Chuck’s Place: Young Heroes

Preparing for the hero's journey...

Life in this world is a hero’s journey for all living beings. We arrive here in utter need and dependence, and must all become heroes, forging our way to security and independence.

Traumatized children are catapulted ahead on their journeys to adulthood, forced into autonomy long before their childhood needs for safety and nurturance have been met. They must stalk a position well beyond their years and, like all heroes, they must brave the uncertainty and overwhelming odds of a deeply predatory, competitive world.

Under ideal circumstances, the hero initiates the heroic journey at an appropriate age, well prepared, with a deep well of inner security to be drawn upon as challenges arise. Young traumatized heroes, on the other hand, are thrust prematurely onto their journeys, without choice and the resource of confidence. To the contrary, their inner world is filled with the demons of terror and emptiness, as each encounter with the world is met with trepidation, vigilance and, often, paralyzing anxiety. The heroic journey of such young traumatized heroes consists mainly of survival; carefully reading and dodging the dangers of the outer world, and holding together inwardly against the threat of dissolution.

Such young heroes construct a false adult persona, tailored to assure survival. This persona may be quite pleasing to the outside world, a being eager to turn to and care for the needs of others, the listener everyone seeks out. This persona might exude modesty and calm self-assuredness, or carefully hide in the shadows, never seen, never picked; the classmate never noticed in a graduating class. Regardless of outer demeanor and presentation, traumatized heroes inwardly harbor deep shame, anxiety, and inferiority; feeling punished and undeserving of a place in the world. They feel no true ownership of accomplishments or the aire of confidence they might exude; it’s all about survival and holding together.

Just hanging on...

As young heroes move into actual adulthood, they often accrue the necessary skills to secure a home and career in the world. Deeply practiced in the skills of survival, they have learned how to succeed, though inwardly this success offers little safety or comfort, as anxiety, fear, and the ever-present danger of dissolution remain forever present. In addition, genuine fun, satisfaction, and relaxation seem dangerous activities—to be avoided at all costs—however longed for, as the hero remains ever-cognizant of the unpredictability of danger in the world.

As young heroes move deeper into the cycle of life, something within the self signals that it is time for the hero to take up the challenge of reconciliation with the past, as traumatized material stored for decades begins to trickle to the surface of dream and consciousness, or is triggered by resonant events in the outside world. The hero self, what I call the present self, is now called upon to take up the challenge of discovering and recovering its true nature in the process of recapitulation, by reliving the past and retrieving all lost parts of the self.

As traumatized young heroes, many experiences had to be stored away and forgotten for the sake of survival. Many needs and feelings had to be abandoned. Embedded as they were in early trauma, too dangerous to cultivate in the war zone of trauma, too confusing to understand at such a young age, these experiences and needs had to be sacrificed. A contract had to be drawn to delay their processing until well into the future, when the seed of life had matured into a more stable tree.

The present self must remember, as it opens to this most unnerving challenge of recapitulation, that it is a hero—granted an incomplete hero—but the hero that has brought life forward to this point of transition and transformation. The present self has all it needs to take the journey of recapitulation, uncharted and unfamiliar though that journey may be. The hero is called when it is called because something in nature, something in spirit, recognizes that it’s time for the young hero to finally claim its full inheritance, awaiting retrieval in the trials of recapitulation.

Setting off...

Trust nature; trust spirit, in the timing of the call. You have all you need. Form a partnership with the recapitulation process and know that help will be provided, but must be asked for—always a challenge for young heroes.

Trust the call to adventure. Trust the hero and its ability to fully take the adventure through the fragmented land of recapitulation and emerge out the other side of time, in the land of wholeness and calm, a fully reclaimed hero at last.

On the adventure,

A Day in a Life: ALL

Into the center of Self...

I study Tao. I pull into my center, into the mandala of self, closing out all else. One morning I read the following: Always complete your actions.

I read further: When you do something, don’t hold back. Shoot for it all, go for it all. Don’t wait for a “better time,” because the better times are built on what you do today. Don’t be selfish with your skills, because the skills of tomorrow are built upon the performances of today.

To be with Tao is to live a creative life, I continue reading. To live a creative life always means that you express who you are. And expression is never helped by suppression. Expression always benefits from coming out. Then more inspiration will come from that source.

When you act, the advice is, act completely. Follow through. Do everything that has to be done. Be like the fire that burns completely clean: only from this pure stage can you then take the next step.

My early morning reading stays with me throughout the day. I ponder myself. Am I fully expressing myself every day, not holding back? Am I truly burning the fires within completely clean, so that I am free to take the next step unattached to the old? I recapitulate recent life events, and without hubris know that I am fallible, yet I am also intent on continually studying how to be more aware each day, even as I repeat old mistakes. Lessons are learned every day. I know this. I set my intent to give my all, to live and express to the fullest, to constantly follow through and complete my actions.

In the afternoon, I write. Working on the second book in The Recapitulation Diaries series, I face my old self of ten years ago. I see how much I have changed, and I also see where I still fall back into some old habits, not too often, I humbly say, and not too deeply, but just enough to let me know I have not completely burned through some rather tiresome old issues.

Inner fire...

Paying attention to the Tao reading I have gotten earlier in the day, I sit in stillness and go deeply into my present self. I sit in the center of my being, at the center of my mandala of self, and build a little fire. I intend to completely burn away the old self still lingering, to fully express it so that I may return to balance, to the mandala of self with its geometrical symmetry in calmness once again. I intend that new expression birth out of the old.

I am an observer. I can’t help it. It is my nature. I am a sensation type. Like a camera, I constantly take photographs of the world around me. I report on what I see. The world has always been “out there,” separate from my inner world. As an artist the two meet nicely, my talent offering a means of expression for how my outer world observations meet my inner world.

During my recapitulation, I learned how to turn my observer self inward upon myself, to train my camera on my past and zoom in on everything that came from deep within. My inner world turned cauldron-like as I recapitulated, as my camera honed in on the truths that lay at my core. The embers of the fire within flared up repeatedly until a nice fire was burning. Eventually, I burned off enough of the past that I was able to emerge out of the flames of recapitulation into new life, transformed, a totally different person.

During the fiery process, I discovered that recapitulation is not a one-time thing, but a lifelong process of study. Like Tao, it requires constant attention to deep inner truths, constant release and constant rebalancing, to achieve new, fresh life.

While pondering all of this, I hear a loud racket outside the window. Observer that I am, I cannot help but get up from my inner ponderings and take my camera self outside. Standing on the deck, I see my inner world, my morning’s study of Tao, in action. Nature, the grandest guide of all is playing out the very reading I have spent my day studying innerly.

Fluffy baby robins nesting under the deck...

As I watch, a shiny black crow swoops down into a tree and snatches a baby robin. I watch the robin parents and many others—birds of all kinds, even the tiny wrens—come to the rescue. An army of birds dive-bombs the crow, attempting to knock the fluff of baby bird from its beak. Shrieking and screaming, they fly at the crow repeatedly. Instinctively knowing that every second counts, they do not hold back. The crow, seemingly oblivious to the attacks, flies up to a branch and holding the baby beneath its claws, gives a loud and sharp CAW! Then it picks the baby up again and flies off with it in its beak. Flying directly over my head, I see the baby bird firmly clenched, most likely dead already. I accept this fact. It’s dead. The robins will never get it back. They have to give up, I think, just let it go. But do they “just let it go?” No! They chase after the crow! They do not accept defeat yet.

Shrieking, they fly after the crow, furiously attacking with sharp beaks. With stiffened wings, like knife cuts, they attempt to knock the baby loose. They do not give up, but complete their attempts to save the baby. They give it their all! And then, only when it is truly clear that there is nothing left to do, when the crow has flown off, do they then take the next step. Even now, they don’t simply “let it go.” Not yet!

There is still something else to do in order to complete this most traumatic event in their lives. Now they grieve! I hear them crying loudly. Horrific, heart-wrenching sobs of grief and mourning, the most gut-wrenching sounds of sorrow, erupt from their wide-open beaks. Their deep sadness, like a moaning Greek chorus, reaches the heavens and then back to me where I stand on the deck. I take in this profoundly moving process. The robins of nature are not holding back, not suppressing a thing, they are fully expressing their loss and the great depths of their sadness.

This deeply affecting wailing goes on for several minutes. Only when they are completely done, when they have fully expressed themselves and fully emptied themselves of their sorrow, do the robins return to their nest, to the tree where their baby was snatched from, perhaps back to tending other babies that may still remain, or to take the next step. There is always a next step, new life to experience.

Return to Tao...

In shock, I step back inside. In awe, I realize I have been given an example of Tao in action, of ALL. This is how to complete a task, how to give all to a situation, and then, only when truly done, to move on. In fighting as fiercely as they did, in not giving up, until there was no longer any reason to fight, then in grieving fully, the robins completed their task. Now new life can happen.

In Tao, in life, everything is meaningful. Everything is directed toward evolving. I take my experience seriously. I return to my inner circle of self, turn my camera inward again, and sitting in my calm mandala center, I go ever deeper. I understand more fully now what it means to take everything to its completion, to not hold back, to give my all. I am thankful for nature, once again showing me the way. I am thankful for Tao.

Give ALL. Always complete your intent, express fully, live fully, evolve.

In Tao,

NOTE: Excerpts are from Everyday Tao, by Deng Ming-Dao

Readers of Infinity: Are You Ready?

Allow the self to take time today for some inner anchoring. Allow time for taking stock of where you have recently been and where you are headed.

Are you in alignment with your inner knowing? Is your path cleared? Have you pared down to the basic necessities of life, simplified so that your way may be easily transited? Are you ready to embody your true self, your true journey, your true purpose? For that is what is available NOW.

The energy of change is here...

All beings have the opportunity, right now, at this moment, to travel on the energy of change. The waiting is over. The time has come and it is now. Ready to embrace it and ride it into the next millennium of you, the next millennium of truth, the next millennium of potential? Are you ready to embody all that you have prepared so long and hard for?

That’s all you have to determine today: Are you ready to fully commit to the next adventure?

It’s up to you to choose where you go next in life, and remember, whatever you choose will be provocative and transformative. Life itself will not stop changing. This is the energy you have been waiting for. It is ready to take you on a new journey.

Again: Are you ready? The real choice is, are you choosing to go with awareness, embodying this energy, or are you going to wither at its intensity? Just remember: you are going anyway. Everyone is. It is the energy of now and there is no stopping it.

The choice is to make it matter, to take advantage of it and do what you’ve always longed to do. This is the kind of energy that will support your spirit. But just how that support arrives is unknown. Whatever unfolds, however, will be some of the most meaningful events in your lives.

Angels offering transformation come in many forms.

As mentioned: this is what you’ve been waiting for. Take the ride with awareness, choosing openness and awe, or be dragged into it kicking and screaming—your choice. Either way, you’ll get what you need to transform.

This is the energy of angels of goodness and spiritual transformation.

Thank you, Infinity! Looking forward to it. It sounds very positive! Channeled with love by Jan.

Chuck’s Place: Freedom From The Predator’s Grip

If we face it squarely, the fate of the world today hinges on the balance of who can raise the most campaign finance funds to better entrance the electorate in its favor. It’s truly a sporting event; the competitive driver dominating America, and consequently the world. How dissociated could this daily dynamic be from the true needs and true reality of the precariousness of the world’s survival? What kind of mentality seeks the brink of destruction to gain the competitive advantage?

We are all in the grip of the predator...

When the shamans say we are completely at the mercy of “the foreign installation,” this is what they are talking about. A world mentality in the grip of a predator. That predator cares only for its own gluttonous appetite. It cares nothing for the true needs of the human animal, the human race, the human planet. All it seeks is more gluttony, more to feed its own insatiable appetite, and we are all collectively and personally held in its grip.

We see this collective reality nanosecond by nanosecond in our rapidly communicating world wide web—a web expressing its own gluttonous desire for more; more speed, more rapid response—far outpacing the human nervous system, compromising our human biological balance. The hunger for more and for new is insatiable. But is it truly human? Where is the human in this? Answer: The human is held in the predator’s grip.

In Carlos Castaneda’s journey in infinity, he encountered a young girl caught in the predator’s grip. His heart went out to her and he gave all of his energy trying to free her. The predator had wisely tricked him, found his weak spot, drained him of his energy, and now held Carlos Castaneda in his grip as well.

Who is that young girl that so captivated Castaneda? She is us, all of us, our human self held in bondage by the predators’ mind, that foreign installation that the shamans speak of. Last week I illustrated this dynamic in Barking Meditation. The predator’s mind is the mind that spins the drama, spins our emotions, and drains our vital energy. We are all prey to the machinations of what the Buddhists call the monkey mind, another name for the foreign installation, that doesn’t give a hoot about our true needs or the true reality of our human animal. It’s no different than the daily world spin we are fed to agitate us, hypnotize us, and funnel our energy and funds in this or that direction.

We are all victims—even Chuck could not avoid the predatory poison ivy! *

How do we defeat this predator? How do we free ourselves? Here are some hints:

1. Mindfulness Meditation. Learn to take awareness away from the predatory mind, refuse its tales of worry and woe. Keep awareness present on now, on the body, on the truth of the heart, on what is truly real.

2. Suspend Judgment. The predatory mind’s greatest hook is judgment: Good or Bad. It structures our lives, our feelings, and our actions around judging ourselves as good, bad, worthy, unworthy, lovable, unlovable, lucky, unlucky, etc., etc. Once the judgments set in, they generate the feelings that stir up our energy, which gets sucked from us throughout the day and throughout our lives.

No judgment! No blame! Only facts and truth matter! Facts and truth generate right action and freedom. Judgment binds us in its sticky web, a web from which we may never escape.

3. We Are All Victims. Accept that we are all, in our true humanness, victims of the predator’s grip. We are all the innocent young girl of Carlos Castaneda’s journey. But let’s learn from Castaneda’s mistake. If we allow ourselves to be consumed by the sadness, despondency, and hopelessness of the little girl in her captive state, we, like Castaneda, will lose all our energy and be rendered helpless victims, caught eternally in the predator’s grip.

4. Use Our Awareness. We must acknowledge the truth of our bondage, but guard our energy to free ourselves. We do have awareness, an awareness that the predator goes after but can’t fully consume. However weakened, however impoverished we become, we must garner our awareness to not attach to the machinations of the mind and all its false apocalypses. Instead, we must use our awareness to calm ourselves in mindfulness and instead engage in Awe: awe of the majesty of pure being. This is a path to freedom.

We must use our awareness to free ourselves from judgment to arrive at truth and right action. We must avoid identifying with the desperation of our captivated selves. We, as beings of awareness, are the beacons of hope, our one advantage over the predator. Let us not squander our energy on self-pity. Identifying with the true pain of the victim is not freeing, it’s draining. Acting on behalf of the truth of our victim state, through a process like recapitulation, is the road to freedom.

Keep Practicing...

In conclusion, mindfulness and suspending judgment are the weapons to truly freeing our innocence. Facing the truth of our bondage, with awareness, and taking action on our own behalf allows us to finally take back our true humanness from the gluttonous grip of the predator.

To free our innocence and reach a state of awe, to finally experience the majesty of pure being, takes practice. Practice often, now and every day. Forgive the self of everything.

Rescue is imminent!

Stalking beyond the predator’s grip,

* See also Jan’s recent blog re: poison ivy as mindfulness practice!

A Day in a Life: Contemplating A Most Challenging Scenario

Death is a twirl; death is a shiny cloud over the horizon; death is me talking to you; death is you and your writing pad; death is nothing. Nothing! It is here, yet it isn’t here at all.” *

What would I do if my parachute didn't open?

I ponder something I read in the local paper recently. A man went skydiving to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday. Strapped to his instructor, he had never jumped out of an airplane before. They jump and begin the free fall. As the instructor pulls the gear that will release the parachute that will bring them safely to the ground, he is knocked unconscious, struck in the head by part of the gear it is surmised. The chute does not open. The two men, strapped together—the unconscious instructor and the novice—plummet to the ground, the twisted parachute totally useless, while the rest of their party, floating in the air around them, watches helplessly. They both die.

I feel deeply for the families of these men who died, for the rest of their group, devastated by this tragedy, and yet I cannot help but think about death as I contemplate this scenario. As the shamans are fond of saying, we are all beings who are going to die. If I know that I can die at any moment, don’t I want to be prepared, aware at all times that death is constantly stalking me?

I experience the shock of tragedy as I read of these deaths. I feel the pain of facing death in this manner, a most challenging scenario. And yet, I know it is really no different than any other death. In the scenario that I describe, the novice is with an expert and yet suddenly, at a most critical moment, the instructor, the expert, is suddenly unavailable. The expert is unconscious, the novice alert, yet he has no recourse. Death is certain. The novice, left on his own, must face his death. Yet, in the end, I must face that it will be the same for all of us. Whether our death is sudden and violent, whether it is slow and painful, or calm, coming in our sleep, we will all have to face our death alone.

I shift my thoughts to the teachings of the Shamans and the Buddhists, who spend their lives preparing for death. We can elect to spend our lives in avoidance of death, in worry of death, in fear of death, or we can spend our lives in acceptance of and preparation for death, not in a morbid way, but with awareness of its inevitability and its evolutionary potential. This is what the Shamans and Buddhists do. They understand the role of the instructor and the novice, the aware self constantly training the novice self, in waking life, sleeping and dreaming life, at all times learning how to remain aware no matter what scenario they find themselves in. They know that at some point there is always the possibility that the instructor will become unconscious and the awareness of the alert novice must take over and carry them through.

When one has nothing to lose, one becomes courageous. We are timid only when there is something we can cling to.” **

I wonder. Perhaps these two men had prepared themselves well. Strangers though they were, perhaps they came together that day fully aware that they would die together. The reality is, that’s just what happened, they died together. Did they know? Now I must turn and ask myself: Am I preparing for my death every day, with awareness? Am I doing enough, saying enough, living and dreaming life to the fullest?

If life is indeed illusion, if this world as we perceive it, does not really exist—as the Shamans and the Buddhists, as the metaphysical thinkers, mystics, and quantum physicists alike declare—can I work to free my attachment from it more fully? Can I detach from this world that I live in, while simultaneously fully using it to train my awareness to be alert at all times?

Detachment, as I understand it, is not a negation, dismissal, or refusal to fully live life in this world, but a total living with awareness, keenly aware of the illusion, while taking full advantage of every moment to learn what that really means. Detachment is being curious, open, thoughtful, unafraid of that which is different or makes us uncomfortable, like contemplating death everyday. If death, as don Juan Matus explains to Carlos Castaneda in the quote I use to open this blog today, is nothing but part of the grand illusion, then death is now. As illusion, “it is here, yet it isn’t here at all,” as he states.

Will my parachute open today?

This idea is quite challenging, but if all that we perceive is illusion, then so is death. Death asks us to contemplate the self as nothing more than a novice skydiver, come to take the leap. Life asks the same of us, for we are all spinning and twirling to our deaths all the time. Are we aware of this?

I ask myself: Can I prepare myself to greet the inevitable, so that when I am in the same predicament as the man who dared to skydive, facing my own death, I will remain fully aware that I am leaving one illusion and about to enter another, even as the solid ground of this earth-time illusion comes rushing up from below to meet me with its solidity?

There really is nothing to cling to.

Contemplating the grand illusion I find myself in today,

*/** Both quotes are from A Separate Reality, as presented in The Wheel of Time, don Juan Matus talking to Carlos Castaneda.