Depression

depressionOne difficulty of writing a blog is the way my conditioned mind will lock into a particular image of itself that it needs to present, then hijack my writing so that it conforms itself to that image. To be confused, unsure, afraid, or depressed is unacceptable to this conditioned part of my psyche and such states must never be revealed in the blog. The story seems to say, “People are looking to you for encouragement so you must keep yourself centered and confident. For heaven’s sake, don’t write anything if your can’t be positive and wise.” Yet, why communicate at all if I can’t communicate the full range of my experiences of life? Without that freedom my writings, my books, and my essays over the past 30 years would be a waste of words – mere facades woven with language to cover rather than reveal my soul.

At the moment I am discouraged and depressed. I acknowledge that both Nancy and I have been sick with a severe cold for the past week and we all know how that affects mood and outlook. Yet this current discouragement, though it will pass, is real and should not be dismissed by that part of me which is so terribly concerned with image.

I feel as if I have foolishly stepped off the edge of responsible behavior. I am assailed by the very voices I wrote about in a previous blog, Do You Know What You’re Doing? I reread that particular blog and found encouragement from my own words. Yet the feeling remains that I am somehow a foolish and naive man who, at age 74, is throwing away his life in Quixotic tilting at windmills. We have very little money. Our motor home is “docked” at my son’s home but we can’t remain here indefinitely. I have no idea what my contribution can or should be to the healing of the Earth. I am judging myself by all the standards that I actually don’t affirm to be true, but they feel true right now.

I write these discouraged thoughts because they are real to me at the moment. They are not the only reality. They are merely conditioned thoughts firing through the synapses of my brain. I write because I believe that a full-on acceptance of the transient moods of life is far more healthy than the effort of trying to pretend they do not exist. Acknowledging depression and discouragement is the first step toward moving through and emerging into the daylight. Our conditioned mind uses depression as one of its major weapons to resist transformation. It also hits us with the double-whammy of, “You’re depressed? What’s wrong with you? You shouldn’t be depressed? Buck up?”

“Buck up!” is a common refrain in life, but there are times when we long to hear, “Buck down for a bit.” There is nothing wrong with depressive and discouraged moods. Life is full of challenges and we are not always at our physical and emotional best to face them. That’s OK. We’ll find our way through. Compassion and acceptance, despite the insinuations of the conditioned mind to the contrary, are the strongest forces available to the human soul.

Lao Tzu remains my most compassionate guide, reminding me that, “The only step necessary in the thousand mile journey is the small one right in front of you.” It is raining and the Huachuca Mountains just south of us still have a bit of snow on their peaks. Nancy is napping. Kleenex tissues form their own small mountains by the chair, bed, and couch. I’m going to, “buck down,” and take a nap myself. That’s the next small step. It will be enough.

Bless our hearts, all of us.

Home

RA6eHoP5RXGCjR3bUmij1QWell, our savings account is now officially empty and we’re “on our own in the big world.” We feel exceptionally blessed to have found a lovely used 2003 Winnebago whose elderly owners left fully equipped with every amenity possible. The dealer, Freedom RV in Tucson, has been delightful. They will go through it in detail in the next 10 days, replacing anything that needs replacing, and we will pick it up after the first of the year. They will then teach us everything (well, probably not everything) we need to know about its operation and have us stay a night at their facility to make sure everything works.

I have the paradoxical feelings of “arrival” and “just beginning.” Actually, the “just beginning” aspect is predominant. Essentially all of our former way of living is now behind us and the road ahead stretches into unknown and completely unfamiliar territory. Our motor home, which we’ve named Brego after a older brave and strong horse from the Peter Jackson film adaptation of Lord of the Rings, will carry us into a life of service to the Sacred Source in ways we can’t imagine. Our mood continues to be a mixture of eager excitement and, “Oh my god, what are we doing!” But we’re on the road now, and the road will carry us ever on, to a place which we will discover to be our true home and, as T.S. Eliot said, “we will know this place for the first time.”

On The Road

krp2WZD9SPmi5e8U10blbQThis photograph shows Nancy alongside our faithful Subaru Outback which is packed to its limits with our possessions. It sits at the bottom of the driveway to the house in Mount Shasta that we have enjoyed renting for the past three years. When I get back in the car, start the engine, and turn right out of the driveway we will be entering unexplored territory.

It has not been an easy few weeks. A couple of days ago I completely fell apart. Overwhelmed by an attack from my internal chorus of critics who informed me that I was irresponsible; that I always had been irresponsible; that I was ignorant of what I was doing; that I could not succeed at this transition; and that, in general, I was a complete idiot. I sat and sobbed harder than I can remember ever doing. Nancy sat with her hand on my back while I let all this venom pass through me.

On the other side of the intense pain, life began to open up again as we remembered all the authentic energy and flow that has been guiding us along this path for so many years. We realized that most of our difficulty arose from the unconscious attempt to continue to carry assumptions about what we needed to have and what images of ourselves we needed to retain in order to be, “OK.”

We have dear friends who live in Portugal and have often invited us to travel and visit  them. They are establishing a life in a culture that is completely foreign to them and we often think, “Wouldn’t that be something!” As I recovered from my mini-breakdown, Nancy had the image, “What if we were actually going to Portugal to start our new life, entirely from scratch in an unfamiliar culture? What would we take with us?”

This insight led us to rearrange our “stuff” and lighten the load considerably. Some went to a small storage room that we are using for keepsakes that we will revisit next spring. Some went to the thrift store. Some joined the furniture and other useful items we left  for the evacuee family who is moving in. Suddenly it all fit. We felt “good to go.”

I am reminded of the classic scene from Peter Jackson’s wonderful film presentation of Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring. At the beginning of the film, Bilbo has to leave the “Ring” behind and he is extremely reluctant to do so, even though he knows he must. He stands in the doorway and lets the Ring slowly slide from his palm. It hits the floor with an unnatural, “Thud!” Bilbo goes out the door and stands in a moment of pain, then his face clears and he realizes that a great burden has been lifted. Down the road he goes with his pack on his back, lightness and freedom in his step,  and a song on his lips – “The road goes ever on and on …”

If you have similar “voices of judgment” ingrained within your mind, and I’ll wager you do, you understand just how powerful their full-on assaults can be. It helps to remember that, the more intense the assault, the more desperate the fear these voices have that they will lose their hold on your life. Don’t give in to them. Freedom may be just a good cry away.

So, my friends, Will and Nancy are, “on the road.” Our first stop will be a few days with some good friends in the Chico area. Then we will make our way slowly to southern Arizona to join our son and his family for the holidays – to relax and to begin the search for our “home on wheels.” Our load is light, our destination is a mystery, and our song is one of freedom and joy. I am glad you are sharing the road with us and I will keep you posted on the thoughts that arise in me.

What’s The Foundation?

quantum
“In all beginnings dwells a magic force for guarding us and helping us to live” From the wonderful poem, “Stages” by Hermann Hesse

Philosophy, spirituality, and psychology are inexorably intertwined. Each of us has a foundational conditioned paradigm that operates underneath all of our beliefs, intentions, actions, and relationships to each other and to the Earth. Because of how I was educated and guided; because of the assumptions my parents and peers transmitted to me; and because of the operating principles of my culture, I have operated from a “materialist” paradigm most of my life. I had never, until recently, questioned this conditioning. My spiritual path led me through several belief systems, none of which truly challenged the basic template of reality provided by materialism.

Materialism, as a basic principle, is not simply the accumulation of possessions and the consumption of goods. It is not an economic structure, though economic structures are usually built upon its principles. Economic greed is not what makes our society, “materialistic.”  The foundational paradigm of materialism is the assumption that everything – all life and content of the Cosmos – is founded upon matter. We may “believe” that there is a spiritual component of some sort, but matter itself remains the bedrock reality and the manipulation of matter is seen as the most important activity of human life.

If we are ill, we turn to the manipulation of matter on a biological and cellular level for better health. If we are poor, we turn to the manipulation of goods and services for more wealth. We believe, despite our spiritual statements, that any change for the better begins, at the base, with the shifting and rearrangement of matter, by matter. This belief has settled into the bedrock of society because, at a gross level, it has a certain reality that, in many ways, “works.” We are material beings. Our Great Mistake comes from our assumption that we are material at our Core. The marvelous science of biology shows us a “beginning” with the egg and sperm. Molecular biology goes deeper into the atomic structure of the cell’s genes. Unfortunately, this is where our operating assumptions usually stop. Here, we say, we have reached the foundation.

I no longer believe in this material foundation of being, though the conditioned wiring of my brain continues to protest, whine, and reason in an attempt to get me back into its solid structure. The seeds of my current transformation began more than fifty years ago in a Physics classroom on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. I forget the professor’s name, but I remember vividly an aside comment he made as he paused in the midst of strewing complicated formulas and Greek letters across the blackboard. “This,” he said, “is just representational language. Reality itself is not matter, but energy dancing beneath all existence. It is not the atom, but the dance, that is the source of life.” Then he went back to formulae and information about the next quiz. I went back to getting good grades and hoping to have sex someday.

Somehow that vaguely remembered comment set me on a journey. It was a journey guided for many years by materialist assumptions, but its germ; its essence was Mystery. That professor was lucky to be in his field at very beginnings of Quantum Physics.

Instead of digressing into the morass of Quantum Philosophy, let me return to state my transformed understanding of Being: Life does not arise from matter. Matter arises from Life. Spirit is not contained within matter. Matter is contained within Spirit. My existence is not formed by the blueprint of my DNA. My DNA is formed by a blueprint unseen but more “real” than any molecular chain.

When this paradigm shift occurs, everything changes. All action and intention now begins, not from an attempt to manipulate matter and events into a desired form, but from an inner movement of Energy/Spirit that trans-forms all forms. Far from being a denial of physical reality, this Quantum paradigm energizes physical reality. Engineers still build bridges. Doctors still work with the material body. We all still work for peace and justice. We still eat, drink, enjoy, suffer, live, and die but it is now a dance that flows from and occurs within Something Else. I am not a body who may or may not have a Spirit. I am an Dance of Energy, which has for the moment, a body formed by an this Dance.  What freedom! What power!