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Painting by Eric Thor Sandberg

The very idea that the universe was created is wrong . It is just always transforming . From form to emptiness and from emptiness to form at different levels

— David Böhm

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“Reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”

— Terrence Mc Kenna

*

Looking back, I see how the job I lost pushed me to find work that was mine to do, how the “Road Closed” sign turned me toward terrain I’m glad I traveled, how losses that felt irredeemable forced me to find new sources of meaning. In each of these experiences, it felt as though something was dying, and so it was. Yet deep down, amid all the falling, the seeds of new life were always being silently and lavishly sown. The hopeful notion that new life is hidden in dying is surely reinforced by the visual glories of autumn. What artist would paint a deathbed scene with the vibrant and vital palette nature uses? Perhaps death possesses a grace that we who fear dying, who find it ugly and even obscene, cannot see. How shall we understand nature’s testimony that dying itself — as devastating as we know it can be — contains the hope of a certain beauty?

— Parker Palmer

Our idea of the world as a place of separate identities and solid objects needs to be questioned. The confluence of energies that creates our theatre of appearances keeps flowing and mutating. Nothing is fixed. Everything keeps evolving.

We fail over and over to pin things down but we keep trying without noticing that it’s impossible. Underneath our sense of who we are there exist other identities who would live and feel very differently if they could demote the captain and take over the ship. Maybe they get to come forth when we write or cook or speak another language.

We’re not the unitary beings we assume we are. Sub personalities live below the recognizable surface in all of us. Different environments elicit difficult parts of us.

The conditioning we are all subject to helps us congeal a sense of solid identity. I’m an English speaking Protestant American of European descent. The conditioning inherent in that carries the power to forge a fixed sense of self that is not easy to dislodge. Even if you manage to enlarge your identity by travel, language acquisition and education, that then becomes your new identity.

We try to stop the river of living in its fluctuations and then wonder why we’re bored. Maybe we should try living the questions, maybe we could make peace with death and dying instead of hiding from it. We might listen for the symphony playing under the surface in ourselves and all around us. Maybe we should notice our clinging to fixed ideas that prop up our personas.

The creative force making the world keeps adjusting the recipe. So far, no one has been able to refuse to age or die. We absorb our lessons and mutate whether we want to or not, but that thing we came to do, that thing we came to learn, is unrelenting. Even if we refuse to hear it, even if we don’t respect the inner voices calling to us it won’t stop calling.

Clearing a space for it means dislodging what we think we know. Attending to the still small voice within is not easy with the cultural um-pah band playing non stop, so we need to find a way to turn it off.

Seeing our conditioning as conditioning instead of God-given truth is the first step.

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