Friday, May 30, 2014

Quotes for this weeks blog
And Also...

 I am in the process of catching up with myself and writing the topics for the upcoming blog theme - The Spirit of Healing. In the 90's I wrote a book called The Spirit of Healing (out of print but a summary is on the web site and can be downloaded as a pdf. ) The book was all about healing body, mind and soul. At the time I stressed that healing and curing were not the same, that you could be cured of an illness and not be healed, and vice versa. Nevertheless if you were "healed" this led to meaning in one's life which was also likely to enhance the Inner Healer with a greater possibility for cure as well. It is becoming more apparent as neuroscience links with ancient wisdom that whatever heals the spirit, helps heal the body mostly by enhancing the immune system. This will become more clear as the new blog topic develops, as we drift away from the template of nature healing and wilderness rapture.

Once what you are living and what you are doing has for you meaning it is irrelevant whether you are happy or unhappy. You are content, you are not alone in your spirit, you belong. L. Van der Post

20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didnt do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the wind in your sails. 

Explore, dream, discover. Mark Twain

I only went out for a walk and finally decided to stay until sundown, for going out, I discovered, was actually going in. John Muir

A possibility is a hint from God - one must follow itKierkegard

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Goethe

Some shapes and designs of themselves lend more easily to a natural connection, for instance the circle and the spiral. Their very form speak to the essence in creation. The Ancestors

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Quotes for this week's blog

Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill

Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt
Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench
Care about peoples approval and you will be their prisoner
Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity. Tao Te Ching

There came a time when staying tight within the bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom Anais Nin

Nature understands no jesting. She is always true, always serious, always severe. She is always right and the errors and faults are those of man. The man incapable of appreciating her, she despises and only to apt, the pure, the true, does she resign herself & reveal her secrets. Goethe

The force of the primal self manifested as love is the glory of God. Those who awaken it in others & nurture the nurturers glorify Him. The Ancestors

Wilderness holds the answers to questions we do not yet know how to ask. David Brower

I only went out for a walk & finally decided to stay until sundown, for going out, I discovered, was actually going in. John Muir

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ending off the Wilderness Rapture Blog

We are coming close to the end of this particular blog topic so I thought I would send off some pithy quotes that have helped me along the journey "into the wilderness" - inner and outer. I hope you enjoy them.
I will send a few every week before commencing the next section of the blog, so watch this space.

We do not go into the desert to escape people but to learn how to find them: we do not leave them in order to have nothing more to do with them but to find out the way to do them the most good. Thomas Merton

Accept surprises that upset your plans, shatter your dreams, give a completely different turn to your day and who knows, your life. Leave the Father free to weave the pattern of your days. 
Dom Helder Camara

If we are willing to open up to it then it is just the unknown, the unplanned, the unexpected, the unfamiliar which can best teach us. In the tiny prefix un which so often spells trouble, lies the potential for change, for the new, for the hitherto unconsidered, unimagined, unrealized.
  Robert Hinshaw

He who would be what he ought to be must stop being what he is. Meister Eckart 

Nature understands no jesting. She is always true, always serious, always severe. She is always right and the errors and faults are those of man. The man incapable of appreciating her, she despises & only to apt, the pure, the true, does she resign herself and reveal her secrets. Goethe

In order to possess what you do not possess you must go by the way of dispossession. In order to arrive at what you are not you must go through the way in which you are not. T.S. Eliot

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Four Directions and The Medicine Wheel 

The Medicine Wheel is a legacy the West has adopted from the Native Americans. The details vary from tribe to tribe though the basic principles remain the same. We pass from South to West to North to East clockwise around the wheel as we do respectively from child to adolescent, to adult (or warrior) and to visionary (or hero/ine.) This wheel of life is also what the Eastern traditions would call the recurring wheel of samsara resulting from a sentient based existence necessitating rebirth again and again until perfection of the soul is realized. Hence we are reborn as the child of the South unless, having arrived in the East, we have fully reconciled that part of our being that has to do with spirit and our higher Self. 

It would be good to honor each passage with some special ritual, rite of passage or trial of initiation such as a vision quest as do the Native Americans. Some have adopted this tradition but it is still very much lacking in Western society. 
The information below is loosely based on that originally visioned by Steven Foster and Meredith Little (The School of Lost Borders.)

Each direction has a season, a color, an animal, an element, a chakra, an archetype and a shadow side as well which you should discover for yourself.
Different Native American traditions vary in which color, element or animal "belongs" where but bear, cougar, buffalo, eagle and even the mouse feature prominently. As a shaman once told me; " the power animal you want may not be the one that you need for that something lacking inside of you," e.g. one might need a mouse rather than a lion if lacking in humility. The Chumash of the Central Californian Coast would use datura in sacred ceremony to dream their own power or totem animal. The animal came to them from within rather from without. 

It is my belief that each individual should particularize and choose his or her own polarity for the directions remembering that in the Southern Hemisphere the seasons are reversed and the animals may differ. The four basic archetypes are; healer, teacher, warrior (or leader) and visionary or elder (e.g. shaman, wisdom keeper, story teller, musician, artist etc.) Here is a basic structure that you can modify to your own individual sensitivities. Its no use having a medicinal wheel that belongs to someone else that has no meaning for you. Add to and change this as you see fit but for yourself only.

The South is the place of the child, represents summer (color ? red,) the earth element and the first chakra since the child is very much in survival mode. The child depends on the parent for all its needs and although self centered represents innocence, spontaneity, gratification and an untainted ego. It is often the wounded child of the South who never received unconditional love who becomes a healer (Angeles Arrien.)

 We should be looking at what is there in a particular direction that may be holding us back from our ultimate vision? In which direction are we stuck? Where are we deficient?  The move from one to a new direction was associated with a rite of passage (ROP) or a trial of initiation to be sure one was ready to go to the next level. 

The West; the place of the adolescent, represents autumn, the water element and the second chakra of elimination (urine and stool) and reproduction (its sexual and hence hormones are beginning to rage.) The color here is black in line with the dark night of the soul or introspection which is often sabotaged by sexual longings and confusion. Since autumn requires that nature  lies fallow, the bear is often the animal of the West since it is getting ready to hibernate.
A good archetype for the West is the teacher since it is an inspirational teacher or mentor that the youth needs to get through this difficult phase. Becoming a gang member, though socio-pathic, is in a sense an attempt to link with this archetype in the wrong way and with dark mentors. Rather than go and hunt an animal as a ROP they choose to kill a rival gang member to prove themselves.

The North; the place of the adult, represents winter (color often white,) the fire element and the third chakra. Our ego is centered around this chakra and this is the how we make our way in the world. The archetype is the warrior. The warrior or leader is the governing principle of the wheel. The animal of the north is therefore an animal of integrity, mastery and power but also one that should fit your own personality. We depend on a leader of integrity who subordinates ego for the greater good of the whole rather than a charismatic narcissist who leads the group to who knows where. Nature and the environment often suffer in the hands of an unskillful warrior. The marvels of science and technology can also be the shadow side of this direction. To paraphrase the words of Steve Jobs; Apple is here not to give people what they need but to tell them what they want. Jobs was a genius but there is also a lingering shadow to his talent that has made Apple a false prophet to many devotees. 

Fulfilling needs rather than wants is key to successful passage into the Visionary phases of our lives. 

The child of the south and the adolescent of the West depend on a truthful, peaceful, non egotistical warrior for them to more easily turn out whole. We all have to develop our warrior or ego side and self-actualize before we are ready to move into the East.  We cannot skip chakras and move into the higher chakras above the diaphragm too soon. 

The East is the place of the visionary (also Hero/ine who wants to serve the greater good) and represents spring (new seeds or ideas germinating.) The color can be gold, the chakras are those above the diaphragm starting with air of the heart chakra and depending on the degree of Self-realization graduating to ether above. In other words the fifth chakra of creative expression, the sixth in contact with the paranormal through the Third Eye and finally the seventh or crown chakra of the oneness experience where knower, known and process of knowing fuse into one and we have a direct experience of the "Field" and even the Great Spirit. The gateway to the fifth chakra and beyond is the fourth heart chakra which is love. In order to be a successful visionary we have to love everyone no matter what we think of them or at least have an unconditional positive regard for that part of them also made in the image of the Creator. We have to open our hearts to go into the East. We are all  microcosmic representations of the Divine. In the West the animal is usually a raptor with vision such as an eagle or hawk. In the East it is more likely to be a water bird such as a heron or stork. The visionary is in touch with his or her true purpose or destiny and everything flows from this and remains true to it. The visionary subordinates ego to the Higher Self. The temptations and hypnosis of materialism can lead to the hero/ine's "fall" from the grail and from grace. The visionary may also be in danger of projecting his own shadow onto others by being self righteous and arrogant. A regular enjoyable inner practice and a connection with one's true destiny are the best antidotes to the fall. The East is the direction of altruism, the north is more self serving. The visionary or hero/ine gives the grail away, the warrior may shares the spoils with his family, the corporation and even the community but keeps most for himself.
In general the antidote for a "stuck" direction can be the opposite direction (Stephen Foster and Meredith Little) but one cannot skip directions and one has to go thru the next clockwise direction to get there.

Treatment or Rx (excuse medical lingo) for the West.
Rx for the West is having a teacher with the right qualities who can direct us to our source of vision in the East. However the "adolescent" (maybe now an adult) has to go through the North first to get to the East. We have to develop or redevelop our ego side, our warrior side first.

Rx of the North is some kind of inner practice that keeps the warrior or leader centered. Many businesses are using meditation, yoga etc. to make more money but at the same time it has a beneficial effect and the warrior energy doesn't run amuck with greed and ambition. This creates a corporation which is more holistic, has the health and happiness of its workers in mind, as well as the environment and social responsibility.
Rx of the adult still stuck in the South in his child phase is the warrior of the North but the child in that adult stuck in the South must go through the introspective direction of the dark night of the soul of the West. Many women complain about men stuck in the eros of the South.
Rx of the warrior gone mad with compulsion, aggression, ambition etc. is to lighten up and connect with the child of the opposite South but that adult must also have some of the inner vision in the East in order to connect with his child of the South.

We are continuously doing the medicine wheel again and again but just at different levels, hopefully more skillfully and less painfully all the time as we gain wisdom. Life's challenges demand that we continue on other hero/ine's journeys where needed. 
The woman with breast cancer who heals herself and then starts counseling other woman with breast cancer is fulfilling the heroine's journey. 
The man who loses a job, cannot make a living and is propelled out of the visionary phase may have to start all over again as a warrior and abort his visionary phase temporarily.

Friday, May 2, 2014

This is the last in the series; 

Opening the Heart and the Six Pointed Star

We are all one, though not the same. The Ancestors

This is not just a theoretical dissertation on universal spiritual principles, but a practical way to enter the sanctuary of wilderness if one wants to connect with the higher Self of our inner wilderness. By paying attention to some of these concepts we can facilitate our journey on the path and that of our companions as well. The heart chakra, compassion and love are indeed the key to taking the high road in the wild outdoors and although unconditional love is a major hurdle for all but the enlightened, unconditional positive regard for others is more easily achieved. We need to remember that an aspect of the divine exists in each of us. We are all special.
The other techniques we can use to amplify our wilderness journey are as follows: connecting with the cosmos; meditative; dietary; group dynamics; nature and the five senses; shamanic techniques, and awareness of energy systems.
Mental: Relaxation, reflection, contemplation, meditation, breath work, art, writing, poetry
, song
, prayer, guided imagery
Physical: Yoga
, Tai Chi and Chi Gong, 
, hiking, climbing, swimming, massage, body work, Zen-like minimum- impact camping
Connecting with the cosmos: Daily cycles
, celestial events, seasonal changes
, the four elements; earth, water, fire, air.
Dietary: Avoid: Excess sugar, caffeine, alcohol
, red meat. 
Food should be just enough and nutritious. Consider a fasting solo or vision quest.
Group Dynamics: No judgment or lavish praise
, be aware of the shadow, transcend ego - humility, control desirous attachment, egalitarianism
, sense of community
, sharing, truth
, awareness
, love or unconditional positive regard, no duality - all for one, one for all, wilderness ethics (leave no trace.)
Nature and the five senses: Smells, sounds, sites, touch, taste
There are more than five senses and hence to appreciate the sixth and the paranormal we need:
Awareness of: Energy systems: the Chakras and The Tree of Life, the Five Sheaths of Patanjali
, masculine and feminine, sun and moon, ying and yang, light and dark, other polarities
, signs and metaphors
, power animals, archetypes.
Shamanic techniques: Ceremony, rituals, chanting, drumming, sweat lodge,  pain, vision quests.
The power of nature involves the polarity we are able to see at any point during our journey. The balance of opposites is around us continuously: hot/ cold; wet/dry; hard/soft; satiated/hungry; exhausted/rested; terrified/tranquil; windswept/serene; dark/light; lost/found; steep/shallow; high/low. In addition, we could add a range of opposing emotions we might feel as we walk the valleys and mountains; the deserts and jungles. With the meditative effect of wilderness and the help of the group we are able to integrate these facets like masterful mystics and stay in the middle path as ancient traditions have taught us. The wise trail guide balances these to the group's advantage. No one objects to slogging through the heat if camp is made next to a river and the day ends with a swim. The difficulties of a climb are forgotten if one has an awesome vista from the top. We have a different perspective of a grueling day if it ends in an exquisite meal. We can use the psychological effect of this dynamic to get the most out of our journey. Our basic human nature yearns for contrast to differentiate and feel alive, vital and vigorous. This is one reason why it is so easy to be in the present moment in the wild outdoors especially in a fresh, new and exotic place. The joy that results from this experience makes it easy to open the heart and contact the higher Self.