Category Archives: Philosophy

How to Find Your Purpose Part 2: Becoming and Worthiness

And I realized that when you set yourself on a path to really follow your heart’s desires, the dreams that you were born with, the dreams that are deepest in your genotype tend to find you or you find them. – Martha Beck

 

“The key is you’ve gotta do what speaks to your soul, what puts you into a ‘peak’ state.” – Carl Harvey – The Big Life Show

Becoming and Worthiness

I’ve had a revelation or realization just now while I was working on a song. It envolves two ideas: 1. Becoming 2. Worthiness. And the two ideas are interconnected. First, let’s talk about the process of “Becoming.” I’ve heard Joseph Campbell as well as Buddhist literature refer to this word. Joseph Campbell calls it the “burning point.”

Here’s the central thesis: Whatever field or endeavor you choose to be engaged in, are you comfortable being there, happy being inside of it, inside this world or activity, even when things aren’t going right or well? Because you love the process so much, in and of itself, that you actually look forward to the challenge of problems that are inherent in this field of activity?

If so, that’s a big sign that this is your calling or purpose in life.

Also you know that just being in the process will spontaneously produce unexpected upside results. For instance working on this song the last couple of days, there have been times when it felt great and other times that it didn’t feel like it was good, and its still not finished, but I know that staying with the process through the up and down feeling is when the unexpectedly great lyric seems to come out of nowhere, or my voice unexpectedly achieves notes, depths, and vibrato that I didn’t know I was capable of, until it happens.

So, its the doing of something that is the best teacher of how to do it.

That leads me to the second idea of “Worthiness.” So often I stopped with a creative idea, whether it be in writing or music, because it didn’t seem to be going well. This lead to a feeling of “unworthiness” to continue.

But if its something that’s really your calling or “why you are here,” then the Ego falls away and you lose your discouragement because you know that you are doing your best and that you are just as “Worthy” as anyone to be engaged in this endeavor.

The word “talent” is meaningless and a totally misleading idea. People who are successful in any field get good at what they do by doing it, and doing it, and doing it. Not by starting out by knowing how to do it.

And therein lies another key: Pleasure. Take any activity that could become a career, no matter where your results lie on a scale say, between 1 and 10, if you get pleasure out of the activity itself, then you’re going to engage in the activity long enough to where your results improve and keep improving.

You’ll become so good that you can make a career out of this activity, and you would be inside your “bliss station” all the time as well.

You have all the patience in the world to stick with it because deep inside you don’t want to leave this field. So you lose your anxiety about things being “not quite right” about a piece you are working on. The challenge actually thrills you.
Because you get to keep playing in the field.

And that’s where the adventure begins.

You’re not worried about accomplishment: That’s an Ego identification.

When you’ve found your bliss, the ego drops away, and its all and only about being inside this certain field.

How To Find Your Purpose In Life

Update (Later the Same Day): You here this phrase all the time: "Why have I been put on this earth?" Part of our brain laughs it off as a joke, and another part resonates with it. That's because half the day we are pummelled with messages of our insignificance, as if to trance us into being "cogs in the wheel," and the other half of the day, the delicate but real song of our soul whispers to us quietly, "You are the one. You have all the answers." Is it any wonder we are schizo? But seriously, this phrase comes up so often, you have to believe it is an archetype of the unconscious. The Super-Ego always wins in conversation by turning it into a joke, so even when it stirs the soul at cocktail parties, its seriousness quickly dissolves by Monday morning. Still, its mere existence has profound implications for the existence and drive behind this article/blogpost.

“Life is a game of either your getting warmer or your getting cooler, and everything in your body and in your emotions responds with relaxation when you head towards something that’s right for you. That’s ‘warmer.’ All you have to do to find your purpose is keep moving toward warmer and away from cooler.”Martha Beck

 

     My favorite book is “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” Joseph Campbell is my favorite person too. I think I first read it in about 2002, and it just blew my mind. One of the most important sections describes that a Hero “answers the call to adventure.” That’s probably the most important action the Hero takes, in fact what makes him a hero in the first place. Unfortunately, “The Hero” wasn’t written as a Self-Help book, so I never could translate it into my own life. For years, and still to this day, I kept asking myself, “What is my calling? What is my calling?” But I couldn’t “hear” an answer.      Sometimes it’s a matter of wording. Some time later I was listening to Deepak Chopra’s “7 Spiritual Laws of Success” and when he came to the section on finding your purpose he said, “Ask yourself, ‘Why am I here’?” I remember, I was in the shower when I heard that, and it floored me. Maybe it was just the different wording from “What is my calling” to “Why am I here?” That “Why am I here?” phrasing has a deep resonance spiritually, as if your purpose was somehow equal to that of Christ or the Buddha. For the western mind, it is exhilarating to hear it put that way, an opening in the soul happens, but its also difficult in our modern society, with its day to day demands, to sustain that emotion.      In our Western society we are much more likely to think of purpose as what should my career be? A writer, scholar, actor, musician, athlete, politician, businessman? The other day, I had a hint of what I should do. I had been allowing myself a little time in the morning and evening to do the thing I loved (In my case it was reading, specifically fairy-tales and mythology) but not during the heart of the day. During that time, I thought I had to be “practical” find something practical to do, even though it was literally was sucking the soul out of me.      Finally it struck me: Why not hang on to this thing I love all day long? Just stay with it, stay with it, don’t let anyone scare you off of it, and let it keep opening, opening, opening? To me, not only did this feel right, but it resonated with the story of Theseus escaping from the “Labyrinth.” He held on to a wax string. If he had let go of that string, even for a minute, he might have been lost forever and never escaped. So, that’s my new idea. Let me know what you think, and I’ll try to keep you updated. You know, last week I learned that the phrase “a ventura” means “by chance” in Italian. I also noticed reading fairy-tales how nothing is planned. Everything happens spontaneously, “by chance.” It struck me then that that’s why and adventure can’t happen by planning. Everyone’s adventure is unique and spontaneous and it sort of “happens” to you, develops outside of your control or planning, but the way to trigger it is to “hold on to the string” of where your soul is telling you to go. Not where your lust is telling you to go, not where your fear is telling you to go, and not where your society and social duty is telling you where to go, but where your soul is telling you to go. 

“You must let go of the life you have planned in order to accept the life that is waiting for you.” – Joseph Campbell “The Kingdom of Heaven will not come through expectation, but rather the Kingdom of Heaven is spread upon the Earth but men do not see it.” – Christ, “The Gospel of Thomas.”

The Symbolic Meaning of a Water Fountain

Water Fountain at Chenal Country Club

One can obviously see the phallic symbology of the water penetrating a yoni from beneath, but in a deeper sense, ironically a higher chakra sense, the form of a fountain represents each person and living being itself manifesting from a world of transcendence. And since each particle is of divine nature, so it your whole being.

The water represents the energy, the ambrosia of eternity pouring into the field of time. The endless flowing, the continuous flowing, represents the eternal nature of this mystical dimension and also the infinite nature of its source. Since you can’t see the water’s source, that represents that it’s coming from the ground of being and also that it’s coming from another dimension which is invisible to our senses. On a deeper level there’s the paradox and the archetypal sense of the infinite coming from nothingness, which ironically enough is being postulated as the literal truth in the latest scientific origin stories such as the Big Bang theory.

Most fountains that you see spring from a round bowl-shaped container or vase. The inside of the bowl or pool is sacred space, a “Holy Grail” you might say, which represents the transcendence of duality or on a psychological level, the gap between our thoughts.

Water has long been seen as symbolic of the ambrosia of eternity. A fountain represents a sacred opening, gap or tunnel which is a connection to eternity itself.

In a way, a kind of mini temple, yet completely natural: a religious, mystical experience paradoxically combining both the mystical and the physical, representing a connection created by nature herself.

This is why it evokes an archetypal response of beauty in most people: The aesthetic being, at least on the symbolic level, the manifestation of a mystery.

02/09/16 Update: One element that struck me recently, especially looking at the still photograph, is the Lingam/Yoni symbolism. And there is a strong dichotomy of the Lingam, representing Shiva, coming out of the bowl/vase shaped Yoni, which is representative of the feminine aspect. But if you think about it from a Hindu perspective this makes total sense: The “Void” out of which everything comes and back into which everything goes is the Mother Goddess of the Universe. She is it. Symbolically speaking, the divine feminine represents life itself, and the Lingam, the male divine, represents the snake, who by piercing life, right through the middle, throws off death, just a snake throws off its skin.

The fact that the Lingam and Yoni are seen as together, like the Ying and Yang of Asia, as well as the water and bowl of a fountain, represents that the two are one, that the feminine and masculine are merely two different aspects of the same thing, just like the eternal and the imminent, the mysterious and the manifest, and indeed, life and death: this represents to the soul the transcendent nature of its own being.

Read this quote by Joseph Campbell

“Nevertheless-and here is a great key to the understanding of myth and symbol-the two kingdoms are actually one. The realm of the gods is a forgotten dimension of the world we know. And the exploration of that dimension, either willingly or unwillingly, is the whole sense of the deed of the hero.” – The Hero with a Thousand Faces, page 217, The Crossing of the Return Threshold

Here, the “realm of the gods” is symbolized by the Yoni, the void, the bowl, the feminine. And the “world we know” is represented by the Lingam/Masculine aspect. The masculine is representative of manifestation, but that manifestation has the potentiality to come in contact with the divine, indeed become divine, if it has the energy, drive, and intent to summon itself into one direction, namely that of the spontaneity residing inside the bowl of its own heart.

Another dichotomy: Notice in the fountain and in Hindu temples, the Lingam aspect is coming out of the Yoni, not going in: That’s symbolic of a resurrection. New life (Nova Vita) in this case not coming from sexual intercourse, but from a birth of the heart.

The Basic Theme of All Mythology

Opening the world to the dimension of mystery. To realize the mystery that underlies all forms.

“That’s the message of the myth: you as you know yourself are not the final term of your being.”

Joseph Campbell: The indication is of a notion of a plane of being that’s behind the visible plane and which is somehow supportive of the visible one to which we have to relate. I would say that’s the basic theme of all mythology… That there is an invisible plane supporting the visible one. Now, whether it is thought of as a world or simply an energy, uh, that differs from time to time and place to place.

Bill Moyers: What we don’t know supports what we do know.
JC: That’s right.

*About the 11:30 mark in the Power of Myth, the First Storytellers.

Ritual is one way of relating to this invisible plane.

JC: “Through the ritual that dimension is struck which transcends temporality and out of which Life comes and back into which it goes.” – 24:16

“What all the myths have to deal with is transformation of consciousness, that you’re thinking in this way and you have now to think in that way.” – JC – 16:10 Power of Myth, The Hero’s Journey.

Meditation: A Guide, Resource, and Encouragement

“The highest form of human intelligence is to observe yourself without judgment.

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

I think about meditation a lot, and even as I write this, I realize the irony of that statement. Still, even after a long practice, one can become “jaded” and pretty soon even your meditation sessions can come to seem like a “routine.” And that’s very ironic indeed, because if there’s anything I feel that meditation is, it’s a way or tool to break out of monotony and open out to an adventure.

So, whenever I hear or read a fresh way of describing meditation, what it is or how to do it, I thought I’d start keeping a repository in a blog post. These “fresh” ways of putting it tend to break that monotonous hold that sometimes creeps in, and gives me a fresh shot of encouragement.

“I find that I can actually get my mind to stop talking for 30 minutes…and i’m finding that it’s addicting.” – @serenadyer

“There’s only one wrong way to #meditate, and that is if you think there’s any effort involved.” – @DeepakChopra

‘Flow’ is our essential state when it’s not overwhelmed by the mind. – @DeepakChopra  #Meditation

#Meditation is a process where you allow things to happen.” –@DeepakChopra

 

What is Ego? Ego is Thought.

You know what I see in this symbol? The circle represents the gap between thoughts, the Grail. But a being, a "monster" one who can't reconcile himself with nature is blocking this portal, where normally the inexhaustible energies of eternity would come pouring through into your life.

You know what I see in this symbol? The circle represents the gap between thoughts, the Grail. But a being, a “monster,” one who can’t reconcile himself with nature, is blocking this portal, where normally the inexhaustible energies of eternity would come pouring through into your life.

“Becoming free of Ego means becoming free of thought, identification with thought. That’s the end of the Ego. It may reassert itself from time to time, but at least its the Awakening.” – Eckhart Tolle [video-link]

When you read enough Mythology, fairy tales, and religion, you start to realize that the most important archetype, the most important theme, if you will, that comes ringing through all the symbols, is the idea of Sacrifice. Now, in most of the stories, the sacrifice is literal, whether it be animals upon the alter, or even human beings, perhaps most famously rendered in the image of Crucifixion of the “Christ.” Taken literally, it’s very off putting, if not downright horrific to the modern reader. But when you start to read the images symbolically, a whole new realization opens up. For instance the Christ story could be read as psychologically sacrificing the impulses of the flesh, the desires of the flesh, as well as its fears, in order to give birth to the “spiritual” body. Read that way, the modern reader can use these stories as guides to real “religious” (re-linking to the Soul) experiences of their own.

Having read a lot of this material one has the realization that the Sacrifice, in its essence, is about sacrifice of the Ego. One gets the strong sensation, through reading these materials, and also through religious practices such as yoga and meditation, that if one could just simply “Sacrifice the Ego,” not only would a lot of problems be solved, not only would a lot of happiness enter your life, you would not only discover, but start automatically living and fulfilling your true destiny, your true purpose. It’s “the track” that Joseph Campbell talks about in the following saying:

If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. – Joseph Campbell (link)

So, the question becomes, “What is Ego?” If we are going to destroy it, dissolve it, or at the very least, reduce it, it would helpful to know exactly what we are dealing with. Today, while listening to a Deepak Chopra interview on Youtube, the interviewer asked him this exact question, and I thought he gave a very enlightening answer that I wanted to remember. So I’m going to write it down:

The characteristics of the Ego are, ‘I am either superior or inferior to someone. I need to control, manipulate, insist, beg, cojole, convince, in order to have control over the situation. I have to really try hard. And, it’s always really full of fear. The Ego is full of fear. The Ego is our Self Image. It’s not our Soul. The Ego is built up through opinions, through public opinions, and uses ‘agency power’…the power of money, the power of political office. The power of being President of the company, or the state, or the Country. That’s agency power. The power of the Soul comes from a much deeper strength. (Here’s a link to the exact moment in the Interview on Youtube).

That’s a lot to ingest, but really for me, while I was walking and listening to this, was the very first statement, ‘I am either Superior or Inferior to someone.’ that gave me a flash of Enlightenment. All my life, without realizing it, those two “see-sawing”, almost directly opposite feelings have dominated me in my relations to others. And often it will be about the very same person, which is very strange! Yet when one feels the emotion, either of superiority or inferiority, one believes in the reality of it. To have someone explain that these are not reality at all, not your real personality at all, but rather acts, reflexes, almost a hijacking by “The Ego,” is quite a relief! “Ah, there’s not something deep, dark wrong with me. There’s something deep, dark that’s artificially taken over me, and blocked me from my connection to my True Self, my soul.

So what’s the remedy for this? I think the first step is, just like in meditation the first step is not getting rid of your thoughts, but merely stepping back from them, noticing and becoming aware of them without judgement) just becoming aware that you are having this feeling. “Oh, I’m feeling Superior to this person. I wonder why? I know, that not only is it unkind and exhausting to feel this way, but inherently not true. But anyway, I am feeling it. So, I am going to acknowledge the feeling. Then gently practice letting that feeling dissappate, and instead send out feeling of love, equanimity, and compassion for this person.”

Perhaps that’s too much to think about at first. Maybe just becoming aware that you are feeling that way will help you rise above the emotion instead of drowning in it. And from there the emotion will lose a little of its energy.

Just being aware when it happens and saying to yourself, “I do acknowledge the feeling, but at the same time, I know this is Ego’s production, and not me. I know that it has to play itself out, but just awareness itself, and having the intention of seeing things the way they really are, will help it dissapate quicker, as well as slowly dissolve itself completely from my personality.”

UPDATE 1/14/14: I saw this video by Eckhardt Tolle right after I wrote this piece. As luck would have it, the very first question posed to him was this, “What is Ego?” question. Remarkable.

“There is no Ego apart from the thoughts. The thoughts, identification with thought is Ego.”

Wow! In other words: Thought is Ego. Ego is Thought! When I think about how I see the Grail, for instance, as a symbol of the Gap between thought, this statement by Eckhardt really blows me away!

I’m so tempted to erase this big ass blog post I’ve written, and just replace it with: Ego is Thought. 

Here is a link to the Eckhart video

And see, before you think, “Well, that’s fine and dandy to realize I’ve got to get my inspiration through transcendence, but in order to enjoy it, I’ve got to bring it back into this world, and THINK about it a while,” read this words by Ram Dass:

“Faith, consciousness, and awareness all exist beyond the thinking mind.” – Ram Dass

We always run back to the “thinking mind” sort of like it were “home base,” thinking that it is our real self.

But in essence, its the “thinking mind” that’s keeping us away from our true self.

Our real adventure.

As Eckhart goes on to say in this same video, “You are not the thought. You are the awareness.”

In this sense, Consciousness, Awareness can observe thought, can observe emotion, but not be trapped inside them, like Theseus is trapped inside the Labyrinth.