evolutionary wave of the human race.
Many ideas are received by multiple people at roughly the same time. There are stories of the patent office receiving applications for similar ideas simultaneously, from people who were unaware of each other. People are like individual trees in a forest, and the light of the Divine shines upon the whole forest, causing all trees to grow. Certainly some trees are older or healthier than others, and may receive and express in a clearer fashion, but ultimately what’s taking place is not about some separate tree in its own little world, but is about the forest as a whole.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

You always have the potential to fail!

Image credit: Frits Ahlefeldt
Popular culture often says that you have the potential to succeed, if you only work hard or believe in yourself. That’s certainly a positive and inspiring message, however what’s often overlooked is that you also have the potential to fail. This is a free will Universe, which means all potentials are available.
It doesn’t matter how good you are or what successes you’ve had in the past. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an enlightened Master, or whether you’ve single-handedly saved the world from certain destruction. This concept doesn’t take away or minimize the “status” one has or the accomplishments they might have done before. However, success in one area or at one time, doesn’t mean that one won’t make mistakes or do wrong in the future. Sometimes spiritual people make the error of believing their current level of wisdom means they can somehow do no wrong.
When I visited Egypt in 1997, there was an interesting story carved into a temple wall. Panels showed the Sun god Ra battling the evil god Set. Subsequent panels showed Ra getting larger as Set got smaller, demonstrating the influence of good increasing and evil decreasing. However, the last panel showed a very tiny Set on a leash, instead of Set having disappeared altogether. That meant that Set wasn’t fully defeated, and had the potential to return in the future.
Similarly, in Greek mythology, one of the Labors of Hercules was for him to defeat the hydra. If you cut off one of the hydra’s many heads, two grow back in its place. Hercules won by using fire to cauterize each cut, so that the heads wouldn’t grow back. However, the final head was immortal, so Hercules buried it under a boulder. Spiritually, each of us is Hercules, and the hydra’s heads represents the enticements of life. We can’t grow by only cutting our way through adversity, but rather we need the fires of insight and love. However, the essence of returning to wrong living is always a potential, so the hydra is never completely destroyed, and can only be pushed away.
Many books and movies feature the plot of a great evil locked away, that returns and needs to be dealt with. Some of these stories understand the allegorical nature of the “enemy”, in that it represents innate negative potentials within oneself or within humanity as a whole, instead of a specific evil person or group that just needs to be defeated externally in order for everything to be made perfect.
The Great Invocation contains the line, “and may it seal the door where evil dwells”. Some don’t like the Great Invocation because they see it as dualistic, in that sealing evil away isn’t as positive as transforming it into good. Certainly the darkness within should be understood and not repressed, and disagreements between people and nations should be reconciled instead of one side defeating another in a classic battle. However, the Great Invocation’s “door where evil dwells” has a more deeper meaning than is apparent to casual reading.
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell
In 1852, abolitionist Wendell Phillips said, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” That means in order to have a free society, one must always guard against elements which seek to take over or degrade human rights. Similarly, the price of lasting wisdom is eternal introspection and humility. That results in the situation in the quote above. It’s actually not a problem that wiser people have doubts, because it means that they’re continually looking at themselves, and making sure their “wisdom” isn’t making them arrogant, reckless, blind to change, or anything problematic like that.
My book “Evolution of the Spirit: Our Journey Through the Universe” has a section titled “Spiritual Mistakes”, listing the 12 types of errors people make on the Path, in chapter 15 “Mastering the Personality”. ♥

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Five Types of Psychic Shielding

Negative energies are something that most of us get exposed to at times, whether maliciously directed toward us or just around in the environment. To prevent being affected, a psychic or energetic shield can be employed. There are several different ways to go about handling negative energy, which are briefly described below.
This list only shows the types of shields. It doesn’t prove that shields exist or go into how to actually generate them, such as through personal will or creative imagination, or by invoking higher powers. We also assume that one is actually being attacked, as opposed to just believes they are. (It’s actually a pretty common situation, in that some disagreement produces emotional turmoil, which one then falsely interprets as the other party psychically attacking them.) The list also focuses on psychic defense, as opposed to psychic attack or ways confronting or combating others energetically. It should go without saying that, just like physical violence, engaging in psychic attack should be avoided in all but the most extreme situations.
1. Wall: A wall creates an impenetrable barrier to block negative energies. A wall can be opaque in order to unconsciously keep things out (which is useful if one needs to focus without distractions, or is say walking down a busy city street). A wall can also be transparent like strong glass, if one wants to monitor what’s impacting it. A wall is like calling somebody on the phone and getting a busy signal. Walls can be ineffective if one still has attachments to the attacker in some form, and energetically ventures out from behind their wall.
2. Mirror: Like a real mirror, a psychic mirror reflects energies back to where they came from. It’s like instant karma, with the attacker getting their own junk mail “returned to sender”. A mirror is like calling somebody on the phone and getting voice mail telling you to go away. Mirrors are challenging to do right, because one needs to ensure the energy only goes back to where it came from, and doesn’t say get reflected to your neighbor. Also, emotional involvement can make one consciously or subconsciously throw it back harder than it was sent toward you in the first place, which is basically a form of psychic attack.
3. Ground: A ground transmutes energies so they cease to exist, like an electrical ground. A ground is like trying to call somebody, but the phone line is just dead. This is perhaps the most recommended of all the methods, since it actually removes the negative energy from the world, instead of just blocking or attempting to redirect it from you personally. It’s recommended to let the planet or some higher power transmute the energy, instead of trying to do it yourself, which can let the energy and the process of transmuting it wear you down. That’s like exterminating a burning torch by dropping it in a river, instead of trying to blow it out or snuff it out with your body.
4. Frequency: Here you exist on a higher and more spiritual frequency so the negative energy doesn’t affect you in the first place. Or at least you exist on an alternate frequency, like changing a TV to a different channel. It’s like when a TV station is broadcasting a violent movie - the radio waves are passing through your room but not affecting or influencing you. In the classic movie “The Karate Kid II”, Master Miyagi said, “Best way to avoid punch, no be there.” Changing frequency is like trying to call somebody, but the system says the number doesn’t exist. The challenge of this method is it involves personal work to exist on a more expanded frequency, and to ensure there aren’t any subtle attachments within that want to seek out or connect with the negativity.
5. Decoy: With a decoy, you set up a fake copy or simulacrum of yourself, and let the energy impact it instead, like a lightning rod. This is a rather advanced and subtle method, but can be effective if you want to monitor what’s being directing toward you. If you have flies bothering your picnic, take a piece of meat and throw it in the bushes nearby, and the flies will be attracted there instead of to you. A decoy is like calling somebody and talking to a realistic artificial intelligence simulation. One challenge is making sure you’re detached enough from your decoy to ensure you don’t get affected by what impacts it. You also don’t want to let a fake persona manifest which results in not expressing your real self.
My book “Evolution of the Spirit: Our Journey Through the Universe” contains more information about psychic defense, in chapter 17 “Understanding Evil”. ♥

Monday, February 29, 2016

Evolution Takes Time

A Sufi teaching tells of a traveler who was crossing a strange land known as the Land of Fools. While walking down a rural road he observed farmers fleeing in terror. “There's a monster in that field,” said a man as he ran past.
The traveler looked out into the field and saw a watermelon. So he called the farmers together and offered to kill the monster for them. He then walked into the field, took out a knife and cut the melon in half and started to eat it. The farmers were horrified and feared the traveler more than they had the watermelon. They drove him out of their world with pitchforks, screaming “He'll kill us next if we don't get rid of him.”
The following season another traveler found himself journeying through the same world, and the same thing happened to him. But instead of offering to kill the monster, he agreed with them that it was dangerous, and by tiptoeing away from it with them he gained their confidence. He spent time in their homes until he could teach them, a little at a time, the facts that would allow them to rise above their fear of watermelons and cultivate the melons themselves.
The truth alone does not make people free. Facts do not change attitudes. - Dick Sutphen in “The Oracle Within”
An important moral of the above story is that evolution (both in ourselves and in the world) takes time and can’t be rushed. Rarely do things leap suddenly from one thing to another, but rather they transition step by step. In reading a book, we patiently turn one page at a time. In life, we grow one year at a time, and can’t transition from age 20 to 80 without first being age 50. Many of the most effective leaders in history (spiritual and otherwise) created change not by taking some grandiose end vision and throwing it (or trying to force it) upon the populace all at once, but rather by seeing what was needed for society at the moment, and presenting attributes and qualities that society was ready to handle, and in a manner that they were capable of handling. The best way to serve the world today is much different than it was 1000 years ago, and it will be very different a million years from now.
Another article says: “You do not grow a plant by instructing it to do so, or worse by pulling on it. You do not get people to innovate by tasking them with innovating. You grow a plant by providing the Soil, the Space, the Sun... and letting it happen.” Tugging on a plant to try to make it grow faster will just uproot and kill it. That’s why our planet works the way it does, and we don’t have Angels or other evolved beings coming down and just telling us the meaning of life, punishing wrongdoers, and so on. Earth is a big garden, and we’re learning to grow in our own uniquely messy and beautifully muddy way. :-)
A related concept about evolution is that it takes place more through refinement, than elimination. For example, society doesn’t overcome destructive weapons all at once, but rather we first learn how to use explosive forces appropriately. Similarly, it isn’t effective to just repress anger or other “negative” emotions, but rather we learn to express them cleanly and in appropriate scenarios. Consider history up through World War II, in which conflicts largely took place physically, through armies and violence. Since then, deaths through war have been much lower. Instead, conflict today primarily takes place on emotional and mental levels, through ideological debate, internet flamewars, and so on. In other words, violence has to a significant extent refined itself from physical to non-physical levels. Eventually, it will “scroll off the screen of humanity” altogether, so to speak. In the meantime, as seen in the story, it helps to understand the ways in which people and the planet actually change, so we can make our efforts better help instead of make the situation worse, and just as importantly make our collective journey smoother. ♥

Friday, January 29, 2016

Learning How to Think

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“Think for yourself! Don’t listen to me!” -Valek Xander in Complete Scoundrel ;-)
My late father, former Washington State Senator Kent Pullen, said that one of the most important things for children (and adults) to learn, and an area in which many are lacking, is “how to think”. Knowing how to think means having the abstract abilities to perceive, measure, evaluate, conclude, and reevaluate situations in life. My father recommended studying and playing the game of chess as a good way to learn how to think. Chess teaches one short term tactics, long term strategy, and the ability to assess a current situation, perceive a goal, and formulate plan of moves for how to get there.
How to think doesn’t mean simple concrete things such as having correct facts memorized (although that has its place). It also doesn’t mean having the “correct” subjective opinions about issues, or blindly following the ethical guidelines from our family, religion, or nation. We often try to tell our children and other people fixed ideas, or in other words get them to think the same way we do. For example, this political viewpoint is the best, this spiritual belief system is evil, and so on. However, it’s better to teach somebody the tools for how to evaluate criteria and come to their own conclusions (even if those views are different from our own) than to give them a prefabricated world view. Instead of giving people facts, give them tools. Instead of giving somebody a specific potato to feed them for a day, teach them how to cultivate potatoes in general and feed them for a lifetime.
For example, consider the validity of astrology. Many people adamantly believe in astrology while others think it is hogwash, and think it’s their duty to tell people one way or the other. However, arguments by themselves rarely change anybody’s views. See my earlier article, "Be an Example, Not a Preacher", for why that’s the case. Instead, it’s better to get both skeptics and believers to think more about the subject. You can accomplish much with respect to other people (and yourself) by asking the right questions in an open-minded and non-manipulative manner. For example: If astrology exists, in what ways might it influence people or the world? If it exists, what might the nature of astrological influences be, and through what means would they influence physical or non-physical life? If astrology exists, could it be proven, and if so what form might proof take and how might one actually prove it?
The result of these considerations or investigations can make one or both parties improve or change their opinion on a subject, instead of just taking somebody else’s word for it. The result might even benefit humanity, if it yields studies or conclusions that give evidence one way or the other. In other words, it’s far better to give somebody the time and space to come to their own conclusions. It’s fine to say things such as that based on my knowledge or current society’s knowledge, no definitive proof exists at this time for astrology, extraterrestrial life, or whatever subject. However, who knows what events will take place or what energies will be detected in the future? With quality thinking you can still make choices for the here and now, but they aren’t as dualistic and are flexible enough to be updated in the future.
Unfortunately, many people have agendas, or fixed ideas they wish to push or even force upon others. Of course, most people believe their own views are enlightened, and they’re not trying to manipulate anything but are rather “sharing the love” or some other positive effect. A common way to implement political views is by having policy taught in schools. For example, wanting to have prayer in public schools or wanting to keep religion out of schools are both cases of people trying to force their opinions. Many people want everyone’s kids to be indoctrinated with their beliefs, so the children will grow up supporting and furthering their interests. However, the best way to handle education is to teach children how to think for themselves and how to think in general. That way the next generation doesn’t grow up blindly towing a party line but is able to evolve and make changes based on things their elders weren’t aware of.
The progression from concrete thought to abstract thought (or rather from concrete only, to concrete combined with abstract) is an important stage of human evolution. One of the things that differentiates humans from animals is our well-developed ability to think, in comparison to animals which operate mostly on automatic instinct. Some animals have developed the capability to learn in many respects. Similarly, some humans have expanded their ways of thinking. Along with black and white concrete thinking, and abstract dynamic thinking, additional qualities can be developed on individual and group levels including compassion, intuition, and more. ♥