Readers of Infinity: Rightful Balance

Here is the channeled message from Jeanne for this week. May it be helpful and guiding.

Life gives us all we need... Start from where you are... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Life gives us all we need…
Start from where you are…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Do not go overboard in any fashion, emotionally, physically, or otherwise. Do not let the vicissitudes of life overwhelm you. Take life in stride, for it comes that way, one moment at a time.

Life asks you all to pay attention to the truths behind the myths and stories you hear, behind the spins of other people’s lives.

Know that life will take you on your own journey, that it offers everything you personally need to become mature, compassionate, and loving. Not everyone will experience all that life offers, but everyone will experience enough.

Do not be sorrowful for loss of that which has been denied. Instead find your balance within the life you live. Make it good. Make it joyous. Make it truly worth it. For the life you are living is fully available, with all you need, to achieve all you desire in life.

Accept where you are. Begin anew from there. Rather than fight, acquiesce. But acquiesce with graciousness for life itself, knowing that you have everything you need.

You will not receive more than you can bear, nor will you be offered too much. But you may elect to bear too much or take too much and that is not rightful balance. Rightful balance means being in alignment with life, forging ahead with your dreams and your promises yet not succumbing to the vicissitudes and problems that arise, nor being too greedy for more.

Take life more firmly in hand and use it to your fullest advantage, in balance. Everyone has the same opportunity to fulfill their lives. Most people are not aware that they are in control; it is by choice and by decision that life is taken full advantage of.

In rightful balance is everything possible. Seek balance in all you do, speak, and think. Life gives you enough. Take full advantage of it in rightful balance.

Chuck’s Place: Following

Somewhere, inside us all, resides the sage... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Somewhere, inside us all, resides the sage…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The riddle of the sphinx questions: What has four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon and three in the evening. The answer, for those who haven’t solved it, is humankind. The full life cycle is crawling on all fours in childhood, walking on two legs in the afternoon of life, and ending the day—and a cycle of life—with a cane, the third leg of old age.

Buddha realized that the only way to transcend suffering was to accept and acquiesce to the full truth of this cycle. In my blog last week, the I Ching advised that to restore ourselves to the Tao, we must acquiesce to the requirements of each stage of the day, of the cycle of life, without trying to stretch and extend one part of the cycle into and at the expense of the next.

This week, I asked the I Ching how to achieve this balance when the needs of one part of the tripartite self of day, afternoon and evening infiltrates or takes control of the whole of life. From the hexagram of Following, #17, I get the following advice: “He follows the man of age and experience and lets the little boy go. He will find what he seeks.” -From the I Ching, p. 83, edition by Sam Reifler.

The guidance is blunt: Follow the lead of the sage, the old wise self; release the personality from the control of the demands of the child. The demands of the child are most appropriate to rule the first stage of life, childhood, but beyond that they only serve to confound the developmental process of maturity, so needed to meet the needs of the unfolding life cycle. Too often the needs of the child were ignored in childhood, which creates deficits, but these needs can only be addressed successfully by the more mature self that becomes the parent to the child self in adulthood. If the child’s demands continue to rule the personality beyond childhood, the developmental milestones needed to be reached to address the comprehensive needs of the self cannot be achieved and we stay fixated in childhood throughout the life cycle.

Even in the most horrific of circumstances, where childhood has been interrupted or denied, do we have access to the third leg of the tripartite self in the dreams of the night. In dreaming, the wise sage self leads us into worlds of developmental opportunity where the deepest needs of the chid and adult selves are experienced and addressed. To be available to this natural process, we must acquiesce to the night, releasing the light of day and opening to the rejuvenation of sleep.

Upon awakening, the energy, the mood, the realignment of the night offers itself to wakening awareness. As we move through the day, this sage self continues to guide us, alerting us to the synchronicities that resonate in daily life, that point the way to right action as we flow through the challenges of the day. We will indeed be confronted by the needs, fears, and desires of the child self, but the adult self, the noonday self, however compromised, always has access to its deeper sage self throughout the day. It is never alone, never without its needed guidance.

The challenge, the I Ching suggests, is to indeed follow the man of age and experience, the sage voice that guides, in an inner voice, in nightly dreams, and in the multitude of synchronicities that resonate each day.


A Day in a Life: In The Circle

Tao is everywhere, in everything... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Tao is everywhere, in everything…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Tao is circular. Tao is wholeness. Tao is returning always to Tao. But Tao is also instinctual, knowing when to leave the circle, when to step outside the self and interact in the world. Nature is Tao, but nature is sometimes violent, yet it is still Tao. In Tao, in nature, everything returns to balance and harmony after the necessary aggressive deed is done.

To be in the Tao is to learn to flow, but also to be alert. If we were hermits, living in a cave far from others, our daily lives would be quite different from the lives of people living in a busy metropolis. But even so, we would have to remain alert to what was going on around us. We would have to be in harmony with nature. Our existence would be dependent upon and pretty much ruled by our environment, yet we might not have to ever be aggressive in the way that worldly people often have to be aggressive.

Sometimes, Chuck and I have what we call “monastery days.” On such days, we stay calm. We stay in our house, on our property, or perhaps we take a quiet walk around the neighborhood. We eat simply. We meditate, read, and go inward. We stay in the Tao. We use such days to contrast the busyness of life, giving ourselves respite, as we sit at the center of the circle of Tao.

I used to be a runner. Not only did I run for exercise, but I tended to run all the time; up the stairs, down the stairs, to my car, from my car. I’d do everything at a fast pace, trotting along. I had a lot of energy, but I was also running from a lot of stuff back then too. Now I don’t do that as much. Sometimes when we walk, Chuck will put his hand on my arm. I know this means “slow down.” And then I notice that I was going too fast, right out of the Tao of the day, out of the Tao of us.

When I walk alone, I tend to walk faster than we do as a couple, but I know this is okay. When I am alone, I’m in my own Tao and it’s different from the Tao of Chuck and Jan as a couple. But being a couple means being flexible, not being overpowering or overpowered, but finding what works between the opposites, the middle ground—a great opportunity to practice what it means to be in Tao! It can be a struggle, but in the give and take of relationship one learns the lessons of give and take in all relationships, whether they are inner or outer.

Sometimes, as a couple, we are very calm and sometimes we are not. Sometimes, as a solo journeyer, I am very calm too, but I usually try to flow with where I am. I’ve worked hard to be aware of the energy around me, to read it and be in it. As I ask myself to be in the Tao of the day, I go within and check on where I am. I feel my own Tao and try to align it with the outer Tao, try to stay in synch. It can be another challenge, but it’s also another lesson in relationship, relationship to the world, other, and to self. Sometimes it’s appropriate to be in the calm Tao, sometimes it can get you in trouble if the Tao around you is moving at a hearty pace.

We can’t really separate ourselves. Even on our monastery days, Chuck and I know that we might be interrupted. It’s rare that we do not have something outside needing us, but we allow and flow with what comes. Our circle is sacred, but there is compassion and understanding in that circle, there is awareness of other, of world. To be in Tao is to be appropriate at all times.

The Tao of Me Sweater designed by me, knitted by Fanny on her machine, circa 1977 - Photo by Jan Ketchel
The Tao of Me
Sweater designed by me, knitted by Fanny on her machine, circa 1977
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Back in my twenties, I had a friend in Sweden who bought a knitting machine. It was a long contraption that she could string four different colors of yarn into and knit with. She made mittens, hats, scarves and sweaters and sold them at various boutiques and outdoor markets. Even though she knitted on a machine—cutting knitting time down to a minimum, considerably upping her production—her goods still had a handmade quality to them. She loved to knit by hand, but she needed to make a living, and so she chose to go outside of her normal world and become a little more commercial. It required an aggressive move on her part, but it worked. She ended up with a very successful business.

We shared a large studio together with five other artists of various skill sets, artisans, performers, and illustrators and painters alike, all of us doing our thing, commercial or otherwise. We existed for several years quite harmoniously in a bustling environment, all of us successful. It was very Tao. The energy of the time, of the people, of the place we inhabited all came together in alignment. But the perfect Tao of that time came to an end. At the same time that I decided to return to America, the lease was up. The landlord wanted the space for himself. Other people in the group had other opportunities coming in, offers to move on too. The knitter became a massage therapist. The signs were there that we could not hold together anymore.

That too is being in the Tao, knowing when it is time to disassemble, time to shift, time to move on, time to move deeper into the circle of self, or deeper into the Tao of the outer world. Tao is knowing when it is time to let go and then following through and actually letting go. Tao is never stagnant.

When we are young, the outer world is our learning environment. We must leave our secure world of family, our dependent childhood and the comforts of the known, and go into the outer Tao. We must experience the wholeness of Tao if we are to become whole ourselves. We must walk hand in hand with others and discover what it means to give and to take, in all the many different situations and relationships that we encounter as we go through life.

Even in our traumatic experiences we are learning something important about life and Tao. If Tao is everything then Tao is sadness, violence, hatred, anger, abuse, pettiness, ignorance, and meanness too. If we are to return to the circle of Tao from which we all come, we must bring our recapitulated, fully assimilated experiences with us, for they are part of our wholeness and they too belong in our Tao of Self. Tao of Self means having no secrets, every part acceptable.

As we go inward, our experiences of having been outward are our greatest guides. If we do not know what we carry in our “inner” world then we will never be in Tao. Likewise, if we do not know the “outer” world and how it works we will never be in Tao either. Our first job is to prepare ourselves for life, secondly to live fully in the Tao of who we are in the world, and thirdly to bring all of our experiences inward, creating a whole self. Then we are ready to sit in the center of the circle of Tao. Then, like the hermit in his cave, our relationship to Tao will be harmonious with nature, because we have fully understood it.

The I Ching offers us guidance in how to live in the Tao...
The I Ching offers us guidance in how to live in the Tao…

As we do our inner work and gradually allow ourselves to evolve, we enter into the wholeness of ever-evolving Tao, into the nature of all things in balance but in constant flux as well. If we can learn to be flexible—as Chuck asks me to be whenever he silently puts his hand on my arm, signaling that I am not in “our” Tao—we soon find that it’s easier to be flexible all the time. Tao is flexibility.

Tao is everything, and so we are always in it. But it’s up to each of us to become consciously aware of it, of how we are in relationship to it, to other, to our work, to our dreams. Our dreams are already there, waiting in the circle of Tao for us to find them.

Greetings from the Tao of me,

Readers of Infinity: Time For The Self

Here is Jeanne’s message for the week:

A cushion on the floor may be all it takes to establish sacred space... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
A cushion on the floor may be all it takes to establish sacred space…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

It is not necessary to be overly strict, to be held down too tightly by the reins of rules, processes, and dictum. Yet discipline is necessary in a spiritual practice or in simply instigating change.

In the beginning, use rules and well-deserved practices to gain footing, to learn how to do something new, but don’t forget to allow the Self, the deeper self, to be part of the process, especially whenever that deeper self begins to show signs of awakening. Rigidity may not be beneficial in the long run. After a while, fluidity in everything is more helpful as you evolve a spiritual practice, as you learn a new skill, as you bend your mind to accept new ideas.

If the world is to change then each one of you must change. And if each one of you is to change then you must challenge yourself to take a step forward, to move beyond the self you now are. It is time for all beings to open up to the greater flow of life and the energy that moves through you all. And so I challenge you all to begin a new practice that will open you in a new direction, a direction of your spirit.

Dance. Take a class. Take a walk. And then do it again. Read a book. Write a letter. Think a new thought. All of these simple things may be just what you need to open a door to a new self.

Once the door is open, the next challenge begins—to keep going! And that is where discipline comes in. Set some rules that you know are doable and then do them! Once you get into a rhythm, challenge the self to go deeper. Go to many classes. Take longer walks. Sit in silence for longer and longer. Read more; write more.

Let’s say that each morning you will meet the rising sun and set an intention for the day. Do it religiously for a month. Then add something else to your practice. Read from a meaningful book, something that inspires you. Take your reading with you into your day. Let it ruminate. Begin to see its significance. Let your thoughts flow through you without attachment. Begin to observe the self. You might notice changes, subtle at first, but gradually you will notice that they stick.

Allow the self time for the self each day. Begin with establishing that practice: time for the self. Make this time important, sacred, set, not to be missed. Make it ritual. Make it personally relevant.

Sacred time can then be brought into everything you do. Make your chores sacred time. Make your work sacred time. Make your routines sacred time. Just be where you are, comfortably present.

Begin to observe the self as you allow sacredness to enter your life. I speak of personal sacredness, meaningful to you in your modern life, in anything and everything you do.

If you change life, life will change you! Try it!

Chuck’s Place: Project Inward

From Deng Ming-Dao's Everyday Tao, Living With Balance and Harmony...
From Deng Ming-Dao’s Everyday Tao,
Living With Balance and Harmony…

Perhaps Jung’s favorite story was Richard Wilhelm’s “rainmaker” experience. While in China, Wilhelm—who translated the I Ching—visited a province that had suffered a long drought. Nothing that was done brought rain. Finally, an old Taoist man, known as the rainmaker, was brought in from a faraway province to break the spell. After sitting alone in a hut for three days, it began to rain. When Wilhelm inquired of the old man what he had done to make it rain, the old man said that when he’d arrived he was immediately infected by the disorder of the place and so he had to sit in seclusion until he restored himself to the Tao, to the order of nature. In so doing, the Tao of nature around him was likewise restored, and then it naturally rained.

Look what happens when a Catholic Pope sits in his own quiet meditation. This rainmaker emerges to proclaim that his church has been too “obsessed” with gays, abortion, and contraception. Let’s see how one person’s revelation contributes to realigning with the Tao.

The physicist David Bohm used the holographic metaphor to illustrate the true nature of quantum reality: every particle of the whole has within it the entire whole. Within every person is the entire universe. If we restore ourselves to the Tao, the universe restores itself to the Tao as well.

If we look outwardly, at the macrocosm, we can’t help but see a world of great imbalance. Traditionally, America has projected its shadow self elsewhere in the world and marshaled the troops to subdue the terrorist “out there.” With Syria, the world drew a line. Putin suggested that it’s time for America to get off its exceptionalist kick and face its own shadow. This week, once again, we experienced another mass shooting at home. Indeed, that “shadow” is very active in our homeland. It’s time for us, nationally, to own our shadow, just as, internationally, all are charged with facing the terrorist within themselves as well.

A Buddhist Master, Heng Ch’au,* states: “Other’s faults are just your own—Being one with everyone is called great compassion.”

The essence of true compassion without is acceptance of one’s own inner darkness. From the holographic perspective we are all the terrorist and the victim alike. From the Taoist wisdom, if but one of us can face the truth of our own shadow’s play in our lives then we are in a position to align ourselves with the Tao, with the truth, with the universe—and all is righted.

Harvest Time... in Tao everything is acceptable, life and death, beginnings and endings and all that comes in between... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Harvest Time… in Tao everything is acceptable, life and death, beginnings and endings and all that comes in between…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

In the microcosm of the universe within each of us lies the disorder and imbalance that we see in our world without. What is needed is that we suspend judgment and accept the full truth of the attitudes and beliefs that dominate and control our lives.

What impulses within cry for life, yet are held in check by restrictive, fearful, judgmental attitudes? What deep needs are being disavowed, calling for a terrorist overthrow within to right the extreme imbalance of self? What regrets, resentments, bitternesses, hatreds and angers do we harbor in refusal to accept the truth of our own deepest secrets, deepest truths, and deepest disavowed selves? If we can face these mighty truths, fears and imbalances within, in full acceptance, then we arrive at the compassion to restore the Tao within, and vastly right the Tao without.

To project inward is to take responsibility for our holographic selves, to truly take responsibility for our interdependent wholeness.

Sign up for Project Inward!

From within the hologram,

P. S.: After I had completed this blog, I posed the following question to the I Ching: How do we restore the Tao? I received the answer in Hexagram #30 Fire, with moving lines in the first, second and third places. The resulting future is Hexagram #4, Youthful Folly.

Fire attains duration by not overshooting its bounds; it burns in proportion to the wood that fuels it. Wood is yin, the darkness. The flame that illuminates is yang. Together yin and yang work in perfect harmony to produce the light of consciousness and the warmth of security. Such is the path to Tao that the I Ching proposes for now, for the individual, the nation, and the universe.

Wednesday evening's Harvest Moon rising over the neighborhood... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Wednesday evening’s Harvest Moon rising over the neighborhood…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The reading goes on to highlight the first three lines of the hexagram, offering pragmatic counsel for morning, noon, and night that together complete the full cycle of a day, of a life, of an era.

The early morning is the time before ego arises, before world is formed. It is the time for communion with spirit. We awaken with dreams and impressions from our deeper selves. When the spark of consciousness awakens, arise. Ever so gently sit with the messages that came in the night; write them, contemplate them, sing them, draw them. These are the seeds of spirit for the day. Open a meaningful book, or any book, at random. The message you need will appear. Contemplate it. Engage in breathing, candle meditation, yoga, or any spiritual practice that suits your predilection. Take full advantage of the time before the demands of the day kick in. It’s the best time for direct spirit connection.

The midday sun is the height of power. The sun achieves this brilliance because it does not deviate from its path. It does not seek to go beyond itself, and it graciously begins its descent from the zenith. We are advised to align our ego selves with the true needs of our body and spirit selves. Perhaps this means not altering our body chemistry with another cup of coffee to forego our tiredness or push beyond our exhaustion and mental capacity to achieve some ego ideal not suited to the true needs of the self. The operative words here are modesty and balance, as we carry ourselves through the day.

As evening sets in the I Ching warns that we not attempt to extend the day with ecstatic exuberance, be it with substance or entertainment that deprive us of the replenishment needed to be freshly reborn the next day. The I Ching, as well, warns not to slip into melancholy and regret for tasks not accomplished or life not lived during the day. Time instead to prepare for sleep and its journeys, the journeys that hold the seeds of the morrow.

Innocence in Tao... is Tao... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Innocence in Tao… is Tao…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The accompanying future hexagram, Youthful Folly, is the right attitude for us to take forward as we go through our full cycle days and lives. Folly, in youth, is appropriate. It is innocence that approaches new life with curiosity and excitement. Its teacher is life itself, the reactions of the Tao to a being discovering new life without judgment. This is how we should always live our lives, in alignment with life itself. There will be lessons, hard lessons, as life moves in new directions, but there will also be new life as the Tao responds to youthful folly. Let the games begin!

* Buddhist quote from C. G. Jung’s Psychology of Religion And Synchronicity, p. 197