Have you ever felt frustrated by your spiritual practice? Where are those results you expected? Here is a letter I received from a student in my Life Principles Integration Process Online courses with that very frustration, along with my answer. First, his letter to me:
My question is: Why can’t I experience anything spiritual inside that validates, in a positive way, any practice or technique I have ever tried? Just wanted to show you there is a question to all that follows (because there is a background story that must be told. I’ll keep it as brief as I can though.)
Part of this will be a bit of writing therapy for me as (at 63) my life, both inside and outside, lies in ruins all around me, I’m feeling suicidal, and I feel a need to yell at God.(Sorry, letting whatever happens be OK has run out of steam.)
So…Beginners mind: In the early seventies I read Zen Flesh Zen bones which blew my socks off and changed me from an atheist who was profoundly disillusioned with life on earth to a rather naive seeker. After reading that book I knew that I had to find a teacher who could guide me to the Self, the God within (my favorite image is simply ‘freedom’ though.)
Tried everything I had access to over the next seven or eight years. No dice; nothing moved me or resonated anywhere but inside my intellect. God didn’t want to know me. Each time something didn’t work I returned to sex, drugs and rock’n’ roll… which did work.
What I’m going to share today starts with something posted by Brian in response to Part 3 of my Going To Hell in a Handbasket series. My response contains some important information, but is buried so deeply among hundreds of other comments that I thought I should create an entire post around it.
Here’s how it started:
I really liked the live video chat on facebook. I think it is a much better way for you to communicate information than through writing on this blog (though I still really like this blog). It’s just easier to tell what someone means when you see how they are saying something instead of just the words they are saying. Definitely do more video chats!
I have an economics question for you if you feel like taking the time. Harry Browne brings up an example in his book about the more expensive cost of using recycled paper vs. new paper. Browne explains this means that the resources consumed in recycling paper are more valuable to the market than the resources consumed in making new paper (aka trees). So basically the market should go with new paper since trees are less valuable than all the things that go into recycling paper.
What I struggle to understand is how you can judge the value of trees solely by their price in the market. Say we discovered that cutting down trees significantly affected oxygen levels that were unhealthy for people. How would the free market naturally account for this to make trees more valuable?
First, I apologize for taking so long to post this. I have been unusually busy this past several weeks, and getting this to you fell down several notches in my to-do list. Hopefully it will be worth the wait.
Well, we’ve all been through a lot as we’ve discussed and argued about social mood. This topic has obviously struck a chord. You’ve sensed that something is wrong, and I presented one possible explanation of why you’ve felt that way.
Of course, some of you were already quite aware of all of this.
And, some of you think I’m full of it. I wish you luck. Hopefully your refusal to see what seems obvious to a great many people won’t come back to bite you. Those of you who have magical solutions, good luck to you, too. Let me know how that works out. I’ve found some of the more bizarre ideas highly entertaining.
And though I didn’t set out to make this a political discussion, a lot of politics ended up coming out. To those of you who think it’s just great that the people in charge want to continue the process of centrally controlling and regulating everything under the sun, redistributing wealth, getting rid of fossil fuels, and so forth will, I suspect you won’t be so supportive once the consequences of these things begin to affect you personally, as these changes will affect you in ways you will not like.
Over the last year (and before I ever brought up the idea of social mood) I’ve been discussing something that is basic to the human experience, but often denied: that we have little or no control over many aspects of the human condition.
(If you’re new, consider reading these posts: The Human Condition, Don’t Know Where It Came From, my series on Seeing Things the Way They Really Are—there are others.)
This lack of control was perhaps less obvious during the recent period of extremely positive social mood (which topped in about 2000), and also because in wealthy countries many human problems are less severe. Now that social mood is turning negative, this lack of control will become more obvious.
Many have asked me what to do to be more prepared.
“Humans are prone to herd because it is always warmer and safer in the middle of the herd. Indeed, our brains are wired to make us social animals. We feel the pain of social exclusion in the same parts of the brain where we feel real physical pain.” –James Montier
“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.” –Charles Mackay in Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds
Wow. Worms everywhere. A sea of worms. A huge can of them.
What have I gotten myself into?
Before I get into the main topic of what was to be this final chapter of this series (but isn’t), I want to make a few comments about what has transpired with the first two parts.
My description of social mood turning negative, and what kinds of things are likely to happen (and, historically have happened) obviously really struck a nerve. Though we’ve had a certain amount of acrimony on this blog from time to time from a certain few people, these posts really amped things up.
In Part 1 I shared an exchange with my friend Santiago about my observation that we are entering into a period of negative social mood, and that in the past similar periods have had some dark consequences for humanity.
This has stirred things up quite a bit, don’t you think? (If you haven’t read Part 1, I suggest that you do, including the comments people have posted, and my answers to those comments, which contain a lot of important information.)
By the way, I haven’t shared any of the math involved in wave theory, or the details about the fractal nature of these waves because, though interesting, it would probably put everyone to sleep, and it’s rather complicated. If you really want to go into this more deeply, buy Robert Prechter’s books, or go to socionomics.net.
At any rate, Santiago wasn’t convinced by what I said in my first communication with him (though he seems to be more convinced now that he actually went and read up on the subject). Here is his reply to my original post, and my answer (Santiago, I’m making you famous—I hope you’re happy):
“Going to Hell in a handbasket”: to be rapidly deteriorating; on course for disaster. This phrase may have originated from the use of handbaskets to catch the decapitated heads of guillotined criminals during the French Revolution. (phrases.org.uk)
It all started from a simple question on my blog (from someone I know quite well)…
But what started as a simple question, buried in the comments after one of my recent posts, where many people would never see it, turned into a lengthy description of my take on what’s going on in the world, from an “as viewed from outer space” big-picture perspective.
Though a lot of this falls into the “not at all what you wanted to hear” category, I decided that I should share it with everyone—which I will do over the next several days in a series of posts.
It started this way:
I’ve written a lot about impermanence and cause and effect over the last year. I’ve said that there is no escape from these two aspects of the human condition–an idea many of you have resisted (and, I might add, I’m not surprised–resisting these two conditions seems to be what human beings do).
Over the New Year’s holiday someone posted the following comment about how he had personally responded to my remarks about this topic. Rather than just post my answer under his post, as I often do, I’ve decided that this is important enough to warrant a separate post.
Though this is quite short, I think it will really give you something to think about.
THE COMMENT: I think I may have taken some of your advice too closely, or used it in the wrong way. I took what you said about impermanence and said, ‘If I’m happy I can’t enjoy being happy because it’s impermanent and will go away’… which keeps me from being happy when I notice it. It’s quite strange, and like I’m waiting for something to let me go ‘full happy’. Except if I ever noticed that I was on ‘full happy’ I might say, ‘hey stop that’. –James
Blog: About Bill Harris
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