Posts Tagged ‘Awareness’

This time of year has always been very important to me.  First of all, there is the Winter Solstice, the most powerful day of the year.  If you have the day-to-day affairs of your life in order, and can meditate well for the few days before and after the Solstice, it can fill you with tremendous energy.  And that energy can help you make major breakthroughs in your life.  If your day-to-day affairs are not so in order, or if your consciousness is a little sloppy, then that same tremendous energy will bounce your mind all over the place and you’ll experience many challenging emotions and states of awareness, and you may come away from the Solstice in worse shape than you went into it.

Then comes Christmas.  Recently, I commented on what Christmas is like for me.  I don’t like the commercialism that stokes the consumer fires this time of year, but I think it is great that people focus their minds on giving.  So, I can’t complain.

To cap off the holiday season, is the celebration of the start of the New Year.  My teacher taught that it is very important to put your full attention into everything you do, and to finish everything you undertake with your best awareness.  Because the awareness you end one task with is the awareness that you will begin the next task with, and that awareness will either help ensure the success of the next task, or doom it to failure.

When he washed his dishes and put them away, he arranged the cupboards perfectly, with all the handles of the tea cups pointed in the same direction.  Food was organized and arranged perfectly in his refrigerator.  His clothes were clean, contracts signed, and his bills were paid.  He said that if you are sloppy in the details of the most mundane things in your life, then you’ll be sloppy with the more important things in your life.  And if you are sloppy with the more important things in your life, then you will likely arrive at the end of your life in a worse level of awareness than you had at the start.  And, you will carry that lower level of awareness with you into your next incarnation.  Setting up a downward progression in your conscious evolution.

So, the New Year’s celebration always reminds me of this teaching, and I strive to get my act together before the end of the year (and the end of the incarnation).  I clean, I fold, I pay my bills, I meditate more, and then I try to have some fun.  This year was a challenging year for me, but I achieved some important things, and most importantly, I’m in the best state of awareness I’ve been in all year (with a couple of minor detours around the Solstice).

So, I’m going to do a little snowboarding, a little celebrating (just a little, hopefully), a lot of laughing, and try to start off the New Year right.  The following week brings my birthday, which is the most powerful day of the year for an individual.  So, the challenge for me is to ride the energy of all of these most powerful days well into the New Year and ensure its success!  Happy New Year everyone!


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I live on the water.. literally!  And nearby the great Hudson River.  And every time I look out at the river, it seems like my old friend that I’ve seen a thousand times.  In truth, I’ve never seen it before, because it is always new water flowing past (with some allowance for tidal shifts).  It just seems the same, or there is something inside of me that convinces me to see it in a familiar light.  The same goes for looking out at a great ocean, or watching a sunset.  No two viewings are ever the same.  You could snap a photo, and come back to the same spot every day for the rest of your life and you would never see the exact same scene again.  Because these things are fluid; they are constantly changing.

People are fluid too.  In every moment, new cells are born, and old cells die.  There is an urban legend that our entire body replaces itself about every 7 years, but the truth is that some cells have a short lifespan of perhaps 5 days, while other cells stay with us our whole lifetime.  However, the average lifespan of all cells considered together comes in around 11-15 years.  So, much of your body is younger than you are!

People are fluid in more ways than just physicality, they are fluid awareness; consciousness shifting endlessly in all directions.  In every moment, you are a different person.  In every moment, the person you are eating lunch with is a different person.  It could get pretty confusing, if we didn’t impose some order on this chaos.  We blind ourselves to the fluid reality by taking a mental snapshot of the people we know, and rather than seeing the reality of who they are in this moment, we cover their face with our snapshot, because it makes us more comfortable.  “This is the person I know and love!”

And we do that to ourselves too.  The mental snapshot I have of myself probably dates from my early thirties.  That’s why it’s such a shock to pass a mirror, or see an actual photo of myself… who’s that?  Mental snapshots give us something to hold onto, something consistent and unchanging in a constantly changing world.  They only become a problem, when they don’t accurately reflect the real person.

I love photography, and I take photos of rivers and oceans and sunsets and, yes, people.  And I enjoy looking at them, because I’ve captured a moment of time.  I hit the pause button on the DVR of life, so that I could savor that moment for a little longer.  And then I put the photos away, because they keep me from seeing who or what is right in front of me in this moment.  I have no photos of even my dearest friends or loved ones on my walls because I don’t want to freeze them in time.  I don’t want to force them to always be the person they were in that one moment. That was who they were 5 minutes ago, or 5 months ago, or 5 years ago… I’d rather see who they are today.

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OK, I’m a junkie, I have to admit it. Strange fiction attracts me, so, strange science fiction on TV draws me in too.  I like this series about the Stargate Universe, or Eureka, or Flash Forward… but also a bizarre Fox series called  The Dollhouse.

The Dollhouse is supposed to be some super secret private lab where they have developed this neural technology to erase a person’s personality and memories (saving it on a chip for later imprinting).  They then wipe the memories from the person, then later imprint the person with a pre-programmed memory, skill-set, and mission.  The missions are, pretty much, open to the demands of their cliental.

Presumably, each ‘doll’ has voluntarily agreed to a five year contract where, for some undisclosed amount of money, they will let the Dollhouse use them at their will… they may become assassins, prostitutes, mothers, wives (it is mostly women, but with a handful of men too) and ideally, they won’t remember a thing.  In the mean time, they get to live in a pretty idyllic world… wood paneling, yoga classes over koi ponds, group showers…

Between each assignment, their memories are wiped clean.  When their contract is up, then they are re-imprinted with their original memory and personality and so they may go on their way, none the worse… but, of course, in fiction, there are always wrinkles.

One ‘Doll’, named Echo (think Alpha, Bravo…  Delta, Echo…November… Zeta), played by Eliza Dushku, begins to remember her past lives… and starts to maintain an identity across all of these ‘treatments’, and so she becomes the ‘ghost in the machine’ (sorry,  you’re going to have to google Anime on that one).

It doesn’t hurt that Eliza is pretty hot, or that she can (supposedly) be programed to be your slut, or kick your ass in a fight; this is FOX programming at its finest!

But what I find interesting about the show, is that it is an allegory to our own lives. The dolls in the show have no idea who they really are.  And yet, they have flashes of other lives, other personalities.  They learn that they are perhaps not the person that they thought they were, and they long to know more.

So, I find myself rooting for the dolls to become self-aware, to know who they really are (and hopefully be OK with their contractual obligations).

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Growing up in California, I had several occasions to drive through California’s Central Valley.  The San Joaquin Valley is a wide, flat valley; naturally scrub desert, but given over to expansive cultivation of one sort or another in many places.  The distant mountains are obscured by a purple brown haze so that only their peaks are visible on a good day.  I always hated the drive, because I considered the valley nearly featureless (and whatever features were there, were horrible to see or smell), worthy of no attention whatsoever, and one of the best possible justifications for driving 90 miles an hour.

I recently found myself driving through this valley again and my experience was altogether different.  There were many many features, some downright ugly, some absolutely breathtaking, but all simply marvelous.  Looking at mile after mile of natural scrub desert, I couldn’t help but imagine all the little critters hiding out there, families of quail, rattlesnakes, jackrabbits, maybe even the elusive Jackalope and Chupacbre!

When I came across the oil fields at Lost Hills, I remembered how angry I used to get at how man had blighted the land so completely with his greed (as I drove by at 90 miles an hour in my gas-guzzling V8 Ford).  This time (while still not appreciating the aesthetics of the oil fields) I just felt wonder; wonder at all the engineering and construction it took to build and place all of those derricks there, and keep them pumping year after year.

For every mile of oil derricks, there were ten miles of cultivated almond tree orchards.  There were fields of trees of every age.  Seeing miles of young saplings, staked in furrows and fitted with sprinklers brought tears to my eyes.

I even enjoyed the simple abstract geometry of the plowed fields, and again marveled at the human effort behind these landscapes.

One of the more impressive sights was the electrical power transmission towers.  I could scarcely conceive of how these ever came to be here, carrying their precious load to Los Angeles and beyond as the Aqueduct carries its precious water.  A visitor from another planet might view them in the same light as the Easter Island Moai heads.

How could my experience have changed so drastically?  Had the Central Valley scenery changed so much?  No, not at all; it had changed very little from my previous journeys.  The landscape that had changed was inside of me.

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It’s raining… again.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the rain, it just feels like it has been raining forever.  But it hasn’t.  It was gorgeous just a couple of days ago.  It just seems like it has been raining forever because of my perspective, my viewpoint, my way of looking at things at this moment.  Your experience of life depends on your perspective.  If you are Gene Kelly, and it’s raining, it is an opportunity for dancing and singing.  Same rain, two different perspectives.


Our perspective comes from our level of awareness.  The higher our level of awareness, the grander our vista becomes.  Let’s say that you are walking along a path that winds down a valley between tall mountains and you come to a fork in the trail, and there is no trail sign, what do you do (besides take the road less traveled)?  If you were standing up on top of one of the mountains, you would have a completely different perspective of the trails below.  You could see that one trail leads to your destination while the other leads out into an arid desert.  From your perch high above, you see how the topology is laid out, you understand it and you are comfortable in knowing what to do.  But, if you are down in the valley, you don’t have that perspective, so, you’re confused.

If you are unhappy, it is because you’ve settled into a low-level of awareness with a negative perspective, self-pity perhaps… or, we could just say more Self.  The more you are centered in your Self, your ego, the lower your level of awareness, and the darker your perspective is.  To shake off that unhappiness, you need to raise your awareness.  Anything that leads you out of your Self will help such as selfless giving; helping out a neighbor or volunteering at a food bank.

A more direct approach is through meditation.  As you concentrate, slow and eventually stop thought, you leave your Self behind and your level of awareness soars.  It’s like getting in a jet plane and zooming up above the clouds.  It’s always sunny there, and it never rains!

From a high level of awareness, you won’t mind the rain at all.  In fact, you will love it, because you see where it fits in the grand scheme of things.  And, you will be happy beyond the power of words to describe.  External things don’t bring happiness or unhappiness.  It’s all internal.

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Many people think of karma as a cosmic ‘tit-for-tat’; you do something bad and something bad will come back to you.  It’s a little more complicated than that.  The state of mind that you are in right now, your consciousness, your level of awareness… that’s your karma.  Your level of awareness is the result of everything you have done, everything you have thought about, in this and any other lifetime.

If you walk out of your door, turn left, walk 100 paces and find yourself standing on a street corner, you are there because of all the actions you made which lead up to that.  You could have turned right, or walked 1000 paces, and if you did, well, then you’d be someplace entirely different.  If you think about it, it goes beyond what you did once you walked out the door.  You’re standing on that street corner because you rented that particular apartment, you rented that apartment because you moved to that particular city, you moved to that city to go to a particular school. Many actions, indeed all the decisions you’ve ever made, contribute in some way to your standing on that particular street corner on that particular day.


There are karmic results, both good and bad.  Not all street corners are equal!  One might have a mugger waiting to steal your bag, another might have a really great coffee shop.  If you practice meditation, or selfless giving, service to others, devotion or any of the classic yogas, then you will raise your level of awareness.  In a heightened state of awareness, you will see opportunities that you might not normally have seen.  You will have psychic hunches, intuition, a ‘seeing’ that will lead you in interesting and beneficial directions… good karma!

On the other hand, if you’re selfish, angry, nasty, unkind then you will sink into lower states of awareness.  In a low state of awareness, you will miss certain obvious opportunities.  You might forget your wallet at the restaurant or lose your keys.  You might not pay attention while crossing a street and get hit by a car… bad karma!

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