Saturday, March 15, 2014

Death And Suffering

I have been very close to death three times and had one near death experience.  I have also experienced years of pain and suffering.  Each of the experiences were traumatic and not the least bit enjoyable, especially if I fought them.  However, in addition, they each contained gifts that I could have gotten no other way and were much easier if I accepted them as part of life.  One of those gifts was/is to understand, first hand, what various mystics and spiritual leaders have said for years, that death and suffering are not to be feared and are a vital part of life.  I am reminded of the words of Richard Bach in his book One “An easy life doesn’t teach us anything.  In the end it’s the learning that matters: what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown.”  I have grown a great deal, due to the difficulties during my life.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Loving The Dark Side

During my recovery meeting today the topic of the importance of embracing the dark side
was brought up, along with the difficulty of doing so.  My experience is that it has, indeed, been difficult and unpleasant to do so at times.  However, the rewards, in terms of my ability to truly connect with, love and honor others, has been well worth it.  I began talking about, writing about and generally embracing my dark side years ago.  It’s that part of me that is extremely self-centered and can do harm to others without hesitation or caring.  I need not act on it, or even be afraid of it, but acknowledging it exists in me allows me to do the same with others, promoting a stronger and more authentic connection with them.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Basically, if I am willing to do the necessary work, I can either expand or realize the extent of my capabilities.  Physically that means doing things like sleeping enough, eating carefully, taking the needed supplements and vitamins, exercising and accepting my limitations.  Emotionally and spiritually it means to continue things like socializing, being of service and my periods of prayer and meditation.  In each case I also need to stay open to own possibilities or potentials, which I addressed yesterday.  Simple, but not easy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Staying Open

My biggest challenge right now is how to stay open to my own possibilities or potentials rather than staying within the comfort zone of my own perceptions and attitudes.  The clearest examples of what I am speaking of come from the physical limitations that result from my disability.  Fear tells me that I should accept my limitations, prepare for being confined to a wheelchair and not do things like canoeing, hiking and exercising to increase strength, balance and coordination.  Love or a feeling of well being leads me to do those things.  It is more subtle but the same pattern applies to all aspects of my life, attitudes or ideas about limitations.  I fully recognize that I am a limited human being, however, I have little idea of what those limits really are.  As with my disability, fear leads me to keep things safe, while love and faith lead me to push the limits.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Laws & Regulations

The other day, when writing about the sweat lodge, I used the phrase “White man’s law”.  What I was referring to were laws and attitudes that tend not to recognize the importance and sacredness of the land or its inhabitants other than white people.  Laws that tend not to reflect things like inclusiveness, connection with all things or love.  Bear Butte in South Dakota is a good example of blending laws and regulations, while also valuing inclusiveness, connection with all things and love. The use of the San Francisco Peaks is a good example of not doing that. In the case of the potential for the lodge, I checked with the trees, rocks, spirits and land, without considering monetary benefit or arbitrary boundary lines.  Neither approach is good or bad, they each have their reasons, and are certainly different.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Paying Attention

Today, Maria, my wife, and I took a hike to visit Keyhole Sink, a box canyon several miles west of Flagstaff.  When we got there, it felt like there was a considerable spirit  presence in the canyon and I kept getting partial, fleeting images of long-dead, indigenous people watching us.  I also felt  drawn to an area of large rocks toward the back of the canyon, while Maria made a very small fire to burn some smudge mix.  I went to sit and meditate next to the large rocks and when I got there I kept getting those same partial, fleeting images of snakes, together with an uneasy feeling.  I even went so far as checking for snake, while also thinking that it was to early in the year.  After meditating/contemplating for a while, I stood up and noticed several petro-glyphs, nearby.  Among the petroglyphs was a very beautiful and simple, vertical snake near another of a man.  On the way back from the canyon, Maria commented that some people associate the image of a snake with transformation, which seemed right, in this case, though, personally, I don’t feel up for another transformation.  It seems important to pay attention to these subtle images and synchronicity and to stay open to possibilities.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Peace Of Not Knowing

Recently, I have encountered several people who were strongly opinionated and thought they knew a lot, in general  and, certainly, the “right” way to do things.  I must admit that was me in my middle to late twentys and early thirtys. Being an assistant professor, researcher and chairperson of important committees, that attitude worked well for me, or I thought it did.  At that time, I was not happy or at all peaceful, yet I doggedly pursued what I knew to be right and judged others who “fell short”.   I now know that I don’t know much and that people are simply different, not better or worse.  There is a lot of peace and serenity in my current approach of knowing enough to know that I don’t know much.  I also spend a lot of time listening to other people and realize that we are all “right”, if I pay attention.