Tag Archives: impermanence

Soulbyte for Wednesday September 11, 2019

Grant yourself permission to know more than you think you know, to intuit that which is unknown, to allow what you truly feel to come to the fore, the truth within you. Long not for the impossible but accept the possible, that which is inescapable, that which has come to you, that which you meet face to face. And yet remain always open to another possibility, for that which you attach to is only temporary. All things change, and they can change very rapidly, in an instant. Let that be in your knowing today too, as you strive to know what it is that you are supposed to learn on this day. This day matters as much as the next. Don’t lose its specialness in waiting for something else but embrace it for the gifts it brings. Know that they are indeed yours; in this moment.

Sending you love,

The Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne

Chuck’s Place: Love In Impermanence

We search for love in the solid... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
We search for love in the solid…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Someone shared with me, rather uncomfortably, a dream that they’d had where it was revealed that Jan and I were breaking up. My immediate reaction was to smile and say, “We already know that.”

Of course, I clarified that we are deeply in love and compatible partners, with no plans to break up, but we both know that change is the only real constant.

I had the same experience of utter love, fulfillment and compatibility with Jeanne in this world, yet she flew off without me into new energetic form. Beyond the veils of this life she has merged with her fuller self—a being far more comprehensive than the Jeanne Marie I knew in this life.

In the final analysis, all relationships break up because in becoming our complete selves we must surrender our attachments of permanence and acquiesce to the fuller nature of reality: Everything changes form.

I remember, as a young man steeped in the existential encounter movement of the 60s, confronting Jeanne with the reality that our relationship, as we knew it, would end in death. She would cry. I felt it was a necessary encounter, this truth.

Little did I know how relevant that confrontation would be for us a few decades later. Though I must say, when Jeanne did fly away I was steeped in joy, love, and utter calm. I have never wavered from those feelings and my love for her has only deepened over the past 14 years since she left.

Jan and I know that love transcends all change, and in fact can continue to grow if it can ride the waves of impermanence, the ultimate reality.

We are all in Earth School to suffer the illusion of permanence. And the solid Earth reality has offered a pretty predictable source of permanent security! But it does not provide all we truly need or want.

The gift of our time is that the Earth is revealing its own impermanence, as it struggles to survive mankind’s hubris. The challenges faced by our planet force us all to grapple with the true nature of reality all around us, that nothing is permanent. Actions taken from this knowing have the potential to be evolutionary, if we respond to the true needs of our planet, our human species, and all living beings.

The truth is, only Love will save us all. And the true nature of this Love is an ever-expanding love that transcends me and mine and includes everyone and every living thing in our interdependent whole.

Ready to ride the waves of impermanence? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Ready to ride the waves of impermanence?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

To graduate from Earth School, we must solve its most challenging question: Can love grow and expand in spite of impermanence? Only through solving this question are we really ready to enter more deeply into the ever-changing nature of infinity.

Until then, we grasp for the security of love in permanence, as we glimpse its many dimensions in this world and seek fulfillment here. But “here” is only part of the story. Earth School isn’t all there is, though it offers us all the necessary courses, preparing us for our final exam: to love in impermanence. And then it’s on to graduate school in infinity!

In ever-expanding Love,

Chuck’s Place: An Energetic Resonance

Mott's dream come true...
Mott’s dream come true…

For the past several months I have enjoyed a major infatuation with a delicious variety of chocolate from The Grenada Chocolate Company. It’s simply the best chocolate I’ve ever eaten. It’s organic and it’s affordable! This past week, I discovered its true energetic origin and now know why it has resonated so deeply with me, for its creator was a man of integrity, energetically aligned with what’s right, with the same spirit of intent that I fully embrace in my own life and work.

Unfortunately, I am sad to say, Jan sent me the obituary for Mott Green the other day, founder of the Grenada Chocolate Company, who recently died a tragic death at the age of 47. This man lived and actualized the values of our world to come, a master stalker of needed change. I encourage all to open to his journey—it’s an inspiration.

Here is the New York Times obituary for Mr. Green:

Mott Green, a Free-Spirited Chocolatier, Dies at 47

Published: June 9, 2013

Mott Green, who emerged from a hermitlike existence in a bamboo hut in the jungle of Grenada to produce a coveted Caribbean delicacy — rich, dark chocolate bars that he exported around the world with the help of sailboats, bicycles and solar-powered refrigeration — died on June 1 in Grenada. He was 47.

He was electrocuted while working on solar-powered machinery for cooling chocolate during overseas transport, said his mother, Dr. Judith Friedman.

Mr. Green was born David Friedman, and grew up on Staten Island. He became Mott over the course of many years of visiting and eventually living in Grenada, where residents had a distinctive way of pronouncing his nickname, Moth. He later took Green as his surname to reflect his environmental interests.

Mr. Green tended to flit about as a child, but with focus: he built go-karts using lawn mower engines; he ran the New York City Marathon when he was 16; he dropped out of the University of Pennsylvania just months before graduation — accepting a degree, he felt, would be capitulating to a corrupt social structure — and he spent much of his 20s squatting with a community of anarchists in abandoned homes in west Philadelphia, where he “rescued” food that restaurants had planned to throw away and distributed it to homeless people.

He was eventually drawn permanently to Grenada. When Mr. Green was a boy, his father, Dr. Sandor Friedman, the director of medical services at Coney Island Hospital, taught there each winter, often bringing his family along.

Mr. Green founded the Grenada Chocolate Company in 1999. Its slogan was “tree to bar,” but that did not capture the breadth of the endeavor. Working with small cocoa farmers in Grenada and as many as 50 factory employees during peak operations, all of whom earned the same salary — and probably more than he did — Mr. Green dried cocoa beans in the sun; built, maintained and powered the machinery to make chocolate; packaged the finished product; and cobbled together an international network of distributors, including volunteer cargo cyclists in the Netherlands.

In 2011, the company received recognition the State Department for its “contribution to the sustainable growth of rural economies by establishing Grenadian products in international markets; pioneering agrotourism; outstanding environmental conservation efforts; and promotion of organic farming.”

In 2008, 2011 and 2013, the Academy of Chocolate in London awarded silver medals to Grenada’s dark chocolate bars. A documentary film about the company, “Nothing Like Chocolate,” directed by Kum-Kum Bhavnani, was released last year and has been shown at film festivals.

Human rights advocates have long criticized the treatment of small cocoa farmers, and, particularly in Africa, the exploitation of child workers by buyers and exporters who sell cocoa to big chocolate companies. Despite international protections put in place in 2001, a 2009 survey by Tulane University found that nearly a fourth of all children ages 5 and 17 in cocoa-growing regions of Ivory Coast had worked on a cocoa farm in the previous year.

Mr. Green set out to address such issues by dealing directly with small growers and by keeping the processing and packaging of chocolate within Grenada. In the process, he appears to have created the only chocolate-making company in a cocoa-producing country.

“My progression,” he told D magazine in Dallas for a 2012 blog post, “was activist, love Grenada, love cocoa, love machines and tinkering, making chocolate, and doing it all without hurting the land.”

David Lawrence Friedman was born on April 15, 1966, in Washington. His family moved to Staten Island shortly before he turned 2.

He was the valedictorian of his class at Curtis High School. He was accepted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but chose Pennsylvania instead. He dropped out in the spring of 1988, his senior year.

“He was repulsed by the prison of privilege,” Tim Dunn, a friend, said in an interview. “He was looking for real life. And he found it.”

Mr. Green spent several years after college as a kind of master tinkerer, forager and activist among homeless anarchists in Philadelphia. He helped route electricity into abandoned houses for squatters, and he converted a Volkswagen bus to run on electricity. He helped develop a free lunch program that is still in place. He later moved to the East Village in Manhattan and made solar-powered hot-water showers for a group of squatters there.

By the mid-1990s he had moved to Grenada, where he initially lived in a remote hut he had built himself. It, too, relied on solar energy, in part to power Mr. Green’s passion for music.

“You’d hear Ella Fitzgerald coming out of this bamboo house in the rain forest,” his mother recalled.

Mr. Green developed a taste for cocoa tea, a local favorite, and that helped draw him out of the jungle and into the concerns of cocoa farmers and workers. Joining with a friend from Eugene, Ore., Doug Brown, he studied chocolate production in San Francisco. Working in Eugene, the men restored old machines from Europe and built new ones themselves. By the late ’90s they had shipped everything to Grenada. Mr. Brown died of cancer several years ago.

The company struggled for many years even as it won recognition. Mr. Green lived at the factory the whole time, sleeping in a workroom.

It moved into profitability just a few months ago, thanks in part to its recent opening of a shop in Grenada that sells treats made from its chocolate. Grenada’s chocolate bars are also sold online and at stores in various countries. In the United States, they are sold at Whole Foods stores in Manhattan and other retailers scattered across several states.

Last year the company delivered tens of thousands of chocolate bars to Europe on a sail-powered Dutch ship, the Brigantine Tres Hombres, operated by a company called Fairtransport. A team of volunteer cyclists in Amsterdam helped handle distribution on the ground.

Mr. Green called it “the first carbon-neutral trans-Atlantic mass chocolate delivery.”

In addition to his mother, a clinical psychologist in New York, Mr. Green is survived by a brother, Peter. Sandor Friedman died in 2004.

Dr. Friedman said she and several other people involved with the company were meeting this month in Grenada to develop a plan for keeping it operating.

“A lot of people now talk about paying for the actual cost of food or fair food and stuff like that,” said Alexis Buss, a friend from Mr. Green’s days as a squatter. “He wasn’t doing it to be trendy. He’s always been that way. He was just doing it because it made sense.”

So ends the obituary. As I pondered Mr. Green’s death, I found myself caught in a moment of crisis of meaning, a glitch, which granted me access to a deeper truth: We are all beings who are going to die. Our life’s work, no matter how good and valuable, is but a castle on the sea shore, soon to be washed away by the waves of infinity.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico encourage us to indeed choose a path of heart, and to live it to the fullest, to live it impeccably, but not for a moment to be fooled by the self-importance of permanence. No structures can withstand the impermanence of change. Our structures or casings are vehicles to dip into life and gather experience and lessons, but in the end, the real trick is to learn to ride the ever-changing waves of infinity, and that requires learning how to let go when the gig is up and be ready to catch the next wave.

What we carry with us is the experience and love of all life lived, but beyond that we take nothing. And what we leave behind will blend forward into new life, perhaps an even better blend of chocolate, done right, impeccably, with care for all involved, energetically resonant with what’s right. Thanks for your gift Mott!

Chuck Ketchel, LCSW

If interested in knowing more about Mott Green, here is a detailed article published in SideDish.

A Day in a Life: Dancing Crows

Last week Chuck and I had many discussions around the subjects of good and evil, death as an advisor, impermanence, the shadow, accepting that we all have inner demons, negative energy, the capacity to commit murder, and that we must all face these things at some time in our lives or risk having to reincarnate. The subjects kept coming up again and again in various circumstances and encounters. As we sat at the breakfast table early one morning over the weekend a synchronistically powerful event occurred right before our eyes that we just could not escape. It was supremely meaningful, underscoring the very conversation we were having at the time, which centered around the capacity that we have as human beings to hide from our true nature, to want to pretend that we are only good, and how hard it is to confront the truths of our inner darkness. Life would be so much easier if everyone were happy, good, loving, kind and compassionate. I totally agree and could wish for nothing more. But as any Buddhist will tell you, it can take a lifetime of intense inner work to reach even a moment of enlightenment.

The following is a quote from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche, which I am particularly fond of and drawn to almost daily.

“One of the chief reasons we have so much anguish and difficulty facing death is that we ignore the truth of impermanence. We so desperately want everything to continue as it is that we have to believe that things will always stay the same. But this is only make-believe. And as we so often discover, belief has little or nothing to do with reality. This make-believe, with its misinformation, ideas, and assumptions, is the rickety foundation on which we construct our lives. No matter how much the truth keeps interrupting, we prefer to go on trying, with hopeless bravado, to keep up our pretense.” -from page 25.

The author goes on to say the following:

“Reflect on this: The realization of impermanence is paradoxically the only thing we can hold onto, perhaps our only lasting possession. It is like the sky, or the earth. No matter how much everything around us may change or collapse, they endure. Say we go through a shattering emotional crisis . . . our whole life seems to be disintegrating . . . our husband or wife leaves us without warning. The earth is still there; the sky is still there. Of course, even the earth trembles now and again, just to remind us we cannot take anything for granted . . .” -from page 25 and 26.

So, what occurred before our very eyes last weekend that so profoundly affected us, as we sat at the breakfast table and chatted over our omelets and toast?

I was sitting and facing the backyard when I noticed a pair of crows doing a funny dance in the sky. They were twirling, diving and whipping about as if in the throes of a mating dance. This was my first exclamation as I pointed them out to Chuck: “Look at those dancing crows!” But there was something odd about them at the same time; they did not look really happy and I had never seen crows doing such antics. Normally they are very businesslike. They fly with purpose, heading directly to their intended destination with little fanfare or distraction. These crows were acting very strangely indeed.

We both got up from the table to watch more closely when I saw that they were not doing a mating dance to new life at all, but were in fact doing something more like a dance with death, for we saw that a huge hawk was sitting in the tree close to their nest and they were dive-bombing him, trying to scare him off. They were dealing with the true nature of reality: death comes to call; no one can escape it. They could not ignore this truth, but they could put up a valiant fight to save their young. And indeed they did. We watched as the crows repeatedly attacked the hawk, and eventually, scared it off the branch. Their fight continuing in the sky, they dove at it continually, cutting it with their wings, sending it spinning at one point and, eventually, the hawk flew off. I said to Chuck: “He’ll be back. He’s not going to give up. Just wait.”

The hawk came back

Perhaps an hour later I happened to look outside and saw that the hawk was indeed back, his head stuck inside the nest, pecking away. The crows were nowhere in sight, but I could hear their gentle keening coming from a distance, acquiescing to the inevitable. Death had come. They were accepting the impermanence of life, that change had come and they could not do anything to thwart it, their mournful cries marking this truth.

Chuck and I watched the hawk tearing at something under its claw, though even with binoculars it was difficult to see what it was; an egg or a baby crow we could not tell, but the truth was plain to see. Eventually the hawk flew off the branch and, as it did, the crows flew up out of hiding and, with one last cry of pain, attacked it again before it flew off for good. I expected the crows to return to the tree where their nest lay disturbed, but was surprised to see that they did not. “Wow,” I thought, “they really do accept the loss, they aren’t even looking back, just moving on.”

I don’t know what transpired after that, if they did in fact go back to see if anything had survived, but I think they already knew that nothing remained, that the hawk was just doing what he should do, what they in turn do to smaller birds; that it was just nature. But the sky was still there, as Sogyal Rinpoche writes, and they took off into it. The earth was still there too.

What is our life but a dance with death?

“What is our life but this dance of transient forms? Isn’t everything always changing: the leaves on the trees in the park, the light in your room as you read this, the seasons, the weather, the time of day, the people passing you in the street? And what about us? Doesn’t everything we have done in the past seem like a dream now?… We are impermanent, the influences are impermanent, and there is nothing solid or lasting anywhere that we can point to.” –The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying pages 26 and 27.

The only thing we can really count on is now, this moment, this breath we take, this truth that at this moment in our life we are alive. And then the next moment is upon us, even as we let the last one go. Each moment is as impermanent as the last.

Personally, I am awestruck by such acts of nature. They are always thrilling moments. I feel lucky to live where I do, that I can have such moments of brilliance in my life, that I am offered such grittiness to reflect on. I cannot say that I would be able to fly off as easily as those crows did, though eventually I get there. I know myself well enough now; that after many years of inner work I am fully capable of walking on into life without regret or sorrow. I know how to face new life, letting go of the past, though I have learned to appreciate that death, in its many forms, always accompanies me.

I don’t mean to be morbid, especially with so many experiences of life abounding now, each new spring day bringing nesting birds, emerging plants and flowers, the earth reawakening. But I cannot help but point out the truth that we are all impermanent, that we must all one day dance with death. We already do it all the time, in so many small ways.

We must learn to face our own deaths each day, preparing for it in our thoughts and actions, learning from the crows how to let go. We must also learn from the hawk that we too are capable of taking what we need to live; we too kill to survive. We must keep learning from the people in our lives how to face the transient nature of life, learning from them what the most important questions to keep asking are. We must all face the truths of our make-believe worlds and face the grittiest of the truths of reality. I am thankful for everyone who is a part of my life, even if only peripherally, for showing me that everything is meaningful and how important it is to keep working on the personal inner process.

As the seers of ancient Mexico are so fond of saying: I am a being who is going to die. The hawk and the dancing crows teach us this. Chuck and I learned this again last weekend as we watched this lesson play out in the sky. But, in the meantime, we intend to fully live, for we have so much to still learn.

Living fully, sending you all love and good wishes,

If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below. And don’t forget to check out our facebook page at: Riverwalker Press on facebook where we post comments, photos, and quotes.

#750 Thank You, People of Japan

Written by Jan Ketchel and including a channeled message from Jeanne Ketchel.

I decide to channel Monday’s message to humanity a day early. I seek commentary from Jeanne on the devastation in Japan, the earthquake and tsunami that have caused massive devastation, loss of life, catastrophic environmental damage, and feelings of great sadness for the people of Japan the world over. As we are brutally confronted with the reality of impermanence, I ask Jeanne: What can we learn from this natural disaster?

Jeanne responds:

Impermanence, as you mention, Jan, is the first thing to recognize. This is a big blow to man’s insistence on controlling nature, yet the overall message is this: Nothing and no one is safe from death.

It is not enough to sit back and declare that this is happening in another part of the world and lucky for you that you are not there. More must be expected of all of you now, for the earth itself is continually shaking you to awaken. I do not wish to continue along negative lines, for in order to shift into what comes next one must accept that this earthquake and its aftermath are meant to produce a new way of life.

Man has indeed come far from his spiritual roots and purpose. This does not make man bad. It merely presents a dilemma and sometimes such a dilemma requires outside help in causing shift.

I pause, feeling a need to shift the direction of this channeling and ask Jeanne another question. Can you give your readers one important message regarding the situation in Japan?

Here is what Jeanne says in answer to that question:

Treat the world differently from this day forth.
Treat the earth differently.
Treat the people you meet differently and the people you will never meet.
Treat your self differently.
Allow your spirit self to emerge more fully and partake in life.

Accept the truth of your personal impermanence in order to understand the massive loss of life upon the coastline of Japan. Do not stay in sadness, but use it to change how you act, how you pray, how you set your intent. Turn from sorrow to release the self from all that flows so negatively out of this destruction. Turn to the power of change that comes into human lives with such force of nature.

Nature is at the core of each one of you. You have this same power inside you. This is what you are being shown. It is the energy of the times you live in that has so interrupted the land of ancient Japan, but ancient Japan knows it cannot swim against the tides of change. It knows it must accept that this is how nature has decided to send the message that energy is more powerful than man’s progress upon that earth.

It is not time now to bemoan the destruction, but to learn that, although man is weak before such power, man does have this power also within. Perhaps it is time to use it again, but not in revolutions of destruction, of greed, of self-interest, whether personal or national, but only in revolutions of inward digging and excavation, on inward progress.

Start a personal revolution of change. Do not turn from Mother Nature in fear, but turn toward her in love and acceptance that everything you need is in her, keeping in mind that she is each one of you. You hold all you need within.

This is not a simplistic answer nor is it meant to disregard or minimize the impact of this turmoil in the world. No words can do that, for you all feel this. You must feel it. This is the truth you must face: your personal destruction, your impermanence. And to really face that, truthfully, you must change.

You must pay attention to the messages coming from the earth itself. You will find them within. During the coming week go inside the self, each one of you, and begin to clean up the debris in your lives. You have the pictures of what devastation looks like, flashing before you everywhere you look, so you know what needs to be done. Do not look away in horror, but face the horror and work at how it makes you feel.

You must change now. That is the disturbing message.

You live. Do not let the people of Japan die in vain. Take their message of impermanence, delivered so impersonally, and use it to change how things are done. Thank them for their sacrifice to nature’s call to change.

Now it is up to each one of you to carry on, and no matter where you live on that earth: Live differently now.

Thank you Jeanne. Please feel free to post comments or respond to this message in the post/read comments section below. Also check out our facebook page at: Riverwalker Press on facebook. And thank you for passing the messages on!

Most fondly and humbly offered.