Thus begins my exploration into the interior states of Beauty. Certain family members and close friends have heard me say, on multiple occasions, that I must be exposed to Beauty every day. My soul/being requires such, whether it is something I observe or experience outside of myself or something that I create. Why does my soul place such a demand on me? Or have a loud enough voice that tells me that if I do not pay attention to this, that my inner light will diminish?
I am not quite sure how many times I have made this claim, but enough so that if I say it once again, its meaning will drop to the level of triteness and the important folks in my life will look at me with eyes glazed over. So what does it really mean to me when I say that I must be exposed to Beauty daily? It’s time to pony up.
What I know right now, or rather what is true for me now, is that my experience of Beauty is relational: giving and receiving, or rather, receiving and then giving.
My experience of and with Beauty gives me a sense of “Awe”, access to something that is bigger than me. I am not alone in this Universe. What flows from my experience of Awe is gratitude or appreciation for whatever has been offered to me, be it by way of a visual, sound, physical, or taste experience. Even an idea or a conversation can be beautiful to me. Something inside of me gets jostled and stirred. I am different for or because of my experience and I am grateful for it.
I am old enough, curious enough, and introspective enough to know these things about myself: I have to be in relationship. I have to be in relationship with something greater than myself. I like to stir and be stirred, especially in relationships. I have to be in relationship with that which makes me a better, more conscious human being.
Beauty attends to these requirements; at least I believe it does
What I do not know and am not so clear in expressing, is why this drives me so. Is Beauty a want or a need? Why or how does Beauty invoke the “Awe” response in me? I am willing to be engaged and challenged by this upcoming process.
Journey of Beauty is now available as a free book.
You no longer need to wait for the Guiding Thoughts to be posted here daily–you may move at your own pace. This link will take you to the document in Dropbox; you may download it from there.
Apr 18 Preliminary day Introduction: Why A Journey of Beauty (02.10.0) Apr 19 Preliminary day Commitment and Dedication (02.10.00) Apr 20 – 29 Days 01-10 Round One (02.10.01-10) Apr 30 – May 9 Days 11-20 Round Two (02.10.11-20) May 10 – 19 Days 21-30 Round Three (02.10.21-30) May 20 – 29 Days 31-40 Round Four (02.10.31-40) May 30 – June 8Reflection days Gently care, de-fuse, and write one day of reflection on the Journey (02.10.41)
My motivation is my choice. My intention is my choice. My will is my choice. In Peace, I listen within for guidance so that my actions are motivated by joy, my intentions are love, and my Will is simply to share Joy and Love.
I’ve figured it out.
When I begin each Journey, I write down an intention, to (attempt to) get clear about what I hope to accomplish for the particular Journey. Then I spend about 35-40 days with that intention, that “goal”, working itself out in my subconscious. You have seen it: the path is not linear, it’s not obvious, and sometimes it seems like I am straying far away from the purpose, the path.
This is how I think of it (please note this is as much my imagination as it is “fact”, and probably more my imagination): My brain has been receiving sensory input since before I was born. All of that sensory input was translated into electronic impulses, which moved through my brain over synapses, creating “neural networks”. A “network” is a bundle of impulses. So, for example, I have a bundle of impulses that tells me how to type on a keyboard, a bundle that is associated with petting my cat; I have a bundle associated with doing the dishes. But, I also have a bundle that is associated with typing on a keyboard while listening to music. And I have a bundle for typing on the keyboard, while my cat is vying for my attention. And I even have a bundle for doing the dishes while listening to music, while my cat vies for my attention.
Each of these that have common elements which are all intertwined in these networks, tangled, entangled. When you throw the neural networks of emotions, beliefs, or subconscious impressions in there, you really get some tangled-ness, going back to all of the emotions, beliefs, and impressions I’ve had since before I was born.
For example, there was the time when I was doing dishes, with the cat underfoot vying for my attention while I was listening to REO Speed Wagon after having just broken up with my high school sweetheart when the dog came galloping in, chased by my brother who was shouting and carrying on, which scared the cat so that it jumped up and scratched my face, in turn, causing me to spill hot coffee down my front. After that, it took a long time to be nice to the cat, listen to REO, not be mad at my brother for chasing the dog, or even smell coffee. (This is all fiction, by the way, meant to entertain you while giving an example.)
Each of the neural associations had lasting conscious effects. While I may recover from this scenario consciously, there are still neural pathways, neural networks, that were created, which may still create some emotional stress from the trauma of it.
The individual Journeys unravel the neural networks that are associated with their topic (in this case, Fulfillment). Since most of my neural associations that are entangled are completely sub-conscious (or unconscious), the Journeys take me through a convoluted path to dis-entangle the networks in my brain. At least, the path seems convoluted, because I do not consciously have access to all of that disentanglement process.
This is what I figured out:
When I started the Journey, you may recall (WHY), I listed a bunch of affirmations that I have been working with regarding my purpose and its fulfillment.
At the beginning of the Journey, I was attached to the affirmations, and achieving their outcome.
Most often attachment associated with enlightenment has to do with ego-attachment. But people tend to be attached to things as well: families, friends, clothing, cars, good food, a job, etc., which of course is all just an expression of the attached ego.
I was attached to the affirmations: these will get me what I want. I wantthis particular outcome. If I just say these affirmations, I will get what I want. I want. I want. I want. Do you see?
The Journey (and God knows…I don’t know how), showed me how my attachment to the affirmations was exactly what prevented their fulfillment, and what’s more, through the Journey, the attachment was released. For 37 days, the bubble rose; hitting the surface, it burst, releasing what was trapped within.
Why would I choose to limit my Self? To limit my reality? All of reality is mine, and mine to give! In giving and sharing, my joy increases, expanding Love, expanding Life!
Last night I watched the first episode of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, a comedy based on the literary work of Douglas Adams. It was smattered with references to interconnectedness, quantum entanglement, and the broad purposefulness of everything, including coincidences (which means nothing is a coincidence, and everything is interconnected).
There were many profound ideas bandied about in comedic dialogue, but the most noteworthy was not one of the higher-mind, physics-spiritual-truths that are so often referenced these days (earlier in the week, Blunt Talk also referenced quantum entanglement).
The most interesting part of the dialogue for me was when Dirk (played by Samuel Barnett) said to Todd (played by Elijah Wood), “You’ve been making decisions out of desperation for far too long! Take control, make a real choice, and everything will change.” (This is a bit paraphrased as my memory of it may be flimsy).
Now that is an insight. “You’ve been making decisions out of desperation…” wow! At the time I thought, “I can’t say that I’ve been making decisions out of desperation…I’ve done pretty well making conscious choices…but dang if that doesn’t speak to me.”
This morning I figured out why it spoke to me. Let me paraphrase Dirk Gently, using the Guiding Thought as a basis: “You’ve been making decisions out of limitation for far too long! Expand Love, Expand Life, make that choice, and everything will change.”
That I can relate to. I can see how my internal and external circumstances can (and have) limited the choices I am making. Wasn’t I just talking about “leaping” last week?
The thing is—and this is where I get hung up recently—how? I can see the limitations. I can see what I want beyond the limitation. How do I bridge those?
This, in my humble opinion, is a classic “hang up”. How do I do it? I don’t think I am the first, or only, person who has thought this.
There is the want, the desire, the vision, the goal, even the skill or ability—all of this is in hand, ready for that accomplishment. But…how? How do I get there? What do I do? How do I make something happen? There’s always the leap, but leaping is scary, and in the meantime, there are bills to pay and a roof and food to provide.
With all of this, I can—again—emphatically shout this Guiding Thought from a mountaintop: Why would I choose to limit my Self? To limit my reality? All of reality is mine, and mine to give! In giving and sharing, my joy increases, expanding Love, expanding Life!
I feel it; I agree with it, I claim it!
Except, when the shouting is done, although I agree with all of it…where does it get me? It still doesn’t answer my question, doesn’t show me the answer.
You know that’s why I love this stuff. I have to figure it out. I know I have the answer. I know I am figuring it out. I love the puzzle. I love putting pieces together. I love working at these questions from lots of different angles. In a way, Dirk Gently is my hero. He solves crimes by following his intuition, being aware of where he is and where he’s going, and doing nothing except what’s in front of him, just knowing that everything has a purpose, and everything is interconnected.
In Divine Mind, I am filled full! All are equally filled full. All are equal in Love. I fill my mind with thoughts of fulfillment and remember what I already know. I am determined to fulfill my purpose, to know my Self as Divine Love, and to share the fullness I am.
The feeling that I get from this Guiding Thought today is like picturing myself on a mountaintop shouting this to the world, proclaiming with lots of energy and emphasis these thoughts.
In Divine Mind, I am filled full! All are equally filled full! All are equal in Love! I fill my mind with thoughts of fulfillment and remember what I already know! I am determined to fulfill my purpose! To know my Self as Divine Love! To share the fullness I am!
I particularly feel the emphasis on “I am determined to fulfill my purpose, to know my Self as Divine LOVE, and to share the fullness I am”.
I am determined. But I wonder what’s got me so riled up about this? Most of the time, I don’t need to do any proclaiming, or shouting, or any kind of vigorous assertion of intention. Generally speaking I am more in the category of quietly working toward something without drawing much attention. “Just let me do what I do…” Shouting from a mountaintop is definitely uncharacteristic—and it’s the type of behavior that I would otherwise think, “Methinks thou dost protest too much”—“What are you hiding with all of that clamoring”? Not today! No, not today.
Today’s shouting from a mountaintop feels joyful. It feel enthusiastic, optimistic, full of excitement for Life, feeling like I want everyone to KNOW what it means to be filled full, to be One with Love fully and fully consciously. OF COURSE I want to be determined to do that. OF COURSE that excites me! OF COURSE I want to share it with everyone by shouting it to the world. (Again, that would be very uncharacteristic of me to actually do that, but it’s a nice image to have.)
Do you understand how important it is to work with Love, toward Love? Do you understand how fun it is? (…most of the time.) Do you understand how necessary you are? Do you understand that once everyone realizes the Love they are, and once everyone gives and shares the Love they are, that the world will be a completely different place? Do you understand that everyone in the world needs you?
When every person radiates Love to every other person, then you will be receiving the love of over 7 billion human beings, as you give Love to over 7 billion human beings. But you give it once, to All, and All returns it…over 7 billion times. What a world that would be. What a life that would be. All it takes is one moment, with everyone’s participation.
Of course, this will only happen in time, in space. In Divine mind, it’s already done.
I now invite, welcome, and receive the effects of Divine Love, and I am Truly grateful. I experience Divine Mind as I experience these effects, and Divine Presence confirms itself in my life, activities and affairs.
Sometimes you only realize how tough something was once you get through it. Then, with a feeling of accomplishment or freedom or relief, you can then admit how hard you worked, how you stuck with it, how you overcame, survived, or “made it”.
The three examples that come to mind are:
Going through an application or interview process and being selected
Finishing high school, college, or earning a Ph.D.
Leaving an abusive relationship. leaving any unhealthy relationship
This only comes to mind because now that we are in Round 4, I realize how hard Round 3 was. The “we” of Round 3 was virtually inaccessible to me. I was too steeped in “me” to think about “you” or “we”—and I apologize. I did the best I could with what I had, with “where I was”, but it was not nearly what I am capable of… I’m better now.
In some ways, the ease-or-difficulty of focusing on “we” is a barometer for me and where my mind-emotions are.
When I am high with Life, filled with Love and Joy, overflowing, and knowing my Oneness with ALL, focusing on “we” is SO easy. Of course you are included! I LOVE YOU! Why would I not want you to feel and know the beauty of Life and Love? ALL I WANT is for US to KNOW this JOY TOGETHER.
On the other hand, when I am steeped in my own self, when my emotions overwhelm me, when my body becomes painful and uncomfortable, when the minutia of daily life become stressful, I retract and constrict. I need to take care of myself. I feel like crap, how do I make it through this day? I can’t breathe, I’m being suffocated—survival dictates that I breathe before I can do anything else!
When I started writing this I was feeling a bit judgmental toward myself…just a bit (you can “hear” it when I said “I’m better now”—as though there was something wrong with what I had experienced, because I knew I was performing “less than” what I am capable of).
But now, through this reflection, I feel only that I am learning. This process is pointing something out, something I am now aware of, and something I can now pay attention to in a new way.
Much of the time I use words like, “expanding”, “growing”, “sharing”, “extending”, words that are BIG, and outward, and inclusive. But today, to describe how I felt during round three, I used words like, “retract” and “constrict”, words that decrease space, reduce involvement, exclude.
Do you see how I’m only going through a different part of the cycle? It’s all part of the process.
What’s more, I see the duality (“expansion” vs. “retraction”) in a new light, thanks to the book I mentioned yesterday:
To turn back from the multiplicity of relativity and return to our original unity we must center our awareness in that primal impulse to duality which is manifesting most objectively as the process of our physical inhaling and exhaling. These seemingly two movements are in reality one, inseparable from one another, and together are capable of leading us back to their – and our- source. Through our full attention focused on the entire process of inhalation and exhalation, we become immersed in the subtler levels of that alternating cycle, moving into deeper and deeper levels until we at last come to the originating point. Then transcending that dual movement, we regain our lost unity. By continual practice of that transcendence we will become established in that unity and freed forever from all forms of bondage. (Breath of Life, p. 8) http://ocoy.org/original-yoga/how-to-meditate/the-breath-of-life-the-practice-of-breath-meditation/
The quote frames “duality” as the inhale and exhale of the breath. But, as you well know, duality can be found pretty much anywhere in material reality. For my purposes, I am substituting my current experience of “expansion” vs. “restriction” as the duality to be aware of, to pay attention to. “We must center our awareness…in duality…which is manifesting…objectively”. Duality manifesting objectively shows us a path to return to our original unity. Wow. Thus, I can think of these two aspects of my process as “in reality one, inseparable from one another, and together capable of leading” me back to my source.
Everything I experience has the potential to lead me to Source, to “the originating point”. Everything is here to teach me transcendence, to lead me to awareness of Unity. Once we “arrive” at the point of Unity, our natural state, we will look back on this life of duality and wonder why we made it so hard.
We are back to using “I” as the subject of the Guiding Thoughts. If you are new to the Journeys, please see this page for information about how the rounds change.
Everywhere Fulfillment is, I am. Fulfillment is everywhere. Fulfillment is. I am.
You know how two of the most common metaphors for experiencing yourself as a spiritual being are “waking up” and “remembering”? In fact, just this morning, I was reading a book, which used both of these metaphors in the same paragraph:
Our real self, the spirit, is ever perfect and free, but we have forgotten that. So we identify with our present experience of bondage and consequently suffer in countless ways. Our situation is like someone who is asleep and dreaming that he is being tortured and beaten…He need not placate, overpower, or escape his torturers. He needs only to wake up. (The Breath of Life: The Practice of Breath Meditation According to Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Jewish, and Christian Traditions. By: Abbot George Burke, Light of Spirit Monastery, 2012. Page 6)
I get it. We have forgotten. We need to wake up. I use these analogies myself from time to time. But at the moment, I am having a problem with them.
Let me explain it this way: Master Yoda to Luke Skywalker, “Do or do not, there is no try”.
Similarly, could we not say, “Remember or remember not” or “Wake or wake not”. The point is…there isn’t really an “in between” state. Either you do or do not, you remember or you do not, you wake or you do not. So what are we doing when we are “waking up” or “remembering”? What do these concepts even mean in a spiritual sense?
I understand the root of these metaphors is the premise or supposition that we are already enlightened. We are already what we strive to become. Our spirit-soul-Self is already perfect, already Divine, already Whole—we just need to wake up and remember who we “really” are. I conduct the Journeys on these premises, don’t I? Yes, I get it. Yet…yet… there is still a disconnect between knowing (intellectualizing) the Truth of my Being and Being it. There is no way I would make any claims about my own enlightenment, as though “I am already” …sometimes I feel “closer” than other times; sometimes I feel so clear and pure and loving that I just know I have achieved a new level of understanding; there are times when I feel so high I don’t think anything could shake me. And then I go to sleep and I wake up and it’s another day, with new things to learn. And so it goes.
So what are people really saying when they use the analogy of waking or remembering? Are these metaphors even useful? What is the concept the metaphors are trying to explain? Let’s get at that, have a new conversation, and make up some new metaphors. For now, in my humble opinion, and from my personal standpoint about life being a journey, I would say that a metaphor that encompasses both being and becoming would work better than “waking” or “remembering”. Life is a clock: we are every second, but the very next second…we’re a new one. How do you like that? Of course there is always the acorn-oak tree analogy…I’ll write that up and post it as it applies to this conversation. Do you have any ideas how we can express this? We can continue this conversation…
My second “problem” with these metaphors, particularly the metaphor of remembering, is that I feel like I can’t even remember consistently the things I think I’ve learned in this lifetime. How am I supposed to remember things I’m supposed to know innately?
For example, I know when I get to a certain emotional state, I resist speaking, because I want to work it out, and work it out myself…so I go deeper within to work it out, and continue even more not speaking. I know this can cause severe communication misunderstandings with family, because when I go too far, I act very disconnected and aloof (or as it can be perceived, uncaring, unloving, and inattentive). I have learned to modify my behavior, and catch myself before I go too far, and speak before I go too far. I know this. I’ve figured this out. But I still forget, and I can still behave aloof and distracted.
A second example is that I can sense when my emotions are tipping toward being “lower” emotions, in which I become more frustrated, more impatient, or cranky more quickly. I also know what I need to do so I never approach tipping, so that if I do tip, I can get back into balance quickly, or so I walk just “this side” of tipping, keeping myself in a delicate balance. This is of course related to the first example above. But then, sometimes I don’t do the things I need to do to keep myself within the delicate balance, walking the “higher” side of my emotions. It’s like I forget I need to do certain things to keep my balance. I think I can get away with not doing them, I forget how essential they are, how much I like myself when I am doing my practices, and how much I dislike how I feel when I am not. How can I forget that?
What is it overall that I am remembering? How does “remembering I am a spiritual being” help me, if I can’t even remember to do the things that help me be a nice, kind, focused, loving human being? Then it takes me longer, with more effort, to get back to feeling like myself. You would think that I have learned, but I still forget.
Sometimes I remember better. Sometimes I remember more quickly. Sometimes I don’t have to think about anything, and I am naturally in a state of harmony, balance, and peace. It’s this state of being in which I am “remembering”. I don’t have to think. I just am, being my highest self naturally. But then, I don’t call it “remembering”—it’s like there was nothing ever to remember because there was never forgetting. I am. Fulfillment is.
We know fulfillment and can feel it rise within and expand out.
I’ve never been one to be superficial or to interact disingenuously or inauthentically with others. For a long time, one of my internal-development goals was to be authentically me, true to my highest self, true to others. I don’t have to “work at it” as much anymore, but I do “work” to maintain this as part of my integrity.
That’s part of what processing myself through these Journeys is about: maintaining clarity about who I am, what the measure of my personal integrity is, and what is authentic and real for me. One of the points about these Journeys is to share difficulties, to share struggle, to share the weight, with the hope that our burdens become lighter, and that you might not feel alone, should you be struggling as well.
…After I wrote those two paragraphs for today’s Journey, I had a spontaneous online therapy session, which brought out EVERYTHING I wanted to say regarding authenticity and personal struggle. It even ends appropriately for what I wrote above. Since it just nails it, I share with you now my online therapy session (some details have been changed to protect the innocent). After you read the “session”, I’ve added a note about the relevance to the Guiding Thought today.
**Online Therapy Session**
Susan: I feel really pissy.
Online Therapist: why are you pissy?
Susan: well, which philosophical framework would you like me to expound, then refute against for myself?
Online Therapist: wow…that’s loaded. pick one, I’ll try to keep up
Susan: there are SO many “unreal” reasons that I am pissy….and I know it’s all just “my own making” “in my head” “karma” whatever….. It’s just all this illusion
Online Therapist: karma?
Susan: could be
Online Therapist: really?
Susan: there are sometimes situations and people, created in past lives that come up, without any relation to THIS life. but that have to be worked out
Online Therapist: are you feeling undervalued?
Susan: sure, that’s part of it
Online Therapist: and
Susan: DONE, I feel done, and I want to be done with this…. but…I have to wait…so I think about “Waiting on God”
Online Therapist: frustrated
Susan: Yes….and “I need do nothing”…but those don’t help
Online Therapist: breathe
Susan: I am… I did… this morning
Susan: then I think about “desire” and if I could just let go of “what I want” then that would dissipate
Online Therapist: you JUST had a huge step!
Susan: I know
Online Therapist: And you’ll be taking another huge step very soon!
Susan: and now I am impatient; impatience is part of it
Online Therapist: I understand those feelings
Susan: I know you do. I think about you, in relation to this, what you experience
Online Therapist: well, you know you can express this stuff
Susan: yeah… been thinking about that too, lol
Online Therapist: you can VENT, if you need to vent…and sometimes it’s a good thing to do
Susan: when it gets to a certain level, I just go deeper down (not talking), and I know that’s not healthy, but i don’t realize I’m doing it until I’ve done it.
so… I’ve done it LOL, TAAAA DAAAAA
Online Therapist: LOL…..venting helps prevent that
Susan: idk, it’s like I don’t want to TALK about it. I just want to FIX it…and I don’t know HOW…. and that’s part of the frustration
Online Therapist: well, you’ve taken some steps toward that recently
Susan: Cause I’m DOING ALL I CAN DO, and it hasn’t worked… or at least it doesn’t FEEL like it has worked
Online Therapist: and now you’ve taken a HUGE step, and you have another one coming
Susan: yes…. I know, so…. really, I am not sure WHY I’m pissy like this
Online Therapist: and now you’re talking out the writing situation…again…lol
Susan: talking out the writing situation?
Online Therapist: Yes, how to get it “out there”
Susan: yes, I am always thinking about that…. thinking/doing
I feel like I need to leap…. that was why I was frustrated yesterday
why don’t I leap?? other people leap.
Online Therapist: probably the same reason other people don’t
Susan: other people make a living doing this stuff
Online Therapist: what are your fears concerning leaping? what does leaping look like to you?
Susan: fears: money
leaping: walking away from this job and dedicating 100% to my writing/speaking/healing
fears: not being able to take care of my family the way my family needs me to, roof over our heads… food, bills… money
Online Therapist: that’s true
Susan: idk, I feel like so much of my time is wasted “working”…and…. maybe I would feel that anywhere I worked
Online Therapist: maybe
Susan: but I feel at an impasse because I HAVE to work… until I get an income to support us through doing OTHER work, but I have a hard time doing OTHER work, because I HAVE to work
Online Therapist: so, what would it take for you to be comfortable enough to “leap”?
Susan: There’s SO much I could do if I had the time/space to DO it
Online Therapist: what things would need to be in place?
Susan: it could look a variety of ways, but the main thing is roof over our heads, bills paid, enough food and computer and internet to “get stuff out there”…. I don’t know how much personal interaction I “need” with others for income
…that’s the other side of it…I feel like there is SO much to DO, and how do I prioritize ALL THAT toward income generating?
and I go to work, and it’s soul crushing, and I feel immobilized
but if I get another job that isn’t soul crushing, there will be less time to get stuff done…all around
less time, more complications.
another job is going to be a lot more demanding of my time
Online Therapist: well, let’s not make assumptions
Online Therapist: we don’t know what’s going to happen or where yet
Susan: I know
Online Therapist: the future is wide open
Susan: is it?
Online Therapist: of course it is
Susan: I feel crushed
Online Therapist: it, like you, is full of possibilities
Susan: and I feel pissed off that I’ve let it get this far, and I feel pissed off that I’ve let it get to me like this, but I also feel pissed off that I’ve felt like I’ve been continually defending myself for over 4 years
Online Therapist: you’re not in this alone. you’re always surrounded. don’t forget
Susan: That’s kind of funny, because in the little bit that I wrote today, I said I am writing so people know they are not alone
**end of session**
I hope that was at least entertaining for you. I hope that if you ever feel frustrated, impatient, pissed off….you have someone to vent with. I hope you know you’re not alone.
The reason this is relevant to the Guiding Thought today, is that the Guiding Thought was HARD for me today. Light? Free? I could not begin to “get there” today. Today, I felt, “crushed”, as I said above.
I have never-ever-never been in this particular emotional-mental-psychic state. This is new territory for me. I am getting through it, and all is well. I know all is well. I know that the way to get through it is to GET THROUGH IT. To stop just means I have to pick it back up another time—I might as well use this momentum to get me through. I know that once I am through there will be a level of freedom I’ve never had before. I know that when I get through I will be able to handle SO much more than I ever have. For now, though… one tiny concrete-laden step at a time.