Tuesday, 26 July 2011

GOODBYE TO THE OLD NEW AGE... OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW


Many of those who are my age group will remember the 1980s and 1990s as a time of exciting spiritual discoveries and the testing of many different belief systems. The very definition of the New Age is its eclecticism, the famous spiritual smorgasbord from which the individual could choose what they felt attracted to and create their very own unique world view. Mixing and matching was in. Though I never confessed to the New Age or any other form of religious or spiritual beliefs with ardour and conviction, I guess in a sense I had one foot in the New Age field and one in the Transpersonal or Integral field (as the Wilberian system of thought is called today). While the New Agey way of being is still inspiring people to become spiritual seekers, it does seem to me that the heydays are over. We threw a great party but now is time to sober up!

Of course, as always this a subjective point of view. But I've been thinking how there was a sort of spiritual wave movement and how it seems to have started to settle. Eclecticism just doesn't seem to have the allure it once had. You can only mix and match if you believe the systems you're referring to are relevant to your life in some way. Being a spiritual omnivore looks a bit wishy washy and undecided to me. People running around attending a lot of spiritual seminars all the time are often just spending time, distracting themselves rather than addressing the real issues of their lives. It seems important to me that people don't get hooked on holding onto old ideals but embrace new ways of being, as well as decide on who they really are and where that could take them in the future. What kind of person do you want to be rather than what kind of different person do you want to be? Perhaps this should take precedence to the belief system; maybe it's more important than concerning oneself with what kind of spirituality is defining one's identity.

I settled on a world view after ten years of research, and it hasn't changed much since then. Practical life took over and dealing with emotions became the focal point. Every now and again I revisit theories or here say about the current spiritual situation, mostly by checking things out on the internet. What I've noticed in myself is that there are two fundamental problems. On the one hand I don't feel a lot of excitement about either new age ideas or integral theory - most of the time I'm yawning or even feeling annoyed and only rarely do I sense a spark of interest as in "wow this I can apply to my life!". Most things just seem to complicated and/or hypothetical. On the other hand there's an inner conflict which is tearing me apart. I don't seem to be able to reconcile an expression of spirituality with the less spiritual side of life. I feel like a chameleon, trying too hard to adapt to different groups of people and ideologies. This is very obvious when I write for a general public, or make artwork. I feel uncomfortable about being overtly spiritual and talking in spiritual terms. I've been beating myself up over this, thinking that I'm just not focused enough... not spiritual enough... etc... but maybe it's really a sign that I should pay attention to?

Ken Wilber (check out the loft series at www.integrallife.com) has been talking a lot about bringing a contemporary form of spirituality into every day life as most of what religion used to represent has become redundant. In general, religions represent exoteric ways of approaching spirituality - it's mostly a dualist world view with a God who is separated from the individual.  Rituals and ceremonies pay an important role in this kind of thinking. Modern spirituality, on the other hand, is mainly esoteric and inwards looking. God is not seen as separate from the creation, on the contrary human beings are co-creators of this reality. In other words, we are not subject to some divine rule but intrinsically part of the divine and all that is. I agree with the idea that we are one with everything and more powerful than what meets the eye. But I also think that at this point in historic time there is a limit to how creative an individual can be, and that there's a danger in starting to force oneself to become more than what is humanly possible at any given moment. This is mainly where opinions differ among spiritual people. I have been fretting over this dilemma for the past ten years as I have felt pressure to perform better than I really feel able to. So how can I get away from all these inner conflicts?

Well, perhaps the solution is to become more centred in who one really is in this moment, in this place, in this body, at this point in historic time. It's almost as if spirituality has become as uncomfortable as religion. For different reasons, yes. But maybe it's time to move on and become less focused on the whole issue of spirituality. What I sense is that spirituality can easily keep us in a dualist position even when the belief system is about oneness. Whether it be fairies, angels and crystals (the New age) or levels, stages and quadrants (Integral Theory), it can really all just become distractions and a form of entertainment. In the end, the reality of life as such is usually a different matter altogether. I want to uncover my authentic self as it manifests itself in this time and place. Do I really need any paraphernalia or pretty theories to do so? To me, the answer is no. It's surprising how difficult it is to see yourself exactly as you are right now, without all the striving and manifesting to become happier and more spiritual. This has been said before, for instance Chogyam Trungpa talked about "spiritual materialism" already a long time ago. It was all about people who are taking on the spiritual cloak and pursuing spiritual ideals much as people pursue material possessions.

Spirituality as much as religion and other forms of belief systems (ecological thinking being a case in point) tend to become another set of rules with a great deal of restrictions attached to them. "Can't do this, can't do that..." - well this is not really embracing "all that is" and reaching for the experience of real oneness. Instead, dualism and polarisation really kicks in. Very often the restrictions don't even make a lot of sense, they exist because they seem to be a way towards greater approval by some authority or another, or because they make people feel secure. As soon as you think, "that person is not as spiritual as me", you're deep in trouble. You have drawn a clear dividing line between yourself and someone else. The tendency of the mind to polarise is, per se, a normal thing, but when it's done in the name of spirituality it becomes a very false attitude indeed.

My point, however, is that there comes a time when even spirituality itself becomes redundant. Instead, this could at least for some of us be a time to sink into ourselves and exist as exactly the person we happen to be in this particular life. Perhaps you're someone who will ascend in 2012. Perhaps you're not. Accepting that you don't know which you are could be quite liberating. Perhaps there is no ascension at all or maybe it's very different from here say. You know some things of a spiritual nature with great certainty but equally, you don't know many things with certainty. Liberate yourself and accept that this is true to who you are right now. What is valid and relevant, right now? Quietly discard the old and accept the new. It could be a greater connection to life through the heart, after all, an evolutionary step towards greater heart centredness has been predicted. If this is true it means that it's there for us to receive if we are able to open up to it. Yet my point is that we cannot open up to the simplicity of the heart's beauty if we keep distracting ourselves with shiny things and grand ideals. Do what you feel you need to do (e.g. keep the body/mind in sync) and stop worrying about whether it's spiritual or not! I think this kind of respect for the self is the true essence of self-love.

Artwork: An old postcard from the 1980s. This is how I feel a lot of the time!

Monday, 18 July 2011

THE CURRENT SPIRITUAL SITUATION AND ALL THOSE ASCENSION IDEALS...

I asked my husband to help me do some searches on the internet because he's so good at coming up with search terms. I have been feeling as if it's very hard to breathe, and in general felt pretty under the weather for no apparent reason. Well, one reason might have been some issues and worries about my mother but the feeling continued and didn't seem to make sense. Maybe it's just the weather and low pressure (literally feeling "under the weather", ha!). Perhaps this climate isn't very good for me. I was curious though whether there was anything going on cosmically speaking. We looked up "cosmic weather reports" and such, but could find nothing of any interest. At best there were explanations about the current situation of global economy and how it's all still a great mess. Apparently a few days there was a full moon and a constellation that might have brought out some emotional issues. 

We then looked up some lightworkers to see if there are any signs of life and if there are thoughts about what's going on from an esoteric point of view. Well in fact the big site lightworkers.org was not available (it seemed to have disappeared but it could have something to do with our server). We figured they had all ascended! Oops. There are many very pink (ok read gaudy and utterly tasteless) sites out there that are basically just repeating the same old, and nobody seems to have anything very new and thought provoking to say. "The ascension symptoms" is still the same old list of issues and as my husband said, it really just sounds like being human! From my point of view, many of them sound a lot like fibromyalgia which of course is increasingly common within the female population. Some of the issues are of a more spiritual nature but I'm sure that people who have a lot of mystical experiences are quite aware of what they are and don't need to read about them from a list... Anyhow, maybe it's a good thing if there aren't too many predictions out there (or maybe I just didn't find them) - perhaps the truly evolved are hesitant to say things that could be misinterpreted.

The whole idea of putting labels on things so that people fit into categories seems very perilous to me. Many people so want to feel special and part of an elite. Very often people are not what you think they are anyway, looks may be very deceiving! People have a frame of reference for deciding on what kind of level others are, and it may be very false. In reality we are probably all here for very different reasons.

And seriously - too many times I have already heard people who claim to be psychic say oops, things didn't go according to plan because not enough people were ready for spiritual changes. It doesn't take much to see that most people are still in a state of oblivion and not very interested in self-development, struggling to survive in times of great global imbalance. It takes time, here on Earth, for collective evolution to take place. I don't know how much time but I am not surprised that profound changes aren't instant. At them moment, collective insanity is definitely increasing, but I certainly hope we have reached the peak!

It occurred to me, that the fact that I have no clear feelings on the subject of ascension is maybe that there aren't any to be had. I do think there's an acceleration of evolution on the collective and individual levels, and I am quite certain of this. In fact all you need to do is just look around and see how society is speeding up, and this is obviously not isolated from the individual psyche. It seems dangerous though to read too much into these things, to hypnotize yourself into believing in hypotheses. To be centred in yourself or at least attempt to be, is the best way to be in my opinion. Flirtation with religious concepts often takes people away from who they really are, something which needs to be acknowledged and integrated before they can expect significant spiritual changes. I am not saying there aren't people who aren't very evolved, but don't ever make the mistake of comparing yourself with them. We are not here to compete, in fact we need to get out of the habit of comparing ourselves with others. Note what's going on and decide what sort of person you really want to be. Then keep this in mind at all times. Avoid putting on the role of the happy happy lovey dovey person if this is not who you are naturally. Too many people who are interested in self-development simply take on a new persona and think they have solved their problems - it's a kind of spiritual role playing and highly deceptive.

Positive thinking is an anti-thesis to negative thinking and will therefore not remove negativity. It's a polarised way of thinking that keeps you stuck in dualistic behavioural patterns. You cannot force these things, only gently acknowledge your negativities and see what you can do to break the patterns. One important thing is to give up some of the control we are so used to exercising, but doing it in the right kind of way! You don't just decide to rely on the universe providing you with everything... we do need to be proactive and responsible, not passive. We need syntheses and ways of integrating life as it is while gently working towards greater emotional openness. Gently, I say - myself and others (anecdotally anyway) have sometimes worked with ourselves so much we have become too open too soon, and the heart energies have gone all wiry and in some cases even worse things have occurred. One becomes vulnerable but not resilient - herein lies a danger. To dare open up again from having been too open to attack becomes the focus of some new inner work.

I find it deeply disturbing that the ascension ideas have driven a wedge between "the evolved" people and the ones who are not. Again I'm not saying everyone sees it this way but I think a lot of the talk out there can reinforce elitist thinking in immature individuals. We also have to remember that there are many, many chronically ill people who really have a hard time keeping up with everything. Their task is sometimes immense, and should be respected rather than spit on as the result of their own inability to create a better reality. At best it can be a noble task.

It's a bit telling when someone posts an advert about a book about Kuthumi in the comments section on my blog. From Wikipedia: "According to Theosophy, Kuthumi is considered to be one of the members of the Spiritual Hierarchy called the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom which oversees the development of the human race on this planet to higher levels of consciousness. In the Ascended Master Teachings, Kuthumi is one of the Ascended Masters who collectively make up the Great White Brotherhood."  I do take objection to the fact that someone posts adverts on my blog - it is not a very evolved way of acting. As for ascended masters and all that... well believe in it if you feel it's important to you, but don't feel obliged to. You may have a different sort of spiritual life that doesn't include beings from other dimensions. You are, after all, on Earth! There's plenty enough to focus on right here... beware of getting distracted by shiny things and what appear to be elevated ideals of other dimensions!

I do think that some people have very heavy and difficult lessons to learn, and it may be the greatest purpose of their current existence. It can be very disconcerting not to know for sure why you feel a lot of things that appear not even to come from yourself. On the other hand, you may have surges of self-developmental reactions that are peculiar to yourself at any given time. Not dwelling on this too much but trying to do something creative with it would be my advice. For what it's worth! Also, there are people who are very serious about spiritual evolution and who are acting it out in the world rather than outside of it, not afraid of including all aspects of being into their belief systems.

Artwork: Digital photograph, "Things Were Not Quite What They Seemed To Be", copyright 2011

Thursday, 7 July 2011

A DREAM ABOUT FINDING ONESELF...


One should never make the mistake of thinking that Islam has nothing to offer. It's easy to be influenced by a lot of negative propaganda. Nonetheless, there are many strands that promote all the good things such as compassion and mindfulness. While there are exoteric forms of the religion - i.e. ones that focus only on rituals and other external ceremonies and behavioural patterns - there are also esoteric forms which focus on the inner life of the individual. Sufism is the most known esoteric belief system in the Arabic world.

Nonetheless, I never found myself drawn to Islam and didn't read much about it at Uni. I think in my mind I see it as a bit of an antithesis to my own belief system even though in reality it's a bit unfair to parts of it. Some cultures just don't click! Therefore it was interesting that I had a dream about Islam.

I had lost my car, I couldn't remember where I had parked it, and most cars were the same colour (my cars have always been silver). This tends to be a recurrent theme in many of my dreams. As I was looking for it I came across a congregation of Muslims in a street corner. My impression of them was a good one. I had seen the same one in the morning, but in the evening I decided to join in. I suspected I had lost a piece of garment there and I did get it back from a kind looking boy. I felt drawn into the ceremonies and enjoyed a surprising sense of peacefulness that almost made me a bit uncomfortable because they were performing exoteric rituals. Still it felt esoteric, as it touched my heart. I was reluctant to leave. I received a pendant, round with a cross I believe, but had to give it back at the end because I was new. 

So what does it all mean? Perhaps, that I feel a bit lost in the sense that I can't seem to find or 'hold onto' my inner self and motivation at the moment (the lost car). I feel that I am lost among so many other creative people (the cars were all silver coloured, which denotes intuition and subconscious riches). Yet there it was, right in front of me and in the open; a form of spirituality that I had not expected. It looked so different from what I thought spirituality was going to be for me. But in keeping an open mind I was able to be touched by it. I received some form of initiation but only for the moment. Perhaps it represented something I am not quite ready for just yet, but it's there for me if I want it. Wholeness,  harmony and stability (the round shape with a cross) and a connection with the inner self that I could have with me at all times (a necklace). The congregation was marked by kindness and soulfulness. I recall most of the beautiful garments and objects were golden, a symbol of authentic spirituality.

Artwork: "Beckoning Shadows V", abstract photography, all rights reserved V-M C 2011