Monday, May 30, 2005

Masculine Nature

What defines a Man? I think it is a state of mind, it's an ability to harness the energies put at your disposal. To reach out, to create, to labor, to protect, to be strong, all those things are part of the description. Yet it's so much more and so much less. I think you can put as many layers on male motivation as you have time or care to, but you can also reduce it to not much more than a simple statement. I would like to establish that i'm not speaking from what i've been told by tradition or a father figure. My particular life afforded no such mediums through which to embrace my "Manhood". It is something which i have tried to understand on my own, for better or worse i've had to form my own opinions. The reason i choose to write about my values in this context is because i realize that myself, and most males, associate themselves very strongly with an ideal of manhood. Since that role has been defined slightly different in various cultures, that's all the more reason to reassess what that word means, if anything at all. On the most essential level masculinity is defined by it's opposite femininity. That definition is one of agency and assertive energy, a need...a lust for creation. As opposed to one of receptiveness, care, and connection.

Man at his greatest has united enemies and forged world empires and reigned over peaceful nations in benevolence. At his best man has carried the burden of family with grace and dignity and honor. He has labored to provide, he has died to protect, and gone into the unknown to discover. Man at his worst has committed genocide, started wars and taken lives for greed and personal power. At his worst man has no concern for others only a lust to become stronger. One thing that is consistent in all those situations is the vast potential at man's disposal.

We are the stronger less sensitive half of humanity, but it has been our duty and priviledged to protect our physically weaker, more sensitive, more caring companions. The feminine embraces and holds in communion all that humanity values, we are the force that brings human ambition to fruition. All feminist dogma aside, this is the simple way of things. As far as it seems observable. Those are the roles that we've been forged into, both biologically and socially. Of course it is also part of our existence to transcend such roles, but there is still value in tradition. Women typically were the caretakers and family bulwarks because they excel at it and i think typically enjoy doing it. (again all feminist dogma aside) Men on the other hand are developed more for physical labor and seem to have a temperament which facilitates action and makes them more resistant to some crueltys the world has to offer. Again, because i don't want anyone to feel excluded or offended, i want to stress that while that may be the typical roles we are no longer bound to them. There is no reason why men can't be excellent homemakers and women can't be assertive and endurant.

Ok now that i've defined the masculine role in respect to the feminine i would like to go back to what masculinity means on an individual level, not from a community perspective. I believe essentially it is honor and fortitude. To fulfill our potential we must have the will to follow the right path and the will to endure that which might seem unbearable. I believe that for man and women alike our divine connection can offer unlimited strength, but it can take different forms in each gender. Every example of a great man is recognized because of his willingness to go the farthest or work the hardest or endure the most.

So what does honor mean? To an american that's a hard question to answer, our values are so lax. It's important to carefully contemplate and define the role honor plays. I think integrity has alot to do with honor. If a man takes pride in himself and his works then he treats the world around him with the same respect he affords himself. That is one kind of honor. There is also the will to help and defend those weaker than ourselves. I know we're not superheros, but we must always reach out to those in need, and since men don't usually take supportive roles our way of contributing is by offering our strength and integrity as a tool and weapon (if necessary) I believe honor on a larger scale is how our actions effect different levels of reality. Perhaps you could say honor is a larger framework within which to put right and wrong. This is because alot of times honor will outweigh the immediate rightness or wrongness of a given situation.

I believe though we are descended from greatness. Each of us has the blood of Kings in our veins. (Queen plays in the background) We have the courage and valiance to do what must be done, even when that is the last thing we want to do. That is what defines true manhood, and perhaps womanhood as well. I think this is a pale expression of the true grace of the divine gift of masculinity but as we strive we can continue toward purity and become something unequaled in it's magnificence. We are the Divine's highest expression in our world. Spirit flows through us and creates with our hands and minds. Just as easily all the potential we can tap into can be used for great evil, if one does not consciously rein in their desires. We must cling to ideas like honor and love and integrity if we wish to face the trials of a new era. Perhaps one could say that we need to evolve our mostly forgotten old world values into the modern age.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Tradition and The Individual

What is the possible necessity of having a tradition to follow as a spiritual path? Some people think it's almost unavoidable and then there's other's who scorn the idea. (i'm speaking of non literalists only) Then of those who think following a tradition is the best route i believe there is again a division. Some believe you should immerse yourself in one tradition in order to adopt the world view and thus be able to follow there forms into the deeper realms of spiritual practice. Then others believe that you can have a buffet style spirituality where one can rummage through philosophies and practices and make your own patchwork religion.

I have no idea where i stand on this issue, it's something that has been very hard for me to come to a conclusion on. I think as an american i have an overly emphasized ego and put alot more value on my personal self than other cultures may. This makes the idea of confining my way of thinking to one specific paradigm very unappealing. Why should i do something like that when i can remain aloof from such commitments and appreciate each one? I can see though that this does limit the possible depth of my experience. For example the Sufis (a group i have some first hand experience with) would never teach an outsider their deepest mystical practices, tradition simply doesn't work that way.

Islam in general would be a good example of this conflict of interest. The word itself means submission to god. A Muslim is One Who Submits to God. I think that is such a beautiful expression of the limits of the individual trying to commune with the infinite expressions of Spirit. Spirit is something so far beyond comprehension that the only way we can be a receptacle is by emptying ourselves of any pretensions and submitting ourselves to the will of the Kosmos. As expressed in the idea of Islam, the Buddhist concept no-self, and the idea of Tao (the way that is known is not the true Way). To me however this sounds like, a very anti-individual mentality. What american is willing to trust the religion of Islam enough to completely submit to Allah's will? Obviously the specific religion has nothing to do with Allah's will, at least no more than any other bulwark tradition. But if we're talking about submitting to a tradition's will, which i believe is the context an american would take that in, forget it. I don't mean to express things in black or white, not all americans would feel that way, and it would be much more complex of an issue. But i still think that is a hurdle any of us would need to cross on some level.

The idea of Buffet spirituality i find to be distasteful myself, at least put in those terms. I don't think any non literalist is going to claim anything along the lines of needing to exclusively practice one religion, period. However if you simply pick and choose among religions , the argument is, you're loosing the essence of the expression. I believe that religions are alive, evolving entities. Alive because the community is bound by Spirit and changes as the community does, with new generations comes new interpretations of that which is transmitted. This transmission is a vital aspect of the religion's living essence. I think when we divided the religions up into specific ideas and philosophies and cease to look at them unto themselves we are dissecting them. And while we may find empirical usefulness in the dissected parts of an animal, the living creature itself has much greater value. We are taking all the Spirit out of them and deflating their true value.

I'm sure they're are many other arguments for both possibilities, but that's my perspective on it. Where that leaves me, i dunno, and for right now i'm ok with that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Revenge of The Sith

Ok, i'm a little late here, but i've gotta pay homage to my roots. Star Wars has always been a light in the dark for me. It has been everything from my favorite form of entertainment to my own mythology, which i think is the beauty of it, that it can encompass both of those.

This final chapter in the saga is the best of all. It brings the two trilogies together in ways i could have never guessed. It also adds quite alot of depth to the plot, and gives it a deeper metaphysical meaning. I'll save the explaining of that for someone who has done a better job than i would.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Unfolding of Spirit

As the universe grows in complexity it seems to become more self aware. There seems to be interactions on higher and higher levels of organization. We as the (assumedly) first self-aware beings in this Kosmos are the harbingers of a great change in the nature of spirit.

What came before can really only be interpreted as a mechanistic reality. Rules upon rules pushing the universe onward. A vast and intricate dance set in motion by a singular moment's end. It seems that the universe has an unlimited capacity for emergence and creation bound to an inexorable terminus or loss of momentum.

This has culminated in our human identity. Human identity which is essentially our ability to observe ourselves and create associations against a backdrop of seeming chaos and entropy. We are juxtaposed between the physical and mental realm. The only conceivable connection would be spirit. Thus we must discover spirit in order to understand ourselves. Once we understand the essence of the interpenetration of the physical and mental realms we will understand the essence of ourselves.

With humanity evolution has become conscious of itself. Now that we have the potential to control our reality and direct where it flows, we must make a choice. We can evolve and find greater and greater unity in the Kosmos or we can be left behind, because i believe Spirit will find an outlet. In order for the one to become aware of itself it must journey through the many and back again. We are hitting a punctuated level of development that requires us as individuals to become aware of our divine nature because that is the next step in the process. We are the many looking toward the one.

The Logos or Where does the manifest find form?

I was thinking about this today: Over the years after i was introduced to eastern philosophy i've integrated a level of non attachment. I'm not a consistent meditator, but because i've focused on the idea so much i've trained my mind to let go of objects more easily. I realized though that the energy to affect change like that originated at the level of belief. My assertion that non attachment is a positive thing created a drive to embody that value.

Is there some force that will see truth brought about? Once someone's consciousness has decided that an idea is important and true what would one call the energy born into such a conviction? I believe that the very force that binds and creates reality can be identified in our convictions. The important correlation here would be that our motivation and beliefs are intertwined with the very spirit of divine manifestation.

Should we view activity is a direct source of divine nature? Can our actions embody the very essence of Spirit? I say the answer is a very obvious yes. In the scheme of The One and The Many, the entire aspect of The Many is enfoldment and thus the nature of Spirit. I believe this begs the question: if Spirit or divine manifestation are interrelated to action arising from conviction what if any separation of the two ideas are there? It would be easy enough to say that although conviction is made up of manifest spirit, manifest spirit isn't simply conviction. I think that they are not so easily separated though.

When you look at what most of reality is made up of, it's simply perceived rules and truths within which we conduct our affairs. So this creates a need for that activity in order to bring about the defining truths. No separation and interaction, no truth or operational rules will ever be formed. What i'm trying to convey is that our beliefs, our impetus to carry on our lives is the very ground of being. Without that preexisting value without the motivation to live life, there is nothing, nothingness.

As i've talked about before most truth is subjective, created from our various stimuli. The important thing to consider though is the nature of our values and beliefs and actions. From those deep seated associations we form the structure of existence. I think that this realization that conviction is of divine origin is a call to arms. If we are the harbingers of spirit via our actions then how important does that make them? We must attempt to embody every moment in the purest Self. Our most mundane actions are in fact divine. With the eternal living moment we must commune.

Every moment is brought into existence from nothing, just one changing, flowing medium. There must be some logic or intellect behind it, some source of outflowing information or reality. If we are in touch with the moment then we can see that most things arise directly from any emphasis that is placed upon it by the mind. I believe that leaves us with two valid points. We must stay in touch with our present awareness in order to understand the ebb and flow of energy out of our personal wants and needs. And to be mindful of our actions and what kind of reality they would bring about. If we can strive to see god in each and every moment then we shall have a holy reality, a kingdom of God, where he is fully manifest and in communion with us. But until we can rise to the task of fulfilling that vast potential, we must strive to express ourselves as fully as possible in each and everything we do.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Nature of Change

Change is the fundamental aspect of existence. Life is composed of change, depends upon it. It is one organic evolving whole whose primary operation is coemergence. This is the metaphysical rule that every experience can ultimately be reduced to.

It's simple when you think about it. If the universe was only one coherent whole, with no moving, differentiated parts, then nothing would ever change. Time would not exist, no perception could ever arise. In order for us to apprehend the universe things must be in a constant state of movement or change.

This sounds like easy logic and a good way to look at the universe, which it is. But this simple rule creates a lot of strife for us mortals! In fact this is the essence of the buddha's 4 noble truths. The buddha says that: 1) Life is suffering and that 2) this suffering is caused by our clinging to impermanent objects which will eventually be wrenched away from us but 3) this suffering has a resolution which is 4) training ourselves to cease clinging to these objects. (by following the eightfold path)

Because we identify ourselves with something that will eventually pass away we experience pain and loss over the passing. If we can objectify this process and realize that those objects are not in fact part of our selves, then we can let them go without the pain of loss. This idea scares people deeply. What joy could one have from life without the intimate associations we create with our environment? A perfectly valid concern when one's only mode of knowing is through personal association.

Once we have let go of our association of object with self we have a much deeper and fuller access to reality. There is no need for the person-object dichotomy, because we experience both as a fluid exchange. We are in direct contact with the essence of reality not looking at it from a fractured, grasping perspective. When this fundamental barrier does come down we begin to realize that what we perceived as reality is actually nothing but what we lay on top of the "true reality", how we make it fit into our finite consciousness. True reality is not something to be divided up by labels but something experienced directly, pure apprehension without conscious intervention. This is what we must strive for if we wish to transcend suffering and simultaniously develop a greater connection to our reality.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The Existential Dilemma or Why Live In The Moment?

All we have is this moment, nothing more. To extend ourselves beyond that is to live within an illusion. What do we know for sure? I know i have this moment, this singular, ongoing, ever present moment. At least until it passes away, that is i pass away. We can come to see certain perspectival truths through looking into the realm of ideas and by objectified time (projecting ourselves forward and back in memory and fantasy)

It's worth saying that there's plenty of ways to create meaning for ourselves, but that's just it, it's self created, not a priori(if i'm using that term properly) Most meanings and values exist only within the confines of our mental realm not as a pre-given part of reality. All we really have is this moment. We are sent into this world not knowing who we are, or what we're meant to be, or how we came to be. The only thing we are given is our ongoing moment to moment awareness.

I, personally, believe there is alot of meaning in the universe, and not just meaning but purpose. There is a reason we are here without the why and left to discover the how on our own. In order to truly appreciate life, we have to see the beauty of simply existing in the moment, in becoming one with that environment. That i believe is the key to it all. Though many realizations may follow that one, without that fundamental insight into the miraculous nature of existence we are left as subjects to the whims of our ego.

I think it all comes down to the ego, in alot of ways. We are here to realize gods existence, to be his instrument or his eyes. I think god needs us as much as we need him. Where we are confined to this perspective and bound to this world and feel as though we can't realize the infinite, to contact the unknowable. In that same way god, as an idea, is so ultimately transcendent that he can never know himself. Because the moment he breaks away from that unmanifest nature to become aware of himself, there's a new division and god no longer is whole and complete. That is where we come in, a part of god has to play the part of "not god". Only through this divine dance, can we both come to understand ourselves.

It's an interesting dilemma. We are here to realize our greater connection to the many, our existence as the many, and how we are foolish to ever think there is an I included in this reality. There is no I, only I-You. The only way to do this is by being a singular entity, by being confined to what we perceive as ourselves, we create a contrast that allows us the perception of our Oneness. This is where ego becomes very important.

Our life must seem very valuable, it's the only thing we know, it's all that there is to know. We are who we are, which obviously is fundamental to our values. We are so close to the miracle of existence, yet so far away. We can see it off in the distance, that ultimate meaning, but we can never touch it, never realize it, never truly know it with our minds. God is ultimately unknowable and empty from our perspective, the closer we get to god the less we can see him. So here we are holding on to our precious lives with all we can manage because that's all we've got. Yet no one tells us: You're going to be ok. You will abide in me after death... nada, nothing! No special magic books to tell us what god is like, just the pure, distilled truth of the unknown. Kinda scares the shit outta ya when you think about it like that.

Yet it is only in the face of this dilemma that we will ever transcend ourselves. As we look closer and closer for god or meaning we continually find nothing! How can this be? As much importance as i place on myself, and even others (sometimes), i can't seem to validate that in any ultimate way. So what are we left with? Well... I don't know if i'm going to be here tomorrow and i also don't know that if i'm not whether i'll be somewhere (or someone) else. I do however know that i have decided to place value on my experiences. This leads to only one conclusion as i see it: I must appreciate every miraculous moment as they come, not holding on and ruining them, and not holding back and missing them. I have no other choice for finding value!

But as we stare into the void (and the void stares back) We're poised on the brink of stark meaninglessness of loosing all hope of valuing our lives, that miraculous connotation becomes even more pronounced. "This moment really is all i have. And it's so beautiful so precious because i know it will slip away. There will be a time not long from now, when i will no longer be, my loves and likes, passions and dreads all gone with me." Nothing seems so sweet until you stand to loose it, this is a sad fact of life. But a necessary one, everything must be "real". We can't just have god telling us "ok you're really me in disguise and everything is fine because you are in fact eternal" If that happened how precious would life seem? "what does it matter if you do wrong or how much i care about others now that i know it's a game, something that doesn't actually have any substance" (as it's typically defined) If we were handed the answers, they would loose their experiential meaning, which is the whole point in the first place.

So as god's divine manifestations we must loose ourselves in the chaos of trying to maintain a self system in a very hostile world. And only through this struggle, this choice to strive, this hope in the face of hopelessness is life imbued with it's true meanings. We can stand back and appreciate the subtlety of each moment, and thus seeing the intricacies of it's interconnections, which points us toward god. Though we may have to face down tragedy (and we all will) We can do it knowing that god is in every moment and while we never see him or truly "know" him, he can never be away from us. Nothing can ever be taken from us, whether it be our life or our dreams, because those belong to god, our true selves, this moment will never die it will continue on into infinity. It may change subjects periodically, but never does it stop, and since each moment exists together, as a whole, we will always exist, even in this form, though it's in the mind of god not man that this becomes reality.