Sunday, 16 December 2012

THE SIMPLE ART OF HEALING

Marius and Martin - photo copyright by Vivi-Mari Carpelan 2011
So now onto something more positive! I've been thinking to share something personal that really isn't that personal by the end of the day. It's one of those things that I feel a bit embarrassed about, because I don't always feel so "spiritually adequate". Yet sometimes I realize there are things of a spiritual nature I take for granted that aren't that obvious to other people.

Healing. You may think of reiki, Rosen therapy, close or distant hands-on-healing, channelling... well, you name it. It comes in many forms, I hear. Some people have developed their own method, sometimes intuitively, as seems right to them. To me it's something extremely simple and not something I've been taught. It all started when I was practising intuitive massage in the late 90s. I wasn't feeling omnipotent and able to create miracles, though I knew I was a good masseuse. I decided that whatever energy wanted to come through me for the benefit of the client was welcome to come, and I would simply be the best conduit I can be in this body and in this life time (even if not the best, after all my own health wasn't great). It was more a matter of allowing something of a universal nature to pass through rather than trying to control anything. I might have said something like "please let me be a conduit" in my head - it doesn't really matter what I said, what mattered was that I had a belief that it could happen.

I do think the nature of our beliefs is what determines what becomes possible in our lives, though there are many things at play and there are many things we cannot change no matter how much we'd like to. For instance, I do not believe that we can heal issues in another person that are determined by karma. Mental and emotional issues are usually ones people have to sort out themselves. A healer might be able to facilitate the process but to create instant miracles where processes over time may be required isn't possible. 

When I met my partner, he had bad cases of tachycardia, and that's where I started to try and give another person healing in a context that wasn't therapeutic. I would place my hand on him (I don't think it matters where you put your hand as the energy will surely reach its destination regardless, but you might as well put it where the problem lies). Then I would "will it". By that I mean, I would ask to be a conduit for the energy (chi, or life force) that my partner needs, and I would then concentrate on this. I've done this quite a few times now, and there's usually a sense of  mild "chock" in my own body. I don't feel hot hands or anything like that. It's interesting, that this sensation varies a bit depending on what the ailment is, so sometimes it's quick and not so strong, while other times it's much more electric and lingers on much longer. He usually feels something too, and often times he has felt better afterwards. This has encouraged me to believe that it's actually working. He has also done this on me a few times, and once I had a very interesting energetic experience, and another time the sciatic pain disappeared (much to my surprise, as it tends to be quite chronic once it's started). He doesn't seem to experience the process the same way I do, though.

The kind of ailments that I feel I can affect are ones I call "nuisances". They are temporary physical symptoms that don't have any particular raison d'etre except to cause suffering and sometimes more issues as a consequence. It can be tachycardia, or toothache, or restless legs, or issues that come with old age - things that we take pills for if there is a suitable pill. This kind of healing is in other words "a virtual pill", but it also makes me feel good, as if I've meditated - in fact, it feels like love has visited. So, I would encourage everybody to believe they can be a conduit... I have no way of knowing whether everyone can be one, but I don't see a reason why not as long as people stay real and don't nourish extreme attitudes such as "I'm chosen by God to be a conduit" or "I'm a loser who can't possibly make a difference".

Humans have a tendency to want someone else or something outside of them to save them. It's not hard to understand, given that life isn't easy and profound insights don't come easily either. I think others can be facilitators, but ultimately the only one who can solve your problems is yourself. It's important to develop discernment and realize when it's okay to rely on someone else's help, and when it's a case of escapism from a deep personal dilemma. There are sometimes karmic connections that mean that someone could have a deep influence in another person's life. But to think that one day we'll be "fixed" or "saved" through the intervention of an external force is like believing in the apocalypse... I wouldn't recommend relishing such thoughts but rather focus on one's own inner work at all times. Everything boils down to how we handle our own existence.

I also don't know if there is a way of affecting someone's mental issues, for instance if they are in the manic phase of a bipolar disorder. I think it's possible, because one might be able to calm down the system to create more balance in that instance, a bit like acupuncture or qi gong  It would be a fallacy to think that one could cure a mental illness and chronic conditions from their root though, as that would probably be messing about with someone's destiny and karmic issues in an ontological sort of way. There is certainly no harm in trying but I doubt that one can make the kind of difference that only introspection and self-development can do. And of course, sometimes that doesn't help, only acceptance that things are the way they are.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

SPIRITUAL MONEY MAKING SCHEMES

The chakra system - not my own artwork

I know I probably shouldn't wind myself up over all those people out there who are trying to sell spirituality. But I get curious about some of them, maybe due to my education as a scholar (spotting religions in the most unlikely places was one of the things we were trained to do so I still carry that legacy of looking at spiritual phenomena with some objectivity), but when I investigate I get very saddened and disappointed. Still, I decided to write about something I've been looking into a bit because I feel it's so important to be aware of spiritual hoaxes and how the advertising works. I am not trying to suggest that this particular case is a fraud, only offering my personal opinion about their advertising strategy.

I clicked on an ad for "Psycademy" on Facebook. It was promising to tell you if you're a lightworker or not. Well, I think I can say with some confidence that any ad you click on on the internet has an agenda, which is to sell you something for a lot of money. Still you often hope it won't be. Of course, the test you are being promised is free, and it's what draws you in initially. At the end of the test with various questions about your attitude to reality and spiritual matters, you're being told that you're in one place or another of a cycle consisting of various phases. You could for instance be a seeker, or a pioneer, or an actual lightworker. This is the basic concept that draws you in because all it says is, you're in a phase and this cycle of phases are repeated endlessly throughout your life. This is not a poor image of life, on the contrary it is potentially thought provoking, but not very informative in the context of the initial question. It doesn't say anything about whether your spiritual age or level of consciousness is such that you actually have the potential of being a lightworker (whatever that really means!). This woman, Lisa Turner, then sends you an e-mail which explains that you are most definitely a lightworker since you signed up for the test and her free course in the first place! 

I could be crude and say that you probably aren't one if you felt such a need for confirmation about your own spirituality, that it's a sign you're not in touch with your intuition and higher understanding. But I also realize that sometimes we are unsure, vulnerable and a little bit clueless, and therefore people who call themselves psychics can draw us in and make us feel that they have some answers that we desperately need. Please don't feel bad about seeking answers, it's a human thing to do. And after all, curiosity is normal and even desirable, and we all hope for a clearer vision and more control over our own lives and destiny. We also want to believe that people who speak in the name of spirituality are all good and honest people. I have also wished for  truly ground breaking answers about my own life from other people, but the feedback was always poor and I decided this wasn't the way to go.


So back to Lisa Turner and her Psycademy - well, she promises to send you e-mails which are going to take you on a great journey of discovery, and you will learn things about yourself and the nature of reality that may be utterly shocking to you. At this point I have a suspicion that it's not anything other than what most spiritual seekers have already read in countless books about the ascension of mankind and various other things to do with angels, guides and channelling. It might be shocking to the novice - but that's probably not someone who is geared up to be a "lightworker", i.e. work on a very high spiritual level for the good of all mankind. Interestingly, one of the questions of the questionnaire was "do you believe that spiritual services should be free?". Well, I said yes, because I believe that in an ideal world, that's how it should be. Yet in a way this question could be just another carrot to make you feel that you should receive her services for free, and that's exactly what she's promising you... well, until she isn't, anymore.

In her first e-mail, she starts telling us the story of how she used to be oblivious of spiritual matters, but was woken up thanks to some terrible things that happened to her in Britain when she was 15. At this point, you're being drawn in thanks to a story that aims at appealing to your emotions and curiosity. We all want to know what happened next, after she was taken captive by this evil man... so Lisa follows the textbook and says, if you keep reading these e-mails you'll find out more about her story. But of course - she knows "we are all impatient" (so she says) and so there is a way in which we can instantly find out about this story and many other things to do with guides and healing, just a click away! You click on a link and it takes you to - guess what. A DVD for 20 pounds (I think there was a book too but I can't remember for sure). 

So, you don't buy the DVD or whatever the product was that was going to answer all your questions. You keep reading the e-mails that arrive about once a day or so (not regularly, because after all, she wants you to get impatient). After a number of e-mails, say six or seven, I'm none the wiser. Blablabladibla... There was a list of signs that you have healing powers - hot hands that you have an obsessive need to place on other people in order to heal them, for example! Now we are getting into the realm of spiritual stereotypes. In another there's some analogy to Santa in shorts and how people always used to promise that it was going to snow at Christmas in Australia (in her childhood)! Ahum, what? Not sure what that one was about. Then there's a a long list of questions people allegedly have about contacting their guides, and how to spot the difference between a ghost and a real guide. And of course, the twelve signs or so that will tell you whether your guide is a really highly evolved one! And guess what! Now you find out, that all you need to do is go and sign up for the "real" course! Which of course, means parting with some contents of your purse. I bet you you'll find out that your guide is one of the greatest guides anyone can have!

At this point I'm so bored I just want this person to go away. I read two more e-mails, one in which she hints that she will tell you more about her own journey towards realization in the next e-mail, and another in which she isn't following up on her own story but is trying to sell you a three day course with these words:

"You feel it like a pull, or a tingling deep within you, like an inner knowing but you can't quite grasp it. You've heard it but only as a whisper on the breeze, but can't quite tune in to the message beneath the babble. Maybe you've seen dim flashes or glimpses that simply vanish when you turn to look. Maybe you've experienced that deeply blissful state, where your heart is fully open and you feel a complete connection, yet you can't seem to get it back again or experience it in any kind of on-going way in your daily life. 


Bottom line is that you are frustrated by life and starting to wonder if being spiritual isn't all it's cracked up to be... 



The simple fact is, it's one thing to have a spiritual experience, and it's quite another to tap into the true spiritual power at your fingertips so that can change the world and reality you live in, solve problems and bring healing.". 


That's compelling, isn't it. The course offers pretty much everything you could possibly imagine under the heading of "new age" in a book store, all those things about finding your soul mate, becoming a real healer, channelling and so on, that new age books are full of. It makes my head spin and I personally wouldn't know how to deal with so much "stuff"! Is it all important stuff? Perhaps it's all good. Sure many of us feel frustrated at times, as if we're not accessing all those wonderful spiritual phenomena that other people seem to be able to see and understand, and also use in their own lives. But the most important thing seem to be missing, which is that there is no wonder cure for this kind of existential dilemma. You have to figure it out yourself, and it doesn't cost any money. What you need (as opposed to what we believe all those other supposedly enlightened people out there need) is right there for you to have if you just open your eyes and soul. Don't compare yourself with others, because this will lead you astray - that's my bit of advice, anyway. Unless, of course, you just want some entertainment, or to give yourself the time to think about these things a bit more in a specific context that takes you away from daily life and being on "automatic pilot", or socialize... well, unless that's how you feel, I don't think you need Lisa's course, or any other similar course for that matter. I'm not an expert because I don't do such courses. But when someone comes along claiming to have all the answers, clearly uses emotional manipulation, and uses all the other advertising tricks in the book, then I get suspicious  I just don't believe this person is particularly evolved or endowed with any real spiritual integrity. Problem and solution: "Not enough money – raising your spiritual vibration has been shown to directly increase wealth." (from the website). Perhaps? But selling spirituality has also been shown to create wealth because there are so many desperate seekers out there.

This is an image used for the advertising of the course...
aren't you also a bit tired of seeing this cliched image of human evolution?

In fact, you can read more about her own story, albeit in sketchy words, here on the actual advertising site - to be honest I would have preferred to have seen this page in an honest sort of way right from the beginning without all the "beating around the bush". But - what the heck is this supposed to mean? "It’s not your fault that you haven’t accessed your spiritual power yet. But once you learn this system you can. And the results will be extraordinary (even if it doesn't seem easy to believe right now.)". How can such a thing be anyone's fault in the first place? Can you hear how wrong this sentence sounds in the context of true spirituality? This, if anything, is just emotional blackmail, attempting to put you in a child's shoes, making you feel that you need an authority... now do you really

I'm not suggesting that it's all wrong, and that none of the lessons could potentially be useful for the right person... We are all different It's not for me to judge. That is, though, if you don't mind paying about 500 pounds for the 3-day basic course (whose value is allegedly well over £ 1000!). You can spend an awful lot of money on all sorts of seminars, in fact some people are quite hooked on always seeking answers from seminars, and it's not always so useful. I don't know that this is a real hoax. After all, she promises to refund most of your money if you're not happy and haven't had spiritual experiences (which on the other hand she says it's not what it's really about... it's about making it work for you in real life). There are plenty of photos from previous seminars on the website. But I can only say that I'm deeply suspicious of this sort of approach to serious spiritual matters. 

Friday, 23 November 2012

THE VALUE OF SYMBOLS


The two birds and the circle is a variation on a theme of basic symbols 
that recur in all of human history.
The birds could be compared with the Yin and Yang symbol and has become my logo
because my art is generally speaking about the paradoxes that arise from the inherent dualism of life.
Image copyright by the author


You may ask what the point in using symbolism to convey a message through art really is. Those who are familiar with art history know that Symbolism is a movement that started up with the paintings of Gustave Moreau around 1860 but was deemed useless and out of date by the beginning of the First World War. It was a movement that was mainly concerned with the other worldly, and to a surprisingly high degree was linked with Catholicism. Some symbolists were interested in esoteric world views, and wanted to convey these beliefs through their art. These artists felt that the best way of conveying their view of a more spiritual realm was through the use of symbols as it was a way of pointing towards realities that you couldn't otherwise describe. Many artists were, however, not necessarily expressing very complex truths. In simple terms, this artistic genre came about as a reaction against the industrial upswing and a wide spread interest in realistic art as social commentary. The war crushed a lot of idealism and made introspective and solipsist art seem self-indulgent - the art that followed was mostly socially orientated. 

Nothing in art history is, however, straightforward and subject to a strict chronological time line. When it comes to symbolism, it pops up here and there in various forms and for various reasons. In the modern era, artists often use symbols without making much of a point of it. Various forms of fantasy art are alive and well, and some of these artists of the imagination employ symbols to a very high degree. Almost anyone who is interested in investigating the deeper layers of the human psyche or spiritual visions will use symbols. 

Symbols have always been around in the form of mythology, fairy tales, as well as esoteric and alchemical explorations. These depictions of the human condition and how humans relate to the other worldly have been informative and necessary for the evolution of the human psyche, and there is no reason to believe that this has come to an end. It may seem that cynicism and a fragmentation of spirituality is here to stay, but I don't believe it. Art that expresses such disillusion is not life-affirming and constructive, and is therefore in the long run an unsatisfactory way of dealing with life's deeper issues and the human condition. 

While the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud paved the way for dream interpretation, his disciple Carl Gustav Jung made a great job in researching the deeper meaning of widely recurring symbols and archetypes. The Depth Psychology that he and others instigated is still inspiring a great many psychotherapists who are interested in the subconscious mind and importance of dreams and archetypes in people's lives. Mythology isn't out dated - myself and many others believe that the human consciousness is constantly creating new myths and ways of story telling that help us come to terms with our lives. While the basic themes remain the same, they are being re-created, no doubt to fit new perspectives and higher levels or orders of collective understanding. I believe that we are constantly aspiring towards higher and more comprehensive levels of understanding, and so am not strictly speaking a Jungian. I've been reared in the Transpersonal (Integral) tradition. I do believe that symbols are relevant in all of life's areas nonetheless.

So what are symbols, exactly? According to Wikipedia a symbol is "something that represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning." The way I see it, symbols have levels of meaning. There are symbols that are pretty deep and universal because of our joint collective experience of these elements of life. For instance, a snake represents the other end of evolution, i.e. very primordial or basic instincts and affects. From primordial myths and belief systems we can also see that the meaning is also attached to the universal life force and sexuality. Most people are scared of snakes so in a dream it's usually about feeling threatened by basic instincts such as sexual feelings and related issues.

The same symbols also have a shallow level of meaning which is dictated by cultural meaning and individual experience. A snake may not be threatening to someone who is a snake charmer. Someone who is a Hindu and familiar with theories about the Kundalini force would be more likely to associate the snake with religious beliefs than a Westerner would. Of course, we all know about the "one eyed snake", the male organ, which is yet another reason it tends to be connected to sexuality.

I believe that the best way to learn to understand the language of symbols is by engaging in dream interpretation (you can also study and compare myths). This is no easy task as you have to understand the parts as well as the whole, i.e., how the various elements of the dream (the symbols) relate to one another and what the context of these elements is. You need to reflect upon the associations the symbols offer as well as be able to grasp the overall feel of the dream in an intuitive way. The dream also has to relate to the dreaming person, as one has to distinguish the universal meaning of the symbols from possible individual interpretations. Intuition is truly paramount during this process. The language of symbols is not quite like an ordinary language because it relies so heavily on intuition. You also have to keep in mind, that all the symbols in your dreams associate with aspects of yourself. For instance; familiar people you see in your dreams represent qualities in yourself, and buildings usually (unless you're a gypsy traveller, one would assume) symbolize the different levels of the psyche.

People often say they dreamt about something they saw on TV before going to bed, and this becomes their reason for dismissing the existence of any deeper significance attached to the dream. There's a fallacy in this thinking because you don't dream about something because you saw it on TV, but because what you saw on TV reminded your psyche of something significant that it consequently wanted to resolve through your dream. Nothing in your dream world is haphazard. The key to successful dream interpretation is that you take into account every single aspect of the dream with the understanding that it all makes sense in some deep and significant way. We also tend to remember dreams that really are significant to us, while less important dreams are forgotten. If you're grabbed by a dream, it means it has something to say to you that you may not have realized during waking consciousness. I have personally not found anything terribly revelatory within my own dreams, but that's because I'm very interested in my inner life while I'm awake and so nothing comes as a surprise. I find that dreams can clarify some issues, though. There is nothing quite like having had a vivid and deeply emotional dream that really tantalizes your imagination points to great potential,and promotes contemplation about your life situation...

In order to get your imagination going, you might like to consult a book on dream interpretation. Books cannot explain everything for you and it's very important that you choose your book well! A good Jungian style book (E.g. The New Dream Dictionary by Toni Crisp) can give you ideas and impulses, and thus aid the process of understanding the way your psyche functions and what it's communicating to you.

I'm quite a literal person, and I like to communicate in a precise way. While pictures say more than a thousand words, I also like for them to be subject to a rather literal interpretation. I don't see a contradiction in terms here, nor do I have any problem with the fact that some people will prefer to take in my images without the involvement of intellectual analysis. Others will be interested in a semantic interpretation. My experience is that both work just as well, and what really matters in the end is what resonates with people, i.e., what people feel attracted to, and it really doesn't matter whether they are aware of the reasons for this feeling. I expect that people recognize the meaning of the symbols I use either intuitively or directly, and that they strike a cord in the attentive audience because of their universal appeal. 

Artistically speaking, I started out by learning the logical language of symbols, and expressing my own inner development and the formation of a world view through symbolic art. I was intensely interested in esoteric view points while I was learning about the basic nature of reality. It was a rewarding time in my life, and I got much positive response from people from all walks of life. But things changed and I started to feel that making art about the tension between the spiritual and mundane was limited. In short, I felt I had little more to say. My interests have flipped so that at least for the time being, I'm more engaged in social issues, and my spiritual concerns have receded into the background. There is work to be done in the realm of our day to day life, and I feel compelled to do what I can to help alter people's perception of those who are marginalized in society. 

Symbols continue to be my preferred way of expression nonetheless. Through symbols I communicate a vision of life and know that it's a visual representation of something that I could also write about if I wanted to. Yet the impact is different and hopefully a more direct way of saying what I want to say. Symbols are endlessly versatile and a visual language based on symbols can be updated to suit a contemporary audience and crucial topics of the modern day.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

ASCENSION, SHIFT, END OF TIMES, APOCALYPSE...


In Swedish there is an expression that goes something like "dear child bears many names", i.e., whom you love, you give many names. This seems to me to fit in with the apocalyptic scenario pretty well. It's a scenario that people love to entertain. For some, it's clearly a really exciting scenario.

I believe that reality is a lot more outrageous than we can possibly imagine. When I stopped seeking answers about the nature of reality about ten or twelve years ago, it was with this in mind. I don't feel a need to push through to find out more, because I feel that there is so much I wouldn't be able to grasp, and the things I'd like to know about no one really seems to be able to give conclusive answers about. I sometimes go to have a look at the integral community, and I'm struck with awe of the intellectual pursuits I find there. It's a little bit disconcerting, as it brings up feelings of inadequacy that I have to deal with. I feel a little bit upset that I am not able to indulge in so much intellectual thought... but the truth that I have to remind me of at times like this is that I don't really want to. It is simply not the life that I want or need for myself right now. It's true that my brains aren't what I'd like for them to be, but it really isn't important. This is the life I have now, and I had better be real about it and live it in a way that feels right. The integral people are intellectual, but to me, there's a bit missing in terms of openness to the real mysteries of our universe. They are so cautious about not being seen "new agey".

A few years ago I also stopped watching the New Age community with all its talk about the ascension. I felt a different sort of inadequacy within this group because I wasn't able to see what they said they were seeing. As interesting as it was, I didn't really feel that my life was within that sphere of spirituality either. So where did I belong? I guess I don't belong anywhere but right here. This was my conclusion. Again, I felt that it was of utmost importance that I stop ogling other people and their ideas, and focus on my own life. I needed not to feel scattered. I greatly simplified my existence, tried to feel as grounded in my new reality here in the new country as possible, and attempted to accept things the way they are. I didn't really have much option, because the move and my wedding left me pretty burn out, and since then I've had to try and adapt to a new culture. 

I know that if I allow myself, I'll just start tormenting myself with questions and doubt about my own ability to lead my life as best as I can. I'll go around feeling guilty for not doing well enough - in any number of areas of life. A great number of things don't really make sense to me. I used to work on myself a lot, but it got tiring. These days I find myself thinking, oh I need to fix this and the other problem with negative emotions, but when I look at what Shadow I'm projecting I'm not getting a hold of it. It's all so complex... I just don't feel there are any simple answers any more. Well, unless you call taking the problems seriously but going easy on myself simple, of course... no, I haven't given up on myself but I no longer feel obsessed by inner work. Who knows, maybe there is infiltration of higher energies into the world... I rather not speculate, because I don't want to mess with my head. I try and take things at face value. What I do feel though, is that something is pushing me a bit, as if I was in a hurry to sort out some personal issues. I also have deep questions about my creative life and what I'm supposed to do next.

It's only a month until that date everyone knows about, that so-called "End of the World". I don't give a toss about some Mayan calendar... it's a great deal of hype about something very unclear. I don't know much about it but it's nevertheless my guess that this date signifies a shift of some sort. People have made prophesies about the end of the world many, many times in the past - check this article out, for instance. There is no evidence that the world would come to an end. There's a lot of rather confused talk about a different kind of "end" though. I believe in evolution - and no doubt, evolution believes in me. I believe we have come to a point in our collective evolution that will propel us forward, maybe as a quantum leap (which seems to have happened before, historically speaking). You could call it an ascension if you wanted to, because it's moving up the evolutionary step ladder. What I do find a bit worrying is that "ascension talk" is basically the same year after year. All the "channellings" follow the same script of telling us that we are co-creators of this world and that those who refuse to wake up to this fact are going to feel very uncomfortable during these times of extreme cleansing of negative energy. They always say that we are going through difficult times and it will all seem very confusing. A wonderful future lies ahead though. That's about it. To me, it sounds like opium for the people.

These are dark and confusing times - well, if you want to be sure of your facts, you could look at what history teaches us. For instance, this is the ideal time for a new start. Think what it was like after the world wars, for instance. If a similar change was to be had on a larger scale, well could it look like something we might be heading for? I feel that a clarity is about to descend upon the human consciousness. Whether it involves extra terrestrial intelligence I don't know... frankly, I don't really care that much. I shall wait and see. I also know that changes can take a long time to take effect, so I am not about to make any prophesies that involves second guessing what I might still experience in my life time. I do think we are ready for change, that the collective has "had it". I don't think that we can sit down and expect everything to be served for us. There is much work to be done, but let's hope these end of days will see a new dawn with new possibilities. Actually, that's what I see. But more than anything else, I believe that we are responsible for our own life here on Earth and that it's really up to ourselves to make things work better, even if we are being facilitated through a shift of consciousness.

Read about how the world may be doing much better than we think.
Read a worthwhile article by Andrew Cohen about how we may relate to each other in the future when people have come to a realization of their authentic selves.
Listen to Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen discuss the end of the world

Monday, 12 November 2012

ANGER AND DISAPPOINTMENT - HOW TO DEAL WITH THEM?



I hope to get back to this subject matter at some later stage when I have more conclusive view points to report... I still wish to start this discussion on issues of anger and other negative emotions. For whatever reason, the necessity to deal with such emotions has come up again, with unprecedented obstinacy. I clearly need to find a way of dealing with them.

Many moons ago, I was looking into my own chakras as a result of studying what books were saying about them. The one chakra that seemed non-existent was the third one, i.e. at the solar plexus. I lived with the illusion there was nothing wrong with my Ego. The truth unravelled as I went along, and the problems gradually appeared. This is one of the most complicated chakras - well, at least in my mind - and one that humanity is collectively dealing with at this point in time. It represents matters of the Ego, but it has to be understood that the Ego is not all bad. The healthy Ego is simply our individual selves as manifest in this body, with this mind and these emotions, at this point in time. The "bad" Ego is the skewed and distorted sense of self, one that isn't honest and true. It's an inflated or disintegrated Ego. Most people have shadow issues to deal with on this level. How do we relate to ourselves, to other people, to the world, to the Universe..? Do we have a general sense of belonging? What feelings do we have for occurrences in our environment? How do we build up healthy self-esteem? How do we learn to be diplomatic rather than confrontational? These are just a few of the issues we all have to be mindful about. Not surprisingly, anger often comes out of imbalances in this chakra, because we're upset with the way others treat us and we don't feel respected.  We feel powerless in the face of injustice, or reversely, we experience a need to control that can lead to pathological power games.

I would say that most people are both aggressive and passive-aggressive, though I think that people lean towards one or the other. For instance, you could lash out aggressively but then retreat with a defensive attitude in a passive-aggressive way, claiming to be a victim ("you can't do this to me because I have this illness" , "you make me lose my temper" and so on). The idea of victim hood is typical of modern day society, it's an easy way of justifying one's suffering and negative attitudes in general. I think most people use this way of manipulation at one time or another. Therefore it's important to be able to admit to it - if we all do it, there is no need to feel embarrassed. I know I've been in denial of some tendencies to retreat into victim hood when I've felt powerless and threatened. If you don't admit to it you'll never heal. But getting your butt out of the hole you have dug for yourself can be quite difficult and requires a great deal of determination. You need to think about how you act in the world and why many of your relationships don't work that well.


There are some emotional problems you can't resolve through just thinking about them (this is what CBT, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy attempts to do). There are two things you need to accept; one is that nobody can take these away for you, and the other is that if you only deal with them in your mind, your Ego's defences will come into play. Listen to yourself some time and notice how you keep making excuses about certain issues in your life... how you refuse to believe that there are any solutions to your problems. This can be the false Ego talking, the one that doesn't want change because it's scary. Of course, a clear "no" in your mind can be a healthy no. How do you see that a negative discourse in your mind is not healthy? Well, it's not necessarily easy... I think one sign is that it's victimizing you and feeding off a state of powerlessness. You need to try and listen to yourself objectively, be honest about what you feel, but also have compassion towards this state of affairs. There is probably a wounded child or something similar in there somewhere...

You could use mental imagery to work with this problem if that comes naturally to you. It helps some people to meditate over the idea that they are not their feelings, but I would warn people against becoming dissociated from their feelings and experiences by being too much of a witness. You must embody your life, feel it through and through. This kind of "getting real" is in my opinion of the utmost importance, and I don't personally find it very useful to think of this reality as "just an illusion".

I think there are some issues you can resolve in your mind by seeing the absurdity of your own discourse, but there are some issues that are buried so deep in your psyche you simply cannot get to them that way. In this case, you need to complement the thinking with other work. This other work could be physical exercise and receiving physical treatments to open up knots in your body, or it could be meditation. With really tough issues you might like to do all of these along side with each other, consistently, until your psyche starts to flex.

I personally feel the block in my solar plexus quite tangibly. There's a whiny voice that seems to come from there. The block cuts off some of my love, compassion and intuitive understanding from my emotions, my relationship with the rest of the world, and my body. I feel wronged by the Universe and the people inhabiting this world. The anger and disappointment I experience from feeling helpless within a limited body is one of the major challenges in this life. As I have become less able to whip myself into action, my self-confidence has faltered and I have become a bit too concerned with the way people see me and whether they appreciate what I'm trying to achieve in this life. People care so little about so many things... It's a case of accepting that the issue of feeling limited and helpless is a lesson of some kind and that it is probably ultimately useful to me. It's also about finding a way of not caring that others don't care as much about me and other people as I'd like for them to care. And the way I should "not care" is obviously not by closing off emotionally but by realizing that it's simply a pointless stance. The "entity" that feels wronged is a false Ego and not the true Self. What others do is their business and I shouldn't take it personally. This is difficult and there is no easy way out of this cul de sac. 

My husband posed a good question when I talked to him about all this. He said; well if I'd prefer to be a compassionate person, then how does criticism, anger and retribution help? I have fought many wars, so to speak, and I have won a few of them. I have felt, that it's my duty to inform the world about many things that are wrong because I have the ability to see them. I often feel, that where others just go "oh and ah" in a way that seems mindless, I know better and should point out that it's not all as great as it's cracked up to be. Well, you can already hear the false voice speaking when it says "I know better"... Perhaps I do, perhaps I don't. It's pride that makes me state that I do. This kind of civil dissidence is probably a good thing per se. Someone has to be disobedient and complain where injustice prevails. An adrenaline rush can beat you into action where otherwise you'd just sit and do nothing. I don't want to be anybody's doormat, and I fight for my rights to be anything but. That's all very well, and has a lot to do with healthy boundaries.

The problem is that these "wars" hurt my peace of mind, and tend to carry over to general complaints that are more personal in nature. They become automated. The attitude can spill over to your close relationships and harm the connection with the people who matter to you. You may say things that are unnecessarily unkind, and with more negative energy than is called for. It can burn bridges of all kinds. It can get quite destructive. Ultimately, you ask yourself, how does all this help with the attempts to become a more loving and compassionate person? I don't have any good answers just yet, but I'm working on it. For the moment, I try and pause myself before I say something critical about anything at all - I try and be even more vigilant than before, questioning all my critical statements. I ask myself, how is this particular statement useful, and I try and stop automated behaviour. When and if, is anger justified? Meanwhile, my husband has agreed to work on my tense and painful back muscles (the ones right behind the solar plexus have, interestingly, become very painful at late). Let's see if this will ultimately release some of the issues I'm dwelling on in my mind.



Check out this book, it promises to be quite good - taking into account the different life circumstances we find ourselves in, as well as looking at life as a whole.

Integral Life Practice book cover

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

MONEY, WEALTH AND SPIRITUALITY

Don't you want to exist in a world where charities aren't necessary?
Vivi-Mari Carpelan: "Xistential", handmade collage with artist's photographs, 

copyright 2012

I don't pretend to know or even understand all the complicated social and psychological implications of money, but I have had some thoughts about it lately that I'd like to share. I'm not an economist, futurologist or even a science fiction writer! I can't explain what is going on in the world today nor do I know what will happen to the whole idea of currency. I wish I did, as I think it's all quite interesting, alas I don't have the capacity to engage in all that. In spite of some training in philosophy and psychology, I'm not really able to tell you how money affects people - there are plenty of people who do, so if you look up "the psychology of money" or "the philosophy of money", you'll find a lot of information on the internet. Of course, nowadays there are many more disciplines that deal with these questions. I will attempt to look at money in a very broad way, mainly with the aim of challenging some of the assumptions about money that are typical within new spiritual world views.

Humanity has moved from squirrel skins and the exchange of goods to stashing gold, to using paper that only symbolizes a specific value which is relative to the physical environment and all the things people need the money for. In other words, there is a progression from concrete towards more abstract notions, and this leads me to think that money might be replaced in the future by something even more abstract than printed paper. Perhaps it will be replaced by the idea of value, in which case people may be able to have what they need without having to prove themselves worthy of it in one way or another. In order for such a just and equality-based society to exist, greed has to be abolished. While it's important that we all think about it individually and deal with our own attitudes, ultimately the collective has to embrace this notion. 

If you impose a social system onto humanity, there will always be individuals who will want to take advantage of it for their own purposes based in greed. You have to work from within, not from without. Hopefully, if the collective reaches the level of consciousness responsible for love, compassion and generosity, this will eventually be possible. I don't see the future as dark, on the contrary, I think that humanity is in a mental cul de sac and sooner or later people will see that a more inclusive and more heart centred approach to life is better. Like many others, I think the average level of consciousness within the spectrum of consciousness is somewhere on the level of mental development, symbolized by the colour yellow and the third chakra. The next level will be green and centred around the heart chakra. A self-centred sense of individual self and Ego will blossom into a greater we-space where the individual can exist in greater harmony with other living beings. I think there is hope for humanity... somewhere over the rainbow.

On a physical level, the human desire to breed has to be controlled in some way or another. I don't know what the answer is, as you can imagine all sorts of scenarios that ultimately sound really fascist. With less people to sustain, the world might be able to handle their needs without the notion of the survival of the fittest. When robots take care of production and other menial tasks, nations, or indeed "the world", should be able to offer anything its inhabitants could ever want - the point is, when you can have what you want you might no longer feel the need for hoarding or owning more than anyone else. I'm mentioning these ideas simply because I think it's good to have some kind of vision in mind, something that we can all aspire to. This is the first step in having what you want.

The other step is to recognize greed in yourself and others. There are so many methods for acquiring wealth out there, and sadly many of them feed on spiritual belief systems. Some mini-communities such as the Amish have liberated themselves to a very high degree from the idea of money, but the catch with this and other similar existing communities is that they rely on a high level of conformity. They are highly dogmatic and introverted. I'm personally much more interested in society as a whole, however scary and overwhelming it may be. This is in fact the way of the Bodhisattva. Within the real world, it's clear that many people rebel against any form of imposed dogmas, and this is the way it should be. Society needs to start truly understanding and savouring the potential of each individual rather than thinking in terms of the good for the greatest number of people, or the average person. For instance, we have regional issues of schools and hospitals being withdrawn simply because there aren't enough people in these areas to sustain them. It's a ludicrous idea, and totally abolishes the idea of the individual's worth. We have a similar issue with accessibility of the disabled. That's just to mention a couple of issues that are all too obvious to me in daily life.

Within the New Age movement, you get a lot of quick steps towards the acquisition of wealth, and theories about abundance. Clear out your first chakra following these instructions and you'll be rich, any day soon..! This kind of statement is blatantly encouraging a greedy attitude and doesn't really work because clearing out your system takes time and cannot be forced through the use of your will power. Be glad that it isn't that easy because you may not even be mentally and emotionally prepared for wealth, and so need to wait until you are (if that's what you want, of course). 

While I totally agree that endlessly turning over your need for money like a mantra in your head is not constructive, I don't think one should never think of money. Yes, it's good to celebrate life and abundance rather than money. The problem with this kind of thinking is that you could either be stuck in a day dreaming rut, or you could be suppressing your true feelings about money. You need to look at your assumptions about money and deal with them. For instance, in my own life it's been a case of worrying about greed and justice. I have not really wanted a lot of money just in case I wasn't able to deal with it in a responsible sort of way. What if it fostered greed? What if my acquisition of money was causing bad karma and turned out to be unjust in relation to other people? What if my money was away from somebody else's money? Of course, there are many other ways in which a person can have a troubled relationship with money - most of us do in one way or another! It's an enormous collective problem. You might like to have a look at this list of financial dysfunction by Dr Klontz at Psychology Today and really think about your own behaviour... 

1. Money Avoidance Disorders (also includes Underspending and Excessive Risk Aversion):

Financial Denial: When, rather than face financial reality, we try to minimize money problems by refusing to think about them all together (e.g. avoiding looking at a bank statement or paying a credit card bill).

Financial Rejection: The experience of guilt whenever money, of any amount, is accrued. People with low self-esteem are particularly prone to this disorder, and it leads to a whole host of financial and psychological troubles. 

2. Money-Worshipping Disorders (also includes Pathological Gambling, Workaholism, and Overspending):

Hoarding: When stockpiling objects or money provides a sense of safety, security, and relief of anxiety.

Compulsive Buying: Compulsive buying is overspending on steroids. Compulsive shoppers are consumed by their money worries. They often learned, early in life, that the ritual of shopping provides a temporary escape from worry and anxiety. When they think about and anticipate the pleasure they will feel when they shop, dopamine, a "feel good" chemical, floods their brains-only to wear off quickly, leaving them craving another fix.

3. Relational Money Disorders (also includes Financial Dependence and Financial Incest): 

Financial Infidelity: Telling "little green lies" about one's spending or finances to one's partner, like making purchases outside an agreed-upon budget or lying about the cost of a big-ticket item. Extreme examples might include taking out a second mortgage behind your partner's back or opening a secret bank account.

Financial Enabling: Giving money to others whether you can afford it or not; giving when it is not in the other's long-term best interest; having trouble or finding it impossible to say no to requests for money; and/or even sacrificing one's own financial wellbeing for the sake of others. A common example is when parents support adult children who should be able to support themselves. Financial Enabling becomes increasingly common among family members in a down economy, when there is sense of guilt about less fortunate relatives.

It's pretty obvious that until money can be rid of altogether, wealth should be delegated to those who would be able to deal with it in a responsible sort of way. I can only hope that somehow, life will take care of this matter. Meanwhile, you should think deeply what you want for yourself and whether you're one of these people who can be responsible. I used to think anybody could have money because it's just another lesson in life. Now I'm not so sure... in times of such global crisis I really do wonder if this is a good working idea. You also need to stop using terminology and methods that belong to the past. Imagine a whole new future with a new set of axioms -  collectively recognized universal truths about the true equality between human beings. It's not about anybody's rights. Nobody has a right to anything, we were born and as a living creature we have a responsibility for our lives and other beings we encounter, but if we had any rights it would mean that some things were fundamentally off centre to begin with. The idea of rights can only exist in a world governed by greed. This is not the world we should imagine.

It's commonly understood that wealth doesn't lead to happiness. The lack of it certainly makes people miserable in an environment where you simply have to have it in order to be comfortable. Contrary to popular belief many nations with social welfare only keep the poor from perishing but don't ensure any kind of level of contentment. I'm sure it's true that you get used to money and that any psychological issues you have will eventually make themselves known and sabotage your happiness. For instance, a big problem in today's world is victimization, and while a tendency to feel like a victim can probably be solved through money, I doubt whether it's a sustainable solution. This is precisely why it's silly to wish for it if you're not a very mature person. Make sure you know how to value the good things you can have with money for the right reasons and also have the compassion required to use it for the good of all mankind! You really need to deal with any issues that make you feel needy in the first place... it's true and has often been stated in a spiritual context that grasping creates suffering. Make sure you're spiritually and emotionally at peace with life before you take on the task of dealing with wealth in a constructive way.

Some of the good things that money can buy don't cost that much...
with taste and some determination one can learn how to manage on a small budget, 

be resourcefuland still have a nice life.
There is a point at which poverty becomes extremely limiting though - 
and not all of us wish to live like ascetics.
In today's world, good, nutritious food, good quality clothes and objects, medical help, trouble free housing, 
and so forth cost money, and we can't just wish it away.
Having to beg for money all the time can be demeaning if you're a sensitive soul.
(Photo copyright Vivi-Mari Carpelan)
Check out this documentary, The Queen of Versailles!
Read the blog post in which I describe a dream about becoming a billionaire - it changed some perspectives for me.
This book about the psychology of money sounds promising.
Have a look at this Buddhist inspired approach to a new future, Joanna Macy's  The Great Turning. There are workshops for artists as well.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

POSITIVE VERSUS NEGATIVE THINKING AND FEELING... A BIT OF BOTH MAYBE!



It's my experience that positive and negative feelings are perfectly capable of co-existing in a person. This is yet another reason why some of the chakra books are in my mind quite silly; how often do you not hear that if your heart is closed, then you're a callous person. Nothing in my own life points to the idea that I am a callous person through and through even though I've had problems with opening up emotionally and still don't feel quite balanced. Basically, if upper levels of consciousness are well developed it's going to show, even  if the chakras are temporarily closed or just "troubled". By temporarily I mean anything from a few seconds to a few decades, if not even more (though I doubt this is possible). I think that a "deeper insight into life" as I call it for convenience's sake, will make itself known in a way of poking at your attention, wanting you to sort yourself up, clear out emotional garbage and become a more whole individual.

It's all very well... but at some point you might run out of fuel. I got seriously tired of staring at my own navel, dealing with endless emotional issues... year in and year out. To be fair, entering a solid relationship changed my perspective a bit as there isn't a whole lot you can do about all the things that pop up during your journey together. Basically I just expect matters to take their own course, much as they used to, but with less active involvement from myself. Finding a new way to live is already a lot of work... I no longer have the same time to spend so you deal with issues when they come up and when you have a convenient slot. You talk, you agree, you decide to try and do better next time... on it goes. I'm sure it's going somewhere. You rest assured that as you get used to each other, it all gets easier. In our case, we've lived a long life without this sort of committed relationship and it isn't easy to change gear. 

For sure, I've also been wondering about the collective energies... people seemed dazed and eager to numb themselves up, and as they push positive emotions aside they are more likely to act out their ruthless instincts. I feel that I'm not the only one who feels tired and overwhelmed by the scope of personal and collective problems. Basic survival is something so many are dealing with... all the more reason to come down from an over-intellectualizing stance and work on grounding oneself in a reality that isn't all that pleasant - I know it doesn't seem like it but I'm sure that any kind of grounding will help in the long run! 

Over at the integral website people have been attacking each other like wild animals in a cage, presumably trying to protect their territory with the use of one of the most potent of weapons, a high intelligence quota. It's no doubt a sign of the times... and where better to act out all the Shadow issues that want to be known than in a community where people trigger your deepest fears or your most potent irritation. I believe we are all under a lot of pressure. I offered the view point that maybe people are frustrated with other people in their real lives, yet feeling quite helpless, and taking it out on each other within a virtual community... I say this because I myself feel extremely frustrated with people in general. If a big corporation tries to screw me over, I experience almost blind hatred and I will not give up until I have fought the beast - I simply cannot tolerate falsehood and greed. This stubbornness of mine has usually generated some kind of results, for instance the withdrawal of further payments for a complete and utter pile of garbage a company called a laptop.  The Finnish company Sonera had sold me this PC a number of years ago. In total, I spent 400 out of 700 euros on it, a price I could just barely accept. Never in the history of such purchases (with monthly instalments since it was all I could afford) had a customer actually been given into. I was triumphant but it was at the expense of my peace of mind over a period of several months. I'm assuming that part of my extreme emotional reactions to things is due to my condition, which after all is endlessly revolving around the issue of fight and flight. 

As for individuals, well it's not easy. When you relocate to a new culture, you have plenty figure out. Add to this the erratic energies at this point in time, as well as personal issues with health and money, and you have a cocktail that is difficult to digest. Sometimes when I listen to music from the 1960s it hits me how light and airy everything seemed compared to now. Now it seems we are all wrapped in a dark blanket, with fear of suffocation. It's easy to say that your reactions are a choice, even my husband goes on about it. But if you feel deeply, you don't necessarily feel that you have a choice. It's more about riding the storm, about surviving without losing your mind, about not giving up. What is remarkable is that all of us, in my close family, feel that something is going to change. We have had dreams and intuitions. You keep reminding yourself that it's the darkest before dawn... and I mean really dark. Don't feel too guilty about not always feeling all encompassing compassion. It's not necessarily a case of not having any. For instance, every time I think of organ donation I sincerely wish I could give my healthy organs away to someone in need. In fact I get incredibly emotional about it. I think that counts as compassion. I also see other random signs of compassion in myself, and when it's there, it's forceful. Sometimes my heart feels to big for my chest... But I also have dark feelings, ones that I really feel guilty about, and though I think "I am feeling this because it's reflecting my Shadow self and it needs attention", I simply don't have the stamina to deal with all of it. I resolve to give myself a bit of a break during these hard times.

I read this article on the idea that "positive thinking" isn't very fruitful. Read it, it's thought provoking. Of course, the point is not to think negatively, as the title suggests. The poit, in my opinion, is to be realistic. This is what I think: Have a goal but don't just day dream about it... take proper action, pretty much like the Chinese would say. If you can't do anything concrete, you need patience until the time is right. Think about the obstacles and how you can remove them - if you feel you can't, then can you get back to it later or find another way? Can you just trust that it will work out somehow if it's something that will be really useful on your journey towards a greater you? I know it's very easy to get entangled in all sorts of complicated thought processes which contradict one another. Try and keep the basic idea simple, is my advice. Feel what you want in life rather than just thinking it. Is it real, is it what you really wish for, or is it just a pointless idea that doesn't really fit into your existence? Is it part of an intuition about your true potential in this life or is it just wishful thinking? Are you prepared to take the responsibilities that this particular path will manifest?  Engage in the thoughts and feelings but then leave them be when you have decided that it's a goal that is truly worth pursuing. It's important to relax and let go of any attempts at controlling the outcome. You can always come back to it at a later point in time when more thinking is useful. It's useful to trust that if it's meant to be, it will be, and vice versa. 

I like to be pragmatic about life and what we have been "given" in terms of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual functions. I don't want to deem any of it as bad but rather, look at it and see how this function can be used to one's advantage. Perhaps this is how you become less of a slave to conditioning that doesn't serve you. Remember, that "positive thinking" is as heavily polarised as negative thinking, and that in fact you need a mixture of all sorts of thinking and feeling in order to make things happen in this world. Don't fight the misgivings, the insight into the obstacles... embrace them and relax into the vision you have, with all its aspects... a little bit of fear can fuel your realism, just don't let it take over so much it hinders your movements. Also remember that the more likely your actions are to help others, the more likely you are to be following a good path that is inspired from your core self. It's not easy, in fact at the moment I personally feel terrible polarised and conflicted on the inside. But... in a few decades people will think our attitudes were mighty strange! They will laugh at the very notion that positive thinking on its own would get you anywhere. How much a slave of collective ideas are you?

Artwork: "Be Merry For You Won't Die", handmade mixed media collage by Vivi-Mari Carpelan, copyright 2012

Monday, 8 October 2012

DON'T PRACTISE EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL ON ME!

The other day we received cards, envelopes and bad quality coasters with roses on and a letter of exhortation asking us to donate money to some research, I think it might have been cancer research but I'm not sure. So you're given things for free and then asked to pay... I get so irritated with this kind of emotional blackmail that I don't even take note of the charity that sends these letters out to unsuspecting members of the public. I do not respond to blackmail. I remember how in all the years when I grew up, once a year we used to get a package of badly printed and really tacky Christmas cards with a rough surface, I believe it might have been from Jehova's Witnesses. Or maybe it was the Red Cross? Of course we never paid the "voluntary donation" but the worst thing really must have been when we actually received one of those cards in the mail from someone else who clearly decided to take advantage of the free cards! I suspect they didn't pay either. You can sort of tell...

There is a video just come out about donating to third world countries, again I don't recall what the charity is because I was so repelled by the emotional blackmail. 


Dan Cleeve already says it all. "Take so-called first-world problems — like a too-short lead on a smart phone charger. Then, put them in the mouths of Africans. Successfully compelling charity video, right?". I have thought about this a million times. We live in a certain environment and it causes certain reactions in us. It's true that Westerners complain about insignificant issues when there are people who suffer from serious problems such as lack of water. However... remember when your parents used to say, eat up child, there are starving people in Africa? Well, it's the same thing... exhortation is not nice. It makes you close off. It doesn't really matter what the issue is. You don't go around telling people to shut up and be grateful for what they have, stop moaning about this or that... would you say that to a friend? You might do it gracefully, with kindness and consideration, wouldn't you? Why would it be okay to say it to a stranger, without kindness and consideration? Don't plant guilt in other people. It's not nice and it's not good karma either for that matter. Not that I can be bothered with karma any more... it comes and it goes, and who knows how it really works? We try and do our best, from our hearts, not from our heads... thinking is great but not when done to excess... not when you go through your Facebook page and all you get is just bland second hand quotes with the "intent to inspire"... I tell you, I want to hear about what people really feel, not what they think other people should do with their lives!!

Dan goes on to saying, "But telling us that 'First world problems aren't problems' is self-evident, and if we're going to be all serious about stuff, problems in the first world include access to health care, domestic violence and wealth inequality." Absolutely! We have problems, we have loads of problems. Insulting the people who are asked to donate is not in good taste. Our problems just happen to be different from that of Africans living without water... now I have seen a documentary about the problem with water shortage and that really helped me see what's going on... it was the most useful thing and didn't smack of propaganda. However, the fact remains that we have so much to deal with here in the West, we should take care of our own issues before we even start to try and fix issues elsewhere. Knowing where to start untying a knot is essential, otherwise you're just wasting your time. Also take into account that people are so desperately unhappy or trying to avoid unhappiness that they numb themselves up with drugs, alcohol, mindless Facebook updates that pretend that everything is all right, and stupid movies or TV shows... this is a serious problem that needs attention.

The world is such a mess. Sometimes I just want to scream, I'm so overwhelmed!! Especially when I go to Ikea on a quiet afternoon (just picking up a cheap bar stool to sit on while working) and there's a kid there, yelling at the top of his voice, reaching the highest pitch humanly possible, for two minutes with two minute's intervals. And they keep following us as we navigate through the maze of shopping departments... 

I saw the film God Bless America last night. It's about a man who gets fed up with all the superficial crap that goes on around him and ends up on a killing spree, getting rid of people who "really deserve to die". He's especially upset with the baby next door, reality shows about spoilt brats and talent shows that take the piss out of people who aren't very bright. It's a straightforward movie, quite American in that sense, without the more subtle intelligence of Black Mirror. But I think in some ways people should see it and reflect upon the problems with modern day society, as the protagonist says in the beginning; the kind of utter decadence that tends to take place when a particular culture is about to crash. I've been to America and heard the jargon on TV... it really is that bad.

I often think about the way in which everything in society today seems topsy turvy. It's as if people had deliberately gone for solutions that are the exact opposite to what would actually work both in humanistic as well as practical terms. Greed pervades all layers of society. You cannot blame only a part of it (if you must blame, that is). You may not be contributing to it actively, and so you may be one of those few people who are in the world but not of it. It's a better place to be, but it doesn't mean you're liberated from responsibilities  The only difference is, if you have understood what things are really about, you are your own master and intelligent enough not to let so-called authorities keep you on a leash. I don't watch these kind of reality shows on TV or online, but sometimes I come across them, for instance I recently happened across a show about the problems of being a millionaire's wife, and I found myself staring at it with utter disbelief yet with a sort of fascination... I guess it's only my great sense of self-preservation that stops me from getting sucked up in this garbage! Well, to be honest, I like observing what's going on, I try and watch and learn. I feel that's what I'm here for. To some extent, because I don't want to pollute my mind either. And I try and keep in mind that the pendulum swings one way before it swings the other, and in the end will slow down in the middle - it's the symbol of the golden middle path. This is evolution, and if things are really, really bad right now, it's because they have to go to an extreme before things can change for the better. People are testing boundaries, seeing how far they can go... they have the right to, but hopefully they will soon see what's going on because I don't know how much longer the world can hold this kind of negativity.

I have always felt limited in my ability to make a difference. I've always been a world-betterer, but the world got the better of me... for years, I've had to concede that there's only very little I can do. I had many worries and learnt what it means to be truly limited. But perhaps it's a matter of strategy? Recently I've been reconsidering my conditioned attitudes, trying to think "outside of the box" (don't you just hate that expression!), trying to think from a different perspective; what if, then what would I do... we'll see, perhaps one day one's efforts will take off for real. You just don't know, you have to keep trying. But please keep a sense of perspective, if you must complain about the length of your phone charger, do so in private. We have the right to express our frustration about things that don't work. It's good to have the experience of situations that are really destructive, and therefore I would say it's a good thing to really suffer sometimes. But don't buy into people who take things out of context and play with guilt by having Africans repeat the flippant remark of a rich Westerner in order to get you to donate money... it's not the right way to do things. Find ways of fostering a sense of proportions, but also honesty and true gratefulness, and positive feelings in other people, without guilt, blame and a generally patronising attitude... I can assure you it will work much better.

Sometimes people just need to complain! Hear this choir of complaints from Finland!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

PREPARING FOR CHANGE

Vivi-Mari Carpelan: "Deep Waters", handmade collage with artist's photographs,
copyright 2012
I felt that my blog was looking a bit tired and that I really needed to change the look as well as the description. I don't post very often these days, as my life has become more focused on the arts than on spiritual matters. My world view hasn't changed that much, but maybe my perspective has - rather than trying to look at life from above, I seem to be observing life from the ground up while working on a grass root's level. It's difficult to find words for this change of priorities. I guess it's really about being increasingly less theoretical and more practical about living life in a meaningful way. 

I haven't felt very spiritual, to be quite honest. I believe that once you have understood some of life's fundamental "truths" in a way that satisfies your soul, there is no turning back. So while I may feel less spiritual it could be an illusion that only means that I am more interested in the life we live here and now, in questions surrounding a true integration into society without the sacrifice of one's true self (putting the "being in the world but not the world" into practice), and what sort of work is truly useful at this time in history. I believe that one's purpose in life as well as the way in which one needs to manifest this purpose can be quite surprising and unorthodox. For instance, some people might wonder why I dwell on negative issues through my art while I personally feel that I need to talk about serious matters in a way that reaches the greatest audience. Most people need rather graphic examples of life's issues in order to start thinking about them. I want to break out of any club of mutual admiration, and reach across to new audiences if possible. My health is not good, and I struggle to find new ways of dealing with it, but also of using it as part of my communication with others. I'm also busy focusing on the kind of life I would truly like to have, as I feel that knowing and understanding bad health, poverty and other issues related to limitations and lack has had its days... Perhaps I'll talk more about this some other time. When things have been stagnated for a while, change is usually behind the door!

This blog has been running now for over four years, and I have reached a lot of people. I have every reason to be happy about the fact that so many people have come here in spite of my shortcomings in regards to advertising and interaction. My most popular post, i.e. the one dealing with a subject matter that people search for online a lot, is the one about dissolving the ego. Personally, I have stopped worrying about my ego... ok well I do worry a bit. But now that I'm in a meaningful relationship, I already have so many issues to deal with that dwelling on such basic spiritual issues seem a bit pointless. Take one thing at a time... be patient... one day it will all make sense and the mundane and the spiritual will come together in a new form. That's my feeling at this point in time.

Artwork: "Xistential", mixed media collage with artist's photograph, copyright Vivi-Mari Carpelan 2012

Monday, 1 October 2012

"MYTHS" AND "FACTS" ABOUT THE CHAKRAS

"Ode to Creativity", handmade collage, copyright Vivi-Mari Carpelan 2008.
This piece doesn't require a lot of explanation  but interestingly, it's the most popular piece I've ever made.
Wonder why? It's not hard to figure out how the colours speak to our desire for joy in life.
This is not meant to be a treatise, only a short account of my own observations. I did a chakra test online just for fun, knowing all too well that someone was trying to sell me something at the end of it, but though I think the test itself was rubbish, it made me think a little about the state of my own chakras right now. The test consisted of three questions per chakra, which is ridiculous. My chakras came out as being either weak or strong, presumably strong if I got two "right" out of three questions. You can't determine anything so complex on the basis of just three simple questions about your attitudes to life! 

For one thing, as soon as you involve the mind, things change. Can you honestly say exactly how you feel about life in this very instant? The attitude that comes to mind may be dated, or it may be a newly discovered insight.  In the first case, it's no longer valid and in the second case it may not yet be very mature... I know for instance that in my own life, there are times when I fear power and money because of what people are doing with these, while other times I may feel quite empowered, focused and content with the idea of having financial security. It can be difficult if not impossible for me to say which is more true to the way I view life in general. In life, nothing is simple, and the chakras certainly aren't a simplified symbol of life! They are "living and breathing" just as much as you are, because the are you! 

I can't really give you any facts about chakras, because what I know is mostly hearsay. I have heard people repeat "facts" about chakras like parrots, without real insight. I really hate the commercialization of chakras, something quite sacred; the chakra industry as I call it. Nonetheless, I will offer you these viewpoints which I personally take as "facts", and you can ponder whether you feel the same. What I do know is that I can feel things in different ways in my body and thus determine which chakra is involved. When you know what they represent in terms of aspects of life and living, it can help you decide what to do about a specific issue and how to liberate that energy. I'm not saying that you can't involve the mind in this process, only that it's precarious. It mustn't be the sole thing you rely on for answers. You can ask yourself, what am I feeling or going through right now on a deeper level, and the answers may come to you in the form of words, images, sounds or sensations in the body. It could also come in the form a very abstract insight which requires no words, because it's an intuitive knowing. If you feel compelled to analyse your issues with your mind because you're the cerebral type, do it as a complement to other ways of knowing. Sometimes a train of thoughts sets off an emotional liberation that can usually be felt in the body, sometimes the undoing of an emotional block sets of a whole train of analytical thoughts about cause and effect. 

One book on chakras I had said that every second chakra turns counter clockwise, and that it's the opposite in men and women. Boy what a complicated "fact"! For years, but occasionally, I've picked a suitable piece of jewellery that I could use as a pendant and "checked" my chakras. To this day I don't know how accurate the readings are, but one thing is pretty certain; they all turn clockwise (I've tested this on men too). How I know this is that I can feel when a chakra isn't doing too well and the energy is either blocked, erratic or even negative. When the circle is wide and energetic and running clockwise, I also have a sense of freedom in respect to the issues represented by that particular chakra. Remember that chakras are alive, so they change all the time! Sometimes the changes happen from one minute to the next, and you can also affect the way they react with the sheer force of thought. This is another way in which you can rest assured that your thoughts matter. Test it yourself!

Yes, chakras also correspond with the spectrum of consciousness (as presented by Ken Wilber), the wavelengths of colours, sounds and so on. However, manically wearing a certain colour isn't going to make that much of a difference. It's also perfectly alright to wear black sometimes (though I have to admit that nowadays I don't enjoy wearing it that often). It's just a colour! I have heard people who called themselves spiritual healers scream in protest of the colour black. It has it's place here on Earth just as everything else, and it can be a nicely comforting colour at times. Trying to be jolly at all costs and at all times is counter productive. On the other hand, a saffron coloured bedroom may be more conducive to sensuous feelings than a blue one. Use your intuition and do what feels right. You will certainly be drawn to some colours more than others during times in your life when something in a specific chakra is under development. Following your attraction to certain colours can be an interesting way of self-observation.

I don't personally believe in obsessive meditation on the state of your chakras but everyone has their own favourite method, of course. If I meditate, it's not about control but about letting go of control. It's highly submissive and an intention to liberate tensions wherever they may be (admitting that I don't know everything about myself...). I'm not saying that you can't follow a CD that helps you go through you chakras and clean them, that's fine if it works for you. But I still need to find such a CD with music that actually speaks to me! I much rather just pick something I like and feel attracted to in that moment, and play it while meditating.

Update: I have had great success in opening chakras by using these three methods that I devised for myself:
1. hold the palm of your hands on the chakras and imagine them being healed
2. Visualise the colour of the chakra and/or something that represents the colour. For instance, I think of big juicy oranges when I visualise my second chakra.
3. Hum the notes from C upwards. Doh Reh Mi Fah Soh Lah Doh. You can hum the scale sliding upwards while imagining the energy rising to your third eye.