Sunday, January 31, 2016

Since Love is the most mysterious and seminal of all the cosmic energies I thought I would share the following quotes over the next few blogs to ponder, pray and meditate on.

The sages of all beliefs have a lot to say about the power of love, especially the Ancestors. Where there is no name attributed to the quotes, the wisdom is from the Ancestors. 
There are only two emotions; love and fear. The flip side of love is fear and so these quotes will be included too as will others that are pertinent.. 

It is useful to recognize the four main Yoga paths all of which manifest love in different ways. We are to find the path or paths for us. 
The four are; KARMA, BHAKTI, RAJA and JNANA Yoga. All can lead to union with the Divine, These reflect the four elements of intellect, heart, body and mind. Each week I will mention one.

Karma Yoga is the Yoga of action, service and work. In order for it to be Godly it must be done for love, for its own sake and to the best of our ability, not for the consideration of reward, ego, fame etc. It embraces non-attachment to outcome.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

This is the third blog on love. 
Not being a therapist or expert, I thought I would share the wisdom   below from Harville Hendrix

Before the quotes, what I get from his vast experience in marriage guidance counseling is as follows:
There is a primal "chemical impulse" that attracts us to someone resulting in the passionate phase of romantic love.
This occurs because we become infatuated in some mysterious way to the very person incapable of helping us with those deficiencies that were not satisfied early on in life by our parents or care givers. For example a woman or man who has suffered emotional abuse as a child is attracted to an emotionally abusive partner.
Conversely those who grew up in a highly functional, loving family will probably be favored and inherit the same for themselves later in life.
At the end of the day a relationship is work and must be spiritual and healing in nature so that each one can make the other more of who they are. This is to grow to honor and love the differences - easier said than done. The Ancestors I believe are saying the same thing for the rocky period after the romantic phase is over. 

Harville Hendrix 

“Romantic Love delivers us into the passionate arms of someone who will ultimately trigger the same frustrations we had with our parents, but for the best possible reason! Doing so brings our childhood wounds to the surface so they can be healed.” 

“When we were babies, we didn’t smile sweetly at our mothers to get them to take care of us. We didn’t pinpoint our discomfort by putting it into words. We simply opened our mouths and screamed. And it didn’t take us long to learn that, the louder we screamed, the quicker they came. The success of this tactic was turned into an “imprint,” a part of our stored memory about how to get the world to respond to our needs: “When you are frustrated, provoke the people around you.” 

(... or maybe not - if ineffective - then maybe we "stuff it!")

"... Romantic Love is just the first stage of couplehood. It’s supposed to fade. Romantic Love is the powerful force that draws you to someone who has the positive and negative qualities of your parents or caregiver (this includes anyone responsible for your care as a child, for example: a parent, older sibling, grandparent, or babysitters.)” 

“... The idea that your partner is really a composite of your parents can be a bit upsetting at first. Though we love our parents, most of us got over (consciously) wanting to marry them when we turned five or six. Then, when we hit our teenage years, all we wanted was our freedom. But the fact is, we’re unconsciously drawn to that special someone with the best and worst character traits of all of our caregivers combined. We call this our “Imago”—the template of positive and negative qualities of your primary caregivers.” 

(What happened to us outside the home during our formative years and schooling may have something to do with it as well)

“Experiencing empathy, the freedom to explore, trust, and insight can reset your default reactions to a more curious, tolerant, and confident stance. Because our brains are plastic, consistently positive experiences do stimulate existing neurons to adapt and connect in different pathways. Nurturing relationships help us grow psychologically and neurally in ways that are not possible in nonnurturing relationships. As adults, our most important opportunity for a nurturing relationship comes through committed partnership. It’s a breakthrough to realize that the purpose of committed relationship is not to be happy, but to heal. And then you will be happy!” 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Love embraces and facilitates the other antidotes to the Three Karmal Sins  

The other antidotes are Awareness, Truth and Being in the Present Moment (spiritual practice.) 
These are shown as the upper three points of the Hexagon while the lower points indicate the lower chakras below the diaphragm where the Karmal challenges reside. 
The Hexagon is the symbol for the Heart Chakra. The Chakra system is a simpler energy model than the Tree of Life shown in last week's blog.

The Chakra system. Love, compassion, empathy, forgiveness are qualities of the fourth, Heart Chakra, whereas awareness and truth manifest in the Chakras above it. 
The Karmal sins are focused in the third "power" Chakra below the diaphragm.

The Ancestors have stressed that love is a decision rather than an emotion or feeling and this takes some scrutiny. It is a koan worth meditating on, whose meaning I have not yet fully encompassed. 

We have to contend with ego, desirous attachment and judgment especially in the love connection as well as everything else in life. We are confronted at all times with the hypnosis of materialism and by the world of appearances we live in. Our motivations often end up one way or another being similar as our drive to have a nice house, a fancy car, an impressive degree etc. We start to look at a potential partner much in the way we may shop for something to match our own persona.  
Most of us want something physically compelling in our love life to match what we have been told is the ideal by the media and the movie industry. We have been bombarded with these images since birth. We are looking for a persona to match the persona we think we are or want to be. Hence, when we find one, we project the qualities we would like to see in this person onto this person - frequently with erroneous results. We discover a year, later or sooner, that we have been lying to ourselves - this so called phase of “romantic love” - we actually know at a deep level is going to be short lived. Our prospective long term mate falls short when we tune into appearances rather than essence.
 Maybe our decisions are best made at a spiritual rather than a physical level embracing some of the principles above. Much is now being written about spiritual partnerships. Certainly it is a good idea to become friends first and be sure we are with a person who has a similar life trajectory to our own. This does not not mean they need to have exactly the same one. We often exclude suitable partners because they do not have the same belief system  politically, religiously or otherwise. Their general intention or context for life should be similar to ours. The content and details can differ and may also make it more interesting.  Hopefully we will learn to honor, embrace and love the differences.

We might have more success if we regard relationship as a vital part of our spiritual life and strive to go beyond Maya or persona and look to the fabric of the soul. This requires time in an era of social media where surveys show that if there is an attraction, sex usually happens by the third date. Sexual energy can cloud the emotional and spiritual. If the chemistry is good the romantic phase will last longer but will still eventually dissipate.
Ancient wisdom recommends that ego and attachment to the object of our desire should be put aside and we should rather think in terms of “what can I do to make this person happy and more of who they are for its own sake” and vice versa (rather than what’s in it for me.) 

Sunday, January 10, 2016


If one looks at the Tree of Life, the central Sephira of Tiferet embraces Love and Beauty and is flanked on either side by Mercy which expands and Judgment which contracts. All three form a triad with a bias in favor of love, compassion and empathy and what Kabbalah calls the "Sweetening of the Judgments." The right and central parts of the Tree demonstrates the five loves indicated here by red hearts. 
These are balanced by five judgments on the left side including Ego and Kingdom in the center. 
Love is central to the Tree and it is said that when the Kabbalist reaches Tiferet she can teach herself. Attachment to desire in Hod is balanced by non attachment in Netzach - two mysterious Sephirot that have other complex qualities. So we can see the three karmal sins are well represented  on the Tree and balanced by our free will which WILL determine our karma.

The Tree of Life is also a Tree of Health since ...
Love also accounts for placebo, the doctor/healer-patient relationship and the doctor's bedside manner which are now dwindling in the face of current technological advances. So called evidence based medicine seeks to eliminate placebo and often invokes nocebo (its opposite) with prognoses, informed "legal" consent etc. When one looks at research on folks who have had spontaneous remission of diseases incurable by Western medicine one sees that love is a huge component whether from the doctor/healer team, a partner, a community or a pet. Love is also the main ingredient in spiritual transformation.

Those of us who have spent time in Sub-Saharan Africa are always stuck by a deep sense of connection which harkens back to when we all roamed the African plains as hunter-gatherers. Humanity arose there and we all have Bushmen D.N.A. in our genes. A part of this feeling may also have to do with what is called "Ubuntu" in Southern Africa. I believe this is also a reason why Africans have the amazing capacity to forgive - another of love's indicators.

Friday, January 1, 2016

This weeks blog is on JUDGMENT PART 2
One of my New Year's resolutions will be to try and follow some of the thoughts below.
Hence this weeks blog will also be a bit longer than usual.

Modern medical research has shown that people who are critical and easily angered are more prone to certain diseases. Compassion enhances our immune systems, cynicism harms it. The Mother Theresa archetype is not just good karma but healthful as well. Therefore, if for no other reason than our own sakes, we need to try and suspend our tendency to find fault. Judgment also takes us out of the present moment. If one is judging whether this is the best sunset one has ever seen, there is little energy left for being with the sunset. This space becomes occupied with the analysis of the event. 
 Unfortunately, to be effective in the Western world, it is difficult to get rid of judgment entirely. We need to judge and evaluate others to see if they can do the job or not. It might be more appropriate to use a softer word, like discernment. 
Kabbalah has another term called, 

When I was conducting Inward Bound trips into wilderness we endeavored to let personal judgment slide - there were no deadlines to meet and no goals to achieve. The Bushmen have a gentle pace of life and possibly this is one reason why judgment is not a big part of their behavior. When there is peace, calm, harmony and equanimity, judgment falls aside. When there is no judgment, peace and calm result. Noticing and being aware of one's breathing puts us immediately in touch with our mood. If we are anxious or upset, our breathing is shallow and rapid; if we are calm and relaxed, then so is our breathing. We can control our state of mind by controlling our breathing. We can change a feeling of being upset and harried to one of being tranquil and at peace just by altering the breath. If we can control judgment with a similar practice we can have a powerful effect on our spiritual progress. Self judgment is also harmful. Neuroscience has show that beating ourselves up about who we are or what we have done or not done, does not enhance our progress as we may have thought growing up but rather inhibits it.

All spiritual traditions rest on a firm moral foundation and have tenets to reinforce righteous behavior. We cannot aspire to high ideals if we have a poor image of our character and behavior. Our own self-critical feeling that we are not good enough leads us to invest a lot of energy into judging others to compensate for our feeling of deficiency. Judgment of others and of ourselves makes us angry and takes away our power. We suffer more from judging another than the person who is being judged who does not even know what we are thinking. Furthermore whenever one points a finger there are usually three fingers pointing back at ourselves.
We are incapable of recognizing a shadowy quality in someone else unless it is a part of our own shadow as well. More often than not, judgment is a projection of our own shadow onto another.
Maybe we can forgive others, their failings and idiosyncrasies if, at the same time, we forgive ourselves for something. We can make a trade, forgive and let it go as we forgive ourselves for a failing we do not care for in our own personality. This barter system might work a little more effectively, since being non-judgmental in a situation that evokes strong emotions can be extremely difficult.

Ayurvedic medicine or the science of life, believes that we have a basic nature or Prakriti. There are three main Doshas which can make up anyone's Prakriti. These Doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha, each of which represents a spiritual-mind-body type. This is more sophisticated than the simple Western definition of endo, meso and ectomorph. Vata represents movement, Pitta metabolism and Kapha structure. The following are some of their characteristics.
Vata people typically are thin, bony and have tremendous energy. They are excitable, vivacious and anxious, and exhaust easily if they overexert themselves. They are hyper-excitable and, true to their Vata principle of movement, they move about a lot. They grasp concepts quickly, but are quick to forget. When out of balance they tend to display anxiety and nervousness.
Pitta people represent the typical mesomorph and have more strength and endurance. They have excellent digestive capacity and cannot miss a meal without becoming ravenously hungry. They have sharp intellect, are enterprising, become angry with stress, take charge of situations and are demanding, sarcastic and critical.
Kapha people tend to be endomorphic and strong. They have steady energy, but tend to put on weight easily. They have compassion and empathy and are slow to anger. They tend to wake up slowly, improve their mood by eating and have good retentive memories. They often remain attached to relationships and ideas.
These are some of the qualities of these three Doshas and we may have one or more operating in our basic nature. We are unable to change our makeup. If we try to be someone else and not true to our Dosha, we may go out of balance. Ayurveda gives many recommendations for keeping a particular Dosha in balance, by paying attention to whatever it is that gives our Dosha equanimity. There is no such thing as a good or bad Dosha; the Dosha just is! That is the way we are and the Dosha is the body-mind card we were dealt when we were born. 
Some of us are single Dosha types and others can be a mix of di- or tri- Dosha. It is the dominant Dosha that is likely to go out of balance. Of these, Vata is the most active and most likely to be adversely affected first.
Yoga also affirms with the greeting Namaste - I see the God within you.
This mind-body classification can give us insights into judgment. If we can look at people in the light of their having a particular Dosha, we can forgive them and ourselves more easily for some of our "faults." The overanxious, irritable Vata personality who has been excessively stressed, has not slept and is exhausted, no longer is seen as a jerk, but recognized as manifesting the signs of his Vata Dosha which is out of balance. Kapha personalities who have trouble getting up in the morning and constantly gain weight can be appreciated for their inherent Kapha nature instead of being regarded as lazy and undisciplined. By the same token, we can recognize some of our own behavior patterns and not judge ourselves so severely for our own deficiencies. 

Judgment can be positive or negative, and we are inclined to think that as long as we are saying good things no harm is done. Certainly praise is preferable to criticism, but it is still judgment. It has been my experience in the group setting that lavish praise can be just as harmful as strong condemnation. When we praise in a close-knit group we are comparing one person's performance to the others, and this can lead to a feeling of inadequacy on behalf of those not being praised. It may be more constructive to the group as a whole to take the individual aside and say what must be said in private, be it appreciation or otherwise. 
We may need to take another lesson from the Bushmen in this instance. Living in a close knit clan, they have ways of keeping everyone humble and holding egos in check to maintain harmony and equanimity. Anthropologist Richard Lee describes what he has called "Insulting the meat." This is an indifference or even a negativity displayed to the good news of a successful hunt by members of the clan. An accomplished hunter will tend to understate and be self-effacing and modest about what he has brought for the group, and the happy onlookers are more apt to say something derogatory about a kill. Even something as impressive as a giraffe may be met with a statement such as, "Do you expect this puny specimen will feed us all?" The hunter furthermore is expected to reply in a deferential way. This type of light-hearted bantering is vital in keeping more arrogant individuals in check and preventing judgment arising from envy. The Western equivalent of a "roast" to celebrate someone's achievements may be a similar idea.
The shadow archetype with its judgmental temperament is apt to come up especially during close interactions such as on groups in wilderness or other ventures where there is a lot of intimate personal interaction and often added stress. This can frequently be a disruptive force in the group. If the group has an understanding and awareness of the psychodynamics of this shady side of the ego self each individual can take responsibility for their shadow rather than assign blame and point fingers.