Just suppose that I am not looney, but rather know just what I am saying. "Suppose" is a key word here. It means imagine. After all, none of us know for sure, but one thing. "Suppose" is also important because I am asking you to use your imagination in more ways than assessing my cognitive abilities. We all have suffered, all of us are suffering; not content with this life we have, for one thing that it ends in death. Due to the nature of this existence, we create survival skills. We are driven to create seperation, boundaries between self and others, between mental states; driven to seek stability; and driven to reproductivity; and yet, change is the nature of reality (Dean Schlecht from a seminar). We do not resolve the issue of our impending death, but rather ignore it. This leaves a chronic disatisfaction, a low-grade depression, always with the capacity to worsen. Yes, all. I am asking you to use your imagination to "suppose" that there is a way out of this stuckness.
We are told not to fear death, for if we are good, and Christian we will go to heaven. If Buddhist, form is emptiness, emptiness form; so no worries. If Muslim, there is heaven. If Hindu, reincarnation. But this is not knowing our own death. As I have said elsewhere, we do not learn from what our parents and significant other adults tell us, we learn from what they do. They have ignored their death until it was upon them.
Today, I am wondering why I can't go as fast on my bike as some young guy who passes me as if I were standing still. My conclusion is that he has younger, stronger legs. I then wonder what it is that makes the bike go, not that it's a mystery, just not oft considered. Obviously it is my legs, but more specifically a force applied to the pedals, to the crank arms, which turn the crank, which turns the chain, which turns the rear cassette attached to the rear wheel, which itself turns or rolls, rolling both wheels and the bike forward. It is miraculous, a near perfect, no burning of fossil fuel machine. Yet, I am the real miracle, in spite of the young guy, my legs capable of turning those cranks at 90 RPMs per minute, or at somewhere near 35,000 revolutions for my 7 1/2 hour ride on Monday. I also have a heart capable of beating about 140 beats per minute for those 7 1/2 hours, supplying blood, fuel and oxygen to those muscles creating the force which turns those pedals. I further have a back, skeleton and core to hold this machine upright, and twist and turn, throwing the torque to my legs. I also have a brain that knows where I am going, remembers each day how to ride a bicycle, and provides me with endless entertainment during that 7 1/2 hours. My brain, at least the higher functions, also provides me with knowing.
Following my ride on Monday, I stopped at my local Darimart for a drink. I always sit in the same place, a little corner in front of the store which provides me with the same view every time, in part, a view of the sky. I looked up to see what was clearly a hummingbird, or more accurately a cloud in the very clear shape of a hummingbird. Even more accurately, I knew that it was an elemental, a sylph. Remember, I am asking you to suppose that I know what I am talking about. An elemental is "a mythic being described in occult and alchemical works from the time of the Renaissance"(Wikepedia). A sylph corresponds to the air element. Many believe these are living beings that take different shapes in the sky, and are often visible for those who take the time to notice. Our friend Sharon, who died on Christmas day, loved hummingbirds. I immediately thought of her. When I posted the picture on Facebook, I also posed the question as to whether when we die, we can comeback as a cloud-I actually meant elemental.
On Tuesday, I sat in the same place, looked to see not a hummingbird, not even a definable shape, but something in that very same place. I had the sense that it was the same elemental, and in my mind an answer to my question: "Yes, you can come back as a cloud," and I thought: "Just choose. You just choose. Not just what you come back as, but also what you are now, and more. You just choose."
Just choose. Choose what? What can I choose now?
I am currently reading a book called "Awaken your Brain," by Jeff Skolnick, MD, PhD. He has a doctorate in Natural Health and specializes in Neural Psychology. He is also a 30 year Zen meditator. He suggests that our lives are dominated by lower brain functions, anylyzing what our senses tell us, how to meet our needs, based upon a learned belief that I am this and that is the other. This belief considers self immortal and ignores the truth of our impermanence, and the resulting nagging, unexplained disatisfaction.
Dr. Skolnick further believes that spiritual beliefs prevalent in all cultures since the beginning of documented time, have suggested we can learn to awaken from the un-wakeable dream by a process he calls "inshifting," or accessing higher brain functions, the third eye or inner eye of Eastern philosoply. This awakening brings an "acute awareness of our aliveness right now" (Skolnick, p58), a connectedness with your self and others. Consider the miracle of this aliveness, after all, "one sperm out of billions reached one particular egg, and made you.....You beat the astronomical odds against your being here, odds much greater than being able to randomly pick one particular grain of sand out of all the grains of sand in all the oceans and beaches in the world. You won the universal lottery. You were born and are here, alive, aware, right now"(Skolnick, p58). Awakening also brings the experience of context, or being able to see the big picture.
"Suppose that instead of struggling so hard with your anxiety (or depression) difficulties, you took a step back, and entirely changed the way you relate to it." This is from the "Anxiety and Phobia Workbook" by Edmund J. Bourne, and may be one of the most significant sentences ever written. Suppose, or imagine. Suppose that you are God, the creator or the universe, in it's oneness differentiiating to experience itself in all it's wonder, even the inevitable suffering. Suppose that instead of suffering as you have always done, you take a step back, and entirely change the way you relate to that suffering, the unavoidable side-effect of differentiating from oneness. In other words, we've tried with little success to eleviate this pain, let's try something different. The A@P workbook goes on: "You already know that you can't overcome anxiety (any difficulty for that matter) by avoiding or resisting it-that only makes it bigger." This I learned from my parents. It does not work. Further, it means "stepping back and learning how to 'be with' your difficult thoughts, feelings, and sensations rather than struggling against them." This is mindfulness which I define as "Paying attention, without any judgement, to the on-going flow of your experience in the present moment (very similar to Bourne's definition). I would suggest that this is acccessing your higher brain, or inshifting using whatever method you choose.
Why? Why go on when it seems life is endless pain? You may question my belief that we all suffer. What about those fourtunate who win the lottery, acquire enormous wealth. Many suggest it does not help, ultimately increasing the pain. Acceptance and Committment Therapy places emphasis on knowing your core values. When we don't live according to this value, we suffer. It is inevitable, a law of psychological physics.
You are a miracle beyond imagination. Your true nature, simply obscurred. Your awakening just as inevitable as your current suffering.
This mindful, inshifting approach; stepping back and learning how to "be with" difficult thoughts, feelings and memories rather than struggling against them. Tsok Nyi, a Tibetan monk that I met in Nepal suggested the "be with" approach is compassionate, much like a lady's handshake, gentle and soothing. The time is now. Take a step back, and embrace the miracle that is you. There is is but one things that we know for sure. That is our aliveness. Embrace this reflective awareness that can know.