Tag Archives: detachment

Chuck’s Place: Yesterday’s Last Stand

Heading into the future of a bright new day…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

My Spirit informs me every morning that yesterday is a past life. Deeply appreciative of that life lived, now is the time to pay it forward by meeting new life without attachment. Attachment is actually an emotional investment in an outcome.

There is a governor’s race of significance happening in Virginia on the day this blog is published. I believe I know what winner would represent the better outcome for being in the Tao. I voted, yet intend to have no attachment to the outcome.

The challenge is to achieve equanimity. The shamans of ancient Mexico taught that to truly be open to what infinity presents we must be free of expectation and prejudice. They discovered that the best training ground for that level of receptive attitude was in one’s encounters with the petty tyrants of this world.

A petty tyrant disregards all the rules. A petty tyrant has no consideration for the needs of others. A petty tyrant uses and abuses to satisfy their own selfish needs.

When we encounter petty tyrants we may be deeply hurt and offended by their actions. Ironically, this helps us, as we are shown where our egos have become personally attached and identified with the actions of others. Our emotions flare, as we are thrown off balance, and are drained of our energetic reserves. Our egos become deeply offended, requiring palliative care.

Sidelined by deflation, negativity pours in and we become slaves to our wounded feelings. The shamans recommend that we refine our egos by releasing all attachment to expectations of fairness and the consequent reactive emotions.

Ego, freed of these attachments, becomes a highly tuned unit of navigation, capable of adjusting to anything it encounters. It needn’t spend any of its vital energy defending its self-importance. The refined ego identifies fully with the values and intents of its Spirit, and adapts itself to what is possible, in any given situation.

Thus, if ‘the other guy’ wins the election, the ego will waste no time feeling sad, frightened or angry. If ‘the right guy’ wins the election, the ego will not indulge in feeling happy or hopeful. Equanimity imposes no judgment upon what is. Equanimity says: suspend judgment, await guidance from Spirit as to the next right action.

At the soul level of being—that is, life beyond the physical dimension—it is evident that powerful influences are engaged in the current struggle upon this Earth. As evenly divided as the legislatures of this world are, so are the positive and negative energies impacting this world. We are all engaged in a multi-dimensional dance between the forces of good and evil, no matter how attached or detached we are.

The I Ching frames this as the time of Coming to Meet (Hexagram #44). We are warned of the danger of such powerful clashes. Nonetheless, if we use such encounters as opportunities for shedding the heaviness of self-importance, we advance in spiritual lightness.

Spiritual lightness is our evolutionary destiny now, as we release yesterday’s attachment to material obsession and ego importance. This lightness of being allows us to be supremely in the Tao, now, irrespective of the world’s dance. We simply go with the flow, with abandon.

The most oppressive petty tyrants we face reveal themselves in our own inner prejudices. Ironically, they are also our greatest blindspots. We tend too quickly to project them upon the many tyrants of the outside world.

Nonetheless, if we track and examine our passionate emotions we are sure to be led to inner attachments, those attitudes that resist the new life of each new day.

As we are all holograms of our subtler interconnectedness, know that all personal progress in detachment advances our greater whole along its evolutionary path.  Appreciate, as well, those who so tightly cling to yesterday. Yesterday’s last stand is but the prelude to today’s unfolding.

Going with the flow,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Day of Equanimity

This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness… an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond. (Rumi)

Greet each day with equanimity…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Today will determine the future direction of the world. A polarized electorate officially decides who will govern the country. Clarity may come at once, or take several weeks to determine. The significance of the outcome has taken center stage in the lives of many world citizens.

Equanimity is the ability to remain composed, no matter what fate befalls a person. In Buddhist terms, it means to not attach to an outcome such that one loses composure if one’s preference does not manifest. Full acceptance of what is is the challenge.

In shamanic terms, the challenge is to be impeccable in stating and supporting one’s intent, but equally to have no attachment as to whether or not it manifests. When Jeanne and I took the alternative cancer journey, our sole concern was to impeccably follow the signs that guided us. When it became evident that she would be leaving this world we marveled at the journey we’d taken. Success and failure are an equal set of opposites in the shaman’s world. Regardless of outcome one continues to travel one’s path of heart, without skipping a beat.

Polishing one’s link to equanimity is perhaps the major offering of life in Earth School. Earth is a world that requires attachment to survive, yet insists upon loss of everything at death. To open to love while knowing its temporal limits in human form, is the shadow over every human relationship. To retain one’s love in pure spirit form, as one leaps freely into infinity, is the true graduation from Earth School.

The seeds of reincarnation, or limbo, are one’s non-readiness to allow for what is: the relativity of human form in a physical world. To remain in the illusion that nothing has changed is the consequence of unrelenting attachment to all things physical. Indeed, “what a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties… the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals…” (lyrics from Hair). In one form or another, wherever we are, we will remain bound to this world until we arrive at equanimity, the attitudinal ticket to life beyond the body.

Days like today offer the opportunity to get deeply calm and connected to the transcendent dimension of life. Ego is the part of spirit most attached to control in the physical world. Ego has its wants, needs, and expectations. Ego rises in success and sinks in failure. Ego is frequently alienated from its fuller transcendent self and thus invests fully in measuring its worth by its standing in the outside world.

The transcendent self views all experiences of victimhood as opportunities for ego to be in acceptance of all that is, or has been, another definition of equanimity. An ego that has achieved this level of fluidity experiences the constancy of awe, regardless of experience.

Of course, one will have one’s very human reaction to today’s outcome. But, whether it be joy or sorrow, release it in the next exhalation. With equanimity, remain connected to one’s transcendent self, sharing with it this moment in time but being lifted by it to the fuller multidimensionality of life as well.

Finally, let love, the heart of the transcendent self, deliver one to the fullest acceptance of all that life is, with equanimity.

With Equanimity,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Unbending Detachment

Look to the skies for guidance on how to remain detached and yet fully energetically connected!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The key to actualizing our human potential is energy. If you have enough energy you can do just about anything. Recognizing the value of conserving and retrieving energy, shamans discovered that the human being’s most lethal energy drain is offense.  Being offended, by anything and everything, costs humans the lion’s share of their vital energy.

When we feel offended by the words and deeds of others we have emotional reactions, like anger, fear, and resentment that tax the central nervous system. We lose our balance, as we become emotionally charged, seeking relief in some kind of action. Often, obsessive thinking continues to replay the offense, which sustains and feeds this state of emotional tension.

Is it possible to have an objective reaction to another’s offensive behavior without being personally offended? Yes, through gaining conscious control of our instinctive emotional reactions and deciding, on the mental plane, to not be offended by the behavior of others, regardless of how ruthless it might be.

Who could forget Robert De Niro’s “Are you talking to me?” in the movie Taxi Driver? Instinctively, we feel the growing tension of his mounting anger, as he incessantly repeats this famous line. Truthfully, many are drawn to such unabashed expressions of rage and contempt, which vicariously satisfies our own unexpressed rage and resentment.

Now, if Robert De Niro had simply walked away, the movie would have flopped. On the other hand, if we want to start saving our vital energy, we must be willing to let go of the many dramas our internal dialogue ignites through its constant interpretation of offense, throughout our everyday lives.

This is not to say that there is not significant horrific behavior that must be addressed. At issue is the subjective state of offense that accompanies one’s reactions to those behaviors. One can assess a situation and decide upon a course of action, unencumbered by emotional reaction. In fact, this is a core teaching of all martial arts.

When one becomes emotionally offended by an opponent’s move, one loses one’s edge, fights poorly, and generally loses. As in shamanism, in the martial arts the key to success is to not become attached —offended— by one’s opponent’s behavior. The objective is to stay present to what is and completely conserve one’s energy in order to be fully engaged in one’s most efficient counter response.

In fact, when one becomes offended one actually gifts the opponent one’s own energy. Offense can lead to hopelessness, powerlessness, and surrender, as one’s vital energy reserves become depleted. Bullying behavior is actually a strategy to catch one’s opponent in the net of offense, weakening their game. Muhammed Ali was a striking example of such tactical behavior leading up to a fight, as he would mercilessly insult and demean his opponents.

Instinctive reactions can be, and often are, life saving. What we take as an instinctive reaction, however, is very frequently the ego’s decision to be offended, whereby calling forth the troops of passionate reactions to exact retribution, in some form. This is a hybrid, instinctive reaction that serves only the ego, not the true needs of the self.

Ego must learn to be a servant to the true needs of the whole self, rather than just its own self-aggrandizement. Even if the ego has been directly insulted, the ego must consider the energetic impact on its central nervous system, and its energy reserves, before determining its course of action.

If the ego faces the fact that we live in a world where life feeds upon life, it can come around to the fact that we live in a predatory universe and not get offended by it. Of course, this does not stop our need to defend ourselves, but how much stronger and more clearheaded we would be if we didn’t burden ourselves with being offended.

When the shamans speak of detachment, they are targeting what we typically judge to be offensive behavior. They promote inner silence to avoid offensive dramas when navigating oncoming time, to best be prepared to respond appropriately, with the least taxing of our energetic reserves. Inner silence entails quieting the mind, pulling into the heart center, and waiting patiently for the guidance that shows us how to act in a way that is truly right.

In addition, they recommend a thorough recapitulation of one’s relationships in life, particularly circumstances that left one feeling offended. Recapitulation frees one’s energy stored away in offense, but also frees one from being triggered by current circumstances that reflect one’s unresolved past.

The truth is that there are highly sadistic, abusive people who commit horrific acts. Recapitulation does not change this fact, but it does free one from draining one’s vital energy by being eternally offended by them. Detachment means accepting the truth of what was, and fully harnessing one’s freed energy to be redeployed in new life.

I send out the intent for unbending detachment, as we collectively advance our world into new life, beyond offense.

With Unbending Detachment,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Extraverted Meditation

Buddha sending out the right vibration…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

At first glance, the title, Extraverted Meditation, would appear to be a contradiction in terms. Typically, extraversion is understood as an individual’s dominant orientation to focus on the outside world, particularly as pertains to relationships and the opinions of others. In contrast, meditation is generally viewed as an introverted practice that deeply withdraws from the sensations and influences of the outer world.

In Jung’s time, when East truly began to meet West, particularly as regards spiritual practice, he warned that the extraverted orientation of the Western psyche was ill-suited for rapid wholesale adoption of Eastern meditation practices. Nonetheless, as he himself encountered the depths of the collective unconscious, in the visions and active imagination he documents in The Red Book, he practiced yogic asanas to ground his ego.

In fact, despite the almost total focus on the brain of modern Western psychological research, the bottomline focus and interventions prescribed by most Western therapists come straight out of Tibetan mindfulness and Yogic meditation practices.

These are the assignments given to ego to still the central nervous system into a state of calm. Nonetheless, the reigning mantra and New Year’s resolution from most people is, “I have to get back to my meditation.”

The power of outer world events, particularly in the time we are in, is impossible and perhaps inadvisable to fully screen from one’s attention. This, coupled with the dominant extraverted orientation of Western civilization, undermines the coveted but under-practiced aspiration to meditate. How can the Western psyche, perhaps even the world psyche, adapt the powerfully beneficial practice of meditation in the flux of such an unsettled outer world?

The key, as in all meditation, is to begin with focus on the body. If the goal of meditation is detachment from the ill effects of outer world sensory impressions upon the sanctity of the self, the body can be seen as the central registry of all sensory inputs.

All of our senses receive input through the physical body. Our thoughts, with their associated emotions, register in the body as well. Thus, active inner attention to the body in outer activity and interaction is a valid playing field for meditation.

Place the index finger of one hand upon the wrist of the other hand. Keep awareness upon the index finger experiencing the sensations within itself as it meets the solid boundary of the wrist. Notice the vibration of touch.

Shift awareness exclusively to the wrist. Notice its sensations of being touched. Feel the vibration of being touched. Alternate awareness slowly from toucher to touched. Now, allow these two distinct perspectives of touch to merge into a single vibratory union of touch, union of self.

Carry awareness of body into the world. Open to an image in the media. Notice its vibration; study its energy. Shift awareness to the body. Notice its impact upon the heart, upon the muscles, upon the breath. With awareness, restore the body’s organs to calm. Release all clenching; intend deep peace. Embrace the integrity of self in calm vibration.

Return gaze to the outer image, notice its vibration, its intent. Return awareness to the body. Notice any impact of image upon inner vibration. Restore the integrity of calm vibration. Repeat dual attention until outer image is completely neutralized, your inner vibration a steady flame.

Interact with the world. Notice the impact on the body in encounter with other. Use awareness to calm the heart, unclench the muscles, and silence the mind. The mind is silenced with awareness focused on body sensation, intended to calm.

Notice the words, the emotional intensity, the intent of the other. See the vibration of the other’s motive. Notice the inner impact of that vibration upon one’s body. Choose to maintain one’s inner vibration of calm. Use the breath to steady the body. Use intent to maintain inner calm, with attention given to where the body feels impacted. Dissolve into love of the oneness of everything.

These are some suggestions for extraverted meditation. Allow every moment, whether innerly or outerly focused, to become a meditative opportunity. Gradually expand the oneness of self with the oneness of everything. “Got to keep those vibrations, vibrations a happening to me…”

Good good good, good vibrations!

Chuck

Check out Brian Wilson’s live enhanced Good Vibrations from his album Smile. Notice the South African insert.

Chuck’s Place: The Currency of Attention

Sign of the times…

“Pay attention” is a frequently delivered command. Indeed, when we pay with our attention we deliver our energy to the object of our focus. Attention is a powerful energetic currency.

Notice, for instance, the impact on your personal energy when you tune into the news, or some form of social media. The impact can be either depleting or empowering. Either way, we spend our energy in our emotional reaction to the news. That expended energy is delivered, on a subtle level, to the person we are reacting to in the news.

Children, most dramatically, seek our attention. Child educators know that getting attention is the child’s goal, good or bad. Once the child has our attention, they thrive on the energy of our focus, as well as on our emotional reactions. Tantrums are energetic goldmines for the tantruming child.

Even inanimate objects can absorb our energy. A trip to a museum is a case in point. Though fascinating and educational, objects of art demand our attention and can deeply drain our energy. We could say that a sculpture at a museum is imbued with self-importance. Were it not so, it wouldn’t be on display. Be careful how much attention you give it!

Self-importance measures the quantity and quality of attention we are paid for being alive. The ego, as the orphaned ruler of the personality, seeks the attention of others to validate its worthiness. This extrinsic dependency is the consequence of the ego’s separation from its wholeness, at the time of birth into this world. A blank slate seeks the approval of others to find its worth.

Shamans have astutely addressed this energetic stalemate. The fragmentation from Spirit-self, that accompanies finite life in a physical world, has led to obsessive dependence upon the attention of others to replace one’s lost Spirit. This attention-seeking behavior is considered by shamans to be humankind’s greatest energy drain.

Shamans discovered that a shift in focus, like the social isolation the world is currently experiencing, can result in the accrual of vast sums of energy within the self. That energy, combined with the intent to reconnect to one’s Spirit, can result in a deeply healing, inner soul retrieval.

To be connected to the life of one’s Spirit is to become guided by omens, the synchronicities from infinity that guide and inform life; to be in the world but not of the world, at an attention-seeking level. Attention-seeking is then completely replaced by the pursuit of right action, the best decision to be made under the presenting circumstances.

To dance with omens is to feel constantly renewed by participation in a fuller life, one that includes one’s essence, at a cosmic level. Attention received is not attention sought, but it is attention provided to guide the way to right action.

Save the currency of your attention for that which truly guides you to your wholeness. This is the world we are morphing into, a world of interconnected oneness. Let’s attend to that!

Attending Spirit,

Chuck