Tag Archives: death as an advisor

Chuck’s Place: The Discipline of Awe

Find the pot of gold in every dream…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Suspend judgment, and entertain this dream, the current consensus reality, with the Discipline of Awe:*

An incredibly aggressive, take no prisoners energy, has swept control of world leadership. Mightily, it rests the validity of its case upon the strength of its heated economy, the ultimate defense against want and need.

Meanwhile, the Earth heats up, as the oceans rise and the lands tremble. Denial is the proffered tool of this new consensus reality, promised to stave off all disruptions to normal life. Can that really work?

Enter stage East, the coronavirus, in the home of the heart of world manufacturing. Could a tiny virus seriously challenge the very financial  order that upholds world leadership? Will aggression, denial, and science be able to circumvent collapse? What’s going to happen next?!!!!

The greatest defense against anxious infection from the dream we are in, our current consensus reality, is to rest upon the perch of Awe, which for shamans is the very definition of discipline. Awe is the calmness of Buddha, as he faced, without resistance, but also without attachment, all the extreme dreams of Maya, as they presented themselves to him.

The potential trapping generated by the dream of current reality lies in how powerfully it invites fear and offense. As soon as one succumbs to those emotions they lose their edge. To spend one’s emotional energy in bursts of extremes actually feeds the consensus reality of that dream, a dream dependent upon the energy of both unbridled and tortured emotion.

Yes, the dream we are in now may be experienced as utterly ruthless. Yet, as monstrous as that dream interpretation might be, the current dream’s medicinal value lies in its ability to test us; to drive us to greater awareness, if we refuse to relinquish our emotional energy to it.

Of course, this lands one in a lonely, inadequate position. Because, if one separates oneself from the tenets of the dream—the consensus reality it constructs—one is excommunicated from the safety of the party line. One is sentenced to think for oneself; an overwhelmingly lonely and fragile task.

It’s not that one loses one’s connection to emotion through the discipline of awe, but one does lay claim to one’s emotional self. One is no longer a victim of the formula that siphons one’s energy, but instead becomes totally responsible for one’s own energy.

For example, when we watch a movie, we suspend judgment and temporarily enter the consensus reality of the story. While watching the movie, we will likely have the emotions prescribed by the archetypal theme being dramatized. However, generally, soon after we leave the movie, we are restored to our familiar selves, detached from the characters or emotions of the movie. We reclaim our emotional autonomy and reaffirm our interpretation of reality.

To take possession of one’s emotional self is to have one’s emotions, without subscribing to upholding the reality being presented. In this respect, one exercises one’s ability to have a romance with emotion, without attaching to the dream or story as my agreed-upon reality.

By grabbing onto one’s personal intent, one is freed from the framework and limitations ‘imposed’ by the consensus dream. With intent, one is freed to respectfully change dreams. This is in no way a denial of the consensus dream; it remains quite real. However, it is experienced as only one of many alternatives. There are other consensual realities to join, or perhaps just visit, as a warrior-traveler, embarked upon the definitive journey of freedom.

To remain fully in this consensus dream, the current reality, but to refuse an interpretation of it that renders one a depleted victim, is a form of changing dreams. To see its predatory dominance as an expression of the true condition of life, one that can be used to sharpen awareness by getting over self-importance, transforms the dream into an evolutionary opportunity.

One does not have to agree to attach to a glum interpretation of this consensus dream either; that’s the true course of freedom. That’s the real revolution:  to refuse to be a victim of the consensus dream; to not attach and to not allow one’s emotional energy to be offended, thus sinking into a hopeless interpretation of reality.

The shift beyond this consensus dream is aided by using death as an advisorIndeed, it is the ultimate shamanic maneuverIn the Tensegrity workshops I attended for many years, every speaker would introduce themselves by stating their name, followed by the qualifier, “…a being who is going to die.”

I have to admit that my own self-importance interfered with my being able to mimic this style of introduction. I never could do it; it seemed rather trite and morbid. However, like all things those shamans did, there was a truly pragmatic value to this ritual.

For one thing, shamans state their names to affirm their full presence in the reality or particular dream they are currently embodying. Secondly, when they remind themselves of their impending deaths, they are accessing being present to this living moment from the perspective of a dying being, a being who is transitioning into a new reality, seeing the ultimate relativity of the dream they are exiting.

From that perspective of relativity they are freed from an all-consuming attachment to present reality; as it is seen as just a moment—albeit significant, as all moments are—unfolding into the greater unfolding of oncoming time, that which is infinity and beyond! Such an encounter with infinity borrows a perspective from beyond this dream that tempers the emotional energy expended in holding onto, or compulsively needing to change, the outcome of the present dream.

Present reality is merely a dream that exists, with equanimity, among an infinity of dreams, all of which offer golden nuggets of awareness. Exploit the current opportunity to the fullest, regardless of outcome. Defeat and conquest are meaningless outcomes next to an infinity of dreams waiting to be lived.

With this expanded perspective, we’ve come full circle, back to awe, the coveted position from which to truly resume, unfettered, our magical journey, appreciative of all the gifts from our many, rich and colorful dreams.

beingINTENT upon AWE,

Chuck

*As with all my blogs, my ideas presented here are deeply influenced by my experience and appreciation for the path of heart Carlos Castaneda gifted the world.

Chuck’s Place: It’s Time for Ego Refinement

Energy in action…
– Detail of Artwork by Jan Ketchel

We live in the most stupendous of times for ego development. From the moment we awaken each day we are barraged with outer world events, bodily needs, and an internal dialog which all clamor for our attention. Attention is where we employ our vital energy. Ego must decide in rapid succession how it will spend this vital energy.

Will our decisions enhance or deplete our energetic reserves? Will our decisions be in alignment with the state of our body? Will our decisions channel the deeper calling of our spirit? These are examples of the myriad of decisions the ego must make in our hyper, fast-paced, rapidly shifting modern world.

Ego has gotten a bad rap. This is largely because it is associated with enhancing one’s self-importance and outer-world possessions to the detriment of others, as well as to the detriment of the spirit. Indeed, ego can decide to employ the vital energy of the body and the spiritual self to its own aggrandizement.

In fact, perhaps the most exaggerated example of this attitude confronts us daily in the governance currently in power of our world. We all must face the real possibility of nuclear holocaust in the hands of such leadership, but here also lies the very heart of opportunity for the moment we live in.

We must all choose whether to spend our energy worrying about this fact, and this is an ego decision, or not. True, we must acknowledge the threat to our survival, the existential anxiety of pending destruction and disintegration, for not to do so would be to dissociate from our animal knowing of the real and present danger to our existence.

However, as the shamans discovered long ago, death is our greatest advisor. Knowing that we are beings who are going to die is our greatest support to stay awake and take full advantage of the opportunities of life in this dimension. The ego must decide what to do with this information.

The ego can employ the classic defense of denial and go about daily life as if nothing is different, all is predictable and unfolding as it should. Modern events, however, are really rattling this defense.

The ego could become concretely opportunistic, gobbling up power and wealth to enjoy its time here in material abundance, paying little heed to the side effects of its choices. Nature is dramatically confronting this attitude right now.

The ego might alternatively choose to face reality and attend to the impact of its animal knowing on its central nervous system through a variety of meditative and breathing practices.

Further, ego might turn its attention inward to the subtler energies of its spirit. These are the energies of manifestation, these are the energies of intent. These are the energetic pathways open to the evolving human. We all may glimpse them in the magical occurrences that frequently follow shortly after the loss of a loved one when, in heightened awareness, we are opened to the energetic possibilities of quantum connection.

Ego turning its attention materially toward outer control and accumulation are Old World technologies. It is obvious that from an evolutionary standpoint they are not favored. Don’t be fooled by the current last stand of the worst of these practices, they need to have their last dance.

We are being prompted now to discover life at a deeper energetic level. This entails tuning into the subtle energies of synchronicity and serendipity where the ego is presented with feedback and energetic possibilities that can guide life into truly sustainable evolutionary directions.

These are the amazing opportunities for ego refinement in our current volatile times. We are evolving into a  New World of energy as well as a world of concrete objects, a far more expansive world, with a wise ego at the helm.

In refinement,

Chuck

A blog by Chuck Ketchel, LCSW-R

Chuck’s Place: Finding the Way Back Home

I don’t often encounter depressed feelings, but by Monday of this past week I was laden with the weight of the futility of the national political civil war. I’d been in the world too long; I needed to find my way home.

Whenever I connect to the moment, that final moment of life in the body, feeling my energy body separate and lift for the last time from my physical body, I am treated to such a different perspective. All that seemed so important, worth fighting for but a moment ago, becomes actually light and even humorous. The relativity, the transitoriness of all that was once held so dear, melts into a glow of loving compassion. All that matters really, for all of us, is the infinite journey and what comes next.

As I struggled Monday to find my way home, to the perspective of this final moment, I turned to my old trusty friend, the I Ching, for counsel. The I Ching tells me I’ve been treading on the tail of the tiger. Fortunately, this tiger is so caught off guard; it bites not and heads for the hills!

Path of Heart

The tiger symbolizes wild, intractable people—the kind I wrote about in last week’s blog, those currently energized with evil energy. I broke my vow of detachment and ventured into that energy field. It didn’t bite back, but its negativity caught me unaware. It’s a world of ego gamesmanship, a world that separates me from my spirit. Without my spirit, even for a day, I feel like I could die! I have no interest in dying, but in my innocence I strayed. This, according to the I Ching, is not correct conduct: walking can be carefree, but ought not be naive.

The I Ching suggests I return to the calm and level way of the lonely sage. “He remains withdrawn from the bustle of life, seeks nothing, asks nothing of anyone, and is not dazzled by enticing goals.” —Wilhelm translation.

This is coming home: the egoless clarity of the moment of death. Finally, I am counseled to look where I walk, to look into what will be favorable and turn toward it to find great fortune. In essence, to turn toward what makes me happy, for that is the right path. For me, this is alignment with that final moment of separation: a path of heart, the warrior’s path, a being who is going to die.

When it comes to finding the way back home, turn toward that which truly makes you happy. Here you will find your path, a path of heart; follow your bliss.

From home,
Chuck

Back in 1969 Blind Faith’s Can’t Find My Way Home resonated with my spirit. Check out this early video and then in 2007 Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton got together and sang it again.

Can\'t Find My Way Home—1969
Can\'t Find My Way Home—2007

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