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Friendship Nature Philosophy Spirituality

Reflections on a Hallows’ Eve, or Losing a Friend

It is immeasurably convenient for us that the year is separated in light and darkness. Unless you are at the equator, the night dominates October through March, and the day reigns from April through September. The spring and summer are ideal for starting new projects, growing existing ideas, and preparing for the harvest of our labors. The fall and winter are dedicated to reaping those bounties, reflection, and rest as we prepare to enter the cycle once more.

The cooler, rainier weather beckons deep introspection. This inward gaze demands we examine the ups and downs of the past year. It’s been a good year for me. I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought possible. I have little to complain about. But, like everyone, there are things I sincerely wish could have gone better.

Any honest person could come up with quite a few items of regret. I could fill a legal pad, no doubt, but one thing that happened roughly a year ago sticks out in my mind this October. The change of season reminds me of what was lost. As I contemplate the year, I’d like to share an experience of mine. The names and particulars are omitted.

One of the perils of the age of information is that the context of our typed words is often lost. It is this precise oversight that let slip a casual comment on the polarity of our world, and that comment hurt someone. I spoke the truth, as I saw it, and, with most off-the-cuff remarks, I gave it little thought. My principal mistake was not exercising greater discernment with my words.

The comment related to the concept of excess polarity. The love and light crowds of new age spiritualists are quite popular these days, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that at a surface level. But, if you dig deeper, the denial of shadow–the focus on exclusively good things without confronting our demons, can be horrendously toxic.

Most would agree that too much darkness leads to chaos and depravity. But many have not considered that too much light can be just as bad. Zealotry, haughtiness, and willful ignorance to problems are evils all their own. In pointing this out on some meme I have since long forgotten, the assumption was made my words were aimed at my dear friend.

They weren’t, but it didn’t matter. It started a chain reaction that ended the friendship. I don’t regret the message I felt compelled to share–that too much of anything, even light, is bad, but I know it could have gone better. Like with any forest fire, there were tragic losses.

The forest fire, despite its devastation, clears out the old brush and makes room for growth. This is not to say my friend was old growth, but the fire, in this case, represents old patterns. Just as we can co-create with others, we can co-destroy. Sometimes we challenge ourselves, or perhaps unconsciously conspire with others, to spread flames so that we may someday see that new growth. We hope to see the beautiful blossom that sprouts from a seed miraculously spared from the fire.

We can look back at the forest and admire its beauty and treasure it for what it was–a friendly union of souls that briefly shared a path. And, if we’re lucky, we might catch a glimpse, in either one of us, those sprouts of knowledge and companionship we sowed.

That is the gift of destruction.

And so, as we ponder and marinate on the shadow on this dark half of the year, we learn from our mistakes and take stock of our lessons yet to learn.

What are your reflections on the past year? What mistakes have you made, and what do you hope to accomplish?

I hope you all have a blessed fall.

P.S. Like musings on all topics animal, vegetable, mineral, or philosophical? Check out Birgitte Rasine, a fellow writer who I met long ago on a radio show and who’s work I enjoy reading. I think you will, too.

Categories
Philosophy Spirituality

Bad Things Happen to Good People

It’s a comforting thought that good people experience good things and bad people experience bad things. But, as anyone can observe, this is not always the case.

It can provide comfort to imagine a cosmic order of judgement. But nature doesn’t judge. It isn’t interested in our definition of good and evil.

So why do some good people endure hardships, and some bad people seem to have all the luck?

The point of this life is to grow, to learn, and to experience. Some come into this life with a more in-depth lesson plan than others.

We should not measure someone’s worth by how good they seem to have it in this life – rather we should measure their bravery by the challenges they endure.

The courageous soul is often the most unfortunate one. They have taken on many challenges. I admire them for the brave souls that they are.

Categories
Announcements Philosophy Spirituality

Authentic Living

One of my new years resolutions in 2018 is to live an authentic life. The immediate question that comes to mind is – Robert, were you not living authentically?

Yes and no.

For sure, I try to be a good person. I think most of the time I succeed in that endeavor. I do not deceive and try to harm none. But my moral compass is not the focus of this change.

I live a genuine life, but many do not know the real me. Of course, there’s no reason for me to put my entire life in the public view. I am not that kind of person. I do not seek to validate my life through social media or my blog.

That said, I have denied myself  the opportunity to connect with my readers in a more genuine way. My books bare aspects of my soul, but my communications have suffered under two decades of trained corporate filtering.

It’s time to change that. It’s time to be authentic.

What does that mean for you, the reader? It means you’ll be hearing a lot more from me in 2018 and beyond. Rather than posts and messages sieved through a business-minded filter, I will be sharing details about my life, thoughts, and philosophy in a meaningful way that I hope you’ll be able to use in your life.

About 10 years ago, shortly before I started my first novel, I had a spiritual awakening. I emerged from years of post-Catholic atheistic malaise and dove head-first into exploring the world’s religions. I spent considerable time examining both popular and esoteric belief systems and philosophies and learned a lot. Some of that wisdom has seeped into the pages of my books.

Around the time of my second book, I discovered unknown fragments of my heritage. At least 85% of my ancestry comes from Irish and Native American  lineages. I had always felt a connection to these traditions, but never knew why. When I embraced the cultures, I fell in love with the Celtic traditions of ages past.

My ancestors who lived and died in Ireland gave me the benefit of a wonderful rich mystical heritage that has invigorated me in my spiritual studies. My writing improved when I connected with these traditions, and I felt as though I was finally living authentically.

Despite this, my public connections via social media and my blog were still twinged with marketing fluff. Sure, you read the real me – I actually typed those things and mean every single word. But I kept so much back from you. My celebration of the seasons, my rejoice in the majestic elements of nature, and the utter joy I feel being part of this beautiful creation is something I intend on sharing with you, not keeping to myself.

This doesn’t mean things are going to be all happy-shiny-wonderful. I adore the light and seek its truth and wisdom, but I will not be afraid to dive into shadow. It is in destruction we see the seeds of creation, and no life can be lived with any modicum of truth and balance without addressing the darker sides of our nature.

In the embrace of shadow we vanquish our demons and welcome the soothing warmth of day.

So, now it’s time to introduce myself as the real me. Robert, the author, the writer, the mystical spiritualist, the historian, philosopher, and general goofball who is trying, just like you, to make sense of this world.

Pleased to meet you. Let’s restart this journey together.

Categories
Culture Philosophy Spirituality

The Little House of Cultural Expansion

I watched an episode of Little House on the Prairie named Injun Kid last night and was struck by a pivotal moment of cultural expansion. It was subtle, but well played, and analyzing it yields a fascinating look into human psychology and spirituality.

In the episode, a half-Native American boy and his mother arrive in Walnut Grove. His grandfather is embarrassed by his presence and insists that his daughter say she adopted him. When the boy refuses to stand for prayer at church, his grandfather yells at him and informs him he must comply or be punished. The child runs away to a nearby stream and prays for peace between with his grandfather.

Laura inadvertently interrupts his prayer. He explains that he was praying.

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Instead of reacting in fear or hatred because he had a different religion, she reached for common ground.

You mean you were saying a Sioux prayer?”

In that moment, Laura’s entire cultural perspective is changed. She had known nothing but Christianity all her life. In an instant, her mind expanded to see the layer above her faith – the fact that others have belief systems radically different from her own. The moment was well played by Melissa Gilbert. She caught the nuance of the exchange quite well.

Totally absorbing yourself in your culture and religion is an incredible experience – one that benefits the universe by allowing it to gain another unique perspective on the zeitgeist of your cultural paradigm. But when you step back and see other cultures, compare their similarities and differences, your mind expands.

Simply knowing other belief systems exist will invariably change yours, which is why many religions fight to keep outside influence from “corrupting” adherents. It’s a shame, because some of the deepest faith and spiritual wellness one can have is by practicing spirituality in full knowledge that yours is not the only valid approach.

We all bring a unique piece to the universal jigsaw puzzle. We are singularly qualified to offer our unique channeling of spirit to others and the world. When we do this in full knowledge of what others offer, our own experience is enhanced. Our mind is expanded, and we stand on the precipice of evolving to a higher plane of existence.

Star Trek: The Next Generation sums this idea up nicely in the next to last scene of All Good Things…

Categories
Philosophy Spirituality

Faith and Responsibility

The universe rewards faith and responsibility in equal measure.

No matter your belief system, you probably would agree that if you have faith, at least in your own abilities, you are more likely to succeed. This has been shown time in time again both in studies and in most people’s personal lives.

Religious and spiritual people tend to have faith in a greater force than themselves. Some call it God, some refer to multiple gods, some call it the universe, the all, or some other unique but all-encompassing name. Whatever you choose to call it, or not, faith in something is important for success.

Responsibility is seemingly at odds with faith. If we are to believe things will work out as we desire, should we just wait for it to happen? If our lives have a plan and we are following them regardless, should we push anyway, or allow it to come to us?

To better answer this question, outside perspective is helpful. If you believed an injured person will heal regardless of what you do, would you still render them aid and help however you could? Of course – most people would.

Turning this back to ourselves – imagine you are faced with a difficult challenge. Since most of us are, this isn’t hard to imagine. We can have faith that we will overcome it, and this will increase our chance of success. But we still must put forth the effort in meeting that goal.

For a deeper perspective, I like to turn to nature. Animals have complete faith in the universe providing for them. Though some stockpile food for the winter, a sign of responsibility, they do not live in disbelief that the universe will work out the way it should. In nature, faith and responsibility go hand in hand in perfect balance. As always, we can take a page from the Earth’s equilibrium.

Having faith and personal responsibility are not mutually exclusive.

Categories
Philosophy Spirituality

Judgement (or How to Be Human)

It is our task in this life to judge. It is what we are built to do. To judge, discern, and examine self, and this world we chose to be in, is our most noble task.

One of the greatest misconceptions about the spiritual journey is that we live in judgement. This notion of a great book filled with our wrongs is simply a human misconception. Since we judge, we assume that any higher being would judge. I submit that any higher being would have no need for this trait of humanity.

Spirituality is not about living up to a list of principles carved in stone, rather it is a journey to examine the mystery of why we are certainly more than we appear to be. It is a quest for inner peace, to gain profound knowledge, and to maximize our delivery of the most precious thing we can give to others: love.

Categories
Philosophy Spirituality

The Patterns of Life

The universe has an uncanny and universal pattern of repeated themes at all levels of its existence.

At the largest level the patterns of galaxies resemble living tissue under a microscope:

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The roads, cities, rivers, and suburbs have a strikingly similar pattern:

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From our view of the night sky, the lines between stars (the constellations) draw many distinct and beautifully random patterns.

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This pattern is again repeated in cells and tissues in plants and mammals:

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And each level of the universe, both natural and man-made objects exhibit the same pattern. While this is an astonishing thought, consider that this pattern of correspondence covers even time itself.

The day and night cycles of Earth, the light half and the dark half of the day, are mirrored by the light half (spring and summer) and dark half (fall and winter) of the year. The year, like the day, repeats, and following this cycle plants, animals, and all other life on Earth are born, mature, grow old, and die. If you are inclined to believe in reincarnation, this pattern is repeated again just like the days and years on the calendar.

To enjoy this level of consistent coincidence throughout our existence doesn’t require any sort of belief. You can imagine the entire universe is the daydream of some supernatural creator, intelligent design, or even a cosmic accident. The beauty in what we see, and the patterns sprinkled throughout, is undeniable.