An Angel’s Warning

by Ingrid Dean

Gold-police-badgeWhen I was young, my mom said she had a guardian angel to watch over us especially whenever we traveled or did something risky, like race motorcycles. She said she always sent along her angel to take care of us.

Both of my parents died in 1987; my dad from a long battle with cancer, my mom of a broken heart (they died within twelve hours of each other). Since then, I have always known that my mom’s angel watches over us, and I have called upon her many times to protect my own kids.

In 1997, another trooper and I from the Detroit Post volunteered to transfer to Benton Harbor. I figured Benton Harbor would be a lot like Detroit, plus it would be a break from the regular stuff at the Detroit Post.

Benton Harbor was a lot like Detroit, just on a smaller scale. One common practice was that when we came to a red light while patrolling, if traffic was clear we treated the light like a stop sign—stop, look both ways, and then drive through. The philosophy was get the job done, don’t waste time sitting at a red light.

On one particular night I was driving, and we had been stop-signing red lights all night. About three in the morning, my partner and I approached a green light at a blind intersection in downtown Benton Harbor. The tall buildings on all corners prevented me from seeing any possible oncoming cars. I said to my partner, “We’ve been going through red lights all night, I think I’ll stop for this green light and balance the scale.” I had no sooner stopped at the light when a car came screaming around the corner, driving at a high rate of speed through the red light!

If I had not stopped at the green light, we would have been broadsided. My partner and I looked at each other in amazement. Both of our jaws were dropped as we stared at each other in awe. We both knew we had been divinely protected. I knew my mom’s angel had saved me once again. (Of course, we chased down the car and took appropriate action.)

More like this and some of Ingrid’s other work can be found at

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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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The Circle of Existence – Prologue

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by DCH Park

A mother comes home from the hospital with her new child. She is met at the door by her 4 year old son. He’s excited to be an older brother and she’s happy.

As the days go by, she notices that her 4 year old is spending a lot of time with the baby. He watches her change it and feed it. He sings to it. He spends hours every day silently watching it sleep.

At first, she attributes this attentiveness to his excitement but his behavior doesn’t change. She tries to be patient but finally asks him why he’s spending so much time with the baby.

He replies very matter-of-factly, “Mommy, I’m beginning to forget the face of God.”

Whether you call it “God,” or not, whether you see it as an impersonal force, something intimately involved in your personal life, something else entirely, or whether you discount the existence of a divine being at all, it is undeniable that something is going on. Children are born joyful and in the moment. They are completely present. As soon as their concerns are addressed they stop crying and return to their peaceful, joyful state, the upset completely forgotten.

Scientific evidence now shows that the child psychologists’ standard lines about object permanence – one of the first set of expectations that babies have about the world – the age at which it develops, and how it develops are, at best, incomplete. There is a form of object permanence that occurs before conventional “wisdom” says object permanence is supposed to develop. This form of object permanence has to do with trends. Perhaps “trend permanence” would be a better name. Perhaps we are born with it. Not only that, this “trend permanence” persists throughout life. It can be seen even in adult decisions. (See Baillargeon R , DeVos J., “Object permanence in young infants: further evidence”, Child Dev. 1991 Dec; 62(6):1227-46,, retrieved 2 JUL 14.)

Is it possible that the same is true of things like joy and silence later in life? Might joy and peace be natural states that we are all heir to, just as we are all heir to breathing? Is it possible that we have it backward, or more correctly, that what we thought we knew, the way we have been characterizing things somehow distorts things? Could it be that joy and silence are not hallmarks of childish silliness but instead are reflections of an inexpressible wisdom that transcends life itself?

I remember hearing the little boy story for the first time. It’s not that I recall all of the physical details but I recall how powerful it was, how the teacher cried, and how I felt when I heard it. I wasn’t alone in feeling that, either. I suspect that I’m not alone now.

When stories evoke such powerful feelings, it is because they touch upon something true. Our challenge is to discern and to live by that truth.

Such discernment is not a static thing. It is not something that you can do once and expect it to never change. On the other hand, it is definitely amenable to pulling together with others. By this, I don’t mean to say that you need to go along with the crowd, but you do benefit from really hearing other people’s points of view. Remember the parable of the blind men and the elephant? None of them was wrong but none of their descriptions was complete either. The whole truth of life encompasses everyone’s observations, just as the whole truth of the elephant encompassed all of the blind men’s observations.

Until you are willing to listen to others, learn from others, and enlarge your sense of the truth to encompass everyone, you are bound to be incomplete in your experiences of the truth. Such openness starts with healing the wounds in yourself. It is necessary first to recognize and heal the wounds in yourself because as you heal the wounds in yourself, you are naturally more flexible and open – you have fewer sore spots. This allows you to be more open to the truth and more ready to accept it regardless of where it comes from, even when it comes from someone else.

Until we can do that, each person remains literally separate.


More of the book, The Circle of Existence can be found at

© 2015, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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Letting Resistance Crumble

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by DCH Park

What’s true is true. What’s more, what’s true on one level is true on others. This is reflected in and reflects the fractal nature of the universe. It accounts for the creative insights that engineers, scientists, and artists have. It means that it is meaningful to draw from one part of existence to understand another. This includes personal experience of the universe. Since you are part of the universe (since everyone is), this also includes experience of yourself.

I was recently reminded of a personal experience that I once had that has echoes in other areas of my life. I remember that I once massaged someone with a hand that was in the final stages of healing. Before the massage, the hand felt stiff and my thumb felt relatively inflexible.

This made for good deep tissue massage, since I worked with my stiff hand and pushed muscle against muscle. I remember the sensation of tissues in my hand opening. It felt like a piece of hard candy dissolving in my mouth. It got smaller and smaller and then finally broke up into tiny pieces before it disappeared.

This sensation came back to me recently. It has become clear that a significant majority of US citizens now indicate their support of gays, lesbians, etc. and their morality. In fact, as I write this, a couple of cases before the Supreme Court of the United States finished their arguments a week ago and made it clear that there is no compelling legal argument against gay marriage.

What was interesting to me was that on the night of the conclusion of oral arguments before the Supreme Court, FX, which is a branch of Fox Television, a remarkably conservative organization, broadcast a version of the movie, Forgetting Sarah Marshall that was very different than what they had broadcast in the past.

Previously, they had broadcast a version that was heavily censored and changed. Words were substituted in some cases. For example, “asshole” was replaced with “rascal.” Key scenes were cut and the characters were “cleaned up.” However the version that FX broadcast that night restored all of the original stuff.

The end result was that the movie was much more adult. It was a truer representation of the ways that adults can behave with each other. It was also arguably much funnier.

What is interesting to me is that the gay marriage debate in this country shows the exact same characteristics as the stiff hand and the hard candy. The time scales for each are different but the ways in which they change are the same.

In each case, the thing seems impossible at first. The change seems too large or too radical. Nevertheless, dissolving things little by little makes a difference. At some unpredictable point, a remarkable thing happens. The shrinking obstacle suddenly breaks up and disappears. The way is clear.

Perhaps it is always this way. What has changed in your life and body? How has that change occurred?

© 2014, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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Behavior vs. Being

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by DCH Park

One of the apparently more difficult things to deal with is the difference between behavior and being. We are trained to confuse these two. Often people react to hearing criticism of their beings when all that was intended was criticism of behavior or (worse) honest appraisal and reaction to behavior.

My wife once reminded me of how it is possible to love the divine in the other and to hold that love above everything else. Loving the divine in the other also makes healing possible. Embracing that divine makes many things possible that seem impossible otherwise. In many ways embracing the divine in others and yourself is the very essence of spirituality.

Perhaps that is why it is so strongly resisted. Regardless of why it is resisted though, Ego benefits when it is. What I have noticed is that in your outrage over being criticized, the tendency is to lose sight of yourself feeling outrage and to become submerged in the outrage. Other emotions work as well.

What they have in common is the tendency or expectation (some even encourage) the emotional reaction that protects Ego and is seen to come from criticism. It is remarkable that such criticism can be reacted to when it is not meant.

If I am catching something in a conversation that was not thrown by you, the other participant in the conversation, then it must have come from me, even though I may insist that it came from outside of myself. That is what I and resisting seeing and taking account of – myself.

One way to deal with this is to look for the difference between your being and your behavior. Is there something that you’re doing that assumes or restricts yourself and/or someone else? Is there some way that your actions or attitudes control those of another? How would better understanding and articulating them and/or your reasons for them lead to deeper realization of your own being or your reasons for choosing as you did and the wound(s) it (they) sprang from?

I find that pushing or trying to create behavior always boils down to control. I am trying to control myself and often trying to control others. I may be trying to control conversations or points of view, but I am trying to control.

Being is different. Being does not go away. It is in no rush. It can sit and placidly listen. It can even draw another out in the case that there is something waiting to be drawn out without losing focus or being diminished in any way.

What are you trying to control? What are you imposing Ego over? Is it strictly for Ego’s sake? How can you more clearly see and love the divine in yourself and the other?

© 2014, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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Finding Your Shape

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by DCH Park

One of the things that keeps coming back to me over and over in different situations is the realization that there is a difference between deciding what you want or what you’ll dedicate yourself to and discovering what you are dedicated to.

There are a plethora of differences, each with its own subtlety or implication but in my experience, all of them devolve from a single, central one. At least that’s the way that I discovered it in my life and that’s how I try to talk about it when it comes up and that’s how I try to teach it.

I have found that it is a hard concept, often taking years or more to fully explore. Often words are lacking for specific concepts. Sometimes it is not explored at all, instead, being rejected out of hand. In this way, it is like math or history. To be sure, it has similar power to ask the hard questions and invite, almost demand, sometimes difficult explorations to find answers to those questions.

I find that asking such questions is the most natural thing in the world. It’s as natural as breathing or walking. Small children do it naturally and universally – so much so that it has led to multiple cliches. Unfortunately, as children grow into adults, it is one of the things that they learn not to do. Also, when creative types of all stripes talk about being “childlike,” they are usually talking about the wonder, curiosity, and joy that a child welcomes the universe with. These qualities are closely related to asking questions. They are so closely related that quieting one leads to quieting them all.

This is why I was surprised to find that discovering what you’re dedicated to can be so hard. In the interests of full disclosure, let me say that I am still exploring what this means in my life, too. What I find is that the more aware I am of what is important to me and who I am in the world, the more clearly I can realize myself.

This has direct and immediate consequences. For example, the current direction of my career is one that I could not have predicted less than a year ago but it is a direct consequence of my greater insight into myself. It is a direct articulation of my answer to the direct question of what excites me.

This question had hung around for a long time, but the awareness and clarity from which the answer came is new. In this life, it came out of my second stroke and the near death experience that came with it.

I do not advocate strokes or near death experiences, but what I learned is interesting and useful. I learned that it is possible to be numb to pain. I had learned to numb pain. In fact, that was part of what I was holding on to. I was holding on to it in the name of life. I was assuming that if I felt no pain, there was no pain, no damage. It sounds silly, but that was my belief. That numbness was in me was a revelation.

Of course, healing required me to accept myself as I was. In order to do that, I had to first see myself clearly and honestly. That’s the value in realizing your numbness. There’s a difference between being numb to pain and having no pain. When you’re numb to pain, you’re numb to everything. Its like the numb part is a dead weight. You know it’s there logically. It takes up space but you can’t feel it.

When you have no pain, everything is alive. If something interacts with that part, you know it’s there even if you can’t see it. The richness of what’s available is profound and the contrast is a sharp one. That not withstanding, though, that richness is something that is often diminished and ultimately ignored by the attitude that leads to numbing.

As I healed, it became apparent that I was not alone in my numbness. The prevailing attitude seems to be that numbness is always preferable to pain. This seems to be true and is in the culture even when being simply honest about the pain can lead to healing and elimination of the cause of pain in the first place. This seems to be held as true even when simply treating symptoms and numbing yourself leads to further damage and greater pain later.

In my case, the numbness that I induced was centered around career and money. As I felt deeper and deeper into what I was numb to and why, I was able to heal it. As I healed it, I gained greater and greater clarity into my answers to hard questions. I actually asked myself those questions deliberately in order to open that space for answers.

I found that it is true that the arc of my life came clear or clearer anyway. I still had choice within that arc. I could even choose to live outside of that arc altogether. Specifically, I saw how every choice I had ever made in life was related to this arc. Ether it was a way to further explore and express it or it was a way to avoid exploring and expressing it.

That brings me back to the original question with which I opened this essay. What I realized was that the difference between deciding and discovering can be found in how much thought or logic you apply and possibly when you apply it.

It is difficult because many of society’s messages are centered on this idea, but deciding what you will dedicate yourself to (and then possibly applying discipline to stay on “the straight and narrow”) is an intellectual exercise. It is an application of logic and as such is divorced from life and you.

Discovering what you have already devoted yourself to, on the other hand, is an exploration of life and being alive. It is an expression of what excites you. You can hear it in someone’s voice when he or she is talking about what’s exciting. It’s the answer to the question, “What do you do (would you do) even though (if) you aren’t (weren’t) paid to do it?”

We are often numb to such questions so we don’t hear our answers. Often, we are afraid of the answers because we can’t see how they might lead to living financially. An old cliche is that figuring out “how” is not our job. What I have found over and over again in this life is that not only is it not my job to answer “how,” but the universe always provides a way to live. It’s my job to trust it and get out of the way.

It is like the roadrunner in the old Warner Bros. cartoons. Stepping off the cliff edge onto thin air might require faith at first, but it is rewarded. Not only does the universe catch you, it does so gracefully and painlessly. It does so in a way that not only leads to further insight and healing, it does so in a way that is also joyful.

That is a major focus of my ongoing explorations – to understand from personal experience some of the ways that discovering yourself can lead to joy and vice versa.

© 2014, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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by DCH Park

We live in a free society, or so we tell ourselves. We want to be free, but what is truly free? What is the nature of freedom? If it matters to us that others see us as free or powerful or popular, are we really? Can we be? These questions used to bother me greatly when I was younger. “How can I know that I am free if I don’t know what freedom is?” I would ask myself.

It seems pretty obvious that we are talking about one of two possible definitions of “free.” There may be others, but two spring to mind. Any good dictionary would point out that one definition of “free” applies to the price of something. Being a free person probably doesn’t have anything to do with prices in the marketplace, although economics would probably note that there is a connection between being a free person and how much things cost – if things cost too much, is it possible to be free?

The other definition of “free,” that of being at liberty, of not being imprisoned or enslaved, of not being controlled by obligation or the will of another, is at issue here. First of all, notice that you are not “at liberty” in some sense or other as long as you are enslaved, imprisoned, or controlled.

Secondly, notice that one of the ways to be controlled is through obligation. This control could be financial but it needn’t be. It could be cultural or traditional. It could be through something as ill-defined as “peer pressure” or expectations.

For example, I may have no connection to my neighbor at all other than that I live next to him or her. Nevertheless, that neighbor can have certain expectations for behavior and spending that affect choices that I make. All I have to do is accept those expectations into my worldview for them to control me.

I may rankle at what I perceive as the source of things that control me but the only thing at controls me, the only place such things can come from, is myself. On one level, I have to accept expectations into me for me to be subject to them. If I never accept them, they wouldn’t control me.

You can cleverly phrase things so that you use whatever language is fashionable. For example, you can claim that unless your neighbor cuts his grass in a certain way or disposes of his garbage and recycling just so, that neighbor is curtailing “your freedom.”

Such claims can be found in many places. Some of them are phrased more strongly or cleverly than others but they all boil down to attempts to control things. Specifically, people try to invoke changes in how they feel inside by controlling their external environments.

This is understandable. It is how we are trained in this society. We are taught to change the inside by changing the outside. In fact, we are taught to even find our own inner truth only obliquely, by looking outside first. We are taught to metaphorically tell what’s on on our left by looking only right. Even those who move so that they can see all around them without moving their heads, assume that everything stays fixed. If something moves, they may never see it.

We are even taught that it is somehow more “holy” or “honorable” to go outside to find what is inside. Who has not heard in this culture that those who serve others are more “blessed” or “selfless?”

To be sure, since everything is connected, it is possible to go the long way around and find yourself through service to others but it is shorter and quicker to find everyone within yourself through truly healing yourself. Besides, if you are in the habit of thinking that someone or some agency beyond you will notice your devotion and reward you then you are really thinking about yourself. You are possibly fooling yourself and you are using others. It seems cleaner and it is definitely quicker to free your head to look to yourself clearly first and truly heal yourself.

I have heard things in the media in the last ten or twenty years about “freedom from fear” or “freedom from terror.” Is this truly freedom? Maybe it is or at least leads to it. When I look within myself, I find that one way to be truly “free from fear” is to understand fear and where it comes from in an honest and courageous way. The first step toward healing what is there is to notice what is there.

If I am afraid to follow a connection that might lead me to my fear, rather than finding its root and healing it, I am controlled by it. The best that I can do is to restrict my behavior and minimize what I am afraid of, or to try to minimize it.

So it is important for healing not to become consumed by my wound, fear in this example. That way, rather than losing myself and being controlled by fear, I can find my way to its source and heal it. By healing it, I can transform it. It becomes a source of love and enlightenment. It becomes a source of power and understanding. Rather than a drain on resources as something to defend against, it is transformed into something that adds to my sense of energy and aliveness.

In other words, by fighting against it, I can never eliminate my fear. I can never heal it. I can only try to minimize it and reduce its effect on me and turning to things outside of myself too often leads to fighting. It’s like whistling in the graveyard. The whistling doesn’t eliminate what I’m afraid of nor does it eliminate my fear. At best, it distracts me or covers over what I fear.

In the meantime, I can hope that others are creating bulwarks to protect me while I’m whistling. What I don’t notice because I’m too busy being afraid is that those same bulwarks also limit me. They control me. I am not free.

Unfortunately, much of modern media seems to be geared toward engendering fear and providing a hated outsider to blame the fear on. By giving in to their fear, whole communities can come to hate other communities and individuals. They are so busy being afraid and finding things to be afraid of that they might not notice what they are doing.

Leaving aside for a moment who might benefit from such hatred, it seems clear that such benefits accrue only if hatred exists and is embraced by society. Since society is made up of the members of it, in other words, of you and I, if we each chose as individuals to heal instead of to hate, healing becomes possible on a societal level. It becomes commonplace.

This is the way in which we can all transcend fear together. This is what healing is and healing makes freedom possible. How do we heal?

One method that has been laid out very eloquently is Nonviolent Communication. Another is available through updated Ho’oponopono. What have you done lately to turn into your fear and heal it? Does it allow you to see or accept a hated other differently? Who is healed? The other person, or you, or both?

© 2014, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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The Difference – V

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by DCH Park

What is the value or importance of going into what hurts you? Why would you run toward metaphorical explosions? What possible reason could you have for seeking out the pain, fear, etc.? Is there a benefit to turning into the storm?

In a word, yes, there is. There is a reason that we are taught to turn into the spin while driving a car or a plane. There is a reason that we are taught to turn a boat into the storm. It is the same reason that we naturally press into the soft, spongy spot left behind by a lost tooth. Survival.

In extreme cases, like in spinning cars or planes, the choice between life and death, between truth and illusion, may seem particularly clear, but it is always there. It is present in every situation, although it may seem cloaked by other concerns in some situations. One thing that I have learned as an engineer is that principles that work on one level work on other levels. If they don’t seem to work, I find that I don’t understand the level as well as I thought I did, I don’t understand the principle as well as I thought I did, or both.

As an engineer, my job has been to understand what’s going on well enough that I can apply the right principle to generate the desired outcome. In fact, this idea has been widely enough recognized that it has given rise to a popular series of books in engineering circles that talk about “patterns” that can be applied in a variety of circumstances. In fact, about a dozen or so patterns are used to account for the majority of all needs that arise.

What’s interesting in this case is that the idea itself. It is noteworthy that you can exercise power in a situation through your understanding of it and application of the right pattern. The process itself – of recognizing patterns and applying them across situations – is powerful and what we are talking about here. It has been in fields as diverse as programming and architecture.

A mundane example is fire. Open fires that burn wood seem primitive, yet they give rise directly to closed fires and burning other things, such as coal, oil, and gas. Building devices that can contain and burn such fuels requires an understanding of fire. It requires an understanding of the combustion that goes into fire and that understanding allows a level of prediction about the behavior of fire in different circumstances, such as standing upright, large acceleration, and zero gravity.

Understanding fire has led directly to the creation of many modern technologies. They may not seem to, but modern automobiles, boats, and planes all rely on a form of fire directly to make them go. Most forms of power generation in use today have fire at their hearts. Other forms of modern technology rely on fire indirectly.

Almost everything found in the modern world relies on fire. In fact, it has been said that modern technology, as we understand it, would be impossible were it not for fire.

This principle – that what is true on one level is true on others (and possibly on all levels) – is interesting. Coming back to the question that we started this inquiry with, we are taught two different things about pain, fear, etc.. Can they both be right?

The lesson from engineering is that they can’t both be right. In one case or the other (or both), we don’t understand things as well as we believe we do and that lack of understanding leads to the apparent contradiction. However, the implication is that as we understand the issue better, the apparent contradiction will disappear and our best path forward will become clear.

One possibility that an archetypal “angry young man” might embrace is the possibility that one of these views (or both of them) is (are) wrong and we are better off in the end rejecting it (them) in favor of the truth, no matter how uncomfortable that truth may seem to be.

One thing that we are taught is that when life and death are on the line, as when a car spins out, or when the stakes are relatively small and personal, as when you lose a tooth, the thing to do is to turn into the pain. We are taught that it makes sense to turn into the spin. Who hasn’t found him/her self attracted to a missing tooth and tonguing the soft spot?

In fact, it is taught by many psychologists that the core of pain, fear, etc. is healing and the only way to come to that healing is through the pain, fear, etc. Not only does that emotional reaction depend from that healing, it whispers what it needs to realize that healing.

In other words, the emotion tells you what it needs to be healed. However, the only way to hear such whispering is to sit with the pain and let it be and say what it will. The only way to hear it is to shut up and listen.

The other thing that we are taught is in less severe cases that arise on a more everyday basis, the thing to do is to turn away from the pain, fear, etc.. There are a plethora of attitudes, techniques, and habits to do this that are recommended from various corners. They range from such apparently innocuous things, such as certain attitudes and expectations to intrusive interventions, including chemical and surgical techniques.

It has amazed me in the past that a chemical intervention, like the administration of so-called “painkillers,” can lead to a reward defined by a resumption or increase of the same activity that led to the pain in the first place!

It is unlikely that both perspectives are true. Either you are benefited by turning into the pain (etc.) or you are benefited by turning away from it.

When I am faced with this kind of dilemma, I am reminded of the old investigative reporter’s razor – “follow the money.” To put it more generally, who stands to benefit from which perspective?

Leaving the definition of “benefit” aside for the moment, does one perspective lead to benefits that accrue mainly to you while the other leads to benefits that accrue mainly to others or even produce effects that lead to your own suffering? Which leads to which?

Each person must decide for him or her self.

© 2014, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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The Difference – V

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by DCH Park

There are several things that come up for me when I am aware of problems and how to deal with them. One thing that becomes apparent very quickly is that what I was taught is not necessarily true. This, in itself, is an incendiary idea. It would seem that schools, churches, indeed, social leaders of every stripe, want me to believe them and do what they tell me to. At least that’s the message that many of them are conveying.

Regardless of what they may get out of my compliance, one thing is clear – I am not choosing for myself as long as I accept what others have chosen for me.

One of the more powerful results to come out of organization theory is that one of the most powerful positions to be in in any organization is to be the one who sets up the options that someone else will choose from. All eyes are deliberately trained on the one who makes the final choice but if that choice is made from a field of options that are all acceptable to you then you are guaranteed to win.

All you have to do to be a guaranteed winner is control the options. In fact, it doesn’t matter who makes the final choice as long as that choice is one of the options that you have set up.

Arguably, this is exactly how society works. People choose from a limited range of options. They limit themselves because that range is all that they allow themselves to see. What they don’t see is that those options are carefully chosen and tailored so that they benefit a few while they claim to benefit many.

At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy hound, note that creative types of all stripes have said the same thing down through the ages. The individuals who are most directly responsible for pushing the whole race forward have said the same thing. Whether they have been in the arts or the sciences or have applied their understanding through engineering and business, the central message has always been that it is vitally important to decide for yourself and that as the decider, you owe it to yourself to be aware of what is truly going on. Only by being aware of what is truly going on can you hope to choose from the full range of possibilities, or at least, the fullest range that you can choose from.

No matter how well intentioned someone is, he or she will probably not find a way from point A to point B if certain paths are hidden or secret. In fact, points C, D, or W may be better suited for him or her but if those points are hidden, the only apparent choice is point B.

This is the power in making things invisible. If C, D, and W are all invisible, point B looks like the only logical goal. The nature of invisible things is dealt with at length elsewhere. Let it suffice here to note that you are benefited by seeing things that other people can’t or refuse to see.

Note that things that lurk unseen often engender pain, fear, being “creeped out,” etc. They can even induce feelings of numbness. We are often trained in this society to ignore these feelings and either block them chemically, additudinally, or otherwise or to emphasize things that “feel good” instead.

Regardless of this “wisdom,” however, rarely do such feelings go away on their own. They may be drowned out for a while but that doesn’t mean that they are gone or solved. They will inevitably return until they are solved.

This is one of the lessons of the parable of tying down an elephant. The elephant doesn’t even try to break the rope even though he or she could easily do so because the elephant “learned” when it was younger that it couldn’t. The elephant never sees that it could easily break the rope. Its true prison is formed out of its expectations.

In what ways are you trapping yourself because of the expectations that you have about the world? What are you “taking for granted” and never looking at? What parts of the world are you “taking for granted?” What is invisible in your world?

The fact is that the only ones who ever break out of their cages are the ones who test the bars and everything else that holds them back. The ones who sit and simply accept what they are told or the way things appear never break out of their cages.

There are a plethora of parables and stories about turning into the pain and that pain, fear, etc. are gifts. They are as common as steering into a spin if you lose control of your car and pointing the bow of your ship into an oncoming storm and as exotic as running toward the first artillery blast on a battlefield.

All of these parables and stories point to the same wisdom and they all contradict the so-called “wisdom” that it’s best to avoid pain whenever possible and to minimize it when it’s not possible to avoid it. Pain, fear, anxiousness, etc. are good in that they have at their hearts the thing that will heal the wound. They take us to that healing if only we let them. All we have to do is learn to turn into the pain.

© 2014, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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The Difference – IV

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by DCH Park

There is a further subtlety at work in choosing arbitrarily to “prove something,” including to yourself. It’s not immediately apparent. This may be due to its invisibility, which is also why so many people get drawn into it, either as an advocate or as an opponent.

For what it’s worth, my practice is to notice what is said and how I react to it. My reaction comes from me. By noticing it, I can notice myself. My practice is to notice what is said and my reaction to it to better understand my own private view into what is true and to express what is true.

I find that in that way, I am able to experience more freedom and joy within myself and hear others around me more clearly. To be sure, reacting to what I hear and say is a part of that process but my goal is to be more aware of things, not less aware of them.

I thus try not to use those things and reactions as shields or excuses. I feel them and at the same time practice being aware of myself feeling them so that they can serve as bridges into the deeper part of me rather than as blockades.

What I have also found, to my delighted surprise, is that the more I share what I find to be true with others, the more truth there is to share. This can take many forms. One of these is that the more I share, the more I have to share. Another is that the more I share, the more I give permission to others to do the same. A third is that other people see and voice pieces of the puzzle before I do but I can recognize what they say as the truth.

Another, which is always unexpected and delightful, is that someone may say something which no one had ever heard or even thought before, yet as soon as it is said, its truth is recognized. I can say it, so can others. The list goes on.

In every case the recognized truth provides a solid stepping stone to another truth and often to many truths. Such honesty also leads to freedom. In the cases when apparently solid truths have led to wounds, healing those wounds has led to even greater truths that would have remained hidden if the wound had been allowed to block the path. If I had seen the wound as a barrier, a tender spot to be avoided instead of as what it can always be – the shortest path to the other side – I would have stopped on the near side of the wound and whatever I saw it as, anger, fear, numbness, a small annoyance, or something else, would have become simply a part of the backdrop. It would possibly become invisible. In my experience, healing something always leads to something more.

What I notice is that many people have heard that one thing or another leads to wealth and that as long as you “toe the line” and follow one set of rules (their prescribed set) wealth, ease, and health are the inevitable or logical outcomes.

When I take a step back, I notice that all such systems are saying the same thing. Details differ from system to system, but the goal is usually defined in terms of wealth. That wealth may be yours or it may be someone else’s. Either way, the worldview that lies at the heart of such views is that:
The material world matters (as revealed by material wealth, for example); and
You don’t have a choice about everything in the material world.

Thus, taken together, these attitudes toward the material world have various implications. One of these is that healing is impossible. It is impossible to experience the world differently by doing nothing more than heal yourself because you are completely separate from your surroundings. Therefore what affects one cannot affect the other or if both are affected, those effects are unrelated and/or complex.

This runs counter to the observation that it is possible to experience change in the world by doing nothing more than healing yourself. The implication is, of course, that you contain the whole of existence, which only makes sense if the world is a reflection.

This means that it truly is fruitless to try to effect change in the world while holding yourself constant. At best, you can change yourself as you change the world. However my tendency has been to change myself in order to change the world.

The things I lament in the world, the disease, war, poverty, etc. are reflections of me. They must be if I can find the world in me. This means that as I find those things within myself and heal and fully release them, the world will be transformed.

On the other hand, if I accept the reality of the world and insist on the separateness of the world from me, such wounds and strife are inevitable. They are inevitable as long as I accept them as part of the world.

Thus, choosing what you want and trying to exercise Law of Attraction in this way is the same thing as trying to hold down a good-paying job, a house in the suburbs, two cars, and a family with a spouse and a couple of kids. They are both ways to emphasize the independence and reality of the material world. They are both ways to deny or reduce the power of healing yourself.

Another view would be that you are born to have a certain shape in the universe. Some people have called it your mission but that sounds like something you do rather than what you are. In the same way that you are born to have a certain color hair, a certain look in your face, etc., you are born to have a certain shape in the universe. What is your shape? What is your truth? Not what you want – which often determined or influenced by material reality – what is your being?

© 2014, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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”The Difference – IV” by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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