Tag Archives: sanity

Humanity at the Center of God’s Will – Part 3

Wholeheartedness is key.  To once again know ourselves to be the heart of Life as God created Life, we must be wholeheartedly committed to serving God in this role as an act of our free will – and apply for the position as if we were applying for the most rewarding and amazing career we could imagine.  At first it may not feel like an expression of freedom to do so. It may feel like an act of obedience or surrender as if contrary to our freedom to do whatever pleases us. So long as we equate being free to being neglectful, thoughtless, indifferent, undisciplined and wild in self-indulgently pleasing our individual selves no matter the cost to others, we will resist restoration to the heart of God.  Under that false definition of “freedom,” our egos will continue to convince us that pleasing God means sacrificing what’s important to us.  When we value individuality above community in unbalanced ways, we cause suffering – to ourselves and others.  To foster the continuation of such unbalanced living, the ego will continue to value pride as the alternative to shame and argue that cooperating with God’s will is humiliating and can only be done at a great cost to our pride.

The ego is correct that submitting to and cooperating with God’s will and learning to live within the heart of God in line with the Divine Constant is not prideful.  But neither is it shameful.  It is having the humility to reconnect with true power rather than A) remaining disconnected, isolated, lonely and devoid of the joys of healthy intimacy and B) trying to hide from deeply dissatisfying feelings of powerless and loss.  The experience of being restored to alignment with God’s will is vastly rewarding but not on ego’s terms.  So long as we value ego’s terms, we’ll resist God’s terms.  The choice is stark.  We cannot live by both ego’s fear-controlled, loveless terms and God’s courageous, love-enriched terms.  We must eventually choose one or the other.  And we must choose wholeheartedly and remain committed to that choice no matter how the ego tries to tempt us to return to or compromise with ego’s terms.  As we gain progress in implementing our choice to forego the ego entirely, we’ll become increasingly eager to continue making that choice.

For a while, it will seem as if doing what pleases God requires that we do what does not please ourselves.  That sense of loss will continue only as long as we continue to mistakenly identify with ego as our “self.”  That God’s will for Life and our will for Life are one will is not immediately evident to us because our ego-oriented habits will not immediately give way to the new set of habits we will acquire as we master the discipline of living within the Divine Constant as an expression of God’s unconditionally loving heart.  One of the most persuasive arguments the ego will present in favor of remaining loyal to the ego and avoiding learning to live as G.O.A.L. will be to point out that awakening to our emotions and becoming less numb to our hearts requires that we become aware of the negative emotions that the ego convinced us to store away earlier in life.  Under the ego’s influence, it is true that instead of processing our emotions on a current basis we bottled them up and allowed them to accumulate.  The ego will argue, “Look, you’ve stored up a lot of pain trying to avoid feeling it earlier in life. Do you really want to feel that pain now?  Why not keep bottling it up and avoid feeling it as the ego allows you to do?”

Yes, the pain is there, stored up from years of habitually avoiding being honest about your emotions.  With God’s able assistance you will be empowered to look directly at this pain, be honest about it and grieve through it to the brighter life beyond it, where pain will no longer accumulate as a plague upon your heart and mind and motivate you to participate in cycles of violence – as victim or victimizer.  You gain God’s assistance by asking for it and being wholeheartedly committed to receiving it in all the forms it takes.  You can remain enslaved to pain (and to its accumulated version called “chronic suffering”) by continuing to live by your ego’s false identity and obeying the ego’s demand that you condemn and punish yourself and others for “sins,” wrongs and guilt that can be forgiven instead.  Or you can become free of pain and suffering by envisioning life beyond the pain, beyond the suffering and beyond the ego and engaging in the process of grieving to attain relief, a process through which your vision of the Divine Constant draws you like iron filings to a magnetic field.  Which option really pleases you?  Are you really pleased by the prospect of enduring pain and suffering forever as you condemn yourself and others to it by identifying with ego or are you likely to be more pleased by the prospect of ending pain and suffering?  Endure or end pain and suffering?  Is that really a difficult choice?  The main difficulty in the choice presents itself at the beginning – are you willing to take the risk that the Divine Constant exists and will prove to welcome you to life within it?  Are you willing to risk giving up the power to inflict painful revenge in order to discover your natural power to share love and healing instead?  Your sense of risk will gradually fade the more you experience the fruits of your exercising faith in God and allow God to prove Eternity’s favorable faithfulness to you.

Only our egos resist God’s will.  Our true nature as created by God does not resist.  It remains receptive to God’s presence, power and purpose as a beloved child remains receptive to the caring presence, power and purpose of a trusted, nurturing human parent.  (Much of our resistance to trusting God as a nurturing Divine Parent is rooted in our past experiences with human parents and other authority figures whom we expected to care for us on favorable terms but instead treated us according to ego’s terms and – by neglect, abuse or both – failed to express the qualities of God’s care and caused us to feel betrayed.  Now many of us fear being betrayed, rejected and abandoned by God as well as by others.)  As we let down our ego’s guarded stance towards God as Supreme Authority and Caregiver and risk exploring the ego-diminishing experience of God we will be amazed and delighted by what we discover.  The wonderful features and benefits of being human that we’d not known or encountered before – or thought we’d never know or encounter again – come alive and energize life more completely.  We feel the magnetic field of God’s love flowing through and around us and become convinced that we are detecting what scientists have not yet been able to detect.  In this experience, we will know that we are the God-detectors and that our subjective experiences of God are like the responses of iron filings to a magnet’s magnetic field.  Being susceptible to magnetism, the iron filings cannot resist aligning themselves with the magnetic field.  Being susceptible to Love’s Power because we are created by Love, we similarly cannot resist aligning ourselves and all we are with Love’s energizing invitation in our hearts.

Our struggle to let down resistance and trust takes place within our wills and minds.  God has no struggle.  God is wholeheartedly committed to our well-being and always has been and always will be. God knows no other way to Be. The struggle is ours, between our ego’s orientation and our divine, natural orientation.  God trusts that our nature as created offspring of the Origin of Life will ultimately prevail.  There is a struggle within each of us only because we’ve been raised to believe in the ego as our identity.  Our minds have taken up that concept of ego-identity in powerful ways to do our best to adopt it and adapt to it.  We put our faith in those who taught us to be egos and in the rules, roles and rituals by which we learned to belong as an ego in an ego-oriented society.  We may feel betrayed when we discover that “obeying” God’s authority is not humiliating – as it may have been for us to obey human authority figures.  We will discover that “obedience” to God’s will is not a sacrifice at all.  It’s a privilege.  It’s a decision to cooperate, collaborate and co-create with Love’s presence, power and purpose so as to cease to feel little or no personal significance, power or purpose within our own lives.  We will come alive with our own incredible personal presence, power and purpose because we aligned our wills with the Divine Constant and learned to live wholeheartedly committed to all it asks of us to be true to ourselves.

We are not our egos.  The ego is a false identity we adopted to survive in the modern, ego-dominated society where God’s true nature as the Source of Love has been denied – at best relegated to an accessory to modern lifestyles and at worst discredited and discarded altogether.  God is not a handbag, necktie or other accessory to Life.  God is the main point of Life, all that makes Life worth living.  Modern lifestyles that relegate God to a minor role or dismiss Divinity from the team are not actually lifestyles.  They are deathstyles masquerading as lifestyles.  They are deathstyles to the same extent to which they define God, the Creator and Sustainer of Life, to be irrelevant or indifferent – or worse our hostile adversary.  As we learn to restore God to supreme relevance and benevolence at the center of our lives, we will awaken in our hearts to experiences of the Divine Love that have otherwise been missing in action in our lives.  Without God, our lives may be filled with endless action but still be empty of love.  Divine Love will be our reward for “obeying” God and discovering that our free will is truly an honored element of God’s will.  In fact, our will cannot be truly free unless it honors God’s will as its source.  The negative connotations of “obedience” fade away as we realize that all God asks of us is to consent and cooperate in allowing God to deliver us from ego and its fears so that God may gracefully deliver to us all our hearts desire.  The ego asks for our compliance with its subtly manipulative, seductive tyranny.  God invites us to openly, honestly and transparently explore investing our wholehearted consent and cooperation within the Divine Constant and with each other so as to create together the world beyond ego we may have sometimes dared to hope is possible.

Learning to relate to God as a gracefully generous and gentle lover requires renewal of lost trust.  It requires that we trust a Power Greater Than Ourselves to have our best interests in mind and at heart and to show us step by step how love reliably works within the Divine Constant.  The process of trust-building between ourselves and God requires that we risk trusting and appreciating (instead of judging and condemning) each other too.  Through experiences of broken promises and other types of violated trust that we’ve experienced at the hands of other people’s egos, we have learned 1) not to trust God or each other, 2) not to feel our emotions or be sensitive to and aware of our hearts and the hearts of others, and 3) not to talk about things that really matter (as Claudia Black points out in her helpful book*).  To rise beyond ego means to let go of the ego’s dysfunctional rules of distrust, heartlessness and superficiality and move ever deeper into and throughout Life’s enriching, adventurous journey as explorers, pioneers and settlers, not to displace anyone but to find our own place within the infinitely expansive Divine Constant.  In contrast, modern society majors in maintaining distrust, heartlessness and superficiality as our steady diet and as the defining features of the tightly defended, closed comfort zones within which we cower as egos.

The Divine Constant is not our ego’s comfort zone (or status quo, sheltering bubble or closed social system) but it is our Natural Self’s native creativity zone within which we come fully online and enlivened and dare to take the risk of changing for the better and unfolding to be all God created us to be.  It is not the realm where human scientists can detect all phenomena and control all experiments on human terms.  It is a realm of risks.  Some experiments may blow up in our face and splash egg on our egos.  Yet, even experiments that seem to end in ignoble failure contain valuable lessons.  Within God’s grace, no matter how our explorative experimentation may progress as we discover more about who we are and how to express ourselves, we remain secure in our knowledge that we are loved and cared for by a God who is wholeheartedly devoted to us personally – each and everyone one of us singly and all of us collectively.  God’s solidarity with each and all of us is unshakeable, even during our most adolescent phases and fascinations.  And God is wholeheartedly committed to our learning and making progress through all of our experiences as divine “works in progress” who are ever evolving and emerging to be, represent and express the more comprehensive nature of God’s mind, heart and will.

We are God’s will power set free to either live according to the Divine Constant or repudiate it and remain apart from it until we tire of being apart from it and opt to join with it as an expression of our freedom.  Freedom is what it’s all about.  That is why Martin Luther King, Jr. reported after his encounter with God that he was “free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, we are free at last.”  My life purpose is to encourage us to all join MLK Jr. in fulfilling the dream he asked us to envision with him.  He saw what God was seeing and rejoiced to share with us what God had shown him.  So every visionary dreams of doing to the ever-evolving enhancement of the quality of Life on Earth.

A visionary’s inspiration of the Divine Constant:

Fast forward several decades, the Divine Constant remains constantly honored:

And articulated in a variety of ways:

I propose that we are here on Earth to explore the fullest expanses of Life in the context and under the guidance of Love as shared with God and each other.  We are not here to pursue our lonely, misguided explorations as egos in the context of isolating fears that deprive us of the immense joys of sacred, enthusiastic, heartfelt intimacy.  We are here instead to serve each other as expressions of the Divine Constant, encouraging all of us to participate in that renewing, ancient territory.  Let us agree together to value all that God holds valuable and offers to share generously. Let us let go of all the valueless that ego once convinced us to value.  It feels miraculous to realize that God encourages us to try new experiences beyond pride and shame and guilt and blame and there – in the beyond – engage with Life playfully as innocent children are free to do if given that latitude by those who watch over them as authority figures.  That is the latitude God grants us.  It is also our hearts’ desires come true.

Could life be as simple as deciding to wholeheartedly have faith in a benevolent and merciful God who has no need to argue with anyone nor punish or make anyone feel guilty or ashamed for disagreeing or being different?  What would it feel like to be totally safe while expressing a creative idea or heartfelt feeling to which the mainstream majority may at first react adversely?  What would it feel like to say, “Hey, I have something to say that’s controversial and I’m not sure if it’s correct, but I feel the need to say it anyway because I believe it may be helpful?” and not be ridiculed or in any other manner made to regret speaking up?  What if such uncensored freedom of expression allowed solutions to social issues to arise from the depths of our hearts as we listened to the Spirit of Love within us?   What would it be like if we all did our best to be nonjudgmental as God is instead of defending our egos and projecting our fears on one another?

It is easy to project fears upon the defenseless innocents and make them play the role of scapegoats.  Would it not be more honest and require more courage to recognize our own fears directly and admit how we’re tempted to pretend we are not afraid? Would our relationships work out better is we did not allow our undisclosed fears and their resulting temptation to pretend to dictate how we think, speak and act?  The ego counsels that we hide all our emotions, including our fears, but also our anger, sorrow, peace, hope and joy.  It counsels that we project images of pride (or second best, shame) as substitutes for honest emotions caringly expressed within our relationships.  The ego tends to characterize anger as an expression of power when in fact it’s an expression of deep-seated feelings of powerlessness.   In contrast, the Spirit of Love counsels that we find within our hearts the courage to stand together humbly as honest citizens and live at peace with one another.  The Divine Constant welcomes us to be a constant source of peace, hope, joy and love and a model of emotions of all types expressed caringly.  Constantly.  Can we be it?  Yes, we can, by God’s grace and with God’s empowering assistance.

Would it not be amazing to discover how right both scientists dedicated to the highest principles of science and believers in God dedicated to the highest principles of sacredness have been all along in seeking to be more than superficial observers of Life?  May we all learn to look deep into our hearts and there find persuasive cause to see eye to eye and cease to take an eye for an eye.  May we discover within our shared experience of the Divine Constant that

IIO and

I + I = WE as US (Wise Explorers as United Spirits)

amid a never-ending quest to experience our deepest satisfaction as GOAL.

*Black, It Will Never Happen to Me, 2nd Edition, MAC Publishing, Bainbridge Island WA 2001.

© Art Nicol 2015

Greedy, Needy and Grace

If there is a cultural war that calls forth our best intentions to resolve, it is a war between the prevailing culture of greed that creates homelessness and other forms of neediness and suffering and an ideal greedless culture that would provide adequately for everyone and alleviate suffering. Folk singers Peter, Paul and Mary sang about this cultural war in a song whose lyrics include these lines:

Futility and senseless war, pit the rich against the poor,
While cause is buried long before the fight
For what was wrong, for what was right,
It’s just the strong, who ever says what’s right.

In part because as a young man during the Viet Nam war era I allowed Peter, Paul and Mary’s songs to speak to my heart, I am today an admittedly unrepentant idealist. I became stained with idealism, dyed in the wool as a person in quest of the ideal.  I believe it’s possible for us to resolve this cultural war in favor of the ideal culture.  I also believe that pitting the rich against the poor is a necessary byproduct or effect produced by the “cause” that “is buried long before the fight.”  We need to unbury this “cause” in order to dispel its power to perpetuate the prevailing culture or “status quo” by which neediness and suffering in all their forms are made to seem inevitable. Neediness and suffering are not inevitable.  They are produced by a cause we can dispel.  Once we dispel the cause, the effects or byproducts of the cause will end.

Sound too simple? Surely it does, because we tend to judge it through the filter of the buried “cause” that distorts all things simple to try to keep us from seeing simplicity.  The buried cause insists that life must be more complicated than that and refuses to allow us to accept the simple truth about how readily homelessness and other forms of neediness can be overcome and suffering not only mitigated but gradually ended.  In support of my idealism, I summarize here the means of ending neediness and suffering.  Believe it or not, as you choose.  But, please listen to your heart’s desire as you read.  What does your heart truly desire deep beneath all arguments to contradict the simplicity I present?  Might your mind be arguing against what your heart desires?  Might your heart be wiser than your mind and know what to desire and relentlessly work towards even in the face of arguments to the contrary?  Might grace be at work deep in your heart inviting you to listen and consider what might be true in the face of beliefs you’ve long held dear but which are not necessarily true?

What “cause is buried long before the fight?” I propose that buried beneath our awareness is a cause that promotes futility and senseless war and pits the rich against the poor.  We live in an era when few of us who are exposed to the media can fail to see the senselessness of wars swirling around us and the hostility that many wealthy people feel towards poor people.  The wealthier feel threatened by those who have less wealth.  Many of us in the USA are somewhere on the continuum of relatively “wealthier” and strive to hold our position on that upward ladder of mobility towards success as measured by financial milestones.  The powerful few (among whom we may aspire to someday belong and whose accomplishments we may admire) feel the need to amass even more power to protect themselves from the many who seem powerless and yet somehow make the powerful feel threatened enough to spend their resources setting up defenses to protect their positions amid prevailing economic inequities.  The “haves” fear that the “have-nots” will take from them what they value.  So, they prepare to defend what they have and their “right” to have it.  Why?  What “causes” that to happen?  Why we might ourselves identify with such defensive preparations?  Why might our desire to identify with the wealthy cause us to engage in futility?

Are we ready, willing and able to unbury the “cause” and look directly at it? If we are, we can dispel it as nonsense and move past it into a new era based on a new culture of equitable sharing of resources and opportunities.  The buried “cause” is nonsense, but believing in it assigns power to it.  Our minds have the capacity to give power even to nonsense.  History is filled with examples of such assignments of power to nonsense.  Of course, at the time, humanity did not recognize the nonsense as nonsense and believed it to be truth.  Believing a falsehood or misperception to be true gives it power over our lives.  We live by what we believe, not by objective truth. If our beliefs do not square with truth, then truth does not influence us.  Instead, what we mistakenly believe influences us, even causes us to act consistently with our false beliefs.  Changing our minds to believe differently frees us of the influence of false ideas that previously controlled our actions.  The most empowering decision we can make is to change our minds to let go of a false belief in order to accept a truth in its place. It is wise to seriously consider making such choices.

I write to offer my readers such an opportunity to exercise their will power (or power of choice) in favor of truth in place of false beliefs. The “cause . . . buried long before the fight” that “pits the rich against the poor” and generates “futility and senseless war” is a false belief in who we are.  Fear has persuaded us to believe in a false identity in place of our true identity.  We have buried our fears that cause us to adhere to this false identity so that these buried fears can now cause us to fight with each other and prepare elaborate defenses to protect us from each other instead of trust each other to share this world as a culture of universal peace and good will.  So long as we allow these fears to remain buried they will continuously thwart all efforts to install peace in place of violence as a permanent condition.  We must unbury these fears in order to move beyond the cycles of futility humanity has endured for many generations. Centuries of futility arise from habits of denying the fears that feed the cycles of violence and futility of our efforts to remove violence as a social norm.

Do you want to remove violence as a social norm? Are you sick and tired of violence yet – sick and tired enough to participate in moving into a culture in which violence is not “normal?”  Your heart is likely to desire to move beyond violence if you have loved ones you feel are vulnerable to violence and realize that you cannot protect them from violence on your own.  The “rich” suffer from the illusion that they have sufficient resources to protect their children and other loved ones from violence.  They believe in investing in elegant and elaborate isolation, gated communities and other forms of barriers in an effort to block violence from reaching them.  They believe in raising up military machinery and institutions (and train other people’s children to staff them) that they hope will be sufficient to block access to the territory they/we occupy and prevent needy people from encroaching upon their/our abundance.  They/we are mistaken.  Their/our efforts are futile.  The war will reach them/us beyond every barrier they/we erect.

No matter how much of their/our resources they/we invest in postponing the inevitable, the inevitable will happen.  War is cycling out of control into yet another outbreak of worldwide violence at home and abroad.  Unless we act with determination to establish the true alternative, the two will soon merge and become indistinguishable.  The rich are too few and poor too many to deny the poor access to the wealth and opportunities that the few have for many generations sought to reserve to their/ourselves. With whom will you choose to identify – the rich or the poor?  Is it wise to identify with the rich pitted against the poor?  Or would it be wiser to identify as a participant in reconciling the rich and the poor into one sharing culture in solidarity with all humankind?

Fear is causing us to go to war against ourselves within the human race, to see in the “other” who appears on our doorstep as a stranger the image of an “enemy” to our prosperity, happiness and security. I propose that this is an unnecessary and inaccurate belief as far from truth as the belief that the world is flat once was discovered to be.  While humans believed that the world was flat, they lived as if it were flat.  They feared the “edge” of the earth and shied away from it.  Today most humans know that the world is not flat.  Today we also need to learn to know that the stranger is not a threat to our well-being and that the well-rounded culture of shared resources and opportunities is not an unrealistic ideal but rather the most promising way to bring an end to futility and senseless war and set in motion conditions in which there are no more distinctions between the rich and poor.  The stranger is not the edge of our comfort zones from which to shy away but rather the life-enriching opportunity to embrace life more fully and enjoy all that our self-protective habits have caused us to lose.  Our fears cause us to be violent towards ourselves and lose out on the benefits of a far more expansive and fear-free life than our fears can ever provide.

Buried fears are the buried cause of our futile efforts to resolve conflicts and build long-lasting peace. We will never establish a worldwide culture within which the human race can be at peace with itself/ourself until we bring our fears to light, look at them to see their false foundation and let them go.  They are nonsense.  But they are a nonsense in which we have so long unwittingly believed and for so many generations taught our children to believe that they have taken on the illusion of unquestionable truth.  We have sanctified and made holy false beliefs about who we are and who other people are.  We have failed to learn the lessons of history and remain doomed to repeat them in endless cycles of violence and futility until we unearth the fears that perpetuate such cycles and dispel them as the nonsense they are.

Our egos are the tombs within which we bury our fears generation after generation and perpetuate their causation of futility and senseless violence. We believe ourselves to be our egos.  That’s not true. We are not creatures destined to cower in the dark behind our ego’s defensive walls afraid to welcome strangers or to reach out in good will towards those who arrive on our doorsteps.  We are creatures of light with a far more promising destiny.  We need only dismantle our egos’ defensive structures to realize the truth of our far grander power and capacity to resolve all forms of conflict, share the world and its resources and opportunities and by this process truly protect our loved ones and provide security for all people’s loved ones.  We need not pit the loved ones of some against the loved ones of “others” when we realize that we are all our sisters and brothers.

The ideal I lay out here is an idea by which we need no longer delegate to our children the future prospect of being at war with other people’s children. If we desire in the depths of our hearts not to bury our children and the children of our friends and neighbors and perpetuate our universal grief, we must learn to unbury the fears that cause us to blindly act in futility when we could otherwise act with immense utility.  Blind actions are unwise.  Taking the blinders of buried fears from our minds’ vision will go a long way towards empowering us to work together as collaborators in developing and sustaining the idealistic culture of shared peace, power and purpose about which I dare to boldly write as an advocate.

Am I a visionary and yet also a realistic idealist?  Yes, because the fears that once blinded me no longer blind me.  They need not blind anyone who chooses to unbury them, look directly at them and set them aside as nonsense.  The world is not flat.  Strangers need not be flatly denied access to shared resources and opportunities.  Together, we (“us” and those formerly viewed as “strangers” or “not us”) can build together that which will not be built until we all build it together as members of one community committed relentlessly, resolutely and resiliently to the welfare of all.  It is in such solidarity with all members of the human race that we will find not only the hope of ending war forever but also the seemingly miraculous means for doing so.

© Art Nicol 2015

The Silent Harm of Believing Ourselves Merely to Be Bodies

Since the onset of the scientific era, literate humans have, over the centuries, come to view ourselves as merely bodies occupying space on the Earth as it travels through what we call “outer space.” We’ve amassed a vast body of published ideas shared widely among those who learn to read.  These ideas contain biases and assumptions we rarely question but instead allow to point us ever outward in a relentless exploration of expansively more outer space.  Which ideas are published and made available to the public is, for the most part, determined by a publication industry that has adopted the same biases and assumptions, resulting in the continuing promotion of biased reporting of ideas, not the diet of vigorously robust, broad-ranging ideas upon which the human mind may feed to thrive and grow stronger.  As a result, our minds are starving for more nourishment than typical publications provide.

Our mental diet is anemic, lacking in vital nutrients necessary to sustain humanity’s existence. Why?  Because we are not merely bodies but have unquestioningly adopted the assumption that we are.  This silent assumption neglects the features of humanity that are not physical and promotes violence towards our physical health as well.  We are neglecting our wholeness because of our assumptions in favor of the false primacy of our physicality.  We still have time to free ourselves of this deadly trend and reverse the harm it has caused.  In challenging the assumption that we are merely bodies we will discover the healing and restoration of wholeness that we need and so desperately desire.  We can remain literate without remaining ignorant of the more holistic truths that will set us free from violence and its harm.

As a consequence of the assumptions upon which our current focus of literacy is based, we’ve become convinced that the ultimate truths most essential for understanding life await to be discovered “out there” by someone bold enough to go “there” personally or by some form of technology. In the process we’ve become enamored with technology and our ever increasing capacity to see and explore beyond the Earth as well as into features of Earth both at macro- and micro-physical dimensions.  We spend billions of dollars based on the biases and assumptions unquestioned within our materialistic, scientific viewpoint on life.  Sciences tend to examine the outer, physical world in greater and greater scope and detail without questioning whether we may be overlooking other areas of inquiry vital to our understanding of life.

In relatively recent times, scientific investigations have turned to seeking greater understanding of our minds. Our minds are not assumed to be “out there” beyond us but instead to be somehow “in here,” within of us.  Some investigate the mind as an individual phenomenon inherent in each person.  Some investigate the individual mind as having a capacity to connect with other individual minds so as, perhaps, to form a collective, single mind of all humanity. Where might individual minds and a collective mind exist, if they exist? “Out there” or “in here?” The investigation of the mind’s nature includes studies of the physical organ, the brain, that we associate with our mind.  But many investigators do not assume that the mind is limited to the brain.  How the brain relates to the phenomenon we call “mind” remains a mystery we continue to explore.  But at least the study of the mind has caused scientific investigative methods to no longer be applied only to exploring “out there.”  Now, we use scientific methods to explore the possibility of a realm of experience “in here.”

The expansion of science into exploring the possibilities of “in here” has brought science and mysticism into closer communication and proximity. It might challenge scientists to call science “scienticism” in parallel with mysticism to demote it from the sacred pedestal upon which we’ve set science for centuries. Might it be possible that scientific methods are no more and no less reliable a means for discovering truth than mystic methods?  Might the assumption that mystic methods are inherently unreliable be a product of the biases and assumptions that arose during the dawn of science in medieval times and now be in need of re-examination? Do we really want biases inherent in science since its birth to rule our world today? Might scienticism be the way of the left brain (analysis) while mysticism be the way of the right brain (intuition)?  Might we more completely understand life if we were to honor both as avenues of discovery and blend their inputs into an integrated whole?

The birth of science coincided with the onset of published ideas during a period of human history when we assumed many things that we’ve since proven to be incorrect. For example, we no longer believe the Earth to be flat nor the center of the Universe.  We have recognized the role of previously undetected “invisible” micro-organisms in the transmission of diseases, the digestion of nutrients and the recycling of debris.  Simultaneously our means of publication have evolved as have the scope of ideas included within the “sciences.”  Yet have we failed to examine the possibility that becoming capable of reading published science-biased ideas and incorporating them into our daily thinking may blind us to other avenues of exploration and to truths not discoverable through science?  Might it reflect an unhelpful bias to characterize all “nonscientific” methods and ideas as “superstitions?’  What if the past centuries of examining all things physical and material in greater detail and scope has drawn us unwittingly away from other means of investigating truths that are not limited to the physical world “out there” and more likely to discover important features of the nonphysical world “in here?”

My proposition is that we’ve become blind to the value of what might be called “nonscientific” methods of inquiry that are of great value to humanity’s understanding of life and promise to reveal truths essential to the long-term welfare of humanity. Do we really need to wait for scientists to conduct research based on research methods biased by centuries of unexamined assumptions about the material nature of life?  Suppose we stopped assuming that we are merely bodies and bundles of atoms structured together to create the physical systems of which our bodies are composed. Suppose we attribute to life other qualities than physical and material, qualities that must be sensed by means not currently developed by any form of science?  Might we not make more rapid advances in understanding essential truths about life that would save humanity from extinction and save Earth as a habitat fit for life in all forms? Suppose humanity is a habitat for divinity that we’ve allowed ourselves to appreciate too little because of the assumption that we are merely bodies.

I offer these alternative propositions because I believe that we need to consider them for the sake of our children’s future. I ask questions and offer alternative ideas on behalf of the minority of humans who currently do experience ourselves as more than mere bodies. There is a minority who truly experience themselves as forms of energy not adequately explained alone on physical terms now or likely to ever be adequately explained according to the biases and assumptions now limiting scientific inquiries.  Will the majority continue to disregard the input of this minority at the expense of humanity’s welfare?  Might those who have become enamored with science because they know how to read and consider themselves to be well-educated be willing to set aside the biases and assumptions of their social orientation and listen with more open minds to input from what is typically characterized as “unscientific” methods of inquiry?

Among those who experience themselves as more than merely bodies are intelligent men and women of integrity who earnestly desire to share what they sense about life for the benefit of the collective entity we call “humanity.”  We are individuals who care about the welfare of the whole of the human race and every individual in it.  That’s a mystic’s orientation.  It is not a sexual or gender orientation. It is not an orientation defined on the assumption that sex-linked or gender-linked features of our bodies or social orientations are the defining features of life.

Mystics do not define ourselves by our bodies. We define ourselves by our inner experiences and yet concern ourselves with the whole race who are largely focused on their outer experiences.  Mystics don’t generally need to be funded for our research or inquiries into the inner experiences “in here.”  We simply set aside time and opportunities to go inward to seek answers to questions that concern us, often questions of universal concern to all human beings.  Ours is a method of inquiry all members of the human race can master without needing to first acquire extensive formal education or even needing to learn to read published ideas.  It’s entirely feasible to learn to sense ideas “published” within our hearts and minds as if they are broadcast from a Divine Source for the universal benefit of all humankind.

Mystics have learned to tune into transmissions broadcast as energy in the inner realm of human experience by tuning out the alternative messages so abundantly transmitted by technological means “out there.”  Do we listen inwardly or outwardly? It would be wise to master the discipline of listening in both directions without blinders imposed unwittingly by unexamined biases and assumptions carried over from medieval times when mystics were purged, driven into exile and burned at stakes because their orientation offended the politically powerful who were then fighting for dominion in an increasingly materialistic world.  The fight to build political empires across the face of the physical Earth and beyond need not doom us to extinction.  We can stop competing against each other for dominion and learn to share the Earth as divine beings experiencing ourselves as bodies as for the purpose of building our character and exploring how to share life on Earth as life is shared in Heaven.

© Art Nicol 2015

 

Which Arms Race Do You Choose to Enter?

Once again it is evident that those who profit from manufacturing and marketing military weapons continue to engage in propaganda urging US taxpayers to foot the bill for their luxury lifestyles. (Those who pay directly or indirectly for governments around the world are also roped in by this global propaganda machine underwritten by multinational corporations who are more loyal to fattening their own bank accounts and indulging in conspicuous consumption as global playboys and playgirls than they are to any nation or peoples beyond their immediate families.) The main theme of such propaganda is the “arms race.” According this propaganda, we are always at the mercy of hostile nations and unruly hostile non-nations acting on their own. Threats from all sides seem to justify arming ourselves to the teeth. Add to that the seeming threats from within our own borders attributed to criminals, terrorists and general crazies and we have the makings an endless arms race from which no one escapes but a few definitely profit. It’s a bonus to the profit-makers that many US citizens have decided that the only adequate response to this growing perception of apparent hostility from others outside and inside our borders is to arm themselves with weapons supplied by the same arms industry. Ah, the profitability of fear!

Are you and I powerless in the face of this arms race that sucks resources from our pockets as relentlessly as lampreys suck life from lake trout and leeches suck blood from any animal to which they can attach themselves? Are we at the mercy of these profit-making vampires who own and operate major media sources so as to keep their propaganda ever before us? Do we have no choice but to be taken in by the propaganda and participate as unsuspecting or suspicious but compliant dupes and funders of the excesses of those who profit from this arms race?

Not necessarily. First we can decide to disregard the propaganda that tells us that the world is entirely hostile towards the US and that we have no choice but to arm ourselves with a succession of soon-to-be-obsolete weapons in an endless race towards the wars we cannot avoid. The inevitability of war is assumed by the propaganda and the only issue presented is how well prepared will we be to win that war. Few of us want to go down in defeat. So, if one assumes that war is inevitable, most of us will join the cry for increased preparedness at any cost. Yet, we don’t have to believe that assumption or buy into the propaganda. We can choose to participate in an alternative arms race instead.

What might that alternative arms race look like? It would look like neighbors opening their arms to each other and reaching around the globe to welcome strangers as neighbors in our global village. We can ignore the doomsayers and act as if we have a better future based on peace and good will shared by good-natured, reasoning people who populate the globe with values and priorities akin to our own. We can assume not hostility but instead common ground in our shared hearts’ desires to raise children in healthy conditions and share life with loved ones in stability and harmony without fear of losses inflicted by hostile forces prepared only to spread violence like an epidemic throughout the human race.

We could engage in a race into each other’s arms if only we trusted each other more than feared each other. Are we willing to take that risk? Might we set aside our xenophobia and reach out to each other as if we might find friends instead of enemies? What do we have to lose? The military version of the arms race dooms all of us. All we have to lose by taking the risk of embracing each other as neighbors instead of as hostile strangers is doom. Might it make sense to you and I to forsake doom in exchange for embracing peace and the freedom to share the globe with good will?

How will we ever find the courage to take such a risk in the face of pressures to believe the propaganda and stand apart in fear? I suggest our courage will come from our faith that there’s a power greater than the arms merchants and their minions, a Power that will aid our alternative arms race. If we race into the arms of the Creator who loves us, we will discover divinely inspired courage within our hearts and God’s corresponding wisdom to make our dreams of peace on earth among people of good will a reality even in the face of contrary arguments proposed by distributors of death. All we need to do is to decide to be customers of the Distributor of Life who charges us nothing for receiving all we can open ourselves to receive of life. It costs us nothing but our egos to open our hearts and minds to the Source of Life and receive in abundance all that the Source generously offers to share with us. Is humility too great a price for peace on earth?

I hope that anyone who prefers life over death and love over fear will consider joining me in the alternative arms race into the loving arms of God and the people who say “Amen” to God in whatever language they choose to say it. God is great in any language spoken around the world by people of all faiths in a God who wills that the human race enjoy being surrounded and filled with love and allowed to live into the fullness of time as Eternity’s children.

© Art Nicol 2015

 

Trump or Triumph?

Let us be grateful to Donald Trump for his exaggerated display of the political option. Maestro Trump magnifies what is true of all politicians – that each seeks to cater to a slice of voters by matching the voters’ prejudices and playing on their fears. Lincoln said it this way, “You can fool all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” Recognizing this wisdom, political candidates generally seek to cater to a collection of slices of the voters who remain fooled long enough to vote the candidates into office. After the election, the need to keep the slices fooled diminishes.

Relying upon the shortness of voters’ memories and their lack of attention to issues that really matter, when the next election cycle comes around, politicians can engage in the same process all over again. Being caught in their irrational incongruities (sometimes referred to as “hypocrisy”) rarely deprives a candidate of office. (A scandal that the media finds juicy and marketable may deprive a candidate of office, but not hypocrisy, which is so commonplace as to merit little media attention.) In fact, being an accomplished juggler of inconsistencies often merits ascension to a higher office. We can be grateful to Mr. Trump for not making much of an effort to conceal his contempt for voters who actually try to think about deeper issues that matter and remain determined to build upon their understanding from election to election rather than remain focused on superficial issues and reboot their thinking each election cycle. Such thoughtful voters may be too tiny a minority to sway any election.

Is there an alternative to candidates’ trying to out Trump each other? Yes, but it’s not a political alternative. It won’t get a candidate elected to office. It’s more likely to get him or her scorned, ostracized and crucified as it did Jesus. The true alternative to Trump is Triumph. The small difference of two letters and the hugely significant qualities they stand for make all the difference in the world towards which each candidate leads. The spiral of Trumping and overtrumping leads followers into a ditch down one side or the other of the slippery slope of self-deception. These ditches are mirror images of each other, more similar than dissimilar. They represent the lower reaches of humanity’s decline, the lowest common denominator upon which fractions can be added to achieve temporary political alliances and win elections. “On which side do you stand?” is the politician’s primary question in wooing voters. “Into which ditch do you want to head with me in opposition to the ‘others?’” would be a more candid way to put the question, but candidates rarely are that candid.

The alternative Jesus presents heads in triumph along the high ridge formed by a chain of mountaintops beyond the downward sliding world of politics where “others” oppose each other to gain the power in an “us” vs. “them” worldview. In the mountaintop perspective of mystics (among who Jesus is a prime example), all humanity is one, not composed of oppositional factions but unified by truth and love as one divine family. Jesus lived the mystic’s alternative in which he believed and demonstrated the nature of its power to comfort, heal and bless everyone inclusively as each person chooses to repent of the politically oriented power-grabbing of his or her ego and surrenders instead to the power of God’s grace, mercy and love. As individuals lay their issues at the feet of Jesus, he accepts them as sisters and brothers regardless of what lifestyle they may have led before deciding to put their faith in him. In response to their repentance and surrender, he gives them new life beyond the ego’s false idols and substitutions for life as God created Life. What Jesus gives he gives from the Father from whom all good gifts come. Jesus shares generously all that he has received from the Father of us all. What politician offers that resolution to the issues that plague humanity with divisive violence and grief?

The “i” missing from Trump stands for “integrity,” a quality of life that embraces wholeness of person and shalom of heart and mind. This quality Jesus embodied and offers even now to help each of us embody. The “h” missing from Trump stands for “humility” and “honesty,” two qualities absent from the ego’s orientation and an anathema to political success. Humility coupled with honesty would require that most candidates simply withdraw from attempts to win voter approval to be a leader. It would require admitting that neither humility or honesty is popular among the masses and will not win votes. Voters tend to prefer leaders who are committed to arrogance and ignorance instead so that voters might be confirmed in their similar commitments. It is so much more convenient to formulate off-the-cuff opinions and vote according to them based on ignorance than to do the homework necessary to generate a deeper understanding and vote according to it. It is also more convenient to copy the answers off of another’s answer sheet, especially from one who seems to have the approval of the crowds, than to formulate an answer after much inner scrutiny and self-examination to identify and release internalized prejudices and fears that otherwise sway our choices.

Let us be grateful to Mr. Trump for clarifying just how lacking in integrity, humility and honesty we prefer our political candidates and the political process to be. We no more want a leader who holds us up to high expectations and ideals than we want Jesus to be Lord of our lives. Let us admit that we prefer to be rescued time after time from our individual and collective social follies as we hope Jesus will save us time after time from our spiritual ones. Who among us wants the burden of integrity, humility and honesty thrust upon us all the time? If one takes such ideals seriously, one becomes exceedingly unpopular in a world driven mad by ego’s internal conflicts and insatiable cravings. Who wants to take seriously the notion that to be great one must serve in humble positions and care about the powerless and weak at least as much if not more than about the socially elitist powerful? Who really wants to be assassinated like Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi because we held ourselves to higher ideals of excellence in service to the masses than the masses can tolerate considering for ourselves?

Let us be kind to Mr. Trump. He is serving God’s grand purpose to remind us that there is a clear choice to be made between ego and God. The ego darkens our lives with insane ideas that eventually reveal themselves to be absurd. God enlightens our lives with the only true alternative of sanity so that the truth might set us free.  Mr. Trump is doing us all a favor by publically displaying the extreme limits of absurdity and insanity so that we not mistake the political race for the race of which a devoted disciple of Jesus wrote long ago as recorded in 2 Timothy 7-8: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

Let us long not for Mr. Trump’s or any political candidate’s appearing but rather for Jesus to return as Lord to rule the Earth with love and cause mercy and justice to roll down from the heights of Divine Glory to satisfy all who hunger and thirst after righteousness as God defines the term. In doing so, let us also be open minded about the meaning of that term and not claim to tell others what God means by it. We may all be surprised to witness what it means when God thanks Mr. Trump for his bumbling service as a contrast to Jesus’ Triumph. If God did not work through imperfect instruments and have a sense of humor coupled with all-prevailing grace, which of us could claim to serve Him/Her or have any hope of heaven?

© Art Nicol 2015

 

Ask Not What Our God Can Do for Us, Ask . . .

If humans want to experience ourselves as fully divine beings of light, we must position ourselves in God’s position.  How do we position ourselves in God’s position when we cannot replace God?  We do so by loving and serving humanity as God wills that humanity be loved and served, thereby aligning our will with God’s will.  When our wills are aligned with God’s will, our spirits, hearts and minds will come into alignment too.  Our wills will become extensions of God’s Will, our spirits and hearts will become extensions of God’s Spirit and Heart and our minds will become extensions of God’s Mind.  Without replacing God, we will manifest God through our human forms, the very expression of the divine made incarnate that Jesus modeled while on earth.  This is oneness with God in the fullness of our capacity to know it while yet expressing life through our bodies.  This is what it means to be fully human and fully divine, to live the paradox of being gods and yet not God.  And that is the manner in which we become aware that Love is all we are just as Love is all God is.

To attain our highest evolutionary ideal as diving beings of light, humans may yet be inspired by lofty words accompanied by daringly compassionate deeds.  As he boldly accepted responsibility for leading his nation, John F. Kennedy once inspired listeners by declaring “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”  His call to reverse our aim from narrowly self-centered targets to broadly other-focused goals still resonates with many who heard his inaugural speech on a cold January day in 1961. Today the Spirit of Love calls to us, “Ask not what God can do for us, ask what we can do for God.”

If we ask we will hear the Spirit say, “As earthly channels of grace and blessing upon which I must rely, love and care for all of My creation.  Raise up all the children whom I entrust to you as if they are all Beings of Light and Love created by Me as their Divine Parent.  Let harm come to none and heal those who have already suffered harm of any kind.  Come into My arms of love with humility that I might love you as an example of My mercy and justice towards all of humankind and then go forth to tell others of what you have experienced of Me according to My will that heaven come to be on earth.”

If all adults throughout humanity were to re-order our priorities to make the welfare of children paramount among the issues we address with all of the resources, energies and time available to our hearts and minds, we’d revolutionize the world because we’d all become one global village united in our devotion to every child’s well-being.  We would make no weapon or tool of destruction until we’d first served all the children according to all of their needs in body, mind, emotions, relationships, will and spirit.   Before we counseled together about how to make war, we’d counsel together about how to ensure lasting peace so that the abiding safety and tranquility children need to develop into wholeness according to God’ design for their unfolding fruitfulness would be, like the soil in an orchard, undisturbed.  To nurture our children as trees within their global orchard, we would order our lives after the ideal of the infinitely patient and merciful Parent and discover the totality of our Divine Parent’s commitment to us as well.

In the process we’d experience the Answer to life’s most enriching riddles, “Who am I?” “Why am I here?”  “In both the short and the long run and in all ranges in between, what really matters most?”  We’d come face to face with our neglectful as well as abusive inhumanity towards other human beings and sort out our personal responsibilities for perpetuating that inhumanity, learning along the way that we are not as powerless to make a meaningful difference as we’ve managed to convince ourselves we are.

We’d learn to tune out our ego’s constant chatter about justifications for our being neglectful and even cruel and abusive towards others, and instead tune into the still, small voice of the Most Powerful Being in the Universe who whispers words of wisdom in our hearts but never insists that we obey them.  We’d come to understand the meaning of “free will” and how it offers us both the responsibility and the power to create the world we live in, be it healthy or unhealthy, kind or cruel, sane or insane, uplifting or oppressive, encouraging or disheartening, empowering or intimidating, creative or destructive.

In mastering the disciplines required to undo our allegiance to ego’s tyrannous reign on earth in modern times, we would come into increasing awareness of our ancient native realm beyond earth and learn to practice here those principles honored there.  We’d uproot our tree of life from the soil of dualistic social approval and disapproval and transplant it into the richer and more rewarding unified soil of unconditional love, appreciation and affection.  We’d forsake futile efforts at intimacy on ego’s terms and instead enjoy the abundant sweetness of intimacy on Divine terms.  We’d learn to set aside all learned obstacles to the flow of love as a natural life force and rest in peace within that flow’s refreshing stream long before our bodies decline to function and we rest in peace beyond the body’s realm. In this way, we’d learn to live in the Present as if the Past, Present and Future were one within Eternity.

To make our peace with God while our bodies remain here on earth is the wisest re-orientation we can choose to make.  We can emigrate from hell to heaven while yet remaining on the earth in bodily form.  Our free will empowers us to make that choice for ourselves and for loved ones who remain faithful to us.  If we choose hell-on-earth’s orientation, we can hardly expect wiser loved ones of any age to remain attached to our way of life.  Our hearts call for them to detach from hell and enter into heaven before us, waiting patiently for us to come to our senses and choose to join them in earthly heaven too.  No political considerations will separate us from God’s peace of mind, hope of heart and joy of spirit unless we remain allied with the mistaken belief that God/Goddess favors some of us over others of us.

That there is no hell except by reason of having chosen poorly to believe in the divisive illusions of the ego is a paradox worth discovering in person.  By choosing to invest ourselves in unforgiving orientations and insisting that vengeance be given its day on earth, we can adopt hell as our future just as others adopted it for us as our past.   Yet every day of our lives we have the power to choose to step away from the mistaken choices others made that so heavily influenced our thinking and chiseled our beliefs, as if epitaphs upon our gravestones, and with Divine help learn to think again more sanely.

Never has violence begat anything but greater harm within expanding spirals of violence.  Never has a whitewash over unresolved emotional issues begat anything but festering wounds and ugly outbreaks of heartrending violence.  Because forgiveness allows buried bodies to rise up to new life without burdens of guilt and shame, we need not remain chained to the buried pain of anyone’s past woundedness – including especially our own.  We are free to choose to rise beyond past pain and present suffering to soar together as mighty eagles above the storms – somewhere beyond the rainbow that symbolizes the Divine promise that grief need no more flood the earth to deprive us of our second birth.

Let each of us ask our Divine Parent how we each can more fully participate in awakening peace on earth among people of good will so that ultimately all people feel free in their hearts to become and live as people of good will.  No child of God of any age or station in life need be left behind in the School of Highest Education in which each member of the student body is devoted to the welfare of the whole.

Copyright Art Nicol 2013

Knowing What to Do in Times of Change

Modern society is passing through a chaotic transition. Old ways are no longer producing desired results and new ways are not yet in place to serve as new routines and traditions.  We are trapped in a chrysalis of change, no longer the caterpillar we once were and not yet the butterfly we will become once we are successful in completing our struggle to transform and emerge — paradoxically restored to vitality as ourselves and yet no longer ourselves as we once were. The times they are a’changing, as Bob Dylan wrote some years ago: 

The Times They Are A’Changin’
By Bob Dylan 
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

 

What approach  is most helpful during times such as these? It’s most helpful to learn to listen closely to wisdom and to increase our capacity to hear and to heed what wisdom is saying. Wisdom is not swept away by rising riptides of change because wisdom is rooted in ancient truths that stand up well even to the severest tests of time.  Wisdom may be time-worn but the wear and tear it’s endured only makes it all the more valuable like well-polished jade in a setting of gold.

In times of tumultuous change when former traditions cease to serve well as guides, you can easily lose your bearings as you discover how unprepared you are to navigate through turbulent waters.  The more you’ve previously lived a sheltered life, the more shocked and afraid you may be as you are exposed to the turbulence today’s changes entail.  Even if you’ve been exposed and vulnerable to hard times before, it can still upset you to face them again, especially on the intense, society-wide scale we are now enduring.  Feeling ill-prepared for life as you are forced to face it is unnerving. Discouragement and despair may come knocking and perhaps even take up residence for a while.  Being thrown off balance by turbulence is natural.  It’s not necessary to fault yourself for how you react to unpleasant conditions.  It’s more helpful to have confidence that you can find your way through the turbulence to better opportunities beyond it.  And you surely can if you apply yourself to learning all you need to learn to achieve that goal.  One thing that may seem puzzling is that you are better prepared to succeed than you yet know.  Part of what you’ll learn if you apply yourself with focused attention is how to recognize your hidden qualities that make you more prepared than you realize. 

As Dylan points out, you can hardly tell at the beginning how things are going to turn out.  But wisdom knows how to guide you through winds of change and clouds of doubt to an outcome you’ll welcome along a journey you’ll enjoy as an adventure.  And you can know what wisdom knows if you’re willing to listen closely to its cues and allow them to guide you forward through the confusion and chaos of storm-tossed times.  We are surely going through stormy times as modern society wrestles with the unforeseen consequences of its past decisions and tries to find its answers within the very patterns of thought that caused its current problems. There are many wise sayings that describe society’s current dilemma.  Among them are two attributed to Albert Einstein:

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
“The solution cannot be found at the same level of mind at which the problem was created.”

These quotes suggest that we’ll only drive ourselves more and more insane if we continue to try to address society’s currently deepening problems from the same perspective or traditional thinking from which we created the problems. It simply does not help to dwell upon them as if they are both worrisome and hopelessly unsolvable.  We dig our hole deeper by worrying our way around in it in circles.  We’ll only worry ourselves into self-sabotage through this limited approach. Wisdom knows that we are capable of a much less limited and immensely more promising one.

The dilemmas facing society signal that we’ve reached the limits of the way of thinking in which we’ve mainly been indulging for many centuries. With rare exceptions like Einstein, most people have simply failed to master the art of thinking for themselves and instead allowed others to tell them what to do.  We’ve become so accustomed to looking to others outside of us to do all the thinking that we don’t know how to think for ourselves and may only panic when expected to do so.  As we learned how to be accepted and belong within our society, we entrusted the responsibility for thinking to those to whom we looked as our teachers/trainers – authority figures whom we believed to be in charge of our society for us.  What we don’t realize is that those to whom we looked to tell us what to do are not running society “for us” in the sense of “for our benefit.”  They are running it for other purposes that are not necessarily beneficial to us in the long run – and many times not even beneficial to us in the short run.  In fact, one of the signals that we are in trouble is the reduced “duration of benefit” we’ve received on account of our letting others do all the real thinking for us while our minds are pre-occupied with trivial pursuits. 

Allow me to expand upon the example of shrinking “duration of benefit” to explain what I mean.  “Duration of benefit” refers to the time elapsed between purchase and disposal of a product or service.  As this period of time becomes shorter, the lack of correspondence between the cost of our investment in the purchase and the value we receive from our investment becomes increasingly obvious.  Examples that are hitting home include the decreased time during which material goods remain useful to us – before we either pay dearly for their repair or upgrade or replace them entirely.  Equipment once classified as “durable goods” has become progressively less durable and now approaches the status of disposable.  For example, common household items like clothes washers, driers, dishwashers and refrigerators have proliferated in options and styles that only make it more likely that one of their complex features will fail and cause a repair bill that rivals the cost of replacing the equipment. Due to equipments’ increasing complexity, reliance upon electronic controls and rapid turnover in models composed of parts not used in previous models, home repairs have become less adequate as a solution.  Artificial complexity and shifting models has put the handyman-homemaker out of business and required homeowners to seriously consider throwing away equipment that in earlier days would have A) lasted longer in the first place and B) been repairable by the homemaker. Similar rise in complexity and decline in useful lifespan have afflicted automobiles and other formerly durable goods. 

The arrival of computers and accessories like monitors, printers, scanners, modems, routers and methods of interconnection has added a new category of consumer goods subject to change-induced obsolescence that the common user rarely has the know-how or access to repair parts to address when something breaks down.  In addition, “new and improved” models rush to market before many owners of previous models have learned how to use all of the features of their existing equipment.  New software requiring larger memories and storage capacities as well as upgraded monitors and modems drive older equipment out of use before they are actually failing as products.  Expanding demands of Internet web sites expect visitors to connect through equipment with the latest features and capacities. New methods of interconnection challenge users to keep abreast of the latest developments. The whole interlocking world of computers, software, accessories and their uses has expanded at a rate that is incredibly profitable to those who provide the equipment, software and related services but leave most users at the mercy of market-driven motives to render existing investments inadequate to perform and require consumers to spend more money to remain current with the latest state of affairs.  Whom is this reduced duration of benefits serving?

It’s as if the universe of computer technology has replicated the cosmos as a system of infinite possibilities that is expanding at the speed of light and far outdistancing the finite resources of many explorers of that universe. Many explorers resort to debt to keep up. In fact, all too often “duration of debt” now exceeds “duration of benefits.” Another example of this phenomenon is the proliferation of ever-upgraded cell phones and accessories that render the previous models old news within as short a time as six months.  Related to this example is the spectacular meteor shower of accessories and apps to use with cell phones. Keeping track of the inane number of such cell-phone-related features and their various uses occupies the minds of many users as a distraction from more significant alternative uses of their minds. Functioning in a similar manner to interfere with slower paced contemplation is time spent reviewing and commenting upon Youtube and Facebook postings and watching engrossing movies, TV reruns and entertainment programs ranging from supposed “reality shows” and talent contests to hit fiction shows of all kinds. Add sports broadcasts and commentaries plus endless newscasts, pundits and, heaven forbid, bloggers commenting upon life from every possible angle and who’s got to time to think for oneself?

Those with the youthful curiosity to master new skills and the desire to prove their competence ride the leading edge of trends in the age of high tech electronics and information overload.  These trends now wash across society like a multi-wave tsunami to sweep all previous technology into the trash bin long before many older users have discovered how to use their features and reap their benefits.  Although it is developmentally appropriate for youth and young adults to be curious and to exercise their minds to learn new competencies that prove their worth to themselves and others, to place a significant market that affects society at many levels into the control of young adults who are also discouraged from asking why they are doing what they are doing is another outcome of insanity’s reign in our society. Society is not well-served by intentionally occupying young minds with electronically hyped and accelerated trivial pursuits with the effect of diverting their attention from the core issues with which our society struggles.  We need the minds and hearts of youth and young adults focused more intentionally on social issues if ever we are to resolve them successfully.  We cannot address and resolve significant societal issues without the full engagement of youth and young adults. Their participation is essential to our success! It is their future and the future of those who follow close behind them that is at stake and must now be clarified and implemented in a manner meaningful to them. It is vital to the health and welfare of all of us that young minds not remain hooked on fascinating electronic stimulation that draw them to focus on trivia and away from focusing on what is truly significant to their futures.

I mean no offense to youth and young adults when I question whether it is wise to turn over our society’s major techno-trends to their controlling passion for mastering new technology and exploring new territory of experiences as their natural appetites and passions operate in their legitimate quest for a vision of a life worth living. I mean only to caution us all that wisdom percolates into our hearts and minds through experiences which take place at slower paces, occur over longer periods of time and require more intense and deeper personal engagement with other people than most fast paced endeavors promoted by the technology market cultivate. Many youth and young adults have such lire-enriching experiences.  We need to help them to tap into the empowering wisdom of their library of experiences that are stored deep beneath trivial pursuits.

Modern society does not encourage youth and young adults to identify, appreciate and process such slower paced, in-depth experiences but rather leads youth and young adults in circles in the shallows chasing meaningless superficial changes that matter little or nothing in the long run.  I really do mean no offense to youth and young adults. In fact, I devote my life to helping to correct the way society is misleading youth and young adults to ignore they capacity to think for themselves and listen to and be led by wisdom from an early age. I have met youth and young adults who have proven to me that they do sometimes listen to themselves in this manner and experiment with thinking for themselves.  I’ve also learned that it is precisely when they do listen to their deepest inner guidance and think for themselves that they are most likely to come into conflict with modern society’s shallow values and priorities and be labeled “rebellious,” “uncooperative” or “misfits.”  We need to encourage rather than discourage such independent, “rebellious” thinking that resists cooperating with the norms of modern society and instead develops creatively activated “misfits” better suited to leading the new society that is arriving in our midst than to remaining loyal to the old society that is fading from our midst. It would be wise for all of us to switch our loyalties from the fading society to the emerging new one.

Youth and young adults have an inborn capacity to listen to and reap the benefits of wisdom as guidance for their lives.  However, modern society teaches us all to ignore our in-born, wisdom-oriented capacity and instead to listen elsewhere for guidance.  Based on our past social training, too often we listen to the fading society’s standards and expectations instead of to the emerging society’s standards and expectations.  As children we are naturally inclined to listen to our parents, teachers and other older adults for guidance. But as the guidance from those adults proves less and less useful (largely because it’s not all that helpful to resolving the issues we face during times of transition), youth and young adults understandably turn away from that source of guidance and seek for guidance among other voices available to them.  Many of these alternative voices are found among media of various kinds.  Others are the voices of admittedly well-meaning but similarly misled peers. In a society where everyone is taught to have an opinion no matter how little investigation and analysis may go into forming it, media personalities and peers can sound as if their voices are authoritative when in fact they are voices of ignorance and arrogance. Most media and peer voices do not yet convey the wisdom and understanding needed to provide truly helpful guidance for life, especially guidance for navigating turbulent times such as we face now. In effect, by teaching us to orient our listening outward into the turbulence rather than inward into the deep inner calm at the core of our beings, social norms and traditions have cut us adrift from and now block our awareness of the wisdom and understanding we would otherwise naturally access within ourselves. Our submission to social pressures to think, act and live as social-approval seekers sabotages our ability to enjoy higher quality lives and robs us of the inheritance we would otherwise naturally receive from Divine Love’s Presence within the calm at the core of our beings.

Bob Dylan was a voice to which many of his generation listened and through which many found comfort. He voiced the thoughts and feelings of many in his generation.  Lyricists and spoken-word artists today frequently voice the thoughts and feelings of their generation too. Many are their cries for greater understanding and wisdom.  Fewer are the voices by which understanding and wisdom come forth in response.  I hope that my voice will provide some of the understanding and wisdom that youth and young adults hunger to discover is present in the world on their behalf, at their service.

Knowing what to do in changing times is a mystery worth addressing. It is a valid question to ask “How do I know what to do when traditional answers no longer point the way forward?”  My response to this question is simple: Learn again to trust yourself to know deep inside what is best for you.  Take the time necessary now to stop, look and listen inwardly.  Your native-born, inwardly tapped guidance will encourage you to be true to yourself because that is best for you – in times of turbulence as well as times of calm. That is why I focus so much of this web site on helping visitors to regain confidence in their authentic nature. To do so, one must abandon every attempt to fabricate an artificial or false identity because pretending to be someone you are not gives too much value and power to what other people think of you.  False identities emphasize image-making (social approval and reputation) and pleasing others by words and actions that are not true to your own heart.  You access both your short-term happiness and your long-term joy and success when you stop pretending and instead live true to yourself under all circumstances. When you master the art of remaining true to yourself during turbulent times, you emerge from these times as a master surfer emerges from waves that tumble others off their boards. Once you master the art of authenticity amid challenging waves of change, you can rest in calmer waters with ease and grace.

Being true to your own heart is key.  To trust yourself to know deep inside what is best for you is the same as trusting yourself to love and care for yourself even when it seems at the moment that no one else agrees with you.  Your heart is the “deep inside” where I encourage you to learn to listen.  Listen to your heart and heed its guidance and you’ll learn to hear the wisdom that it shares with you from the divine realm of inner peace with which it is in touch.  The “heart” of which I speak is not the physical organ. It is the core of your being associated with the fourth and central chakra (energy center) where your spirit listens to your emotions.  It is your sensitive, intuitive nature.  It is what some call our “feminine side” mainly because men are taught to not be in touch with and express their emotions openly and caringly. The attributes of humanity that society associates with being in touch with and expressing one’s emotions openly and caringly are stereotypically considered “not masculine” and therefore by default “feminine.” In addition, masculinity is associated with the male body’s procreative capacity to thrust and penetrate and not with the female body’s procreative capacity to open and receive. When we see ourselves as merely bodies, we remain blind to our more expansively authentic nature and fail to grasp the far broader picture of who we really are as spiritual beings engaged in a human experience through our bodies.  As whole, authentic human beings, we are not merely bodies but also spirits, wills, minds and emotions expressed within relationships.

There is a myth afoot in modern society that the aggression associated with masculinity equates to being strong and powerful and that the gentleness associated with femininity equates to being weak and helpless. This myth is so pervasive and persuasive in modern society that women who seek equality with men tend to think that becoming more like stereotypical males brings them greater power.  This tendency to equate stereotypical masculinity with power is based on the false notion that power equals aggression and violence.  It escapes our notice that aggressive behaviors are symptoms of internalized insecurities that aggressors fail to honestly admit and prefer to cover up. Aggressors use aggressive words and behaviors to distract the rest of us from noticing and addressing underlying emotional issues and discourage us from calling their bluffs.  Aggressive men and women are not displaying their power. They are in fact displaying their buried feelings of insecurity, inadequacy and resentment as they use intimidation to silence, confuse and dominate others by shifting their negative emotional energy onto those they seek to control. These negative, crippling emotions are not the energies of a truly powerful, self-confident person of either gender.  Gentleness, tolerance, defenselessness and patience are signs of true power in both genders.

Our gender-neutral capacity for tuning into inner guidance and flowing with its nuanced leadings grows as we nurture our wholeness and learn again to be aware of the full spectrum of our emotions and become comfortable expressing our colorful emotions’ full range.  Our wholeness unfolds like a satellite dish to capture more and more of the signals that wisdom sends to us constantly as guidance.  As we learn to unfold our sensitive antennae and tune ourselves to wisdom’s broadcasts, we’ll find the guidance we seek.  Wisdom wants to give us our heart’s desires.  Our hearts are listening for what wisdom says is ours to do and ours to enjoy.  The harmony between our hearts and wisdom is akin to cooperation between an orchestra and its conductor. The music of our heart is unique to each of us as individuals and yet also plays in harmony with the chorus of life within which we are all valued participants. Our confidence to participate in this chorus grows as we become increasingly aware of our creative capacities and interests that blossom as our wholeness comes online through mutually interactive encouragement within the communities that we serve and benefit.

Wi-Fi is an apt analogy for the capacity of human wholeness to empower each of us to thrive as happy, productive contributors to the welfare of various groups and communities to which we belong.  We are naturally equipped to pick up energy signals wirelessly and to translate them into guidance received in the form of intuition, hunches, gut reactions, day dreaming, sleep time dreams, creative endeavors and selective listening to others.  A writer may receive wisdom as he or she listens within and records to share with others what he or she allows to flow from within while also listening to messages in the environment that resonate with and lift up his or her spirit, heart and mind.  A poet or lyricist may do the same. Composers, painters, dancers, actors, sculptors, ceramicists and other artists and creative thinkers may likewise share with others what they are discovering deep within themselves – especially when encouraged by others through social connections to dig deeper and share abundantly.

As Einstein and others demonstrated, scientific discoveries surface to be shared in a similar manner.  The creative process is natural to all of us because we are created by a Creator who shares the power and dynamics of Creativity with us. The quality of human life as shared within a society or any smaller group of people is determined by the process of inner listening and outward expression. In fact, all relationships are always shaped and energized with meaning and significance based on the voices to which we listen inside. To the extent that we listen to internalized voices of former external authority figures who in turn conformed to former external authority figures generation after generation we participate in a chain of conformity and replicate the past, imitate rather than create, conform rather than transform and cause our destiny to come forth as a repeat of our history.  To the extent that we question and, as wisdom guides, set aside such internalized voices of others who bought into the artificiality of modern society and listen instead to the gentle voice of Wisdom whispering within our hearts, we contribute to the creation of a wiser alternative society on terms of love and truth in which authenticity is honored amid ever strengthening bonds of trust.

Within such a trust-bonded society, we will appreciate and respect rather than judge and condemn each other. We will cooperate with one another to bring peace to troubled waters and dispel clouds of doubt as refreshing breezes of clarity appear in their place. Beyond modern society’s chaotic transition, we are sailing together through storm-tossed seas towards a more highly evolved expression of humanity than our human memories can tell of. It is recorded in our imagination as visions of the brighter, gentler and more promising future our hearts have long desired to share.  Into open hearts wisdom freely flows. Let us open our hearts together and, with persistent playfulness and ceaseless celebration, grow forward into this vision of a better world to come and wholeheartedly welcome our transformed selves as manifestations of that better world.

© Art Nicol 2013