Celebration?

Soap Box Time.

Just a couple of days ago, on May 1, 2011, it was announced that a U.S. special forces mission had succeeded in killing Osama bin Laden. The latest bogeyman of all bogeymen has been dispatched.

How does one react to such news? After all, this person had been the posterboy of terror for ten years.

It looks like some chose to react by whoopin’ it up, chanting “U-S-A !” in that obnoxious way favored by sports fans, and in general acting like they’d just won the lottery. I take it that these people were pleased by the news.

Celebrating death? Giddy with excitement that one of our species has bitten the dust?

Look, relief I can understand, or a sense of satisfaction that justice has been served in some fashion — but the displays that broke out across the country seem beyond the pale. Granted, he was a bad guy, and bad guys deserve comeuppance. However, I felt sad to see the way people reacted. It’s not a sporting event. I believe that the “in yer face” attitude is beneath what we stand for as a nation. To turn it around, how did we Americans feel when we saw the (largely staged) videos of people dancing in the streets after the World Trade Center buildings came down? Think our own spontaneous two-stepping endears us to others?

So maybe we’re even now? Perhaps ahead? Great! Can the wars end???

But look at us. We’re a nation that loves the Ultimate Fighting Championship, The Real Housewives of (fill in your favorite city/county/state), and foolish, tiresome displays of bravado at every touchdown. In short, we are a nation without class, and it simply shows our distance from true Spirit. Reactions such as those shown in response to bin Laden’s death are not the signs of a spiritual people, or an evolved people.

Where does that leave us as moral guardians or examples, I wonder.

I was frankly embarrassed to see it and to call myself an American at that moment. I am not an apologist for what evil has done. I just don’t want to see evil itself mirrored in our reactions to the elimination of a tiny bit of it.

Agree with me or not, it doesn’t matter. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

King

On Martin Luther King Day, I would like to share something I noticed. Please come along for the ride.

The initials MLK are the transliterated Roman letters for the Hebrew מ ל ך which, amazingly, means king. It’s pronounced melek, as Hebrew is read right to left. (Also, the ך is the form of the letter כ that is used when that letter ends a word.)

But wait, as they say in infomercials,
there’s more . . .

The three Tarot cards that are assigned to these letters are as follows:

  • The Hanged Man (Key 12) is assigned to Mem (מ)
  • Justice (Key 11) is assigned to Lamed (ל)
  • The Wheel of Fortune (Key 10) is assigned to Kaph (כ)

OK, so what? Well, consider the meanings of the cards themselves. The Hanged Man is often said to represent transition and sacrifice. During a Hanged Man time, one is asked to persevere, realizing that the desired end may be a while in coming. Justice represents the law, and bringing things into balance. Justice says that what is right and just will come to pass. The Wheel of Fortune is all about cycles and things coming in their proper time. It is often a fortunate card, showing movement toward better times.

Put it all together and we have a man whose sacrifice and perseverence led to a righting of injustice and a movement toward a more hopeful time. Kind of sums up Dr. King, don’t you think?

It’s always a delight to explore what Tarot has to say. It is amazing in its ability to put forth deeper meanings. Tarot always rewards serious study.

Happy MLK Day.

It Doesn’t Matter What You Do

It’s been a while, so I thought I’d write about some of the stuff that’s been on my mind.

One matter that has occupied my attention has been the belief that it doesn’t matter what you do. Sounds nihilistic, I know, but I don’t mean it like that.

Here’s the deal. There are lots of things to “do” in this world, and I’m specifically referring to occupations. Some hold high prestige, other not. Take refuse collection, for instance. This is one of the most important jobs in modern society, yet it is held in low esteem. After all, who wants to be a sanitation worker? But without them, we’d be in deep . . . you get the point. Where’d your civilization be then, huh?

Anyway, I don’t want to get too far off point. What is really important is not what one does, but how one is. Each of us has a life purpose, and it is our duty to seek it out and follow it. This is essential for our soul’s sake. Living and being in accord with one’s purpose is what makes each moment holy, not how much cash we have or how much other people envy us or think that we are cool. A person living his or her life’s purpose is approaching enlightenment. Ultimately, that’s what matters. At least that’s my opinion.

Seek it out. Live it. Embody it. The rest, as they say, is just window-dressing.

What A Fine Fallow

Farmers know that it is advisable to let a field lie fallow occasionally to rest the soil. Intensive planting and harvesting will only exhaust the land, and lead to inferior results. This is an example of the role of cycles in nature and, by extension, in ourselves.

It is an important, if often underestimated or forgotten, principle of esoteric study that one cannot make constant progress. It is essential to allow study and practice to incubate in order to blossom at full potency. Those who feel that they are constantly reaching greater heights and states of accomplishment are building their castles on a sandy foundation. It is an illusion. Their structures are certain to collapse upon themselves, leaving them with nothing but shadows of their imagined glory. There is no substance to such practices.

The Tarot card often associated with cycles is the Wheel of Fortune. This is the card of the Third Chakra and the planet Jupiter. The card reminds us to respect cycles and to understand that they are part of the cosmic order. Respecting cycles includes an appreciation for those times when no progress seems to be made in our practice and spiritual development. This is merely a time of resting of the spiritual field – a period of germination of previous practice which is moving inexorably toward a greater level of understanding and functioning on the spiritual plane.

Take a lesson from the Wheel of Fortune and see that all is unfolding as it should. Meditation on this truth will yield fruitful results.

Mystery, Mastery

I don’t know about you, but I get occasional bolts from the blue. For me, it’s almost like hearing something; it pops into my head as if it were being spoken to me. Hallucinations, perhaps?

(I won’t get into it now, but it is my opinion that all symptoms of what we call mental illness are really normal phenomena carried to an extreme in frequency, intensity, and/or duration. For instance, we’ve all had the experience of asking someone if they had just spoken to you when in fact they had said nothing. Seems to me that you just had a hallucination.)

Back on task now – I had one of those bolts that other day. A voice said, “Move from mystery to mastery through the power of YA.” Of course, it was a play on the two words, whose spellings differ by those two letters. However, the implication is potentially profound. Let me explain.

YA is a shortened form of the tetragrammaton, the four-letter Hebrew name of God. It’s the one usually transliterated as Yahweh or Jehovah. The two Hebrew letters used to form YA are yod and heh.

In the Major Arcana of the Tarot, each card is associated with a Hebrew letter. Yod is associated with the Hermit, and heh with the Emperor. These two cards are manifestations of power, with the Hermit being internal and the Emperor, external.

What’s the message? It seems that taking the mystery, an understanding of which is arrived at via the Hermit consciousness, and transforming it into mastery, via the Emperor consciousness, is the path of making the spiritual manifest in the physical world. In other words, if one can take deep spiritual truths and live them day to day, then mastery is truly achieved.

Who says that all hallucinations are bad?

Heart-Centered Living

What does it mean to live from the heart? There are plenty of opinions about it, ranging from giving it all to everyone to taking care of yourself first. Like everything else, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

The Buddhists have a term, bodhichitta, which is defined as limitless compassion for all sentient beings. This is the ultimate in heart-centered living, but it is most difficult to attain. After all, it means the release of all attachments. These attachments are replaced by pure compassion. I’ll let you know when I get there.

Living from the heart means to have at least a well enough developed sense of empathy to be able to understand and truly feel with another’s experience. This releases judgment and replaces it with identification. But does the release of judgment mean that everything is OK, regardless of the action or its consequences? Obviously not.

On the Tree of Life, the sphere of Compassion (Chesed) lies opposite that of Severity or Judgment (Geburah). – You can review the Tree in my post here. – The goal of consciously incorporating the Tree into one’s being is based on balance, or following the Middle Way, to borrow a term from Buddhism. In other words, from a Tree of Life perspective, balance must be maintained between Compassion and Judgment. Straying too far one way or the other leads to error. To put a further twist on it, sometimes the best way of showing compassion is through a stern punishment. True tough love.

It’s difficult to live from the heart, and it’s an easy out to justify insensitivity on our part as “taking care of ourselves.” After all, love does begin at home. Without self-love, all other forms of love are hollow, being ill-directed attempts to find inner acceptance. Carried too far, though, self-love becomes narcissism. Not carried far enough, it becomes self-loathing. Neither alternative is pretty.

Balance, balance.

Is It Intuition?

Here’s a vexing question for you. We’ve all had intimations, gut feelings, vague senses, etc. Is it intuition? It can be tough to tell.

But what is intuition? It has been called a direct realization of the truth, without resorting to a reasoning process. Good enough; let’s use that. Not perfect, but it will do.

In the health care field, we have the notion of clinical intuition. It is a term that is accepted even by some of the stodgiest amongst practitioners. I have told class after class of budding healers that intuition needs a channel through which to flow, and that channel gets bigger and better worn the more one knows about the relevant field. In other words, intuition needs a translator to be useful, and the better the translator, the more accurate the intuition tends to be.

In my opinion, there is nothing worse than someone who calls themselves a healer without a good grounding in what they are doing. Such individuals have an unfortunate proclivity to speak every thought that crosses their minds as if it were Divine Guidance – when often it is only the pontificating of personal ego. Such healers can and often do harm to those they are trying to help.

So, is it intuition, or ego gratification? A most important consideration is whether there is true neutrality about the situation in the intuiter, to coin a term. When there is no ego involvement, the information is more likely to be accurate – but even that is no guarantee.

As you can see, there are no easy answers here. Outside verification of intuitive impressions is helpful, but not always available.

Bottom line: Caution is advised. Not much help, I’m afraid. I’ll do some Qabalistic musings about this soon, as it pertains to the Tree of Life.

De Profundis

So, anybody out there up on their Latin? Or their Psalms? Or their movie dialogue?

This post’s title comes from a famous Latin phrase. The full verse is: De profundis clamo ad te, Domine. (Of course, it wasn’t written in Latin originally, but it’s a cool thing to say; just rolls off the tongue.)

De david

Translation: Out of the depths I cry unto you, O Lord. It’s from Psalm 130.

Or, from M. Night Shyamalan’s movie The Sixth Sense.

[When I heard the line in the flick, I knew what it meant before they translated it. Thank you, Father Pius — one of my high school Latin teachers]

At any rate, the quote suddenly occurred to me the other day. When I Googled it, it turned up being used in several blogs recently. Synchronicity at work.

According to Biblical lore, King David (in the picture) wrote this when he was feeling pretty low, which seems to have been fairly often if you’ve ever given Psalms a look. This was evidently David’s scene: feel bad, pluck the lyre, make up a psalm. Probably worked as well as any anti-depressant. He was one of the world’s premier music therapists, I suppose.

Back to synchronicity. I mean, I wasn’t feeling down when the quote came to me. It must have just been floating about in the collective unconscious and bobbed to the surface. For several people, by the looks of it.

Why is that floating around now? People worried about the economy? Expecting God to give them some hot stocks for their IRAs? Well here’s a news flash: Don’t go to God for stock tips, because as Einstein supposedly said, “God does not play dice with the Universe.”

[BTW, if you think the stock market is anything other than a sophisticated casino, think again. Anymore, it doesn’t have anything to do with how a company is doing, or the quality of its product. It’s about what the computer programs say, and about “the house” (the large investor) taking “the suckers” (you and me) for a ride.]

Oh, yeah — synchronicity. It may be the mind’s fervent need to make sense of the random (I doubt that), but it seems like certain themes, events, etc. associate themselves with each other to give us messages or lessons. That’s one way to think about synchronicity.

So, what am I supposed to get from Psalms 130:1? I think it has to do with remembering that the Higher Self is always there, even when one is not in the depths. After all, as I said before, I wasn’t there when the quote hit me. Also, I think it’s about not waiting until one is in the depths to check out whatever guidance there is to be had. In other words, it’s always good to see what can be gleaned from powers that have a greater perspective.

How to go about this checking is one’s personal choice. From prayer and meditation to Tarot cards and bird entrails, various methods have been tried. I know some prefer looking at guts, but as for myself, I think I’ll pass on the entrails.

However you choose to do it, pick your method and don’t be concerned about how others go about it. As they say in Latin: De gustibus non est disputandum (There ain’t no accounting for taste).

Seeing, Not Just Looking

Some time ago I had a dream in which God gave me the ability to see with my eyes closed, like looking through my eyelids. Not a great superpower, but something. Oh, and what did God look like? In this manifestation, the Almighty was a 40-ish guy who was pretty nondescript, slightly chubby, looked kind of
Hispanic. Thin mustache. Polo shirt and chinos. Loafers. I suppose the Ineffable One can look — however, you know?

Anyway, I did a few parlor tricks with my new-found ability (the Ancient of Days was rather amused, looking on), and woke up. Pondering the dream, one message I got was that this ability was so that I could look at the true nature of things, rather than just the illusion of consensual reality playing out before my senses. Now, if I could only hold onto that gift . . .

In the Tarot, 15 - Devil the illusion of reality is often represented by the card known as The Devil (Major Arcana number 15). The card is also associated with the astrological sign of Capricorn. Just because this card represents Capricorn, though, doesn’t mean that Capricorn is bad. We need our inner Capricorn to push us forward in the world, and Capricorn rules career and business. Also, a certain little Savior was born a Capricorn, according to popular reckoning.

No, the problem comes from being captured (note the chains that attach the two figures to the Devil’s throne) by that illusion. Looking deeply, we can begin to peel back the frilly distraction to find the spiritual core, though. Take a good look at the card. You can see pretty easily that the chains around the figures’ necks are roomy enough that they could remove the chains on their own, if they so desire. That’s the trick — wanting to remove the chains. Don’t be fooled like Faust, who nearly condemned himself by wanting the illusion of reality to stay. “You are so wonderful,” the doomed doctor said. That was all Mephistopheles needed to hear, and ol’ Faust was almost a goner. Thanks goodness the cavalry (angels) came to the rescue.

Don’t let yourself get bamboozled by appearances. To paraphrase Smoky the Bear: Only YOU can prevent hellfile.

Contacting Your Self

Tarot cards aren’t just a divinatory device. In fact, that’s one of their more mundane uses. The deeper uses of Tarot involve its function as a map of the journey toward true knowledge of the Self. What is most true is the inner knowing of the Self. Some call it “the God within.”

One of the best ways to access it is to use certain Tarot cards as aids to meditation. It’s not that tough to do. Use the indicated card as a focus point for your meditation; you can even just gaze at it and let associations flow. Notice the colors, the figures in the picture, etc. What do they suggest to you?

A card that’s especially good to get your intentions clear regarding wanting to keep the relationship with the Self strong is The Chariot (Number 7 in the Major Arcana, a.k.a. Key VII). [This picture is from the B.O.T.A. deck. To some extent, the deck one uses isn’t critical. However, some decks are more faithful to the traditional (proven effective) associations of the cards. These decks will work more directly in meditation.]

The importance of Key VII lies in its associations to the ideal state of consciousness. 7 - ChariotThe body is the chariot itself, pulled by the twin sphinxes of intellect and desire (wants and needs, left and right brain, etc.). The Charioteer is the Higher Self, the true expression of the God within. Therefore, the true mover/driver of our existence should be that Higher Self, rather than letting the sphinxes run amok. BTW, notice how peacefully they await the charioteer’s command. This is symbolic of the inner peace that accompanies allowing the Higher Self to be the driver of our life.

Of course, this is just the start of the associations to this card, and I won’t go into them all here. Patience, gentle reader.

One other tidbit, though. The Hebrew letter on the lower right of the card is Cheth (pronounced chet’ where the ch is kind of like that in the Scottish word “loch”), which means fence or enclosure. So, this card can also be used as a way of strengthening our personal, psychological boundaries.