Bearhug – Part 2

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by DCH Park

Bear Hug by terren in Virginia https://www.flickr.com/photos/8136496@N05/2257963106/

Bear Hug by terren in Virginia https://www.flickr.com/photos/8136496@N05/2257963106/

He looked around. He was at work. He remembered this job. It was from several years ago. He was wearing a suit and tie and talking with a friend from school. They were in grad school together. They were both working as part time consultants in one of the prestigious firms downtown. They both had the same title but he had been in the job longer and had more responsibility.

Keith, his friend, had just told him his hourly rate. It was almost double his own rate. He hadn’t asked for the information. Keith had just volunteered it.

At a loss for words, he thought back to the interview process. He had submitted his resume and gone through several interviews – all standard for graduate students looking for part time work. The company had made an offer which was a little better than the going rate. He’d accepted, thinking that he was doing well. Now Keith had told him that he had been offered almost twice as much to do the same job. It didn’t seem right.

“That much? Really?”

“Yeah. Their idea of ‘fair compensation’ is really whacked. I thought you should know.”

“Thanks,” his head was still reeling. He had heard of this sort of thing but he hadn’t knowingly encountered it before. Here it was in “white collar America.” The only thing that he could put his finger on to “account” for the difference was race. That didn’t seem germane but the difference was something to consider. He wondered what else they were hiding from him. Then a thought occurred to him. How well did he know Keith? Maybe Keith was lying to him so that he would say something and get into trouble.

On the other hand, if Keith hadn’t been lying, he didn’t want to say anything that might hurt his friend. He wondered if secrecy benefited anyone in the end. Wasn’t transparency better?

Keith asked, “What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know,” he responded.

The sense of injustice and indignity still burned in him. He remembered the incident clearly, feeling immersed in it all over again. At the same time, he watched it unfold as if it was happening to someone else. He was in it at the same time he was outside of it, watching the tableau unfold. Did his attachment to his emotions keep his memory alive somehow?

He wondered if there was anything else to remember. He opened himself to whatever else there might be. Suddenly the scene changed.

He found himself in a corridor on a bright day wearing different clothes. Instead of a suit, he wore jeans, a loose, cotton shirt open at the collar, and sneakers. He could also see straps and feel them digging into his shoulders. He was in high school. It was the end of the day and buses were lined up waiting for kids. There was shouting and energetic bustling and rushing about.

In contrast to the noise made by the kids, the buses stood in a silent row. He left the corridor and walked out to his bus. The books in his pack dug into his back, threatening to pull him over. The image of him bending backwards under the weight of his pack kept playing through his mind…

The books were dense and bulky and heavy – too heavy and bulky to carry them all under his arm but he needed them all for his homework. That was why he needed the backpack. Nevertheless there were kids who didn’t seem to have many books at all. How did they do it, he wondered.

He found his bus, climbed into it, went to a seat about three-quarters of the way back from which he could watch most of the activity, and sat down. He thought about putting his pack on the seat next to him but thought better of it and put it on the floor, between his feet, instead.

He surreptitiously looked at the floor before he lowered his pack the last inch. He always wondered if the floor was clean and what had been thrown on it. This one looked clean. The school bus always did. Nevertheless, he speculated on what might have been spilled or thrown on the floor and what might be in the grit that he always expected to find there and never did.

Thoughts about the floor left him almost as soon as he felt the nylon fabric of the backpack come to rest. He knew that although the bus would fill up to capacity before it left, many kids lived within a mile of the school and would be getting off soon. There would be plenty of free seats shortly.

He watched the other kids climbing onto the bus with a sense of uninvolved interest, the way an anthropologist might people-watch. He noted the fashions they wore and how what they wore and how much energy they put into their appearance seemed to be dictated by what they considered important. He idly mused about using those differences to bring people closer together rather than to define and vilify an out-group. This led him to feel into the nature of vilification. How does one vilify? What does it mean to vilify? Does it change things? Is there a difference between what someone else does to you and what you do to yourself?

Soon enough, the bus was filled, the doors were closed, and it rolled off with all the others. It kept its place in line to the edge of the school property and then turned left at the corner while the one behind it went in a different direction. The bus went down the main street for a short distance and then turned right to go to its first stop.

About halfway up the hill, it stopped on a quiet street to let several kids off. The leaves of trees from opposite sides of the street mingled overhead as their branches merged, making a dappled tunnel that the bus rolled down. It made several more stops as it wended its way through the neighborhood emerging on the other side of the hill. It turned right onto a major road and traveled a short distance before turning left into another neighborhood.

The bus was less than half full when it made the turn, making it easy to see everyone left. There was a girl sitting a few seats ahead of him and across the aisle. Her jet black hair bobbed and bounced with the bus and her head movements. He couldn’t see her face but he was sure it was her. She was sharing her seat with another girl. The two of them sat on a lone island in a sea of empty seats. She was chatting away with her friend, apparently oblivious to the bus and hadn’t noticed him or maybe she had and thought it wasn’t worth acknowledging him.

He gazed at her and imagined touching her hair. He remembered trying to begin a conversation with her many times. He had tried to be sincere and show her that he thought about things deeply and strove for original thoughts. He indicated that he appreciated originality and creativity and asked her what she thought but she didn’t appreciate that. It only seemed to make her laugh more.

Once he had worked up the courage to slip a poem of his into her locker between classes. Later he found her reading the poem aloud to her friends. She saw him and pointed him out, laughing. He melted back into the rushing hallway, feeling confused.

He stopped himself and felt into his memory again. It wasn’t shame, anger, fear, or numbness that he felt. It was confusion. This surprised him. Perhaps his emotion had changed, perhaps he felt something different in retrospect than what he did at the time, but this was the feeling he’d brought back. He decided to accept his feelings for what they were and continue his exploration of what came up.

He felt into why he was confused. He sought to feel the whole thing, not just the most poignant parts of what he felt. He realized that he couldn’t feel the whole thing as long as he was focused on part of the whole so he opened himself to all of the confusion. He watched himself feel one thing after another. It was curious to witness himself feeling it and feel it at the same time. But he was vast, even if he only thought about himself that way in jest.

His goal was to get beyond the emotion so he could see what else it brought up and the quickest, maybe the only, way to the other side was to go through it. Without getting beyond the emotion, he knew, anything that came up would probably be incomplete or misleading. Interestingly, witnessing himself feel was enough. It allowed him to feel the whole thing.

Once he got past the image of the dark-haired girl and what it brought up, he found himself walking through a mall with a different former girlfriend. It was long after grad school and they had been living together for several years. They had met in a different city and she had followed him when he moved. That had been several years earlier. Now, she was in the midst of breaking up with him.

“So on a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate him?”

She protested, “I’m not very good with numbers!”

“I understand,” he pushed. “What would you say? What’s the first number that comes to mind when you think of him?”

“Eleven!” She smiled when she said it and a glowing warmth vibrated in her eyes and her voice.

Bearhug saw all this and felt the change in her energy. “What would you say I am?”

“I’m not good at numbers!”

“Just say it.”

“Six.”

He was expecting an eight, considering her obvious infatuation. Maybe she would rate him a seven, he thought, but rating him a six seemed cruel. He didn’t even think it was true. He guessed that she would have rated him higher when they first met or when she left her friends and home to be with him. They walked in silence for a while.

He remembered when they had first met. They were both tutors in their graduate programs, he in math, she in English and writing. She had seemed so poised and exotic, with her helmet of straight black hair and chocolate skin, that he had literally found it hard to breathe. He wooed her with flowers, books, and poetry. At one point, he left her a single red rose with a card that said, “For you, an American Beauty.”

Now she was characterizing him to be half as attractive as someone whom she had met in the remedial reading class she taught at the local college. His brain had been damaged chemically when he was a fetus and as an adult he was mildly retarded. This was the person whom she swooned over.

He let the tide of anger and rejection wash over him. Would he always be rejected and betrayed by the ones he loved? Was he missing something? Was there some clue or combination of hints that indicated that someone was trustworthy?

He took a deep breath as that emotion receded like the waves he used to dive under. He floated in the calm between waves. It was like the pause between breaths.

He suddenly recalled a scene in the middle of winter. There was a trace of snow on the ground and patches of ice were on the roadway. He was standing at the corner, waiting for his bus. He was in the first year of high school. There were several other kids at the bus stop, including the dark-haired girl, though he hadn’t spoken to her yet in this memory.

Most of the kids were known for smoking, drinking, having sex, and other forms of rebellion. Their clothing was either too revealing or tended toward the black leather and blue jean motorcycle-hood-look in spite of the relatively well-off suburban neighborhood they lived in. Each of the kids stood in the cold alone, apart from the others. They didn’t talk. They stuffed their hands into their pockets and instinctively tried to present as small an area as possible to the cold. The smokers puffed on their cigarettes to warm their faces. Each one suffered separately, waiting for the bus and its heat to arrive.

Bearhug looked at this scene and thought that it was silly and unnecessary. He gathered a small pile of wood chips and sticks from the occasional detritus that lined the road and chose his spot on the curving curb so that the slight wind blew through it but not too much. He leaned some of the smaller sticks against the curb. Ignoring the scoffing and laughter from the other kids, he produced a lighter from his pocket, turned the flame setting on high, and held the flame beneath the little lean-to.

As the smaller sticks caught and he fed gradually larger pieces to the fire, it gave off warmth in a cheery little circle. The scoffing ceased immediately and the other kids crowded around the fire, extending their hands to warm them. Several kids stood around the little fire while one crouched down to feed it. The fire cracked and danced, as fires do, warming them all against the winter’s cold reach.

When the bus finally came, the other kids vanished into its crowded warmth without any acknowledgment or word of thanks, leaving Bearhug alone with the fire. The bus driver waited silently and watched him through the open door. Bearhug stamped the fire out, trusting that any remaining embers would die on the cold asphalt, turned, and climbed up into the bus. The driver pulled a silver handle and the doors swung closed behind him, sealing him in with the dim shadows of the bus.

Bearhug found himself floating in darkness. The next image came almost immediately. It felt different. He was inside the house. He knew without looking that it was nighttime and it was cold outside. He was a young child of 6 or 7. He could smell the pine in the air. They had a huge Christmas tree and all sorts of decorations about the front of the house. The tree itself had lines of lights, bulbs, tinsel icicles, candy canes, and strings of popcorn on it. A big blanket was spread on the floor under the tree, though it was empty.

Food was plentiful, which wasn’t out of the ordinary, but the types of food were different. They had a bucket full of nuts which had a center stalk with holes for a nutcracker and several nut picks to stand up in. When the bucket came out over the holidays, it never seemed to empty no matter how many nuts he ate. Candies appeared in abundance. There were hard candies of various types and flavors, chocolate, and sesame candies made of honey and sesame seeds. He remembered sucking a candy cane down to a sharp point once. He poked himself on the tongue with that sharp point.

Generally it was a happy time but several times each year his mother roasted chestnuts in the oven. He remembered how the smell of them would permeate the whole house and linger. It was horrible. He remembered the sensation of being cut by the smell. It would lay him open, starting at his nose and cutting through flesh and bone relentlessly until he was a raw, twitching nerve. It cut over and over like a thin paper razor that didn’t cut deeply but didn’t stop cutting so that cut after cut penetrated deeper and deeper. It kept going until the constant annoyance was all that he could think of and then it would cut some more.

“Mom, I hate chestnuts!”

He couldn’t remember his mother ever saying anything in response but he could picture her smiling. She continued to roast chestnuts several times each holiday season and she ate them with relish. She didn’t care that he suffered. Perhaps she didn’t believe him. Perhaps she thought that he was lying to control her actions. At any rate, she didn’t change her behavior to eliminate the smell. It almost seemed like she did the opposite.

Eventually, he gave up saying anything or trying to let her know how much the smell of roasting chestnuts bothered him. It had always been a part of the holidays for him. He couldn’t remember a childhood holiday when he didn’t feel physically ill from the smell of chestnuts.

Eating them seemed like a minor pleasure for his mother while he felt as if the smell sliced through his head and drove nails through his brain. He accepted that his mother didn’t care how he felt or didn’t hear him of believe him and that he had to suffer. His protests had no effect on her. He couldn’t remember a time before his mother tortured him with the chestnut smell. There was no single memory but he had a constant feeling of frustration and not being loved or trusted or taken care of. There was a constant sense that he had been let down – not in every part of his life, but in some part of his life, perhaps a hidden part. It had become part of the background of his life. It was the chorus that framed everything else.

When he realized that, the feeling he experienced became himself. He was witnessing himself feel and what he felt was himself. His mother had undeniably done things but what they meant and what he accepted into his view of the world and of himself were up to him.

He had blamed her for victimizing him but maybe she was a victim, too. Based on various things that he had learned about her life after she’d died, he suspected that was true. She’d been deeply scarred by the war and events that preceded it. She’d been torn away from her own parents by the war. Perhaps the torture was her way of making him strong. Perhaps it was an act of love…

In seeing her as another wounded being rather than as a heartless victimizer, his view of her shifted. He saw the divine love in her and that inspired the divine in himself. He saw and responded to the divine person, not to her actions or his own expectations.

He brought the strength, courage, and understanding from his adult self into the pain and frustration perpetuated by his younger self. By honestly noting and acknowledging the pain and frustration, he accepted them. And by accepting them, by hearing them, they were transformed into what they were – wounds that cried out for acceptance and love. And he had that acceptance and love in abundance. That was the gift of his divine self. In this way, the pain and frustration were transcended but the energy and exuberance of youth were retained.

He returned to the clearing and saw that he was alone. He didn’t see his friend anywhere. He felt at peace. He sat in the clearing and enjoyed the forest and the feeling within him. The sense of frustration was gone. More importantly, the thing that had been hanging over his head didn’t seem to be there any longer. He hadn’t even noticed it was there until it was gone. He felt more complete than he had in a long time and knew that over time he would grow to feel even more complete. He stretched and yawned. He stood up and staggered a step or two noting with some surprise that he felt no tingling or tiredness. On the contrary, he felt energized. He felt lighter and more at ease.

He looked around and saw a path right in front of him that hadn’t been there before – at least he hadn’t seen it. He remembered his original intention to go into town. It looked like the new path was going in the right direction so he followed it. He walked with his eyes open. The fairy city was still present – he could see it whenever he closed his eyes – but it receded into the background. He didn’t know how long he had been in the forest and he wanted to get to the public library before it closed. He must have walked most of the way into town because he only had a little more to go. The weather turned cold again and he stopped to retrieve his warm outer clothing. He came out of the woods suddenly on a quiet side street he had never been down before but the familiar bustle of the town was visible a few blocks over. The sky had cleared and the sun shone brightly overhead.

He headed into town, thinking about his adventure as he walked, hands in his pockets. It was like a hall of mirrors. He remembered stepping between two mirrors once and becoming part of the infinite regress between them. There had been a slight bend to the line of reflections, as if they were sitting on a curve. He let that memory evaporate as he walked on and then recalled playing in the water at the beach as a child. He had swirled and tumbled with the rolling waves. He would let his body go limp and relaxed in the water as waves pushed him into shore.

Remarkably, by relaxing his muscles and letting go of his will, he always flowed with the water back to shore, though it probably looked pretty bad and he always got water and sand in his ears. He smiled remembering. Sometimes his neck or back would make a loud cracking noise like something was breaking as the water bent him into various shapes but he would always be unhurt and his muscles felt looser afterward. He never hit bottom, at least not hard enough to do any damage.

He knew that he wasn’t done. But he sensed that whatever emotions were next were still too tightly wound up – like tangles in a ball of string – but with time, patience, and witnessing awareness, he knew they would relax like a new flower opens in the spring or a seed softens in water.

#

© 2015, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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The Circle of Existence: Chapter 11 – Words, Concepts, Expectations

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bypeople-talking-441462_1280 DCH Park

“Miracles happen every day, change your perception of what a miracle is and you’ll see them all around you.”
– Jon Bon Jovi

“Studies have shown that 90% of error in thinking is due to error in perception.”

“Most of the mistakes in thinking are inadequacies of perception rather than mistakes of logic.”
– Edward de Bono

There is a literary and dramatic trope called a perception filter. With a perception filter in place, you tend not to see whatever it is hiding. You avoid it. You don’t see it, either the thing being hidden or the filter itself. You don’t notice them. You just avoid them. The filter doesn’t confer true invisibility but you tend to not notice things that are hidden by it.

The fact is that such perception filters are in place all around us. Real perception filters do not require a technological implementation. All they require is an assumption, an expectation, on the part of the viewer and that viewer will assume that he has seen something that is not there or ignore something that is – all in accordance with his expectations. In other words, the viewer will tend to see what he expects to see, regardless of whether or not what he expects is part of the reality around him.

It sounds crazy but expectations control perception. That means that you can control perception. You just have to control expectations. This seems very powerful but also very silly, even unbelievable. Isn’t it obvious that you see whatever is there to be seen, regardless of expectations?

Actually, you don’t. One very dramatic example is in the notion that the world is flat. Another is in the attitude with which telescopic observations consistent with the Copernican theory of the Universe were greeted. More recent examples include the attitudes that protected small pox (the piercing of which led to development of the first small pox vaccine), the attitude that protected disease in general (the piercing of which led to stopping a plague and the practice of epidemiology), the so-called Ultraviolet Catastrophe (which led to the creation of quantum theory), and the characterization of the chemical nature of DNA.

In the last cited example, people the world over, including leading scientists, assumed that the chemical structure of DNA had to be protein based because up to that time, protein was the only type of molecule that was known to form complex structures. Every complex structure in nature seemed to be based on protein so it seemed reasonable that DNA, which conveys complex information from one generation to the next, would be based on protein.

However every chemical analysis of DNA failed to detect any protein. The chemical nature of DNA remained a mystery until Watson and Crick famously threw out the assumption that DNA had to be protein based. Once they did that, they were free to look at the data with open eyes. They were free of their expectations and consequently, free to receive and follow their observations and able to perceive the right conclusion.

If anything, assumptions and expectations are even more common in everyday life. Lest you assume that such filtering of perception might have been true in the past but is no longer true, please see the Attention Experiment (its website is called “the invisible gorilla”). The Attention Experiment demonstrates that this phenomenon is still active today. (Chabris, Christopher and Simons, Daniel, “the invisible gorilla”, www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/gorilla_experiment.html, accessed 17 JUL 14.

Please note that the mere fact that this is going on today does not necessarily mean that we must be this way. It does not imply a boundary or limitation. It illustrates what is going on so that we can be more aware. By being more aware of what is going on (one hopes) we can notice when we slip into unthinking default behavior and perceptions and instead, do something about it.)

Perceptions determine the shape of society. If we’re not careful, those assumptions and expectations can control everything. They can shape how we interact with each other. They can shape how we see and understand ourselves. They can determine whole economies. Arguably, they already do.

How can you free yourself of such control? How can you notice such assumptions and expectations so that you can deal with them and free yourself to determine your own fate? Creative scientists, artists, philosophers, and clerics have wrestled with this question down the ages. Economists and politicians have been motivated by the idea of understanding the people and forces at work to better inspire folks and provide for their needs, hopefully creating a happier society.

To be sure, this is not true of everyone. There are some who seem to be focused on making money and amassing power over others. Their attitude seems to be that things are the way they are and they can’t be changed. They therefore try to fit in to the system as they find it. They are concerned with playing the game better rather than trying to define a better game.

Whether they realize it or not, by acceding to the status quo, they are supporting the status quo. The extant system reflects the choices of everyone who is alive now. If enough of those choices fall in line with the status quo, it should be no surprise that the status quo does not change.

Such change begins with you. I have found that precision and clarity in the things that I say is an important first step toward changing what I say. I cannot heal what I do not see. By the same token, I cannot change what I do not notice. My aim is to become more aware of what I say. Toward this end, I have found that scientific thinking, observation, and honesty are useful, although these things are by no means unique to science. Indeed, I find that they are common to all human pursuits.

What filter or expectations do you have? What do you take for granted or see as “just the way things are?” How do those assumptions shape your experience of things?

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More of the book, The Circle of Existence can be found at www.smashwords.com.

© 2015, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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The Circle of Existence: Chapter 8 – Turning Into the Pain

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by DCH Park

Fort Collins Back Pain by Ryan Weisgerber, https://www.flickr.com/photos/fortcollinschiropractor/6169824610/

Fort Collins Back Pain by Ryan Weisgerber, https://www.flickr.com/photos/fortcollinschiropractor/6169824610/

“My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”
– Michael Jordan

“Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage.”
– Niccolo Machiavelli

“But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.”
– Alan Watts

The other day I was coming up some stairs and overheard someone talking on the phone. What I heard was remarkable. The person was apparently celebrating something bad. I gathered that the other party had just shared something that had happened to him or her, probably expecting sympathy, blame, or some other standard means to enlarge the pain.

To her credit, the person whom I overheard did none of those things. Instead, she celebrated it. I doubt that she was trying to encourage more painful experiences with her celebration. Rather, she was remembering that there are no bad things. What she said about it confirmed that this was her attitude.

Rather than ask why a benevolent God (or Universe or whatever) could “let” “bad” things happen to “good” people, consider that there are no bad things. There are painful things (You can substitute any emotion you want in that sentence to replace the word “painful.”) but there are no bad things. The pain serves a purpose. It leads you directly to the wound.

Consider a splinter. You might not notice it at first but as time goes on, the damaged area becomes painful as infection sets in. As more time goes on, it becomes more painful. You can bandage the splintered area and try to cushion it. You can take analgesics to numb the pain (and all sensation along with it). That way you can continue to ignore it. However, the pain is doing you a service. It is showing you exactly where the splinter is. Whereas it might have been too small to notice at first, the pain shows you exactly where it is. As soon as the splinter is removed, healing begins and the wound feels better.

On flights they always say, “Please affix your own oxygen mask before attending to small children who may be traveling with you.” It is a reminder to take care of yourself first. The message conjures images of a small child who has collapsed for lack of oxygen. The well-meaning parent is slumped over for the same reason. The parent has collapsed in trying to get the child’s oxygen mask on first and failed to do so. Even if successful, I wonder, would the child be physically able to attach the parent’s mask? Would the child even be able to reach the dangling mask?

Another common example is found in the advice we give to drivers who are learning to deal with a skid. When the car is spinning out of control, we are told, the thing to do is to turn into the skid. The same advice is given to pilots. Similarly, seamen are taught to drop anchor (and if they have sails to trim them) if they are caught in a storm. They are taught to turn their bow into the storm and “ride it out.”

Individuals who have gone through military training will recognize the advice to run toward the explosion if your unit is targeted by artillery. The “natural” tendency is to run away from the explosion but artillery marksmen find their range by “bracketing.” They deliberately fire down range of their target and then deliberately fire up range of it. That way, they establish their range and they know that their intended target lies somewhere between these two. Then they fire succeeding shots within that range, first down range of the target, then up range of it, each time coming a little closer to the middle. When they hit their target, they “fire for effect.” They let loose with everything they have on the target.

Thus, while on the battlefield, you are actually safer if you run toward the first explosion. That will ideally get you outside of the field of effect. If you run the other way, away from the explosion, you might be running directly into the next blast. It is almost guaranteed that you will run into a blast if you continuously run away from the last explosion. This is counter to popular wisdom but it is in keeping with the advice given to drivers, pilots, sailors, and those seeking oxygen masks on a plane.

The advice that runs through all of these examples is that we heal, we (re)gain control, when we turn into the thing that brings pain, fear, etc. Indeed, it is never as bad as we expect it to be and the storm, spin, explosion, or whatever, is always worst before we go into it. It is never as bad as we imagine it will be. The shortest way to the other side is straight through.

The case of the oxygen masks may seem obscured compared to the other examples, but it is an excellent metaphor. There are people who put the happiness and fulfillment of others before their own. Such people often even define their own happiness in terms of others’. They often see themselves deriving their own happiness (satisfaction, etc.) from that of others. This means that they see themselves as having to make other people happy before they can be happy themselves. Similarly, there are whole industries devoted to creating and selling pain killers of various strengths. The benefit that such pain killers promise is a resumption or intensification of the same activity that caused the pain in the first place, usually in order to continue working! In both cases, the advice is to turn away from or ignore the pain or whatever is coming up within yourself and focus on something outside of yourself.

Thus, we are in an interesting situation. In cases in which lives are not seen to be in immediate danger, we are advised in one way. In situations that are seen as immediately life threatening, we are advised differently. The advice in the two situations is directly opposite. It is also fairly uniform within them. It does not seem to be affected by culture or other factors. Which one do you feel serves you and supports your further growth? Which one would you accept as being true?

I have found that in turning into the pain (fear, etc.) I was not only able to find the center of the wound, I was able to hear it and thus to heal it. In other words, the wound itself tells me what it needs, what it is crying out for. Filling the hole, providing what is missing, constitutes healing the wound. Once it is healed, it goes away like a vanishing fog but you need to listen to it to find out what it needs. In order to listen to it, it helps to be aware of it. That’s what turning into the pain, fear, etc. does.

For whatever reason or reasons, much of society is structured to encourage us to turn away from our pain unless a life threatening condition exists. Consider over-the-counter pain relief. This assumption – that pain, fear, etc. should be taken away without your conscious participation or even understanding – is common on many (perhaps all) levels of “mainstream” society as long as a life threatening situation does not exist. Why are there two conflicting messages?

I have learned over and over in science that if there are two messages about something, either there is something(s) that is(are) not well understood or one is a lie. In the first case, what generally happens is that one situation or both are eventually discovered to be special cases. What appeared to be two situations (or messages) are seen to be one simple one. The unions of quantum physics, Newtonian physics, and relativity are good examples. Newtonian physics is seen as the special case of quantum physics where things are very large. In the same way, Newtonian physics is seen as a special case of relativistic physics wherein things are extremely slow.

Is the advice to turn away from pain a special case in which lives are not threatened? In special cases, the rules are not changed – only the values they operate over change. This can be seen in the cases of Newtonian, quantum, and relativistic physics. It can also be seen in the case of squares, which are special cases of rectangles, and mammals, which are special cases of animals. However, in the different messages about how to deal with pain, rules do seem to change. In one case the suggested rule is to turn into the pain. In the other, the suggested rule is to turn away from the pain. This would seem to imply that one of them is a lie.

(Please note that it is a lie in that it is a delaying action. The Universe is good. There is no “bad” or “evil” as they are commonly understood. There is nothing to resist. The lie does nothing more than encourage a perception of separation between you and your divinity. It slows down your personal growth or even brings it to a standstill. Typically, other forces are accepted or inserted into that separation to be supported or profited. A clever lie even furthers evolution or ties itself to a fundamental truth, the way some gristle might be interwoven into the meat. But sooner or later, the lie will be revealed and further evolution will be stymied.

If, by that point, the unwanted delaying lie has been incorporated into the fabric of what you accept as the fundamental nature of things, you may not even see it.)

By turning into the pain, you can find the metaphorical splinter that causes the infection, remove it, and begin to heal. On the other hand, if you turn away from the pain, no matter where else in the Universe you turn, you will not find the splinter, the cause of your wound. By moving into your discomfort, you move closer to the cause of your wound. You move closer to healing it. By moving away from your discomfort, you move farther away from your healing.

Furthermore, removing a splinter is hardly a life threatening condition in most cases. It would seem that the advice to turn into the pain can lead you to the center of the wound in more situations than life threatening ones. On the other hand, turning away from the pain definitely does not apply in life threatening situations. Perhaps it doesn’t work at all. Perhaps it simply delays the consequences of the wound, allowing it to become even more exacerbated and (as in the case of over-the-counter analgesics) creating an opportunity for even more profit. (“Who is gathering that profit?” is a good question.)

Nature is so marvelously constructed that pain, fear, etc. is not only acutely felt (so it is hard to ignore), it tells you exactly where to look. “As below, so above.” The truth is the truth. Understanding it in one realm leads directly to understanding in other realms. If the realms look unconnected, it’s because one or the other or both are not well enough understood (yet). In other words, their commonality is not yet understood. Their connection to each other or to the truth is not yet understood or not understood well enough.

The only thing that blocks the discovery and articulation of truth is willing blindness to what is there. That’s what pain and other emotions do for us. They indicate our blind spots. What we do, whether we numb ourselves or turn into the pain, is up to us.

When we numb ourselves, we practice being blind. Such blindness or unwillingness is often a function of belief. Wherever such belief might come from, however, it encourages us to get things backward. Rather than being open to what is there and using that experience to lead to truth and further opening, such belief defines or declares what is “true” and shapes observations to fit that expectation. In other words, such blindness leads to less openness, less truth, which is only possible because you’ve numbed yourself.

How open are you to possibilities outside of the things you expect and assume? How do you find your blind spots? Do you turn into the pain or do you turn away from it?

###

More of the book, The Circle of Existence can be found at www.smashwords.com.

© 2015, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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”The Circle of Existence: Chapter 8 – Turning Into the Pain” by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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The Circle of Existence: Chapter 3 – Truth, Near Truth, Untruth

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by DCH Park

Truth Near Truth Untruth

“The glory which is built upon a lie soon becomes a most unpleasant incumbrance. How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again!”
– Mark Twain

“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived, and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.”
– John F. Kennedy

“If you have to lie, cheat, steal, obstruct and bully to get your point across, it must not be a point capable of surviving on its own merits.”
– Steven Weber

Consider a many faceted jewel. The truth is like a jewel. You cannot take the whole thing in at once. You can only see a part of the whole at a time, even in your mind’s eye. Indeed, in a single lifetime, you are currently lucky to be able to recognize and accurately convey just one facet of the jewel.

However, even though we each have a different facet to work with, there is only one jewel. Each facet fits with the others. You can go from any one facet to any other, because both are in the same jewel. In other words, the truth is the truth. Everything true is connected to everything else that is true. Every truth is connected.

This connection is one of the foundation principles in science and mathematics. In mathematics, a major way to prove something is true is to connect from something which is demonstrably true to the proposition and back again, from the proposition to that thing you know to be true. By building these chains of equivalencies, you are saying that the proposition is equivalent to the known truth. If one thing is true, they both must be true. Science works the same way. (There may be other ways. I am not a mathematician.)

This connection includes major facets or arcs as well as minor ones. “Size doesn’t matter.” “Small” truths are connected just as “big” truths are connected. What is true is true. This means that you can start with a “minor” truth and follow its connections to other truths. If something is found to be inconsistent, something is going on. Most likely, something is misunderstood or its appearance is misleading or one or more observations are in error or incomplete.

Untruths also exist. Leaving aside why they exist (which is a separate question and a worthy one), untruths all share the property that they are unconnected from truth. Usually, they are also unconnected from each other. Nevertheless, certain untruths are widely accepted and form the cores of fundamental beliefs in society. This is not as crazy as it sounds. Network theory provides a good way to think about it. Imagine two separate networks. Each network is internally consistent, as demonstrated by its interconnections. However, only one network is consistent with observed reality in every part of reality.

In other words, an untrue network may be consistent with reality in one or several nodes but it will be inconsistent with reality somewhere. Only the truth is consistent with reality everywhere. To the extent that reality is true, it must be consistent with and connected to the network that is true and disconnected with the network(s) that isn’t(aren’t) true. However, each network is internally consistent. You may not know that a given network is untrue until you find a disconnection. The standard that all of the sciences use is that of observed reality. Using this same standard, you may not know that a network is untrue until you try to connect with observed reality. Notice that this is consistent with the mathematical technique of proving the truth of something.

(Some people may assert that if there is a conflict between a belief and observed phenomena, the observation(s) must be wrong. In other words, they assert that belief or faith is never wrong. The process I am describing, of testing the connections between things and defining truth in terms of those connections and of physical reality, is the process by which science and mathematics have advanced throughout history. It is the process by which the entire race has been advanced countless times.

Besides, it seems to me that if there were a Creator (for argument’s sake), physical reality would be part of Creation. It would have to be consistent with the non-physical parts of Creation. Anything which is inconsistent with Creation would be untrue. It would ultimately not be useful in further advancing the race, which is, I think, the same thing.)

“Problems” arise due to the manner in which the network is untrue. The network is predicting consequences to actions that are not born out. Different consequences result from the actions taken. Problems arise.

There is no judgment or determination of one thing being better. In fact, there are many such networks possible. The only thing that distinguishes one from the rest is that it is consistent with observed reality. We call this the truth. Everything else is an untruth, a partial truth, or a deliberate lie. Examples are found in the parable of the Cave and the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes (In the original version of the story, after the little boy points out that the Emperor is parading down the street with no clothes on, he’s beaten and thrown in jail and the Emperor’s parade goes on.) but they also exist in society. (Finding those institutions is left as an exercise for the reader.)

You can’t get to an untruth from the truth and you can’t get to the truth from an untruth unless you accept a lie. This means that we have a way to “easily” distinguish truth from untruth – we just have to notice the disconnection. It’s a giveaway. That’s why those untruths and the institutions that are built upon them try very hard to distract you or cover over their state of disconnection. Nevertheless, that disconnection is there.

This applies to the implications of a truth (which give rise to expectations) as much as it does to the truth itself. It is also how scientists and mathematicians work. That us why Ernest Rutherford was so surprised to find alpha particles scattered at large angles by passing through a thin layer of metal foil. He was expecting them to have only minor deviations based on the prevailing theory. Since the observed scattering of alpha particles was verifiable and repeatable, it was presumed to be correct. The theory that led to the erroneous expectations had tobe wrong.

Rutherford is one example (“as if you fired a 15-inch shell at a piece of tissue paper and it came back and hit you.”) but the history of science is full of individuals exploring the implications of theories to either continue to accept them or to modify or replace them. The fact that the theory’s expectations were not met meant that the implications that gave rise to those expectations were not true. This meant that the theory, as it was understood, was not true. If the theory could not be adapted to fit the new observations, a different theory would be called for. This is exactly what happened. (The new theory has its own implications and expectations in turn. These expectations give rise to predictions which can then be measured against observations. To the extent that observed experimental results agree with predicted expectations, the theory is considered useful and is retained. As soon as observations differ from expectations (assuming the difference is verified) the theory is either altered or a new theory is proposed.) This process is common to all human endeavors (Ghiselin, Brewster (Editor), The Creative Process: Reflections on the Invention in the Arts and Sciences, University of California Press, 1985). In addition to being found in the sciences and mathematics, it is found in various arts. Any endeavor that relies upon creative insight to further the field relies on this process.

This is the way that we have been able to discern truth from untruth. It is commonly seen to take courage to honor the truth you see and to be open to hearing truth from others. But the “courage” that is seen in those instances is brought in to overcome problems thrown up by Ego.

Ego gives rise to secrets and hiding the truth. Sometimes, fear comes into play. These things can often come from personal pride. Economic considerations also come up. People have constructed some economies in such a way as to confound these Ego-based considerations with real world considerations. Others have worked to make these distinctions clear. (See, for example, alternative views on economic systems and the nature of value as it is recognized in various countries, most notably in Europe, and the declaration of the King of Bhutan to maximize “Gross National Happiness” instead of GNP. See also the economic consequences of the King’s announcement.)

Such artifacts of Ego, indeed, the Egos themselves, come from the wounds that you carry. If you heal a wound, you are free to eliminate the Ego that comes from it, and you are free to embrace the truth a little bit more. No courage is needed. In fact, once the wound from which Ego springs is at least recognized, if not healed, it becomes clear that it is easier to honor the truth than to continue to hold with an untruth.

Nevertheless, many of the things we find in life are not true. The disconnections between what we do (and what society teaches us to do) and the truth show up in our lives as problems. At first, they are small and easily overlooked or ignored. As time goes on, these problems or disconnections have consequences that are bigger and bigger. Eventually, what started out as a gentle tap on the shoulder becomes a 2×4 to the back of the head. We are at the 2×4 stage as a race, now.

This is perhaps the greatest, most important step to take in this life. It is important to realize that some things are true and others are not. Even more remarkably, some of the things that our society and/or our economy want us to accept are not true.

Discerning and honoring what is true from what is untrue is important. If we are to survive, we need to be able to do these things. However, to make matters muddier, a common practice is to confound the truth with untruth. The hope is that you will accept the untruth along with the truth. This can happen if you fail to notice the untruth or if you accept that you must take the untruth in order to have the truth.

However, experience shows that truth is like a fish. In cleaning a fish, you cut away the guts and other unwanted organs, the scales, tail and fins, and perhaps even the bones. In making a fillet, you cut away anything you don’t want to eat. Even if you leave the bones in, you don’t eat the bones.

In the same way, you can separate the truth from untruth and “clean” it. You don’t have to “swallow it whole.” Each part must be separated from the others and its truth or untruth determined separate from any other part. When the untruth is discarded, the truth that remains will be whole as parts of the many faceted jewel. The parts you don’t have yet will be revealed through their connections with the rest of the jewel.

###

More of the book, The Circle of Existence can be found at www.smashwords.com.

© 2015, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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”The Circle of Existence: Chapter 3 – Truth, Near Truth, Untruth” by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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The Big Storm

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by DCH Park

monsoon-390944_1280Kiran woke to the sounds of rain and wind. He was still a little guy – much smaller than he would be as a full grown human – but it was obvious that the storm was a bad one. It had been raining for seven days and who could tell when it would end? Through his window he could see that the sky was dark and grey. Thick clouds hung very low and an unbroken pall hid the sun. There was rain and mud everywhere. It even obscured the roadway as water flowed over the roads. He guessed it emptied into the river. They said on the radio that the reservoir was completely filled. He eyed the hills above the town nervously.

He ate a hearty meal of crackers and peanut butter which represented the last of his food. “At least,” he thought to himself ruefully, “there’s plenty of water!” He quenched his thirst with a long, deep drink of cold water, relishing the feeling of refreshment and aliveness that sparked through him. Then he busied himself packing some clothes and rain gear, still tasting the water in his mouth and relishing the sensation of wetness.

“How ironic,” he thought.

He would have to seek out shelter at the nearby school. It was on a hill so it probably wouldn’t be flooded. The various animals and humans from the town all knew to go there in an emergency and this was shaping up to be one. He remembered how strange the sky had looked just before the storm. It had been green and clouds had slowly filled the sky, blotting out the sun. Then the rain started.

He brought himself back to the present moment and finished packing his pack. The school promised plenty of food, blankets, and cots. Surely the different creatures from the town wouldn’t eat each other. There wouldn’t be a need to hunt because there would be plenty of food. Besides, they needed each other. The storm made that abundantly clear. He doubted they would fight but he wasn’t sure. He would have to go to the school to see.

It was just as well. He had been getting a little anxious waiting for the storm to end. There had been nothing to do about the house. This way, he could get out and maybe help others. He finished with his bundle, made sure all the lights were off (even though the electricity had gone out the first day of the storm), blew out the candles, and strapping the pack on his back, headed into the storm.

It was wet and blustery but not as bad as it had been a few hours ago. Then the wind had raged and rain blew sideways. Now it was still windy but it wasn’t as windy as it had been. He could negotiate the walk to the school.

Crossing the road was another matter. The water wasn’t as swift as some rivers that he had seen but it was fast and muddy and the road beneath it was slick. He had to walk carefully so that his feet stayed under him. When he finally reached the other side, he sighed with relief and was glad that he didn’t have to cross more streets on the way up the hill. After crossing, he was on the same side of the street as the school and an unbroken sidewalk led up to the school property. The raised sidewalk was relatively clear since rain spilled into the street.

When Kiran got to the school, he was checked in and someone showed him to the cot that was assigned to him. He dropped his dripping pack and headed out to the communication center to see if he could help anyone. He quickly found a group that was headed out and attached himself to it. Apparently Lion had gone out by himself some time ago to rescue a stalled bus.

The bus had been headed for the school when it had gotten lost a few hours ago. Apparently it had gotten swamped or stuck in the mud. Lion had gone out to rescue the bus passengers, which apparently included some children, but no one had heard from him for a couple of hours. The rescue group that he joined was composed of Wolf and a few of his pack-mates and Frog. Being amphibious and a keen observer, Frog naturally led. Wolf and his pack-mates were content to follow Frog. Kiran was, too.

Frog had noticed the direction Lion had headed off in, so he knew which way to start in but moved slower and slower the farther they moved into the storm. It wasn’t that the storm itself was fighting them. In fact, it was gentler than it had been when Lion had gone out. What slowed him down was that following a trail through the storm was hard. It would have been impossible to make any progress at all if they didn’t know the general area that the bus was going through.

None of the others complained. Nevertheless, after a particularly long stop, Frog turned to the others and admitted that he didn’t know which way to proceed. Wolf said, “Don’t worry. We’ll take it from here. With all this rain, smells are pretty faint, that is, the ones that haven’t been washed away completely, and you have to get your snout really close to anything to pick up a scent but we have eyes and there are a few of us. We’ll find him and the passengers, including the little ones.”

With that the wolves spread out, being careful to keep each other in sight while they searched for any clue. There weren’t many wolves in the group but they separated to increase their search area as much as possible. Without a further word they swept first left and then swung right, covering the entire field.

Finally they all came back to the porch they were using to get out of the worst of the falling rain (though it did nothing for the wind or splashes) and Wolf said, “We don’t know where he is. We’ve looked everywhere.”

Kiran said, “We can’t give up on him! He wouldn’t give up on us!”

Frog replied, “No one is suggesting that we should but what else can we do?”

Kiran said, “I don’t know.”

They all sat, cold, wet, and miserable, staring at the rain in silence. After a while Kiran said, “Let’s spread out and listen.”

Wolf said, “We listened, too, of course. We heard nothing. Besides, the roar of the rain and the wind and the thunder makes it hard to hear anything.”

Kiran said, “Is there anything else you can think of? Anything else to do?”

“I can’t think of anything.”

So they formed a circle around the porch and spread out. As each one sat down in the rain, he closed his eyes and concentrated on the sounds that came to him.

They sat that way for a long time, listening to the sounds and rhythms of the rain and the wind. They got soaked through and Kiran gave up all hope of keeping even his underwear dry. They accepted this in stoic silence. They sat and listened some more.

When they were shivering and so chilled that hypothermia was looming, one of Wolf’s pack-mates raised his paw to beckon them over. They silently gathered around him and he said, “Do you hear that? It’s faint but I can just make it out.”

Kiran listened. He could hear nothing but the other wolves could. Wolf said, “Good job, brother!” He loped off in the direction of the hills. The others followed, happy to be moving because of the measure of warmth it promised.

As they followed the sound, it grew louder. Eventually even Kiran could hear it. It was definitely Lion roaring to be heard.

They eventually found a deep ravine but could see no bus. The roaring was definitely coming from the ravine. Kiran looked at it. He could see signs of a recent mudslide, which wasn’t too surprising given all the rain. He said, “It looks like the bus fell or was washed into the ravine and then was buried in mud.”

Frog said, “How do we get to them?”

Wolf said, “We dig them out!”

So they started calling for Lion. Once he had indicated the best place for them to climb out, they started to dig through the mud. Luckily it was relatively soft and a lot of the water had drained out of it so out was fairly solid.

Still, it was hard and dirty work. When they reached the window and had pulled the youngsters and other passengers and Lion to relative safety, they felt like celebrating. They did a quick headcount and after verifying that everyone was present, they headed back to the school. When they got there, everyone was dried off, given a blanket, and hot soup to eat. They could feel the warmth spreading through then as they ate.

Soon they felt much warmer and the children felt gratitude for the efforts of their rescuers and the rescuers felt grateful that they could help everyone feel more secure. It was the best time ever even though the children couldn’t hear a thing. They were nearly deaf from all the roaring.

###

© 2015, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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”The Big Storm” by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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The Circle of Existence: Chapter 2 – The Ultimate Mystery

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by DCH Park

mystery

“The glory which is built upon a lie soon becomes a most unpleasant incumbrance. How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again!”
– Mark Twain

“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived, and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.”
– John F. Kennedy

“If you have to lie, cheat, steal, obstruct and bully to get your point across, it must not be a point capable of surviving on its own merits.”
– Steven Weber

Consider a many faceted jewel. The truth is like a jewel. You cannot take the whole thing in at once. You can only see a part of the whole at a time, even in your mind’s eye. Indeed, in a single lifetime, you are currently lucky to be able to recognize and accurately convey just one facet of the jewel.

However, even though we each have a different facet to work with, there is only one jewel. Each facet fits with the others. You can go from any one facet to any other, because both are in the same jewel. In other words, the truth is the truth. Everything true is connected to everything else that is true. Every truth is connected.

This connection is one of the foundation principles in science and mathematics. In mathematics, a major way to prove something is true is to connect from something which is demonstrably true to the proposition and back again, from the proposition to that thing you know to be true. By building these chains of equivalencies, you are saying that the proposition is equivalent to the known truth. If one thing is true, they both must be true. Science works the same way.

This connection includes major facets or arcs as well as minor ones. “Size doesn’t matter.” “Small” truths are connected just as “big” truths are connected. What is true is true. This means that you can start with a “minor” truth and follow its connections to other truths. If something is found to be inconsistent, something is going on. Most likely, something is misunderstood or its appearance is misleading or one or more observations are in error or incomplete.

Untruths also exist. Leaving aside why they exist, untruths all share the property that they are unconnected from truth. Usually, they are also unconnected from each other. Nevertheless, certain untruths are widely accepted and form the cores of fundamental beliefs in society. This is not as crazy as it sounds. Network theory provides a good way to think about it. Imagine two separate networks. Each network is internally consistent, as demonstrated by its interconnections. However, only one network is consistent with observed reality in every part of reality.

In other words, an untrue network may be consistent with reality in one or several nodes but it will be inconsistent with reality somewhere. Only the truth is consistent with reality everywhere. To the extent that reality is true, it must be consistent with and connected to the network that is true and disconnected with the network(s) that isn’t(aren’t) true. However, each network is internally consistent. You may not know that a given network is untrue until you find a disconnection. The standard that all of the sciences use is that of observed reality. Using this same standard, you may not know that a network is untrue until you try to connect with observed reality. Notice that this is consistent with the mathematical technique of proving the truth of something.

“Problems” arise due to the manner in which the network is untrue. The network is predicting consequences to actions that are not born out. Different consequences result from the actions taken. Problems arise.

There is no judgment or determination of one thing being better. In fact, there are many such networks possible. The only thing that distinguishes one from the rest is that it is consistent with observed reality. We call this the truth. Everything else is an untruth, a partial truth, or a deliberate lie. Examples are found in the parable of the Cave and the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes but they also exist in society.

You can’t get to an untruth from the truth and you can’t get to the truth from an untruth unless you accept a lie. This means that we have a way to “easily” distinguish truth from untruth – we just have to notice the disconnection. It’s a giveaway. That’s why those untruths and the institutions that are built upon them try very hard to distract you or cover over their state of disconnection. Nevertheless, that disconnection is there.

This applies to the implications of a truth (which give rise to expectations) as much as it does to the truth itself. It is also how scientists and mathematicians work. That us why Ernest Rutherford was so surprised to find alpha particles scattered at large angles by passing through a thin layer of metal foil. He was expecting them to have only minor deviations based on the prevailing theory. Since the observed scattering of alpha particles was verifiable and repeatable, it was presumed to be correct. The theory that led to the erroneous expectations had tobe wrong.

Rutherford is one example but the history of science is full of individuals exploring the implications of theories to either continue to accept them or to modify or replace them. The fact that the theory’s expectations were not met meant that the implications that gave rise to those expectations were not true. This meant that the theory, as it was understood, was not true. If the theory could not be adapted to fit the new observations, a different theory would be called for. This is exactly what happened. This process is common to all human endeavors. In addition to being found in the sciences and mathematics, it is found in various arts. Any endeavor that relies upon creative insight to further the field relies on this process.

This is the way that we have been able to discern truth from untruth. It is commonly seen to take courage to honor the truth you see and to be open to hearing truth from others. But the “courage” that is seen in those instances is brought in to overcome problems thrown up by Ego.

Ego gives rise to secrets and hiding the truth. Sometimes, fear comes into play. These things can often come from personal pride. Economic considerations also come up. People have constructed some economies in such a way as to confound these Ego-based considerations with real world considerations. Others have worked to make these distinctions clear.

Such artifacts of Ego, indeed, the Egos themselves, come from the wounds that you carry. If you heal a wound, you are free to eliminate the Ego that comes from it, and you are free to embrace the truth a little bit more. No courage is needed. In fact, once the wound from which Ego springs is at least recognized, if not healed, it becomes clear that it is easier to honor the truth than to continue to hold with an untruth.

Nevertheless, many of the things we find in life are not true. The disconnections between what we do (and what society teaches us to do) and the truth show up in our lives as problems. At first, they are small and easily overlooked or ignored. As time goes on, these problems or disconnections have consequences that are bigger and bigger. Eventually, what started out as a gentle tap on the shoulder becomes a 2×4 to the back of the head. We are at the 2×4 stage as a race, now.

This is perhaps the greatest, most important step to take in this life. It is important to realize that some things are true and others are not. Even more remarkably, some of the things that our society and/or our economy want us to accept are not true.

Discerning and honoring what is true from what is untrue is important. If we are to survive, we need to be able to do these things. However, to make matters muddier, a common practice is to confound the truth with untruth. The hope is that you will accept the untruth along with the truth. This can happen if you fail to notice the untruth or if you accept that you must take the untruth in order to have the truth.

However, experience shows that truth is like a fish. In cleaning a fish, you cut away the guts and other unwanted organs, the scales, tail and fins, and perhaps even the bones. In making a fillet, you cut away anything you don’t want to eat. Even if you leave the bones in, you don’t eat the bones.

In the same way, you can separate the truth from untruth and “clean” it. You don’t have to “swallow it whole.” Each part must be separated from the others and its truth or untruth determined separate from any other part. When the untruth is discarded, the truth that remains will be whole as parts of the many faceted jewel. The parts you don’t have yet will be revealed through their connections with the rest of the jewel.

###

More of the book, The Circle of Existence can be found at www.smashwords.com.

© 2015, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

Creative Commons License
”The Circle of Existence: Chapter 3 – The Ultimate Mystery” by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Dad’s Watch

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by DCH Park

Montauk Point Lighthouse taken in the early morning hours of 12/10/2005

by Wolfgang Wander (GFDL 1.2)

My dad died ten years ago. I still have his watch. It’s a heavy thing, gleaming and golden, with a raised square on the crystal over the date. It sits, quiet and weighty. A silent communion with ghosts.

I’m sure it still works, though I’ve never tried it. Never wanted to. I remember seeing him adjust it on his wrist years before he was injured by the strokes, before his long slide into shadow.

As he told it, on the morning of his first stroke, he woke up feeling odd. He wanted to go to the doctor but my mother objected. She told him to take some aspirin or a nap. When the next morning came and he was no better, they did go to the doctor but by that time, the damage was done.

Years later, long after they had both passed away, I told that story to my brother. To my surprise, he had heard the same story, but in his version our mother wanted to go to the doctor and our father had objected. I assume that he had gotten his story from our mother. Two versions of the same story but with the roles reversed. Since they were both long gone, there was no way to tell which one had been telling the truth. Maybe it didn’t matter.

In the final analysis, we judge by the feeling we have. Whether feeling leads to belief or belief leads to feeling is immaterial if it ends there. However, it rarely, if ever, does. Beliefs can be adopted from the people around us regardless of how we feel. Which path we follow has effects that continue to ripple out from the initial decision, like a stone thrown into a calm lake.

After his first stroke, dad began to give his life up a little bit at a time. He shuffled about with a cane at first. He laughed as I teased him to keep him working and walking. My mother and I would take him out for lunch or to be among people or just to get some air and sunshine, even though it took thirty minutes or more to get him dressed and out the door. I didn’t notice at first how trying the whole process was for him but it grew minutely more arduous over time. Eventually, he gave it up altogether.

He stopped wearing his watch after that first stroke. It was heavy and he didn’t have a reason to know the time. He always intended to put it back on after he got better but he never did. Instead, his hand withered into a claw. His whole left side became a remnant. A golden watch dial had little meaning, no matter how much it gleamed. Time was marked instead by his creeping descent into disability.

I am left to remember two fathers. I know they are both the same man, but they seem like different people. One is resigned to dying. The other is busy living. One is letting go of life by degrees and the other is remarkably robust. They hardly seem like the same man. Yet at the end of his slow fade, he held onto the final shreds of life with the same fierce tenacity that marked the living man.

I remember one time, when I was a young teenager, I asked him directly why he stayed with my mother. They seemed like a mismatched pair. He was calm and nurturing, if a bit exacting and proper. She seemed harsh and demanding. She literally yelled at him for days whenever they argued or something didn’t go as she’d expected it to. When she yelled, he would sit silently, close his eyes, and listen to it all, even if it went on for days.

He responded to my question without hesitation, as if he’d been thinking about it every day with no one to talk with. He said that she had an ability to do amazing things. Her energy and joy were incredible. He loved that about her. In fact, he had fallen in love with her because of it. This was a side of her that I had rarely seen. His voice shook with the intensity of his feeling.

But he also said that she was afraid. She couldn’t always reveal that energy and joy because of her fear and she most feared those closest to her. He hoped that one day she would feel comfortable and safe enough with him to share her energy and joy again, so they could both revel in it and dance together again. He cried. We held each other for a long time afterward.

Listening to him, I flashed on a memory from years before. I couldn’t have been more than four or five years old. Both of my parents were doctors and we were living on the grounds of a sprawling hospital complex in a separate building for the doctors’ families. My parents had to drive a couple of miles to get to work.

One day, it snowed so hard that the hospital shut down early. My parents were stranded at work. They had to walk home. I remember eagerly watching for them through the window and how happy I was to see them tramping through the snow. They were walking with a neighbor of ours, apparently enjoying themselves. They were talking and laughing. My mother seemed animated.

For me, that helped to explain a lot. It explained the infinite patience he showed her and the countless moments he spent with her, listening to her rant. I don’t know what passed between them in their private moments, but in the end, he literally gave her power over his life. He gave her what she asked for.

When his time came, the doctor called from the hospital saying that we should get there immediately. I don’t think he realized that we were a continent away. I notified my brother and we got the next flight to New York. I hadn’t even known that dad was in the hospital. It happened that quickly. We had left him in a nursing home to get better so we could move him to the west coast to be with us. When we left, he was getting stronger, or so we thought.

We had barely gotten back from our initial trip when we got the call to return. We flew over night to get there and drove straight to the hospital from the airport. He looked shrunken and alone in the sterile room. Everything seemed unnaturally white and bright. He was silent except for his breathing. On top of the bedclothes, his hand was warm but stiff.

He had acute kidney failure. The nurse in the home had said that he’d stopped eating and drinking. “Come on, Dr. Lee,” she had said. “You’re a doctor. You know what’ll happen if you don’t drink.”

He’d looked at her and nodded.

He’d stopped trying to live. He had chosen to die. He had shared the last fifty years of his life with our mother. After she was gone, he had nothing to do, or so he thought. So he went about dying.

He had a clause in his living will against intravenous feeding, so none was provided. By the time we arrived at the hospital he was unconscious. We set up a vigil. We took turns alternating between sitting with him and trying to catch some sleep in the second bed. He was alone in a semi-private room so there was no one to distract us.

When my turn came, I was exhausted and laid down but sleep was impossible in that room, even after the flight. I don’t think either of us found the room very hospitable. After the first night we gave up trying to sleep.

I had one sided conversations or silently remembered with him for hours. Sometimes I sang to him. I remembered the way he used to sing Korean love songs when we were out driving. I was no more than ten or eleven years old. I had no idea what the words meant but they sounded sad. It made him feel happy to be able to share them. Afterwards, I always felt closer to him, like we shared something that only we knew.

Sometimes we would talk or argue on those drives but most of the time he sang or we listened to financial news radio or sat in silence. At such times, he would often raise his hand and slap me on the knee, once, twice, three times. It stung. He always had a big smile on his face. It was his way of saying, “Thank you for being here with me.”

I remembered those songs and knee slaps as I sat with him in the hospital. I said, “Thanks, dad. I know you’re tired. Thanks for everything. You can go now. It’s alright.”

He visibly relaxed. The talking and singing helped. He was comforted by our presence. But he didn’t die. After thirty-six hours at his bedside we were exhausted. We decided to go to their house to get a few hours of rest. The nurses promised to call us immediately if anything happened.

The drive to their house was no more than thirty minutes long. As we were pulling into the driveway, we got the call. He had passed. My brother hung up the phone.

“I guess he wanted to be alone,” I said.

“Yeah. It happens that way sometimes.”

“It’s funny. We come all this way and go through all this so he wouldn’t be alone and in the end, he waits for us to leave.”

“Some people want privacy.”

“Hm. I don’t feel sleepy now. I think I’m going to go the watch the sun rise over the water. Do you want to come?”

“No. I’m exhausted. I just want to sleep.”

“OK.” I restarted the engine and he got out. “I’ll see you in a few hours.”

I drove with the windows down and the heat up as the winter wind rushed past. Without thinking about it too much, I found myself at the easternmost parking lot of the little island that protected the big island from the ocean. The small island was little more than a large sand bar but it held a gorgeous beach. Surprisingly, the parking lot wasn’t deserted, though the inhabitants of the few cars were not in evidence.

A lighthouse was set back from the water. A sandy path snaked through the tall grass, connecting the lighthouse with the beach. Small patches of snow were scattered about on the leeward sides of dunes. A few intrepid gulls wheeled about in the rising sun, searching for scraps.

The ocean was choppy. I had never come to the beach with my dad in winter before, but he loved the water. He’d been a champion swimmer in high school. I remembered watching him swim at the beach. He’d go out in a straight line for about a mile. Then he’d turn and swim as far parallel to shore before turning again to swim back into shore. He’d walk the distance back to us from where he’d landed. A huge square. He used to make the lifeguards nervous.

I laughed at that, remembering the man. He didn’t solve problems, he dissected them. We would often spar with each other late into the night. It didn’t really matter what the debate was about. We debated on any topic that came up. We even argued about debate.

It was such an odd way to have quality father-son time. I challenged him on it. He explained his belief in Hegelian dialectics. He said that each side had a sacred duty to argue as forcefully as possible. If he was so forceful that he happened to steamroll over an opponent, that wasn’t his problem. It was his duty. It was his opponent’s duty to be even more forceful if he could be.

Arguing as forcefully as he could was his way of honoring his opponent. Arguing with him was like standing up in gale force winds. He debated with religious intensity. And he was always debating. He loved debate. But that meant that he also loved his opponent. To him, it was obvious that debate and love were bound up together. He loved fiercely. He debated fiercely, too.

He loved ballroom dance. He would escort my mom to the dance floor and together they would amaze everyone. They moved with a lightness and flow that carried them around the floor effortlessly. It wasn’t just that they moved so well, it was that they enjoyed it so much. I never saw her look happier than when they danced. I never saw him look more elegant and poised. It was as if they became magical incarnations of dance itself. But, of course, that all ended.

As his horizons shrank to the size of his bed, we expected each Christmas would be his last. Yet every year, he would go on to see another. He survived over eleven years that way. In the end, he survived my mom, which surprised us all at the time but perhaps it shouldn’t have. She took care of him but in a way, he was also supporting her. They both took ill one January with pneumonia. He survived and even put on weight. She did not. She never woke up. He accepted the news of her death in silence. He died less than two weeks after she did.

The wind had penetrated my coat and left me thoroughly chilled. I left the crashing waves behind and hurried back to the car. I looked at the sand and the hardy, salt-loving plants growing beside the wooden planks that defined the path. Looking up, I saw that the sun had risen a fair distance into the sky. It wasn’t red any longer. The stony lighthouse overlooking the parking lot stood, resolute and apparently unchanged.

I suddenly realized that being the older brother, I was now the “patriarch” of the family. It was a strange and unnatural feeling. It felt like a set of too-baggy clothes.
As I played with this, I climbed back into the car, turned the heat on high, and headed back to the house, the windows closed this time. I wanted to get some sleep before I turned to the tasks ahead.

© 2015, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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”Dad’s Watch” by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Free As A Bird

by Ingrid Dean

by Menke Dave, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

by Menke Dave, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

My mother, whom I loved dearly, passed away at the age of sixty-two. She was a lifelong smoker, which severely impaired her health during the last ten years of her life. She suffered through several strokes, open-heart surgery, and other major health problems. Eventually she was homebound; connected to a thirty-foot air line and nasal cannula.

My father had passed away, so Mom lived alone. Basically all she could do for entertainment was read or watch television. To give her something to do, I bought a bird feeder and birdhouse and hung them in the tree that stood in front of her kitchen window. Her favorite pastime soon became sitting on a stool in the kitchen to watch the birds—some days for hours at a time.

She enjoyed watching the many different birds that came to the feeder. Her favorite were the chickadees. They were always so busy and happy—and they traveled in groups. Whenever I came over for coffee, Mom would tell me how she loved the chickadees best. During one of our last conversations before her death, she told me that she wanted to be one of them—she was tired of being tied down and wanted to be as free as a bird. This was early November.

A few days before Thanksgiving, Mom became very ill. She did not want to go to the hospital because she felt she would not come home this time. I basically forced her to go to emergency; where she was admitted into the hospital.

My nephew, Jason, had come down from Marquette to go deer hunting with me. Jason was only fifteen and never had a father. He had a difficult life, so as his uncle, I acted as his father figure and had gotten him addicted to deer hunting. When Jason arrived I told him that his grandmother was very ill and that we probably would not go hunting. Jason was disappointed but said he understood.

We went to the hospital and visited Mom. Before I went in the room, I spoke with a nurse who was also a personal friend. She told me that my mother was failing and that she would probably pass away in three to seven days. Jason and I then visited with Mom separately, for about an hour apiece. When I spoke with Mom, she said worriedly, “Ken, this time it is different. What is happening to me?”

Although I tried to make her feel better, she told me she thought she was dying. She then asked if I was going to take Jason hunting that day. I told her no. It was windy, dark, and miserable outside. We would just stay in town and then come back later in the afternoon to visit her again. Mom insisted I take Jason hunting, stating it was her wish that I do so and that I was not going to disappoint him or her. She told me point blank to leave, go hunting, and that when we came back later we had better have a deer hunting story for her.

I hugged and kissed Mom good-bye and left, promising to do as she asked.

I told Jason that we had been ordered by Grandma to go hunting. Jason was happy about this; even though I told him her situation was dire. Jason loved his grandmother—and he would be sad when she died—but her death had been expected several times during the past few years. We agreed to follow Mom’s orders.

When we reached the woods I sent Jason down the trail by himself, to a deer blind I had prepared for him earlier that fall. To make him feel better, I told Jason I was also going to hunt, but that I wanted to stay near the car. After he was out of sight, I sat on the hood of the car, thinking about Mom and our life together. I did not get my gun out as hunting was the last thing on my mind.

I had parked the car in the middle of a small field. After about an hour, the weather abruptly changed from dark and dismal to bright and sunny with a light breeze. I spotted a lone bird flying across the field toward my car. As it came closer, I was amazed. It was a chickadee, about the size of a robin, which is huge for this type of bird.

The chickadee flew right to the car and landed next to me on the hood. It then flitted around the car, perching on the hood next to me several times. It would not leave. Eventually I found myself talking to the bird. The situation was extremely odd; the size of the bird, the fact that it was alone, and that it was so friendly and unafraid.

After a time, I heard a motor and saw a truck coming down the road. I recognized it as belonging to my best friend, Charlie Willour. I instantly knew why Charlie was there. Mom must have died.

As Charlie drove up, the chickadee flew in front of my face and then left. Charlie got out of this truck and gave me the news I expected hear: Mom had died about one hour earlier.

I knew my mother had visited me for the last time. She had come to say good-bye and to assure me that she was happy and at last as free as a bird. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that freedom for some does come in death.

More like this and some of Ingrid’s other work can be found at www.spiritofthebadge.com.

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Charley Girl Acts Smart

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by DCH Park

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Picture by Chelsea Nesvig

He pulled the container of eggs out of the refrigerator. It had been a little over a week since he’d hard-boiled and peeled them but he figured they would still be good. He didn’t expect that Thanksgiving would adversely affect the eggs. He thought they would still be there sitting in the refrigerator after they were done eating turkey. He was wrong.

He opened the container to find slightly discolored eggs. A reddish tinge seemed to be spreading on them. He guessed that it was some sort of bacterium. There was a whitish, watery liquid on the bottom of the container, too, and he noticed an odor of ripe decay.

That didn’t stop Charley Girl, though. If anything, the odor of over-ripe eggs made her more frenzied. She furiously wagged her tail and danced about. All of her attention was focused on the eggs. When she wasn’t dancing, she sat expectantly, sniffing the air. She tried to be good and sit still but she was too excited. A whine occasionally escaped her lips as if to remind him that she was there – as if he could forget her.

He remembered that one theory held that the first dogs ate garbage. The theory suggested that that was how the barrier between humans and dogs was first breached. But however it had been first breached, it had been. Since then both dogs and humans had made progress. They were fed things that were not rotten now but dogs in general seemed to sniff out garbage and were known for putting their noses in unpleasant things, although to be fair, people sometimes ate pretty rotten things, too. He remembered a description of cheese that characterized the dairy product as rotten milk. And wasn’t there a bacterium that was used in cheese-making that was responsible for body odor? And so-called “dry aged beef” was really rotten meat.

At any rate, on more than one walk Charley Girl had apparently reveled in smelling where garbage bags had been and even eating things from off the street or that had been found in the woods and she definitely got her share of fresh dog food. He could only imagine what a truly hungry dog would eat.

He let that thought recede back into the mists it emerged from. In the present moment Charley Girl was very excited over the eggs. There were three eggs in the container. He looked around. Fitzwilly was nowhere to be seen. He was probably in another part of the house doing doggie things.

He decided to give the eggs to the dogs if the bacteria would wash off. They were slippery but as he rubbed the first one under the water, the redness came off. He smelled the egg. He broke it open and smelled the inside. He didn’t want to eat it but it seemed to be okay. The bacteria didn’t seem to have penetrated into the egg. They seemed to be confined to the layer he’d washed away.

As he ran the water and washed the rest of the eggs, Charley Girl got even more excited. Fitzwilly must have heard the commotion because he came running.

Charley Girl snatched the first egg out of his hand and ran into the nearby dog crate just as Fitzwilly came down the stairs. There, she consumed the egg greedily while Fitzwilly’s attention was focused on the remaining eggs.

There were two eggs left. He gave one to Fitzwilly, and called Charley Girl. He hadn’t quite decided what to do. He had some vague intention of splitting the remainder somehow but he wasn’t sure how. She outweighed the smaller dog by factor of over 2 but he had nothing to measure the egg with.

He needn’t have bothered. Charley Girl stayed in the crate, eating her egg and sniffing pieces of it out of the bedding. He turned back to the smaller dog. He was attacking the egg with comedic gusto. The egg was almost as big as his head. It was certainly bigger than his mouth. But that didn’t stop him or even slow him down. He bit it in two, revealing the yolk, and proceeded to eat the white half. He saved the yolk for last. Was he “saving the best for last” or eating the part he liked most first? Fitzwilly gave no clue but he stripped the egg white from around the yolk, leaving the naked yolk on the floor along with scraps of white. He ate the yolk in one massive bite and looked up at him licking his lips. There appeared to be a smile on his face.

He called again and Charley Girl still refused to come so he gave Fitzwilly the third egg. He ate it greedily and quickly. By the time that Charley Girl came out of the crate, there were only scraps of egg white left. Fitzwilly licked them up off the floor while Charley Girl was sniffing around, getting oriented. No doubt, she could smell the eggs but she wasn’t sure where the smell came from. Fitzwilly finished “cleaning up.” Charley Girl sniffed the air then went over to where Fitzwilly sat and smelled the smaller dog’s face. Fitzwilly smelled hers.

© 2015, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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”Charley Girl Acts Smart” by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Human Nature

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by DCH Park

Sun Moon fullOne day, as the Sun was passing through the sky, gazing at the entirety of the Earth, it suddenly occurred to him that although he saw many things in his brilliant gaze, he didn’t see everything. He saw the stones and the soil of the earth and its rivers, lakes, and seas. He saw the mountains and the valleys, the snow and the ice and the clouds but he didn’t see very far beyond the surfaces of things.

He pondered this for a long time and it seemed to be true so he took his questions to the Moon. She represented the cool, dark parts of existence just as he represented the fire and light. She was nurturing, bubbly, and active, though much of that activity was hidden. He was calm, still, and clear.

She healed through her connections. His gaze was penetrating. Healing was present in his gaze but almost as an afterthought – a facet or unintended side effect of clarity of perception. For her, healing was a central focus.

In the Sun’s view, there was no need to go anywhere or do anything because you already were everything. You just had to find yourself. – At least that’s the way that he had always looked at things. Perhaps there was another way. Perhaps there was another whole half of the Universe that he knew nothing about. That’s why he sought out the Moon.

When he found her, he said, “I penetrate everything that I see. I gaze brightly and light up the whole sky when my eye is open. Yet I don’t see everything.”

The Moon said, “That is true. There are things beneath the earth or under the ocean or ice that you cannot see. There are things beneath the surface that you cannot see. There may be things in the hearts of things that no one can see – invisible things that cannot be seen but that nonetheless have real and important effects.”

Ever one to cut to the heart of things, the Sun said, “If they are invisible how can I see them?”

“Perhaps ‘seeing’ is the wrong way to think about it. You cannot see what is invisible but you may know something is there and how it behaves through its effects, even if you can’t see it. You can see the effects even if you can’t see the thing directly.

“You know a rock is just beneath the surface of a river even if you can’t see it by the ripples it creates.”

The Sun thought about this. He looked at the Universe all around him in a new way. Then he said, “So I can know what is there even in the darkness, even when I can’t see? I can know it by its effects?”

“Yes. Connections are there, even in the cool darkness, though they are invisible to the eye. They are always present, even in the daylight.”

“Hm,” replied the Sun. “Let us create life together so that we may witness the cycle of birth and death so that we may learn. What ripples will life leave behind as it passes through the Universe?”

Then he concluded, “I look forward to understanding you better. We may each understand the other better because of this.”

The Moon nodded her agreement.

So it was done. And the animals and plants filled the earth and for a time the Sun was very busy with all of the life. He was fascinated with all the dramas that played out, though he never intervened. He just watched.

The Moon was happy, too. She was delighted with all of the creatures and plants. It was as if the various forms of life completed her feminine aspect somehow.

Yet ultimately it wasn’t enough. They sought each other out again. The Sun was pleased that the Moon seemed to be so happy. He hadn’t expected such a palpable change. He said, “Life seems to agree with you.”

The Moon said, “Have you seen the fish? Of course you have, at least sometimes. There are so many kinds! And the different flowers! And the bees! The mammals! Not all of them but many of them have such soft fur!

“And the web of connections!” She went on, “It got so much richer when we added living things! It’s amazing!”

He felt it, too. The web of connections was much richer and more complex than it had been but it still didn’t open things up as much as he’d like. Or maybe it was that it wasn’t quite opening things up the way he’d wanted. Or maybe what they’d done so far wasn’t enough – maybe they could experience more by going deeper…

He said, “I sense that something more is possible. I’m not sure what. Maybe something more self-aware or something more aware of connections to the rest of the web or something more aware of the Universe.” He paused, deeply submersed in the feelings and images that came to him.

Then he said, “Maybe something that can better articulate what’s going on inside so the invisible things can be made plain. Maybe all of those things. Maybe none of them. Maybe something else.

“What do you think?”

The Moon pondered this in silence. Then she said, “I hadn’t thought about it that way. Actually,” she smiled, “I hadn’t thought about it much at all. I was having so much fun with everything else but now that I think about it, I see that you’re not wrong. What do you want to do?”

“Let’s go one step further. Let’s create Man. Let us create a child together so that he may live through the cycle of birth to death and let us learn through him. He will be a part of each of us so he will know the penetrating light as well as the connections in coolness and darkness. He will know both and will be able to share what he knows.

“We may experience life and the getting of wisdom and its benefits through him.”

“Hm,” the Moon said. “Not a bad idea. Let’s do it.”

So the Sun and the Moon, representing the masculine and feminine aspects of the Universe, worked together to create Man. He was a part of each, so he reflected both feminine and masculine aspects. In fact, he combined these different aspects in surprising ways. He was a part of the Universe and reflected its masculine and feminine elements but he was also a separate being. He was a part of the whole and whole in himself and he knew it.

He could perceive himself more clearly than any other living thing and thus more clearly perceive and act upon the divinity within himself. He was no more divine than any other part of the Universe but he could know he was divine and thus he could create his own fate. Other living things were hamstrung by their inability to perceive themselves. Thus they were trapped in their own fates and didn’t even know they were trapped.

It was possible for Man to free himself but he wasn’t created free. He wasn’t created imprisoned, either. He could choose his fate but if he didn’t choose for himself, a fate would be chosen for him and he wouldn’t be free even if he considered himself free. Chains don’t disappear simply because you ignore them. In the same way, a Man who doesn’t choose for himself isn’t free, no matter how much he insists that he is.

On the other hand, the mere act of making a choice proves nothing. Many a stage magician and con artist have thrived by getting people to choose the way they wanted them to without letting them know their choices were planned in advance. It is necessary to perceive what is constraining you in order to free yourself. In order to perceive things clearly, Man has to practice perceiving.

This is the nature of the essential struggle that every person must go through. Each person must choose for him or her self what to accept as true and what to live by. This is not a reflection that there is no truth, on the contrary. However the only place to find truth is within. Ironically, the only way to find the truth of the Universe is to become familiar with the invisible things. This is the opportunity presented to Man.

Thus, the Sun and the Moon, and the whole of existence are able to live and experience through Man. The connections that Man has with the rest of the Universe also mean that the Universe is connected to Man. Indeed, Man is free to find and honor the divine spark within himself but he is also completely himself. It is as if the more he surrenders to the divine, the more himself he is.

Alternatively, the more he resists the divine he finds within himself, the more he insists on being or doing a certain thing because “he” has decided he wants to, the more he loses himself. It is a paradox for sure.

© 2015, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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”Human Nature” by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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