A voicehearer’s path ~

Archive for the ‘encouragement’ Category

Humor ~

oldchurchI spent most of my high school years in a little  church in a small town. I liked many of the other members of my youth group, and one of my mother’s best friends was an elder in that church. The Pastors that came and went were decent people whose main fault was that they took the Bible as a literal truth that must be practiced point by point. {The more I study this rich resrource, the more I find that is an impossibility. Onc can, without doubt or hesitation, most often follow the principles incited, but the literal obedience would have you stoning your  children to death for misbehavior. Perhaps a temptation, but never a possibility.}

I enjoyed that church, and the point of most of the sermons was learning to live a life that hermes1honors Creator. I had only one reservation in that church, and have heard from friends still there that it is better now. There was this hesitation regarding a sense of humor and the appropriateness of laughter because of some faulty translations in the Old Testament. I can be sure they are faulty because, though it is translated as laughter perhaps even appropriately, it is about a humor that hurts others. That is never right for those on a spiritual path.

However, there are places in the psalms that ring with joy, and one is encouraged to make that joyful noise before the Lord. It is impossible to have that kind of joy and not laugh and smile. In the reverse, no humor that makes it’s point through hurting the well-being of another, or taking power over another is part of that joy. In that joy, one cannot take delight in another’s sorrow or trouble, such a reaction to life is not possible when one resides so totally in the Spirit that one has that depth of joy.

Yeah, I kinda hammered that, sorry. But it is necessary to make that distinction. Especially for people like myself. I was reared by a man whose skill with sarcasm was razor edge sharp. I was capable of such wit that I could wound another with a few words. One day I had so wounded a dear friend with my sarcasm that I nearly ruined the friendship, and though she forgave me, it was a while before she could trust me not to hurt her again so deeply. I have only indulged in such repartee (since Spirit brought my shortcoming to my attention) when the person had so completely disregarded the well-being of others around them as to cry to be brought down. {I was more than happy to comply.} There is a time and place for all things, one must be mindful, however, that one will answer for every word that comes from one’s mouth, don’t wound the innocent or those who truly intend good, even when sorely tempted and the path laid out before you.

Just remeber, there is humor that wounds, not to be practiced by those who follow the Ruach Ha’Kodesh, and there is humor that heals, always appropriate, any time of night or day.

Sacred Space ~

medwhlI love the medicine wheel, it is always part of my thinking, now. I will try  to translate the Native wisdom so that you can understand and participate in this way of life  without appearing to be trying to rob their spirituality. The Lakota and Shawnee teachings are those with which I am most familiar, and though they approach the wheel each from opposite directions, their ways are still quite compatible. One of the reasons I have been reluctant to share this as part of the path I walk is that a pale face, like myself, just looks silly running around in ribbon shirts and feathers in their braids. So, though I want to discuss the concepts of the NA way of life, it is with the idea of incorporating these  concepts into your own perspective, not to make you into a NA wannabe.

As I understand it, (and that must always remain in your awareness, I am not a holy woman, picture1nor am I a “shaman”, I cannot turn out other “shamans” off an assembly line because you need to be one to teach it. I am a mystic, who has found the Native awareness of Spirit to be so completely on target, that once exposed to their teachings, they became a part of my practice.) life is seen to be lived on a series of circles, each of us having our own personal circle, and all life forms each having their own circle. The awareness of this first brought me to an understanding of Sacred Space that I had never seen in other forms of spirituality.

Sacred Space then became something of a point of study. I wanted to understand this concept as it applied to me. Above and to the right you see a series of concentric circles, the outer one is yellow, for openness, as this is where your sacred space meets the rest of the world, and you  must interface with what comes your way, whether in work or daily life, i.e. fellow workers, clerks in stores, supervisors, delivery people. The only choices you have here are the simple ones, as in where you go and the people with whom you choose to do business. The next circle is green, still open, but much more selective, for here in this circle are your acquaintances and family, people with whom you have things in common, but do not want into your most intimate space. The next circle is your truly most sacred circle, here are those you trust with all that you are and hope to be.

win_win_relationshipI was taught to take three pieces of paper, marking each one with the color of the circle represented, i.e. mark with yellow marker or the word yellow, whichever works with your circumstances. Here list all those with whom you have daily or weekly commerce that are not your most intimate friends. In fact, work with all three papers at the same time, sorting who goes where according to where you want them to be in your life. If you have had a problem with boundaries, that is not necessarily where they are in your little corner of the world, and you may need to make two sets of lists, so that you can see what you need to work on to get your world in balance.

When there is someone farther out than you want them to be or closer than you want them to be, you need to look at the why’s of the issue, so that you can gently, and without fuss, relationshipfind a way to readjust your world so that they occupy the space in your life that you want them to. When you are wanting someone to be closer to you, you must also be absolutely certain that they want to be closer also, if they do not, do not mess with them. Give space to others in the same manner that you want space given to you! I found a similar relationship map at a circles network. Please feel free to use whichever map works best for you, and by all means, if you find you are entangled and cannot find gentle ways out of bad situations, find a relationship counselor who can help you find the highest and best way to refine your relationships.

Remember, the path I walk is learning to love all. This does not mean that all are in the innermost circle.  Love is the building block on which relationship is built. Consider carefully and choose consciously how you wish to live your life.

Free Will ~

binnewies-390-for-tridion_tcm18-115975Do we have free will? Well, I personally believe so. We have mapped the human genome, and they don’t seem to have found a gene for free will, but, there are many things that point to the idea that each of us, in spite or because of our genetic make up, can make choices as to how we will respond to life’s stimuli.

There always seem to be those who would love to tell us that we are just chemicals reacting to what the world delivers at our doorstep. Yet, looking at life in intensely disturbing reality will show us that this is not necessarily true. One sibling with a similar genetic make-up to the other will struggle against the tide and surface far from muck and gore, while another from the same family will sink into the mire of a life underscored by suffering and sorrow. Why? We don’t really know. It is most certainly NOT just genetics.

From my perspective, as a mystic and student of the cosmos, I think of it as martin-luther-king-jr-picthe “medicine” each child was born with, though that entails not just genetics, but past lives, and ancestral contributors to one’s make-up. There is one other contributor to character that may or may not be counted by the “experts”. The person that child adheres to as a role model may make all the difference in the world. If one thinks in terms of the difference between a “Hannibal Lechter” type or a “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” type the two paths in life are so obvious as to be painful. But children in their first 7 years of developement are often not exposed to such archetypes, their world is much more tightly knit that this.

Aunt Jane, or Mama are their world, or Gramma, or Grampa or Dad or Uncle Joe. How we react to our world is how we teach the little ones to react, mouse1and it is often those we admire that our children admire or reject for just such similar reasons. Many times I have seen an incompatability in “medicines” be the means by which the “bad seed” develops into a rebel or delinquent. A child born with “mouse” medicine to a parent with hawk medicine may learn to hide from the eyes of their elders and becomes sneaky and untrusting and untrustworthy. Yet, mouse medicine is not bad medicine. If the child is guided by one with similar medicine, say a Mama with squirrel medicine, the child may prosper if only because they learn to prepare for what life brings them.

The “hawk” and “mouse” situation may turn abusive, simply because of hawk7frustration and fear of what will result when the child matures, yet the parent never meant to be abusive in the least, loving the child immensely. How tragic this whole scene becomes, most especially when it is from intense love that the results are far from ideal. There are no societal safe zones for either the parent or the child. Nothing “honorable” that will allow the parent to “back off” and let the child become themselves. Our family unit is now too small for the child to find an aunt or uncle who can understand, as the family is often scattered over 1000’s of miles.

I guess then, that I must conclude that though we do indeed have free will, and if the child can survive intact until their late thirties without having been in too much trouble with the law, they may get themselves straightened out, as it takes that long for us to become who we are, even when the parenting was compatible with our “medicines.” Even here, I believe we have free will, and if we have the internal strenth, we can become who we want to be no matter what our parents were or are, good or not so good. One most helpful thing to remember is that most parents truly do the best they can with the tools they are given to hand.

Wolf, the teacher ~

greywolf1I have been thinking about our love/hate relationship with teachers. We value them above almost any other profession, yet, they are the most poorly paid of all professionals. We send our children to school each day, for an average of 35 hours a week during their prime learning hours in the day. Many are happy with this arrangement as it gives the children quality time with adults while we go about our urban lives. Yet, there is often an uneasiness about what our children are learning and how it will affect their lives.

The totem of the teacher is the wolf, a beautiful animal that has been much maligned by farmers whose fear of the wolf resembles our fear of the teacher. wildernessThe wolf is a “Pathfinder” which means that when others cannot find a way through the “wilderness” the wolf will find it. The wolf will avoid a confrontation if at all possible, and is an animal that likes peace to reign in it’s domain.

There is somewhat to support that the wolf behaves quite differently in the wild than it behaves in captivity, so I am uncertain of some of the things I thought I knew about wolves, but much of the fear of the wolf is due to the very fact that wolves cannot be fully domesticated. They will work together with humans, and will be quite loyal to a human they have befriended, but they will not tolerate the abuse a domesticated dog will tolerate.

ptcI believe this may help us take a look at the parent-teacher relationship. The teacher has things that are to be taught the child according to the state, they may also have things they particularly want to teach the child (oops, an agenda), the parent, thinking this child is theirs and desiring certain standards of behavior is often watching from the wings. Parents that are totally involved with their child’s learning may run up against a wall that says they are “too involved”. Personally, I don’t think that is possible. It is the parent’s responsibility to see the child learns what is needed, the teacher is a professional assistant in that process.

For parents, I would say, “Learn the totem of the teacher, it may help you to understand the attitude and what you need to do to assist your child in learning.”

For teachers, I would say, “Study your totem, it may help you understand your own reactions to things said and done.”

How totems work, at least for me ~

It seems best to start with Wagle Shun, my south totem teacher. I have felt her presence since I was a small child and will admit that it is her wisdom that has kept me from crashing on the rocks during the early part of my journey. Since she is the totem of the mystic, there is every reason to suspect that this is why I followed that path. Whenever I see one of those wonderful little figurines of her in a home I visit, I start asking the questions that will tell me if the person that collects them is one of her students. I start with her because her gentle guidance is available to everyone if she is who I believe her to be.

Proverbs is full of mention of her, most especially the eighth chapter. It is also full of mention of her opposite number, Folly, whose animal I am unsure of. I believe Wagle Shun is my teacher’s totem, and is most certainly the way she communicates with me. It is she who first taught me not to envy others the things that are theirs by birth, which, once I knew my birth totem was a good chuckle, since that is the raven, and a reminder of Aesop’s fables. Who knows, maybe I am folly and am finally allowing Wisdom to teach me. That would certainly be the way my life has gone, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it were at least an allegorical truth.

These two totems, along with the Snowy Owl and the butterfly have drawn me from early youth. I have had some strong lessons to learn from them. Note the amount of airy totems, which is where my head usually is and then it will be no surprise to you that I had to learn from another totem, one that had drawn me but I had not explored the lessons, the otter, how to stay grounded, balanced and playful. If you understand that the animals as the Native American sees them, are teachers, not G-ds, they can teach you also.

You can start out by looking at the animals that drew your attention in childhood, what were they trying to teach you? Even domestic animals have lessons to teach so do not discredit their influence in your life lessons. If you cannot remember being drawn to any wild ones, there is another, rather slightly off-beat way to learn about totems that have to do with you personally. Everyone is familiar with astrology, some believe in it, some don’t. That’s fine, I will not try to persuade you one way or the other, but it is a tool, should you choose to use it, that can lead you to the knowledge of at least four of the animals that will have been a fairly strong influence in your life.

First go to Alabe.com, look down the page to where you can pull a free birth chart. Enter your data there, save the chart on your computer, it will be a gif image, and save the write-up in a Word document, or other word processing software. (Open Office is free on the web and does all that Microsoft’s does without spending an arm and a leg.) When you have them on your own computer where you can study them, pick out the “houses” that are your birth sign (your character), your moon sign (your inner self), your rising sign (your outward projection for others to see) and the North Node, which will tell you where you are headed in your learning patterns.

After you have found the astrological “houses” involved for your birth, look at Sun Bear’s Dancing with the Wheel. It can be found at most Public Libraries if you cannot afford it, but is a wonderful book to have if you are interested in Native American cosmology at all, so I wouldn’t hesitate to spend the money if you have it. You will find the totems for those four “houses” in that workbook, and full explanations of the lessons those four animals have to teach you. It is not quite the same as having a “Medicine” teacher find your totems for you, but is a good way to start with learning about totems.

Choices ~

I live in a country where it seems the choices of how to live one’s life are unlimited. You can be anything you want to be, so long as you have the innate ability to carry it off. If you really want to, you can become an astronaut, and litterally reach for the stars. But the choices are also there to take us into the very pits of a living H*ll. I am not one who believes in an eternal h*ll for the average person.

This does not mean we cannot lower ourselves to experience such horror, it simply means that, considering the grace of an Almighty Creator, I truly doubt if an average person, trying to make out the best they can with what they have will be condemned to an eternity of either ice or fire. The belief that man is totally depraved and deserving of eternal death is actually rather unrealistic and sounds more like the ravings of a depressed individual that needs therapy.

I am aware that Hashem is perfect and shining and awesome and totally beyond our imaginations, I am also aware that in comparison to that vision we are shadowy beings at best. But, I want you to look at the writings of a man whose words mean a great deal to the Evangelicals, i.e. Paul. In I Corinthians chapter 13, he speaks of Love, genuine from the heart caring, and he does a very nice job.

1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

There, in the 5th verse, is the key to my commentary. for if G-d is Love (1John4:7&8), then G-d keeps no record of wrongs. So, who does keep a record, and is that one more powerful than Hashem? And is the one who condemns your G-d? The one who condemns is not my G-d. I choose love, and I choose to love. No, it does not make the nastiness of living in a limited dimension disappear, but it does ease the pain. Choose love first, always.

Anger, there is help . . .

Dealing with my own anger issues has been one of the toughest problems, but one of the most important to accomplish. When I am incredibly angry, the “low” voices are at their strongest, and I can hear them most clearly. Their presence is uncomfortable in and of itself, and reason enough to find ways to deal with this very normal emotion.

For me, and apparently for all humans, intense anger blocks the flow of love. Now, that’s only logical, but, when you think about, and indeed consciously contemplate it, that would explain quite clearly why some one like me is particularly bothered by the angry blockage of that flow.

At the risk of sounding terribly esoteric, I will try to explain this as I understand it. Apparently, there is some sort of tear or opening in the “fabric” that protects the human entity from hearing the sounds, and seeing the events, that happen on subtler, less visible or audible layers of the universe. I wish I could put this in more scientific terms, but I am under the understanding that it has something to do with the bands of light and sound that are normally perceptible to the human eye and ear.

Now, I am not insisting that what I hear is the result of some sane and sober process, because it often feels just the opposite, and I am quick to discourage those who would willingly subject themselves to any “New Age” process that might open one to this sort of thing. Don’t do it, it’s not fun. Learning to live with it has been a harrowing process and I have made many, some disastrous, mistakes in the learning process!

Now, put that insight into practice in that this “window” or tear leaves me open to hearing “low” angry, nasty destructive voices. When I open myself, however, to love and release my own anger, the flow of the loving energy “blocks”, if you will, the sound of the “low” voices. This was one of the most important steps in my development, and happened under the minstering of “Charismatics”, which is why I will not label that way of life as evil. They did me much good. It is simply that, like all human perspectives, they are not perfect. Oooops, neither am I.

The next step in my learning, however, came from a Buddhist teacher who showed me the benefits of “letting go”, completely, of all attachment to outcomes. I will not say that I have been a resounding success at this, but most of the time I am able, sometimes with much prayer and meditation, to let go of my “right” to expect the results I want from what I do, or even from what others do. It is extremely helpful in that I get angry less often when I succeed at this, and am able to relax and let the flow of love keep the disturbing voices at bay.

It is here that the mantra, “Grant me the serenity, courage and wisdom . . .” has been of great service in my life. I am most grateful to AA for making their teachings public, and most grateful to Dr. Neibuhr for development of that prayer.

EDIT ~

12.3.2008, looking back to see what I had said, I find that I did not give the name of the Buddhist teacher whose worked helped me so much. Since his teaching is quite available to the public, that is unfair. Thich Nhat Hanh is his name, the book is Anger, Wisdom for Cooling the Flames. Excellent learning resource, and comes in CD as well.

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