Saturday, May 15, 2021

A Great Book, a Second Review

      I am pretty sure that I've reviewed Sophy Burnham's book, The Ecstatic Journey: Walking the Mystical Path in Everyday Life, before, but I wanted to touch on some things again.  I think that re-reading some things, after having traveled farther along on the path of life, gives one a different perspective.  It's a bit like reading a travel guide before and after you've seen the sights.

     On my first reading, I felt like the author dwelled too much on her personal journey and emotional experiences, and that felt a little off-putting to me at the time.  On my second reading, however, I noticed how she would talk about her mystical insights and then refer to many mystic's writings and experiences from the past.  It helped to validate and explain what she lived.

     For that reason, I think this is a book worth reading twice, some years apart.  It will inform not only your own journey so far, but also the road and sights to come.  

Saturday, May 8, 2021

A Book for Specific Searchers, Part 2

      Last week, I was discussing my hesitancy to recommend B.K. Frantzis' Relaxing Into Your Being: The Water Method of Taoist Meditation Series, Vol. 1 [Paperback].  Yet, because of some results I experienced, I wanted to offer it to those who might find it useful.  

     First, I think it would be helpful to understand the author's view of meditation:

     A commonly overlooked point in some meditation traditions is that, if you wish to meditate solely to become physically and mentally relaxed, you run the risk of never gaining spiritually.  People use chi gung for relaxing and avoiding depression, as if it were an antidepressant drug.  Meditation can certainly calm or relax you, but its highest purpose in Taoism is to make you aware of the center of your being; that is, to find spirit and emptiness, the essential components of Consciousness itself.  This level is beyond states of physical and mental relaxation; rather it is relaxation into your being or "soul."

     The various exercises that Mr. Frantzis offers seek to address and eliminate the blockages we have that keep us from getting into a calm and relaxed state so that the meditator can directly experience the inner Oneness with Consciousness.  He shows the reader how to find these blockages  and dissolve them.  It's very powerful.

     How do I know it works?  A quick story.  As you know, I am almost never wrong.  I am wrong maybe as often as a third blue moon on the sixth Tuesday of the month during an odd-numbered leap year.  Well, I was frustrated at home trying to fix something that wasn't cooperating, got mad and said some hurtful things to my Significant Other.  I cooled off, thought about it, and very simply apologized to my Significant Other.  I mean, when you're never wrong, you never have to apologize, right?  Well, after my Significant Other got off the floor after a dead faint, we cleared the air and felt better.  I thought later that the dissolving practices that Mr. Frantzis' book taught me must have made that possible.  Any improvement is welcome.

     There is a second volume to this series.  I hope to report to you about it in three years or less.  Wish me luck.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

A Book for Specific Searchers

      I'm a little hesitant to recommend this book, not because it's poorly written or anything, but because it would appeal to a select few, I think.  It's B.K. Frantzis' Relaxing Into Your Being: The Water Method of Taoist Meditation Series, Vol. 1 [Paperback].  Mr. Frantzis is a Taoist master and teacher who, as a young man, went to China to study with an aged Taoist master in the water method of Taoist meditation.

     When I purchased the book, I wanted to find some additional Taoist meditation practices, and this book provides them within the context of the water method of the Taoist tradition.  The water method is contrasted to the fire method as yin is to yang.  In other words, the water method accepts what is and works with it gently, whereas the fire method uses much more force and control.  The idea of gentleness appealed to me, so this is the book I chose.

     However, I was unprepared for what the book offered.  I thought it would be a series of nice visualizations, perhaps some mantras to chant, and it is far from that.  In this method, the body is used to guide the mind.  It presents five aspects of body positions to help still the mind:  sitting, walking, standing, lying down, and having sex (yes, really).  Mr. Frantzis often breaks down the various exercises into little, bitty parts, and then says to work on those little, bitty parts for a week to a month.  When I did that, I found I lost interest in the book because I felt stuck at practicing little, bitty parts and wasn't going anywhere.

     Which is why the book has stayed by my bedside for at least three years.  I tried reading it, got stuck, put it aside, picked it back up a few months later, got stuck, put it aside, and tried again a couple more times.  That's embarrassing to say, but that's how I finally got through it.  And I'm glad I did.

     More on that next week.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Some Quotes for Earth Day, Part 2

      Here are some more inspiring quotes:

As long as we insist on relating to it strictly on our own terms -- as strange to us or subject to us -- the wilderness is alien, threatening, fearful.  We have no choice then but to become its exploiters, and to lose, by consequence, our place in it.  It is only when, by humility, openness, generosity, courage, we make ourselves able to relate to it on its terms that it ceases to be alien.  (Wendell Berry)

Love is a powerful tool, and maybe, just maybe, before the last little town is corrupted and the last of the unroaded and undeveloped wildness is given over to dreams of profit, maybe it will be love, finally, love for the land for its own sake and for what it holds of beauty and joy and spiritual redemption, that will make [wildness] not a battlefield but a revelation.  (T. H. Watkins)

(image courtesy of pixabay.com)

 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Some Quotes for Earth Day

 I found these quotes and wanted to share them.  They offer something to ponder, and hopefully, act upon:

Like the mind-set that places men above women, whites above Blacks, and rich above poor, the mentality that places humans above nature is a dysfunctional delusion.  (Petra K. Kelly)

In spite of our rather boastful talk about progress, and our pride in the gadgets of civilization, there is, I think, a growing suspicion -- indeed, perhaps an uneasy certainty -- that we have been sometimes a little too ingenious for our own good . . . We are beginning to wonder whether our power to change the face of nature should not have been tempered with wisdom for our own good, and with a greater sense of responsibility for the welfare of generations to come.  (Rachel Carson) 

(image courtesy of pixabay.com)

 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Planting Seeds, Part 2

      Last week we were discussing planting seeds to build the future that we want to see.  We agreed that it's a bit like planting seeds in a garden, because you need to be specific about what you want to see, you need to have a plan for where it should grow, and you need to be wise about your timing.

     First, be specific.  We have all seen things in our society that we don't like or agree with.  Perhaps it's racial equality and justice, prison reform, economic opportunities for all, overpopulation, equitable health care, telling the truth instead of spinning lies to manipulate people, climate change, pollution . . . the list goes on and on.  Choose one.  Choose one that stirs your passion.  Choose one that you can envision helping to make a difference.  No, you won't be able to do this alone; the problems are too big.  But choose.

    Next, have a plan.  The chances are that there are already organizations or movements that are addressing your chosen issue.  See if you can align with their motives and methods.  If not, start your own.  Ask for help.  Change won't come without some buy-in and assistance from others.  Also, be wise about where you want to see the change happen.  If possible, keep it local.  That way, you can be part of the movement toward change in your community and you will see the results on a personal level.

     Finally, be wise about your timing.  Just as you don't plant tomatoes in January snow drifts, you want to make sure your community is awake and aware enough to desire change, and to help you achieve it.  Otherwise, you risk just beating your head against the wall.  People resist change when they don't see the need or have any buy-in.  This takes wisdom.  Rely on the wisdom and insight of others.

     So, let's get out there!  Let's plant some seeds!  Let's build a better future for all of us.

(photo courtesy of pixabay.com)


Saturday, April 3, 2021

Planting Seeds

      Perhaps you follow some of the leaders in the metaphysical world -- people who say that we're in a rebuilding phase in the evolution of our society.  One of the things I've read over and over is that this year is the time to plant seeds for building the future that we want.

     I was thinking about that -- planting seeds.  In some parts of the world, this is the time to tidy up our gardening spots, amend the soil, till perhaps, and start planning what we want to grow, and where.  We need to be specific and have a plan to make sure we have as much success as Mother Nature allows.  

     Similarly, in planning for a better future, we need to be specific and we need to plan.  What are some seeds that we want to see sprout and grow in the future?  I know that for many of us, it's clearer to say what we DON'T want than what we DO desire.

     But that's no way to plant a garden, is it?  I mean, you wouldn't go to your local garden center and ask to buy a packet of "non-onion" seeds, would you?  What would non-onion seeds be, anyway?  Carrots, parsley, corn, tomatoes, rutabagas?  No, you need to be specific.  You need to know what you do want.

     Also, you need to have a plan.  In a garden, you wouldn't plant corn under heavy shade or delicate herbs in the hottest, sunniest plot, would you?  Similarly, you wouldn't plant your tomatoes in the midst of winter, would you?  In the same way, you need to make sure your seed is planted in just the right conditions and at the best time.  More on this next week.  

(photo courtesy of pixabay.com)