As the year winds down I wanted to take some time to recognize some of the blog entries that have really stood out for a variety of reasons. The text might be the same but the reader is always changing, so even if it is one you’re familiar with I would urge you to consider reading it again. It just takes a few moments and you might just be surprised at how different a reader you have already become….
I’ll break them down into three sections: one for my personal three favourites of the year, another for my three favourites from external sources, and then I’ll end with a countdown of the 10 most popular Blogs-of-the-Year. Today I will begin with my #3 pick for my personal favourite blog of this past year:
Imagine an ocean of consciousness. Imagine a teapot submerged within this ocean. That teapot defines what will be us. It contains the portion of total consciousness that is our sense of individual consciousness. While it never leaves the ocean, when the teapot rises to the surface it loses contact with much of the universe, and our very first sense of separation is what marks our ‘birth’ into the physical world.
Mental health versus mental struggle are determined by how much of our teapot feels ‘outside’ of the ocean. Do we feel we almost submerged and connected and healthy? Or are we barely touching our spiritual reality and understandably feeling isolated and vulnerable as a result? We’re always connected, but we can think we’re not.
When we are born our water is clear and our minds are like sponges. We grow by observing everything very closely, including the other teapots near us. We notice how they fill themselves with types of tea so –for better and for worse– we learn how to initially make tea from those around us. Families are our first culture.
How this works is that we’ll find a central person to mimic and one we’ll deem as living wrongly, and we’ll often try to do the opposite of what they suggest or do. Everyone else we like we still mimic, just less than those central sources of identity.
If that person in our family gets angry a lot we’ll either be motivated to make that angry tea too because it’s familiar, or if they’re the person we think suffers for being wrong, we’ll actively avoid getting angry because we will have noticed its negative effects because we were watching for the person for that and negative effects are always there simply due to the duality of nature. There are no one-sided coins.
In the end, whether we copy or oppose them, those close to us will largely dictate which cues will lead us to prepare –or specifically not prepare– this or that particular emotional tea. Spiritual growth is when we begin to selfishly take conscious control over the preparation of our own tea. In doing so, we become more present and less unconscious.
Our consciousness is like the water. It’s an opportunity. The life-force convection of our very Being allows us to make any tea we choose. But to drink deeply and to really taste the tea of life we must take ownership of the brewing process. We must consciously choose to make the tea we wish make to flavour the experience of our lives.
The biggest challenge to that is that we often losing track of our sense of choice. Fortunately, that is where our taste comes in. We have to actually start thinking about what flavour various parts of our day have.
If we just throw in whatever tea our Dad or Mom made in this or that situation— then we’re not really actively alive at all. We’re not choosing our life at that point, we’re just following a script they accidentally set. We’re just drinking whatever we were told to drink like we’re Pavlov’s dogs.
That kind of reaction can lead to things as minor as crying at weddings to as serious as domestic abuse. But even if we like crying at weddings—it would be much better that it was us choosing that, and not our history dictating it.
Fortunately we have great intuition when taste-testing teas. If we don’t like how a tea tastes then that is not our tea. That is all individuality is: personal taste.
Other people can tell us that chamomile is amazing, but if we don’t like it then it’s not for us. The fact that it tastes bad to us is what’s supposed to prompt us to stop drinking it and stop making it. It’s a signal to change emotional teabags. It’s a signal to change the contents of our thinking.
That change is contained within our consciousness. That’s why as conscious beings we really can’t blame others when it’s us that’s drinking something we clearly don’t like. Old habits die hard. But if we take responsibility for an ugly flavour, that also means we’re assuming control. We’re recognizing our control over our choice of teabags –control over our life experience.
We all make tea all day long. We just go from this moment/sip to that moment/sip. But we are always having some tea, even when we sleep. So we are better to stop complaining about it as though someone hands it to us. If we don’t like the tea we have we’re free to pour it out and replace it.
When it comes to living with wisdom, it’s really only a matter of practice. The more we consciously change tea bags the better we get at changing tea bags. That ability is an expression of being conscious. After we have that skill, knowing what we like to drink (from the choices available) is easy. Our tea is the tea that tastes good to us.
It is good for us to get conscious of the process of being alive. This is our short-lived opportunity to be a tea-maker. We should not feel ashamed to make some terrible teas. Drinking those will be what teaches us that the tea-making is ultimately our responsibility.
Over time we experiment with other people’s tea choices and a few of our own and eventually we figure out which teas are truly our favourites. From there we simply have to remember to brew those every opportunity we get, while also knowing that forgetting is a part of tea-making.
Over time we replace the triggers we have to make emotional teas we don’t find productive in our lives. We’ll still have emotional challenges because life ensures pain. But if we stay conscious we can make the sort of teas that reduce our suffering.
Before we know it we will casually remember that we are mortal, and that the pot of consciousness that is us will eventually drift back out into the larger ocean of consciousness that surrounds it. And that will be the end of the tea held in the shape of what we think of as us.
At the end of our lives, freed from our vessel, the real essence of us is finally free to flow and mix without judgment, as the former us melts and become an integral part of the vast and infinite ocean of consciousness from which new tea pots will be scooped up to be reincarnated as other individuals with their own opportunities to choose the teas that will flavour lives of their very own.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.