Light The Darkness

1317 Relax and Succeed - Light the Darkness

The biggest challenge for society is also the biggest challenge for most individuals; to find a way to love our enemies. But this is not as hard a thing as one might imagine. What we need is not some new level of love, our natural love is plenty. What we need is, understanding.

Racists of all types are obviously sources of tremendous suffering to many. And people will say that hate doesn’t overcome hate, but just as quickly they will justify mean-spirited exchanges or even violence by talking about the need to ‘fight back’ against ugliness. The fighting back itself is a form of ugliness. That strategy has been tried for a long time. It’s simply not what works.

Irrational fears of other cultures are no different than irrational fears about water, or airplanes or germs. People aren’t evil for not understanding something. They’re not stupid just because they don’t have enough experience with something to understand it. Fear of the unfamiliar is built into us by nature. We all share that.

In cases of racism, let’s not turn it into actual people. It’s just some misinformation and an honest human survival mechanism triggering unnecessarily due to a lack of conditioning. Even what times we eat were established by conditioning, so we should all be able to relate to how ideas come alive within us feeling very much like our nature. That is why it doesn’t help to scream at a racist to change.

From a racist’s perspective they are simply being rational. What they are missing is more nuanced experience with their subject. So we have to kindly invite them to walk alongside us while we get them more familiar with some ideas that might at first seem very foreign and uncomfortable.

1317 Relax and Succeed - Make the world brighter

If anyone is going into foreign and uncomfortable territory, we’d all want someone friendly along. But we have to do the friend part first, but few of us want to go there. It takes spiritual courage.

If we attack people for attacking others we are only showing that we’ve lost sight of another person’s humanity when that is exactly what we must appeal to. But it must be their spirit that we speak to, not the framework of their ephemeral ideas.

We first must be trusted by their soul. Only then can we inform. With greater understanding, fear and anger naturally have no place and serve no purpose. The problem solves itself through understanding.

We don’t need to fight fire with fire. We don’t just want to strive toward justice in this world. We want to be forgiving, and even go so far as to extend compassion to those who oppose us. That is the emotional territory that truly leaves our ‘opponents’ off balance –it’s too rare a reaction.

If we’re looking for an advantage in life, then love is likely the answer. People see so little of it from those they disagree with, that it almost shocks them into a kind of spiritual submission.

Learning how to give love sincerely in difficult cases is a spiritual achievement in and of itself. So let us make forgiveness of those we disagree with our spiritual practice for the rest of this week. Let us see if we can find new ways of engaging with old challenges. Because when the world feels dark, the wise shine brighter.

peace, s

Where Defines You?

Sorry this was late everyone. I got hacked.

1087-relax-and-succeed-as-soon-as-you-are-bornWe’ve talked about how your name is interpreted by every person. We talked about how people will judge you based on your alignment with their judgments, and when you’ve lived determines what kind of living you can earn. It was pretty impossible to be an IT person in 1860 and it’s a lot harder to find work as a blacksmith now than it would have been then.

Today we add how where you’re from defines you, where you’ve been defines you, and where you are defines you. And remember, each of these who, what, when and where layers are all happening simultaneously. You are an ocean, with one current going one direction and others traveling in their own, and yet all are the ocean. And on top bobs your ego like a boat, thinking it is moving up and down, when really it is the universe.

As an example, the town you’re from can define your physical ability to withstand big climactic changes, what teams you feel passionate about, or even what your politics are. You won’t even know you absorbed these identities. Additionally, your nation defines your culture, what tastes in foods you’re loyal to, and what language you speak. In turn your language further informs your understanding of the world. Languages can break down the idea of something as obvious as colour into as few as three categories while others can create hundreds!

1087-relax-and-succeed-i-am-somehow-less-interestedWhere you’ve been defines you because that will impact how flexible you believe the world is. Before you’ve eaten at someone else’s house for the first time, you think you know how each food tastes, but really you know how your family cooks. Then you leave your country to backpack around the world and you discover there’s places that can’t even buy your foods let alone cook them the same way.

Where you are defines you because I’m sure ancient grass-skirted Polynesians seemed strange or even scary to the first whites who met them, but they eventually figured out they were super peaceful and now today things travel by media, so even if you’ve never seen Hawaii personally, you can go there virtually, and therefore pretty much half the world now knows how to Hula.

How they combine is this: Imagine you’re a tourist on holiday, it’s the nation you’re visitings national holiday, and you’re at a ceremony laughing and singing while you learn their cultural dance. You can imagine that’s a very pleasant experience. Maybe you make lots of local friends you dance and sing with.

1087-relax-and-succeed-all-wars-are-civil-warsNow imagine it three years later, after a revolution, and you’re a doctor in the military of what is now viewed as an opposing force. You still love the place and you think you’re still the same person with the same name, and you’d operate on anyone from either side. You thought you were there to help, but the locals might see the uniform in the new time and context and rather than dance with you they’ll want to attack you even though you’d personally save them. People can literally kill people that they would be life-saving friends with in another time or context.

Today’s meditation is to ask three questions and get three answers to each: How has the city you’re from shaped you? How has your nation shaped you? How has where you been shaped you? And if you’re not currently in your birthplace; how has where you are right now defined you? Because as people from “away” well know, you can live in Canada’s Maritimes since you were ten years old and yet you will never be considered a local by the locals.

Don’t just get easy answers. Try to find at least one surprise in there. These process are always worth a lot more if you find yourself surprising yourself by what you discover. Because those discoveries are what expands you. They literally push out envelopes of possibility. So be as big as you’re able, because it’s a grand universe and it’s just waiting for you to discover that for yourself.

Have a wonderful day everyone.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

The Rules

Your ego knows the rules. It knows how to dress you, it knows how to dance, how to sing, and even knows how to eat and how to sleep. And this alignment between you and these external limits is defined by fear. Your ego knows that if you step out of line you run the risk of embarrassment and embarrassment feels a lot like being shunned and that’s an ancient way to get people in line. If we lose the support of those around us we are in trouble indeed.

Various cultures have various rules and that can include anything from how they greet each other, what language they use to share ideas, or even what tools they use or don’t use to eat. You can be perfectly in line with Ethiopian culture and still potentially offend a person who’s been taught to value British culture, and yet beneath those rules those two people could potentially be very respectful best friends.

1031-relax-and-succeed-everything-you-wantBut how do you be best friends when one of you speaks Dutch while the other only speaks Inuktitut? The two souls could get along, but we have these ego-suits our cultures make us wear. And yet we see how thin those suits are, because as soon as the two people learn to communicate they literally build their own hybrid culture where they just ignore the details of their external cultures.

Some very famous friendships have achieved some amazing things in this way, including Tenzin Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary climbing Mount Everest, or the closeness shared between the 14th Dalai Lama and Heinrich Harrer. Some servants become close friends to their masters and vice versa. So the rules aren’t an issue, the rules are just loose agreements that we can break, we just don’t due to fear.

The people who do break these invisible rules are progressively called, open, eclectic, eccentric, strange, weird and even dangerous, but often times the only thing they’re doing is functioning outside of the rules society silently likes to teach each child. We like patterns and our culture is a set of patterns. Anyone outside of that is an outsider to us.

1031-relax-and-succeed-become-friends-with-peopleThis means that you have the ability to be friends with virtually anyone, which is great, but let’s focus on you. Because your ego doesn’t discuss much except these rules and your speculations about breaking them or maintaining them. Your ego is an expert on the rules, so when it’s talking to you it’s always from the rule-based, fear-based perspective. If you’re going to a party dressed like an actual clown your friend will actually try to talk you out of it and they might even desert you that night in a desire to avoid any reflected social shame you face.

Since your ego is little more than a rule expert, then the only reason for it to talk is for it to try to balance your natural drives with the rules, which is why your ego is primarily critical. The best thing to do is do what Norgay and Hillary did and just forge ahead together, but that’s only two people. Trying to get more people than to be free gets near impossible.

If you want to be a true individual living a truly spiritual life, you must surrender the rules and trade it for the Tao. You want the flow of a compassionate existence more than you want laws and protection. One is human, one is a thought-based idea. One is you behaving, the other is you feeling empathetic and compassionate.

Of off this is why you get upset if you spill food on your shirt at lunch. Imagine that: an adult having their day ruined by some mayonnaise on their shirt. Does that sound like a developed soul? No, that sounds like an ego trying to be liked by being in-line to the point where you’ll feel like everyone’s judging your stain, and if they’re following the rules they will. But so what?

What we’re talking about is just a framework in our head and the words are creations by our heads, for our heads. We certainly shouldn’t be using those words to punish ourselves. If you truly understood what was happening you wouldn’t need any rules for you to feel shame or regret. Those are nature’s way of keeping us cooperating in a way that’s good for all of us and those feelings don’t require words and they do permit for much more freedom.

Forget those words. Forget replaying some insult from 10 years ago. Stop listing all of the things that might go wrong. Stop looking for reasons you or others are out of line with the rules. None of this is hard. It’s not the start of something difficult, it’s the stopping of something difficult. Do not use your thoughts to weaken yourself. Those are only words taught to you by your culture. They cannot hurt you unless you believe them.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.