Thursday, April 26, 2007

Paradox On The Path

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: lana deym campbell

The riddle of the paradox is not a on my friends...some great & stimulating stuff here. An uplifting read.

Thanks, Pear
----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: pear

Paradox On the Path

You will likely have noticed that on your journey 'home' to your authentic self, the path is riddled with paradox. Paradoxes are statements which appear contradictory but hide a deeper truth e.g. the paradox that standing is more tiring than walking.

The seeing and the realisation of paradox can set us free from the constraints of what appears to be illogical thinking. It seems illogical to think that standing is more tiring than walking, but it's true. Behind what seems illogical lies a truth that if unrealised and not integrated into your life will result in the creation of tension, confusion or an imbalance, while never really knowing the reason why. For example we may be aware that our relationships are defined by a dynamic of giving and receiving at a variety of levels (things, ideas, attention, time etc) but the inherent paradox in this dynamic is that giving is receiving and receiving is giving. In order to receive you have to give, and in order to give you have to receive. At first sight this can appear illogical but behind the illogic there lies a deeper truth. At the dualistic, material level if you don't give it means you will be 'busy wanting'. It means your thoughts and your attention are trapped in what you want, and you are therefore closed to the possibility of receiving anything other than the object of your desire. The only way to open yourself to the infinite possibility of receiving is to place your attention, your thoughts and action, into giving.

At the spiritual level of giving and receiving the paradox takes a slightly different form. It is only when we give with love that we feel
the love that already lives within us. In essence, only by giving love can you know and receive the love that you are. By giving to others you are receiving from yourself. And conversely, to be fully open to receiving the love of others 'gives' them the opportunity to receive and feel and know themselves as love. No surprise then that someone once said, "Through the gates of paradox you shall find the truth". Paradox lies in wait at every turn.

Staying in the territory of relationship another paradox shows up at the level of understanding. In order to know and understand others it is first necessary to know and understand your self. Often we demonstrate our perplexity when we claim, "I just don't understand them. I thought I knew them, but now I realise I don't". What we don't realise is that the underlying cause of our inability to connect and resonate with others is our ignorance of our self. You cannot read and understand the emotions that others are feeling until you learn to fully feel and identify the emotions that you feel within yourself. The psychopath has no ability to empathise with others because they have spent their entire life avoiding their own feelings. People are like books but we cannot read them until we learn to read ourselves at all levels from intention to belief, from emotion to attitude. Which is why the best way to get to know and truly understand others is to spend a lot of time with yourself. But this has always been the way on any authentic spiritual path. Which leads into yet another paradox that further perplexes our rational, linear thinking. It is this idea of unity. To create unity in a gathering of people you have to first be completely comfortable and united within yourself. You often see in a group or community there are those who are always calling for unity. They say, "We should be united and stand as one on this". And yet they themselves are not in unity with everyone as the 'react' to the reactions of others. It means they are not united within themselves, they are not 'at one' with themselves. And this means they are not able to be a catalyst or facilitator of unity in a group. Paradoxically we are all already united, we are all already as one, but we have lost our innate awareness of that oneness.

We cannot see or feel unity and oneness in the world around us because we still 'believe' in division and separation. And that is because within our self there is fragmentation and division. When you resolve your inner fragmentation (the voices of many identities) you will see and know the underlying oneness of 'us all'!

A similar paradox exists within the intention to raise your consciousness, which is not possible unless you remain grounded! Many make the mistake of isolating themselves from the world and putting all their time and attention into mystical and meditative practices with the hope of simply 'rising above it all'. They then wonder why progress is fleeting and slow. Then one day they realise that the real lessons that need to be learned and integrated in order to 'rise above' lie in everyday places, everyday interactions with people, and the everyday practicalities of living. When people, places and practicalities are not dealt with accurately, and with love, they become a burden carried by our consciousness, a form of 'unfinished business' which weighs us down making it impossible to raise our self above the mundane. You cannot check out of the supermarket without learning the price of each item and paying the bill. Only then are the groceries fully owned by you, and only then can you choose to where and when to set them down, thus relieving yourself of the burden that keeps you grounded.

ostrich syndrome
- From Order to Chaos and Back Again !

Most of us are now familiar with the image of ostrich with its head buried in the sand as it deludes itself into believing that it cannot be seen! It is also a classic metaphor for how we avoid the reality of a changing world. 'Ostrich syndrome' is a common disease in many organizations. People become too comfortable with old ways of working and they avoid necessary change by deluding themselves with the belief that everything is fine. There is also a global example of 'head in the sand' as it seems very few of us want to see and acknowledge the second law of thermodynamics and face the reality of 'entropy'.

Thermodynamics sounds like a complicated concept but it is one of the simplest and most impressive scientific conceptions that we know. The first and second laws of thermodynamics can be stated in one sentence, "The total energy content of the universe is constant (energy cannot be created or destroyed) and the total entropy is increasing." The simplest definition of entropy is 'the movement of energy from order to chaos, from an available to an unavailable state'.

Energy can only change from one form to another. If we take a quantity of heat and change it into work, in doing so, we haven't destroyed the heat, we have only transformed it into another less concentrated energy form. Energy transformation is always from concentration to diffusion, from order into disorder. If we set fire to a table we would release the concentrated energy (sunlight hours) trapped in the form of the table into light and heat. It would take more energy than was released to get the original energy back to its original concentrated form as wood, thus creating entropy somewhere else.

Everything we see in the world around us is energy in different forms. Time goes forward because energy itself is always moving from an available to an unavailable state. Our consciousness is continually recording the entropy change in the world. This gives us our sense of time passing. We witness entropy as we watch our friends physical forms become old and die, as we sit next to a fire and watch its red hot embers turn slowly into cold white ashes and as we record the rising levels of pollution around the planet. Every time an event occurs anywhere in the world, energy is expended and the overall entropy has been increased.

Entropy is a particular characteristic of a closed system. In a closed system the amount of available concentrated energy that can be put to 'work' will run down unless a source of energy comes from outside the system and replaces and reinvigorates the energy forms within it. The universe is a closed system. The astronomers tell us that the planets and the stars are still rushing outwards and away from each other. At this macro level they are moving from concentration to dissipation. Our planet is also a closed eco/bio system made up of many energy forms ? earth, air, fire and water are the four most basic - always moving from available to unavailable states. For thousands (some say millions) of years, a source of energy from outside our closed planetary system, the sun, has assured the rate of entropy has been kept at a very slow pace. So slow as to be almost imperceptible to previous generations. But something happened which accelerated entropy to such an extent that it is almost impossible to ignore today.

We invented a machine called a clock to measure the passing of time and became conscious of the speed of events. Soon, the achievement of speed became synonymous with success and in the striving to make things happen faster we naturally accelerated the use of natures energy. The rate of entropy has accelerated so much that the sun cannot replenish the energy in the eco/bio systems fast enough. And the system itself is incapable of compensating without that energy. The increasing pollution (chaotic energy) closes the system further and the sun has even less access to reorder and replenish, while heat is trapped within the system. And, as science reminds us, the final destination of entropy in a closed system is 'heat death'.

The world around us however is only a reflection of the world within us. Behind the speed of physical change is the speeding mind, the accelerated cravings and desires of consciousness. Consciousness can also be a closed system if we choose to 'close ourselves' to others. And that is precisely what we have increasingly done. A 'closed life', or a closing of our consciousness, is signaled by various symptoms including the urge to be separate, an increase in fearful thinking, rising levels of personal stress, the habit of blaming others for our own feelings, the gradual loss of our ability to respect others and the expansion of interpersonal conflict. These are all signs that personal power (the energy of consciousness) is running down, moving from order to chaos. It is not being replenished and reordered. The entropy of consciousness is now a reality and the above symptoms can be seen in the attitudes and actions of both individuals and societies. Why? Because we close our consciousness to an energy outside our 'system of consciousness' that if allowed in could renew, restore, replenish and re-order. Whatever you call this energy it is always available. Call it eternal truth, spiritual light, the divine, some refer to it as 'the source', others call it God. While some baggage (negative associations) accompany some of these descriptions of 'the source' it has been the message of many of the sages and saints down though the ages that if we are to grow and be sustained at the level of our spirit, if we are to maintain peace, balance and harmony within our consciousness, there is a need, a necessity, to be open to the source of spiritual power.

Just as the flower needs to open and face the sun every morning in order to receive the light and warmth which are essential to its growth, strength and beauty, so too it is highly likely that we need to turn our awareness to the spiritual sun and open the 'system of our consciousness', our mind and intellect, in order to receive the light of truth and warmth of pure love. If we don't there is a good chance the chaos (fear) and the heating (anger) will grow within our consciousness and eventually explode outwards, not just as some form of cathartic relief, but as a personal and ultimately interpersonal breakdown.
Question: Why do you think an increasing number of people experience the 'entropy of consciousness' in the form of loss of mental stability/positivity and intellectual clarity/discernment today?
Reflection : Sit quietly for a moment and reflect on what you are thinking about most of the time. Where do your thoughts go most? What are your most frequent feelings? Would you say they are ordered or chaotic? What have been the patterns during the course of your life?

Action : An experiment - build a ten minute meditation into each day this week and consciously turn the 'flower of your consciousness' towards the 'sun of spirit'. Without struggling, allow your thinking to become as quiet as possible as you do this, imagining light flooding into your mind. Then watch to see if there is any difference in your energy/attitudes/feelings/responses once you return to action. (p.s. ? if you find it hard to relax your mind and concentrate your attention for ten minutes what might that say?)


Smile Cards!

Starting in September of 2003, smile cards began appearing all around the world. They are markers of a newfangled game of tag, where "you're it" because someone has done something nice for you. Then it's your turn to do something nice for someone else and, in the process, pass the card along. This is a game of pay-it-forward: anonymously make someone smile, leave behind a card asking them to keep the ripple going. It's easy and fun. Is kindness truly contagious? There's only one way to find out ...

Join in the fun!

My Smile Card Story

--posted by Richard on Mar 8, 2007

About a month ago I learned about "smile cards," which can be found at Smile cards are "an experiment in anonymous kindness," as stated on each card.

Each card, when used in the spirit intended, serves at least two immediate purposes. One, it becomes the physical marker of an event of anonymous kindness. This is important because, physically persisting, it can serve as the template for the perpetuation of the idea of itself: new acts of anonymous kindness. As an object carrying an explanation of itself, it also will serve as a reference point for the recipient of the anonymous act of kindness who, besides being grateful may well be befuddled. Anonymous acts of kindness verge on the incomprehensible to most of us in this culture. The mere idea remains a little shocking. Imagine how disorienting it might be to receive an anonymous act of kindness oneself! It could be both discombobulating and bejooberating at the same time! It's easy to see how one would need to look again at the card to double-check on what just happened. And on the back of each card, the explanation is there: "someone reached out to you with an anonymous act of kindness. Now it's your turn to do the same. Do something nice for someone, leave this card behind, and keep the spirit going."

Ten minutes after putting the card in your pocket you'd start doubting what happened. Did that really happen to me? And you'd reach in your pocket and pull out the smile card to read it again.

And so, out of the confusion, the gratitude, the disorientation any act of anonymous kindness is likely to induce, each card remains as the gentle, orienting reminder to the recipient of what happened. Thus it points toward a realignment, perhaps the beginning of a new attitude, one of greater alertness to whatever is taking place around one, especially with regard to others.

Smile cards came into my life about a month ago. The act that made me aware that the idea of the smile card had sunk in a little might seem trivial. Driving up to a stoplight, as I passed by a driver, I noticed he suddenly realized he needed to get over into my lane. But it was too late. I watched to see if he could get in behind me, but the driver behind me refused to make space. So he was stuck in the wrong lane beside me waiting at the red light. I reached out my window and made a hand signal: cross over in front of me when the light changes. He did and waved his thanks. A few minutes later, I noticed that I had a smile on my face, and I hadn't even used one of the smile cards I had in my shirt pocket!

--Richard, editor Works & Conversation

Reader Comments
sewingsphynx wrote: At all times those smile cards serve as an inspiration to do good. The ripple effect is alive and well!

sheetal wrote: dear richard
random acts of kindness have a way of becoming a way of life once practiced often...
glad its become a way for you,

tambu wrote: Thanks for passing on the love, Richard!

Join in the fun! Get your smile cards, read up on some kindness ideas, and get started!

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Freely download our designs. You can take our high-resolution Photoshop files to your local printer and get your cards made. We also have cards available in several different languages. Learn more >>

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Get some pre-printed cards. We know you will continue to do kind acts even without cards, but we are happy to ship you some to keep the kindness moving along. Simply fill out the order form below.

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