The Circle of Existence: Chapter 7 – The Background Trend

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by DCH Park

monarchy-153404_1280“Reality is not a function of the event as event, but of the relationship of that event to past, and future, events.”
– Robert Penn Warren

“The frame, the definition, is a type of context. And context, as we said before, determines the meaning of things. There is no such thing as the view from nowhere, or from everywhere for that matter. Our point of view biases our observation, consciously and unconsciously. You cannot understand the view without the point of view.”
– Noam Shpancer

I read Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There when I was in eighth or ninth grade. I remember taking it with me when my class went on a field trip into the city to see a play. I have no memory of the play but I have an image of the lot of us standing outside the theater. I took the book with me to pass the time when we were waiting on line. I remember because some of my classmates saw it and teased me for reading what they knew as a children’s story. I smiled at their teasing and returned to my reading. I had picked it up because I read somewhere that Lewis Carroll’s stories were an excellent exercise in logic.

In it, the Red Queen is initially cordial to Alice, explaining the rules of chess. The narrative at one point says, “Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else—if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”

“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!” (Carroll, Lewis, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, Chapter 2, http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=CarGlas.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=2&division=div1, retrieved 15 JUL 14.)

The Red Queen’s Race, as it has come to be called, has been used to illustrate competitive adaptation in evolutionary biology, the “Treadmill of Production” in environmental sociology, and other concepts. In engineering and physics it can be likened to a DC offset, though the Red Queen’s Race, which is run as fast as you can, is probably overstating the matter a bit.

A DC offset is a background level that affects everything the same way so that relative differences between one point and another are unaffected because both the beginning and end points are affected by the same amounts and in the same direction. It is expressed mathematically by adding a constant to both inputs and outputs. The offset can even change over time. If it does, of course, the offset becomes a more complex function than adding a simple constant, but relative differences will be unaffected as long as both end points are affected the same way.

I have always been puzzled by Dodgson’s (Lewis Carroll’s “real” name) inclusion of the Red Queen’s Race in his novella. For one thing, it would seem that you only have to “run at least twice as fast” to make progress if you’re going in the same direction as the offset. If your goal is in the other direction, the offset brings you closer to it. If the offset is increasing over time, even if the increase is imperceptibly small over the course of a day or a week, then you may not have to run at all. You may be able to reach your goal by simply standing still. The background trend will bring you and your goal together.

Nevertheless, the race itself is an intriguing concept with vast implications but it doesn’t seem to impact the rest of the book or characters at all. The characters all walk about normally and the landscape stays put afterward. Is it possible that Dodgson was alluding to a background trend in the real world and not a fictional trend at all? Arguably, all of the fantastical things that Alice encounters in Wonderland are rooted in real world experiences. Their outrageous appearances serve to distract and disarm you but those outrageous elements begin in truth. The next question then would seem to be, “What is the truth? What, if anything, is true about the Red Queen’s Race?”

It surely isn’t literally true. We would probably notice if the landscape moved relative to our places in it. We would probably end up saying something very much like what the Red Queen says. Instead, we think it strange.

Is there a background trend that we don’t notice but that very powerfully affects us? Even something intangible can nevertheless be real. A moment’s reflection finds that even non-physical things can be felt through their effects. (This is not to say that everything that is intangible is real. Rather, those things that exert real effects are real, even if we can’t see them directly. We can ignore them but we do so at the risk of also ignoring their effects. Those effects may be small, but taken over a whole lifetime or several generations, their cumulative effect can be decisive.)

We can measure and feel their effects even when we can’t perceive them directly. This has been demonstrated even with physical things, for example, with things that are very small, like a bacterium or virus and things that are very big, like in plate tectonics. Perhaps the effect is very small. Perhaps the effect is only readily apparent over generations. Perhaps we are taught to simply take it for granted or not to notice it. Perhaps something else is going on or a combination of things is happening.

Certainly if the effect was very slow, it could be taken for background noise. It might not even be noticed but its cumulative impact could be very powerful. For example, a tree grows so slowly that its growth is imperceptible. It appears to be immobile, like a stone. However, over decades and even centuries the impact of a tree can be enormous.

How much more potent might a social bias be? Such a bias might be small and only noticeable over many generations but its cumulative impact on history might be huge. Even if there were a bias, one can imagine that it would still be possible for notable individuals to do remarkable things. They could “run … twice as fast” and achieve something remarkable. However, in a situation in which there were a background bias, the tendency would be for individuals and institutions in general to conform with the bias, especially over time. For example, once the founder died, you’d expect the institution(s) left behind would tend to fall more and more in line with the background trend.

Regardless of why the offset hasn’t been widely noticed, the question remains, is there one? Is there a general tendency in one direction? For example, are there corporations which are widely vilified and hated today, that have a long history of being consistently hated and vilified, that were nevertheless loved and embraced in their communities in their early years? Corporations that had a founder who was charitable and devoted to good works in the community but that changed after the founder died?

Alternatively, are there corporations that went the other way? Companies that had founders who were hated and vilified but whose influence was limited to the early years of the corporation? Companies that became widely loved and lauded after the influence of the founder waned?

If there is a background tendency, what is it? Is the tendency consistent or universal? How does the tendency affect your life and the decisions you make? Such a tendency would be like swimming across a river. Your aim may be to reach the other side and you may picture some point directly opposite your starting point. The relative motion between you and the water might put you on that heading. However the motion of the water itself means that you actually end up much farther downstream. The motion of the water is like a background trend. In order to reach the point that you envisioned, it may be necessary to swim much farther and harder and to swim at a different angle than the one you originally had in mind.

What is your experience? Is there a background trend? If so, which direction is the bias in? Where is the current going?

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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 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.

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© 2015, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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The Root of Fear

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by DCH Park

The root chakra is associated with safety and security. The dark or shadow face of the root chakra is fear. Lack of security is experienced in the body as fear. Accordingly, it has been said that fear is rooted in a sense of insecurity or threat in the world – that the world is an unsafe place.

This is a very basic emotion. It is hard to do or focus on anything else when I am in fear for my life, health, or well-being or that of those whom I love. In fact, this is exactly why so much political and economic advertising appeals to fear. Since it is so basic, it is simultaneously easily evoked and once evoked, very powerful. The first thing that any rational person whose life is threatened would do is eliminate the threat, or at least, that’s the expectation of fear-mongering advertisers.

There is a lovely poem by David Budbill that captures the essence of fear and vulnerability in the world. It is called “Into The Winter Woods.” (From Happy Life © Copper Canyon Press, 2011. Reprinted with permission.)

Long-johns top and bottom, heavy socks, flannel shirt, overalls,
steel-toed work boots, sweater, canvas coat, toque, mittens: on.

Out past grape arbor and garden shed, into the woods.
Sun just coming through the trees. There really is such a thing

as Homer’s rosy-fingered dawn. And here it is, this morning.
Down hill, across brook, up hill, and into the stand of white pine

and red maple where I’m cutting firewood. Open up workbox,
take out chain saw, gas, bar oil, kneel down, gas up saw, add

bar oil to the reservoir, stand up, mittens off, strap on and buckle
chaps from waist to toe, hard hat helmet: on. Ear protectors: down,

face screen: down, push in compression release, pull out choke,
pull on starter cord, once, twice, go. Stall. Pull out choke, pull on

starter cord, once, twice, go. Push in choke. Mittens: back on.
Cloud of two-cycle exhaust smoke wafting into the morning air

and I, looking like a medieval Japanese warrior, wade through
blue smoke, knee-deep snow, revving the chain saw as I go,

headed for that doomed, unknowing maple tree.

For many people, the world seems as capricious and threatening as it is for the unknowing maple. Not only is the world dangerous, but it is not known ahead of time when or how it is dangerous. It is this sense of vulnerability to pain or death, especially that there might be a way in which I am vulnerable of which I am unaware, that is frightening.

In essence, the fear turns on the belief that something or someone in the world may decide to intrude upon my life – even to take my life – for its own reasons. These reasons may have nothing at all to do with me personally, so there is very little I could do to mollify the threat even if I knew what it was.

This is another reason that the fear card has been used so often. It provides an easy way to manipulate people into doing, buying, or destroying something they would probably otherwise have no opinion about. All that is necessary is to evoke fear, give it a focus – in other words, identify a threat, and provide a solution.

Politicians and advertisers have become quite adept at feeding public mindsets that reinforce fear and inflate it to frenzied proportions. In this orchestrated firestorm of fear, the “rational” person naturally applies the offered solution to eliminate the proffered threat.

But does such behavior, whether manipulated by someone else or not, really produce any security? What is security? Would $10 Million in the bank provide security? How about filtered air and water to prevent disease? Even if I could prevent all contact with germs and viri, there are still many autoimmune and other diseases that aren’t caused by infectious agents. And none of this will provide protection from public embarrassment, a broken heart, or a shattered dream.

Life is, it would seem, full of potential threats. Adopting a stance of resisting threats in order to feel secure and free from fear actually limits my options and removes me from life. Rather than freeing myself from fear, I make myself its prisoner.

If shielding myself from threats or actively resisting them merely plays into fear, what can be done to eliminate fear/increase security? Notice that trying to increase security by directly eliminating or shielding myself from threats does not work. This approach is a variation of the ego-drama of fighting to utterly crush my nemesis. Since it draws me into the depths of the drama and invites me to lose myself in it, it seduces me into enlarging the drama and with it, the nemesis.

How did I overcome fears in the past? How does any child learn to overcome fears? She meets them directly. She embraces them. A fear is best met directly, whether it is of the dark, heights, or jelly beans. In boldly and consciously embracing fear, we are able to witness ourselves having the fearful experience and through witness consciousness, transcend it.

By letting go of the debilitating “big picture” focus on how things could be, should be, were in the past, or might be in the future, I can free myself to be fully present in the moment. In the moment, whatever else may be true, it is undeniable that I am still alive. The thing that I fear has not changed that fact.

Practicing witness consciousness not only makes letting go of “big picture” focus easier, it makes realization of the fact that I am surviving my fear in the moment more immediate. As moment after moment passes, it gradually becomes clear that I am not going to die any time soon, in spite of embracing my fear head-on. My experience of the fear shifts.

The threat hasn’t changed, but I have. I have begun to experience that I am stronger and have more resources than I supposed I had. The fear recedes because I experience myself more deeply and clearly. In this clarity I see that I have more options than I thought I had. With this realization of choice, comes an exhilarating sense of expanded freedom.

This is how, even under conditions of extreme privation, as endured by concentration camp internees, for example, after having been stripped of all of the worldly accoutrements usually associated with security, it is possible to have an unassailable sense of equanimity, grace, and joy. The source of these qualities lies outside the reach of any worldly intrusion, so no loss or curtailment of worldly conditions can intrude upon my sense of personal power, beauty, or freedom. (It is also outside of the reach of any spiritual intrusion, but that is a topic for a different discussion.)

As fear diminishes, increased security and safety are felt, but they are not the focus. They are characteristic of the deepest self, but provide a backdrop, setting the stage for freedom and choice to take center stage. Excitement over the possibilities rushes in and a feeling of aliveness informs life.

At one time, this was the natural state for everyone, before the child “grows up” and lets fear block the feeling of aliveness. Releasing fear opens the way to re-embody that aliveness. Holding on to fear or kowtowing to it diminishes aliveness, whether it is fear of death, fear of being misunderstood or hated, fear of loss, or fear of jelly beans.

© 2013, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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Combing The Cotton

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by DCH Park

I am sometimes asked if it’s truly necessary to become aware of the workings of our own minds and emotions in order to transcend them. Isn’t it possible to simply avoid certain subjects and focus on creating success, love, harmony, or happiness and enjoy those creations without delving into the muck of unwanted anger, fear, comparison, etc.?

To be fair, there are disciplines that promise release of such emotional blocks without having to deal with them directly or even consciously knowing what they are. Many teachers, including Napoleon Hill and Abraham Hicks, have advocated doing exactly that – focusing on the positive creation of what you prefer in life and eclipsing focus on what you don’t want.

Both of these approaches favor putting new energy where we want it instead of continuing to blindly send it where we don’t want it This encourages the former and leaves the latter to languish. Eventually, as the positive grows, the negative will tend to diminish, either through starvation or the natural process of losing relevance as life circumstances change. As we grow older and more experienced, how much energy do we devote to the intrigues of our lives in fifth grade?

However, Hill admitted himself that the path he taught was slow, it being typical for someone to strive for 20 years or more before fully realizing goals and dreams. Abrahams’ advice is more subtle but it goes to the same place. Both simply ignore or resist focus on negative thoughts. Rather than dwelling on how frustrating it is that your desires haven’t manifested yet or how hard it is to continue to slog through the daily grind en route to the golden circle, more positive things are emphasized.

Of course, this makes perfect sense – “whatever you resist persists.” Avoiding or actively suppressing certain unwanted experiences or expectations will only make them stronger. But there is a thin line between choosing to focus on positive creations and avoiding (which is the thin edge of resisting) one thing in order to focus on something else.

However, those who embrace these approaches often find themselves confronted by the same issues again and again. Like a weed that grows back if it is pulled up but the root is left intact, the blocks that are handled with such indirect techniques often re-emerge. As long as such re-emergent blocks are smaller and more easily recognized and dealt with over time, progress is moving in the right direction. Is this the best we can hope for?

Perhaps more is possible. By developing a habit of witnessing the emotional roller coaster you find yourself on without resisting the ride itself, you can notice your experience of the emotion becomes less sticky. Eventually, you are free to release the emotion altogether. This can be the first step in witnessing the block and its emotional baggage very deeply – all the way to it roots. Releasing the block from its roots eliminates it entirely, just as digging up a dandelion by its roots will eliminate it from your garden forever.

Imagine raw cotton. Freshly picked, it is full of seeds, sticks, stones, and dirt. In fact, cotton was so notoriously full of foreign debris and hard to clean by hand that it was considered largely useless commercially without slaves to provide free labor. This is why the cotton gin was so important historically. By combing out the seeds and other debris, the natural softness and strength of the cotton fibers could be appreciated.

It might be possible to use cotton in some way without combing out all of the debris first, but it’s unlikely that you could use it to spin thread or weave cloth. If you tried, the result would likely be poor and unsatisfying. How many sticks, seeds, and tiny rocks would you tolerate in your shirts or underwear?

Combing the cotton allows the natural qualities of the fibers to come through, enhancing its beauty, versatility, and strength. In the same way, combing out your body, mind, and spirit to remove emotional debris uproots blocks and allows the full truth, beauty, and creative strength of your being to come through.

The natural state of a human being is joyful and creative. To witness this, you need only look as far as the nearest healthy child. When we don’t see this in ourselves it is because our emotional attachments and ego drama get in the way of our realization and expression of our creative power. One way to understand or characterize spiritual work or growth is in terms of combing out the cotton of our beings. Our creativity and power shine into the world naturally and effortlessly once the blocks are released.

© 2012, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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Striving For Happiness

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by DCH Park

I sometimes hear people talking about their personal quests for happiness or peace as if they are physical objects that can be acquired or lost. To be fair, I doubt that there are many people who honestly believe that happiness can literally be found in a physical possession or drug. Nevertheless, we naturally tend to speak about becoming happy using the same words, phrases, and patterns that we use to describe getting a new job, lots of money, or a new TV.

There are many prescriptions for achieving success. Many of them focus on manifesting – or bringing into your personal experience in the world – experiences of wealth, prestige, security, achievement, or love. Napoleon Hill, who is recognized by many as the original motivational speaker, focused deliberately and plainly on success and getting rich. However, as he pointed out himself, he did so as a means of providing people with an endeavor both engrossing and illuminating so that personal growth occurs as an inevitable side effect. He is actually interested in personal growth toward true freedom and happiness. Wealth was simply the means he chose to sweeten the offer.

Hill’s ideas can be found echoed in the writings of many who have come since. Whether this is a reflection of imitation or parallel discovery is ultimately not important. There are probably cases of both. In the final analysis, what really matters is what resonates with your own experience and what helps you to move forward in your own life.

A common question in this regard is, “How can I be (more) happy?” This question takes different forms that all come down to the same thing. Common variants include, “What makes me happy/joyful?” and “What do I have to do to be/deserve/earn/feel happy?”

I find that when I hear such questions posed, I am reminded of the old comedy routine of the clown who drops his hat and walks over to pick it up. With his big, clumsy, clown feet, as he bends down to pick it up, he kicks it away. The harder he tries to get it and the faster he runs, the farther he manages to kick it away.

Happiness is like this. The more deliberate you are in seeking it out or creating it and the harder you try to hold on to it, the more elusive and slipperier it seems to become. If you are in a place in your life where you enjoy more happiness than not, the striving and doing attitude will tend to powerfully draw your awareness away from your happy state and toward concerns over what you will have to do to maintain it or “buy” more. How happy are you if you strive to gain happiness only to turn your attention to further striving instead of enjoying what you have gained?

This is a natural aspect of the striving attitude. Striving leads to more striving. Even if your desired state is achieved, the continued effort required to maintain your desired state of happiness will become exhausting as the thrill of achievement fades away. You may ultimately realize that the happiness you strove so hard to achieve is hollow and unfulfilling. I knew one person who achieved so much in his life by such an early age that by the time he was in his 50’s, he was tired and jaded. He no longer believed that happiness was real. However, he was sadly unprepared to consider alternatives to the striving that he’d dedicated himself to for his whole life. He was left with cynical, self-conscious pursuit of distractions as a sullen alternative to depression.

Striving is a quality of ego and the dramas that egos construct. Descriptions of the experience of great creative achievement from all human endeavor, from athletics to business to healing to family to science to art all describe a sense of continuity and flow that is both effortless and effulgent. There is no striving in the moment of effortless connection and flow. It simply is.

Ironically, by striving for such connection and flow, you block yourself from fully experiencing it. Continued progress becomes effortful. By striving to be happy, you make being happy part of your ego-drama so that even if you achieve the desired happiness, it’s still only part of the ego’s shadow play and inevitably leads to more struggle.

Happiness, flow, peace, purpose, wisdom, and healing are all aspects of the greater self that accompany our experience of ourselves whenever we are present in our lives as/with our deepest sense of truth and beauty. It is not unlike the color of our hair. It comes for free as an effortless bonus part of the package. Whenever we recognize our little selves – our egos – for what they are and release attachment and identification with them, we free ourselves to return to our true selves – our greater selves – and happiness just is.

© 2012, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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The Nature of Miracle

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by DCH Park

I sometimes hear people objecting to lessons contained in Napoleon Hill and the Law of Attraction on the grounds that if everyone only did what they wanted to do, nothing would get done. This point of view strikes me as valid from a certain perspective and funny from another.

To someone who is thoroughly immersed in a daily struggle to keep trudging forward, the prospect of being free from the drudgery seems as bright as it is unsustainable. When I have been in that perspective, the only thing that I could think of as a desirable alternative was to sleep, eat ice cream, spaghetti, and sushi (probably not all together), read, and watch movies and TV. Naturally, if everyone were to do things like that and only things like that, the world economy would grind to a halt. With no one to make and deliver the ice cream to my local store, how am I supposed to get it?

However, my experience is that this perspective is a temporary one. It is predicated on the prospect of distancing myself from the drudgery I am escaping. It only has appeal due to the sense of contrast it promises with respect to the drudgery. Once the drudgery is no longer salient, the appeal of eating gallons of ice cream on the beach fades as well.

Once that happy glow diminishes, the question arises naturally: What do I do now? To answer that question, it helps to note that mystics from many traditions have noticed that we each have an internal compass that unerringly guides us toward what we most love to do and what we do best. It is invariably true that these two things are actually the same thing. In every sphere of human endeavor, the ones who are the most successful and talented are the ones who enjoy the endeavor the most.

The popular characterization of the wannabe who loves something but has no talent for it regardless of how hard he or she practices is a cultural myth. In real life, the situations in which this seems to be true are actually situations in which the person doesn’t actually love the thing. Rather, he or she generally loves something else. The thing symbolizes what is loved or represents a means of acquiring it.

For example, someone who tries very hard to build a business but is unsuccessful may in fact be focused on developing sufficient income to set her own schedule so she can write a book. She doesn’t love the business or business in general at all. It is a means to an unrelated end.

Someone else who grew up playing catch with his father in the back yard may feel love for baseball but not be able to play well. He might actually be loving his deceased father and responding to baseball because it symbolizes his relationship to his father. He doesn’t actually love the game itself, with all of its intricacies, the feel of the bat, catching a line drive, or the taste and feel of the dirt as he slides in to steal a base.

Those who do love the minutiae of baseball or any other activity can’t help but improve as they engage in it. When they do engage in it or simply observe it, they have a heightened awareness the whole process and their engagement in it that results in a level of insight and performance that is summed up with the term “talent.”

This is one aspect of miracle. That we are composed in such a way that we have an unerring internal compass. This compass is accessed through our awareness of what we respond to with happiness. The activities that make us happy – the things we love to do – are the things that we tend to do well and improve on quickly. They are therefore also the things that represent our greatest gifts to the world.

How amazing that the things we love to do are the things we do well and the things that represent our greatest gifts to the world! This is what lies waiting patiently for us to discover on the far side of eating gallons of ice cream on the beach – exercising our greatest gifts and loving it. By choosing to pursue those things that we most want to do, we actually do good in the world.

As if this were not miracle enough, consider that each person has a different point of view and a different experience of what he or she most loves to do. The universe is so composed that as we each step out into the world to honor and offer our gifts, existence conspires so that everything works. Things that otherwise may not have been reasonably expected become effortless as other people who are also doing what they most love to do show up and connect with us. Their talents align with our needs and our talents answer their needs.

Miraculously, the universe is so constructed that everything that must get done is done. If we choose to do what we love, our experience is joyful. As everyone moves toward doing what they love, everything will still get done. The difference will be that everything with get done joyfully.

It may seem incredible, but someone will choose to pick up the garbage, grow the food, manage the books, organize files and drawers, and clean the streets, not because they have to or they are getting paid, but because they love to do those things. The world probably won’t look quite the same once (most) everyone chooses from love and joy instead of from fear and lack. Some things will probably fade and disappear, but things that go away will mostly be things that are rooted and sustained primarily out of fear, anger, and other manifestations of ego. Other things and dirty jobs will probably be replaced by new jobs that are created by those acting from joy.

This is a third aspect of miracle. It is stable. The world tends toward greater and more common expressions from joy. As more and more individuals practice this and anchor their awareness of themselves and their power in joy, the world itself will shift. Part of this shift inevitably involves release of old patterns, institutions, and ways of doing things in favor of new ways grounded in joy. As we establish these new ways, the tendency to revert to the old ways vanishes.

© 2012, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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Never Alone

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by DCH Park

Last week we considered the fact that energy and emotion that we share with others creates a recursive loop that effortlessly grows in strength. As each person receives or resists energy transmitted by the other while sending the same energy back to the other, the energy builds. This works with distrust, anger, and hatred as well as it does with openness, joy, and love.

It is a fundamental principle that can be observed in operation everywhere. Wherever there are two or more people interacting there is the potential for this principle to come into play. It is one way to understand the phenomenon of group or cooperative creation – what some call brainstorming. Napoleon Hill called it the Master Mind principle and recognized that it can be a powerful way to bring desired outcomes into your experience.

A successful Master Mind generates far more energy in much less time with much less effort than a lone person working in isolation can. Attitudes of openness and mutual support allow creativity and insight to deepen as the whole group enters a virtuous spiral that can carry them to great heights.

Of course, the same mechanism is also in operation when mutual distrust, antagonism, or one-upmanship is in play. Unfortunately it is currently common for people to find themselves in downward spirals. They often don’t even recognize the nature of the spiral that they are creating together. As this changes, and people realize that they have a choice, these downward spirals naturally become increasingly less prominent features until they virtually disappear.

Beyond this, though, notice that you don’t even need another person with whom to practice such mutual sharing and reinforcement. For example, notice the dynamic that a person shares with a beloved pet. Dogs are particularly well suited for this but just about any mammal and many non-mammals, especially some birds, do it very well, too.

For example, if the person feels agitated or excited, the pet will pick that up and begin to exhibit the same emotion. Then the person may feel it more intensely, emotion building as focus on the interaction sharpens. This serves to reinforce the pet’s behavior, which ramps up, and so on.

Even more interesting, it is not even necessary to have a pet or other animal to practice with. For example, spend some time in the woods, go for a walk in a safe place at night, take in the stars or moon, notice a pretty painting or flower, or sit alone in a quiet room. Notice how the sense of connection and ease of flow increase. After a while, the flow opens to reveal an ever finer structure of joy and love.

This is the nature of existence. All things are acts of joy and love. When we seek to create a new experience for ourselves, the universe or source does not simply bring the thing that we seek to us. It resonates with our desire and becomes the thing we seek. All things – including other people and pets – are made of the same divine essence.

That is why mutual sharing is so powerful. We reflect in however small a way our divine nature in becoming what is asked and shown. How could that be anything but powerful?

This also why, in truth, you don’t need another person to practice with. Another person can help in providing a convenient focus, but you are never far from your own divine nature nor the divine nature of everything. Even the most mundane experience is in essence divine and full of wonder and beauty. Allow your awareness of this beauty, wonder, and joy to be felt. Notice how your appreciation of these things can form the foundation of an upward spiral whose boundaries are potentially limited only by the extents of existence itself.

© 2012, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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Positive (or Negative) Expectations

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by DCH Park

It is popular in some circles to embrace juicy displays of excitement and joy as part of the creation process. Perhaps partly due to a widespread misunderstanding or too literal interpretation of lessons in The Secret and other texts, the notion that joy, gratitude, and excitement about your creation should be strong and palpable is very popular.

If this is your natural mode and it works for you, then by all means, continue. Some people are very joyful and excited. They veritably vibrate with excitement and appreciation. Their energy seems almost tangible. They are able to pass that excitement on to others, which can be a powerful motivator for action.

The emotional impact of such individuals is almost physical in its effect. In fact, the Huna view of such raw emotion is that it is felt through the Basic Self, which is associated most closely with the body and subconscious. Huna also suggests that since the Basic Self is equally capable of feeling negative emotions, these same people are as prone to strongly feel and radiate their negative emotions as they are their positive ones.

However, there is a full range of emotions and wide variety in the ways that people experience and express them. Notice that there is another way to feel the reality of a new creation even before it is ready to be experienced in the physical world. Notice the sense of certainty you have in taking a step in the dark. You can’t see the floor before you, but you step out with a sense of surety that it is there. Beyond that, you have a sense for what it feels like and where it is. On those occasions when the floor wasn’t where you expected it to be, the moment your foot passed through the space where you expected to find the floor, your sense of surety instantly passed into alarm.

By the same token, if the floor was where you’d expected but felt different than you’d expected (for example if it was carpeted instead of hardwood or if it was wet), you probably felt surprise. Not alarm to be sure, but the swiftness and dynamics of change in your emotional state was probably nearly identical.

This sense of certainty is a subtler thing than the keen, body-felt excitement of the Basic Self. It is also very powerful, arguably more powerful than the excitement. Napoleon Hill identifies this sense of certainty as the single most powerful emotion in creating new experiences. Hill calls it Faith.

The story is told of a man familiar with the Law of Attraction who had befriended a powerful Native American shaman in the southwest. They were experiencing a drought, having already gone many weeks without rain. The shaman announced that he would perform a rain ceremony to bring rain.

The man asked his friend if he could come to witness the ceremony. The shaman agreed. The man was very excited. He was eager to see how the shaman, who was well known for his ability to bring rain, would pray for rain. Would there be long meditations, chanting and drumming, exotic rituals?

They walked up onto a high plateau. After a long time the shaman announced that they had arrived at the proper spot. He drew a circle in the dry dirt and took off his shoes. Then he stepped into the circle and stepped out again. He put on his shoes and motioned for his friend to follow him back down the slope. The ceremony was over!

The man was startled. Had he missed something? Was his friend pulling his leg? Maybe they would do the real ceremony after they’d both had a good laugh.

He asked the shaman what had happened. The shaman answered that he had pictured in his mind the rain falling and felt the mud between his toes when he stepped into the circle. He believed that the mud was there instead of the dust. That was the creation.

The next day, it rained.

This quite certitude is characteristic of the High Self in Huna. In contrast to the broad flush of excitement and joy that are like blunt instruments powerfully wielded by the Basic Self, quiet certainty and faith are like a fine instrument – a surgeon’s scalpel. When handled with deftness and precision, it can do much more in less time and with less effort than the blunt instrument can. It doesn’t take a gigantic effort to bring down a giant. It only takes a small stone applied to the right spot in the right way.

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Forming Powerful Resolves

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by DCH Park

Consider the manner in which powerful resolves are made. Also called manifestations or creations, resolves are statements about what you desire and choose to call into your experience.

Whether you embrace Abraham and the Law of Attraction, Napoleon Hill, Wallace Wattles, and the principles of success, Huna, or any other philosophy of success is immaterial. The ability to compose powerful statements about what it is that you intend to create in your life is useful, even if it’s only to firmly set your goal in your mind so that you don’t waver as you proceed.

Of course, many schools of thought and philosophies of success recognize the importance of taking action to reach your goals. The ability and readiness to recognize and act on opportunities when they arise is a vital part of creating success. You can never know ahead of time from which quarter a new opportunity may arrive and often situations that present themselves at first as burdens, disappointments, or distractions lead to or morph into huge opportunities later on.

Action in the world is no doubt a key component in successfully realizing your creation(s) in the physical world, however, the creation of whatever it is that you may prefer begins with your resolve. Napoleon Hill was neither the first nor the last person to note that “thoughts are things.” All success and all failure have their beginnings in the thoughts that we cultivate long before either success or failure are realized.

There are several principles or guidelines that may prove useful to keep in mind as you form your resolve. In no particular order, these are:

  • Be clear and definite.
  • Be simple and direct. Use as few words as possible.
  • Define your desire in positive terms.
  • Be aware of the feeling tone that accompanies your recitation of your resolve.
  • Believe it. If you don’t or can’t believe it, it won’t happen.
  • Begin with baby steps – “Crawl, Walk, Run.”
  • Use images. Images that evoke strong felt experience are best.
  • Powerful words that evoke images are good. Excessive verbiage disconnected from images is poor. Language can actually impede the creation process.
  • Express your resolve in the present tense.
  • Include yourself in the picture.
  • Relax. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It is yours. You can refine it, restate it, or change it altogether at anytime as you learn and grow.

Clarity and definiteness sound obvious, but in practice, achieving them can be challenging. Generally, it is better to be as specific as possible about the desire while at the same time releasing all notions about the manner in which your desired creation will appear in your life in the physical world.

The classic interpretation of this principle emphasizes specificity about worldly details, so instead of saying, “I have lots of money,” the principle is taken to be a recommendation to be specific about the amount, “I have $10M in the bank.” Extraneous details about the desire, especially about how it might be achieved, are revealed in this way as being counterproductive.

However, as worded, the desire that “I have $10M in the bank,” in its focus on the physical details, entirely misses the context which gives that $10M significance. For example, $10M in the bank sounds good unless you owe $20M. Alternatively, consider that 50 years ago $10M would have seemed like an impossible sum and 50 years from now, $10M, though still a lot, may seem more like what $500K seems now or what $100K seemed like in the past.

One common response to this shortcoming is to add more words to describe the context, but this rapidly deteriorates into long, wordy statements that would be more appropriate in a legal contract than in powerful manifestations. This practice is reminiscent of trying to reason back to the object that casts shadows on a wall from nothing but shadows. To even have a chance of being accurate about the object, you have to take into account any imperfections and irregularities in the wall as well as in the light. Is the light bright, steady, dim, or flickering?

Even after adjusting for all of that, you still have no way to knowing from just the shadow if the object is a dog or someone casting a shadow that looks like a dog or even if there are several objects that line up to cast a composite shadow. You may not have any idea at all of what the nature of the object is.

In a similar vein, perhaps the statement “I have $10M in the bank” is definite but not clear. The focus on the $10M might be like focusing on the shadow. Is $10M really what you want to enjoy or is the $10M simply a familiar cultural proxy for something deeper, truer, and more personal? Incidental details shift as the context changes, just as the shadows on a cave wall shift as the fire dances, but the inner truth is constant, just as the object casting the shifting shadow remains unchanged.

The unchanging truth that you might be reaching for through the proxy of $10M might be a sense of wealth and ease firmly rooted in the felt knowing and embodied experience that when you need or want something, it is there for you. That, in other words, the experience of privation and self-denial that characterizes a lack of resources is as abstract for you as the temperature on the far side of the moon might have been to the Ancient Mariner.

Embracing clarity and definiteness about this deeper reality – the personal, felt experience of wealth and ease – not only makes your resolve much more powerful and immediate, it opens up possibilities through which you can enjoy its realization that you would probably have otherwise remained closed to. Letting go of your focus on $10M allows you to explore and appreciate the true abundance and variety of your wealth and the richness of the universe.

It is best to state your resolve so that your desire is directly identified. Stating your desire in terms of its opposite actually defines the opposite more than the desire. One person, tired of always fighting with his spouse, focused on “not fighting all the time” rather than something like “I love and appreciate my wife.” They ended up divorcing each other. Although divorcing his wife did ironically provide a means to realize his resolve of “not fighting all the time,” it was precipitated by continued and escalating conflict with his wife. By focusing on “not fighting,” he actually manifested more fighting.

To understand this, most success and attraction gurus content themselves with hazy statements like, “the universe doesn’t understand (or respond to or accept)‘not’ and ‘no.’” Although these statements are accurate observations, they have very little or no power to illuminate. They merely articulate another rule to remember and follow from the mysterious rulebook of life.

I have personally always had a hard time accepting that. In my experience, when rules are put forth with little, weak, nonsensical, or absent explanation, it indicates that someone is hiding something (like an agenda or ignorance) or that I am missing or misunderstanding something. Happily, Huna provides a philosophy of success that illuminates the situation.

As mentioned above, images are very powerful. Huna makes clear that images are the means by which messages are sent and received outside of and beyond what people commonly experience as physical reality. Thus, the resolves that you formulate are communicated to your High Self and the universe beyond in the form of images. Notice that it is impossible to negate an image. If you picture something, say an apple, and then try to negate the apple, you end up with the apple or something else instead. There is no negative apple.

Negation is a function of language (the trope of a circle with a slash is culturally defined and thus a linguistic artifact). Since spirit communicates with images, there is no negation in communicating with spirit and resolves defined in terms that negate something actually convey a desire for the thing being negated.

As with anything, you must crawl before you walk and you must walk before you run. It may be too much of a stretch to go directly to your ultimate goal. In that case, it can help to start small and build up a track record of relatively smaller successes. For example, if you are very ill or badly injured, it may seem like nothing more than wishful thinking to resolve to be fully healthy with full use of arms and legs.

However, smaller goals, such as not feeling so achy, being able to eat and hold down a meal, or just sitting up in bed may be good places to start. As successes mount, your expectations will naturally shift so that bigger and bigger things become possible. Soon, things that once seemed impossible become natural.

This is an interesting subtlety. The emotional tone with which you state and hold your resolve is critical. If you are negative and pessimistic when you embrace your resolve, the net effect is to delay realization of the goal or in fact to create the experience of lack, which naturally engenders greater pessimism. You can ride the spiral down as easily as you can ride it upward. Some people take this to mean that feelings of joy and exuberance are important in making resolves. However, others note that the feeling of certainty or faith is the most important and powerful feeling tone.

When you go to a distant place full of beauty and wonder, especially if you have been anticipating being there for some time – for example the Grand Canyon or Disneyland – there is a sense of reality to the place that only serves to underscore the impact of being there. It is akin to the knowing that water is wet and fire is hot.

This is the faith or knowing that can transform a resolve into reality. Emotionally, it is already real. From this point of view, it makes no more (or less) sense to be exuberant or bubbly over your resolve than it does over the fact that fire is hot or that Disneyland is. Holding a resolve in such faith has amazing power. It can instantly transform your perspective. Actions can suddenly seem possible, even matter-of-fact. Success can become as inevitable as the morning sun.

As Annie sings, “tomorrow is a day away.” It tends to be self-defeating to resolve that you will have, be, or do something “some day.” It can be equally frustrating to resolve that you “want to” be, do, or have something. Resolving to want something is immediately self-fulfilling. You already want it. Ta-da! You’re successful. You created what you desire.

Instead, state your resolve in the present tense. Rather than “I will create a fortune,” state “I have a fortune.” What is even better, focus on the experience of having the fortune. What does it feel like? This also has the virtue of putting yourself in the picture. It does little good to picture piles of money if you aren’t there to enjoy it. Similarly to creating in the present, picturing piles of money, a new house, new car, or new spouse without including yourself in the picture is easily realized. These things all exist in the world. Focus instead on your experience of yourself enjoying these things.

In conclusion, remember that words are generally not the best vehicle for making or stating your resolve. They can be helpful as tools to explore how you want to define your resolve and for accessing it quickly. However words are a poor vehicle for capturing and conveying your resolve. Images and body sensations are far more powerful. Beyond the emotional and physical solidity of faith and belief, body sensations can help make the resolve more vivid and immediate.

For example, if you desire a vacation in Hawaii, an image of a white sandy beach may be potent but compare that to imagining yourself on that beach. Feel the weight of your body as you sink into the sand, the warmth of the sun and sand on your face and back. Smell and hear the ocean.

If you are having challenges in forming your resolve, begin with what you have and be aware of what does and does not work well or feel right. Use it. State it. This is often quite helpful in uncovering lacunae that you don’t see because a conceptual blind spot hides it. If this happens, you can always refine or change your resolve. It is yours.

For example, one person felt that she had a good idea of what she wanted because she had always had a sense of what success would be like or look like and she felt successful, at least on paper. However, when she did an exercise that called for her to state her resolve clearly, she discovered that she did not have a succinct, powerful statement. She had only vague and poorly defined notions of what she wanted.

Yoga Nidra is an excellent practice for this sort of realization. The name translates as “the sleep of the yogis” and it is a means for putting the body to sleep while remaining awake in order to gain conscious access to the creative imaginal mind. More information about Yoga Nidra and other practices will be available in these pages shortly.

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Importance of Speaking Out – III

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by DCH Park

Speaking out is a powerful process. It has many effects. One obvious one is that it helps to shift dialog and consciousness. It is not necessary to become a public figure or convert anyone to a particular view to have a positive effect. In fact, setting out to deliberately change people’s views or shift or control discussion to favor one position over another is counterproductive, regardless of what the position might be.

It is not necessary to dominate, debate, or disagree. Simply being aware of and honoring your point of view in your life and being open and ready to share about your view of the truth and hear about others’ perspectives is all that is needed. Of course, it helps if there exists a safe environment within which such dialog can take place in an atmosphere of mutual respect and appreciation.

Sadly, many people’s experience is that their everyday fora – at work, in school, or at home for example – are not safe places. They feel that their reputations, their livelihoods, or even their personal safety may be endangered if they give voice to opinions that run counter to the group norm or would not be understood or respected.

When faced with such situations, most people choose to “keep quiet and keep their heads down.” This is understandable. It is what most people have been drilled to do during years of schooling and religious and other social training. Such training is not education, although many try to dignify it with that name.

Napoleon Hill makes the point that the word education is drawn from the Latin word educo, which is the same root for educe, meaning to draw out. True education is a process of drawing out the student. A truly educated person, according to Hill, is one who has drawn out and lives in accordance with the full expression of his or her own wisdom.

Of course, in a situation that does not feel safe, comporting yourself as an educated person can be difficult. Fortunately, the first step is typically the hardest and once it has been made, the very fact that you are living true to yourself changes the situation for everyone. It automatically becomes safer for everyone because one person is living honestly.

Naturally, there will be situations in which some person or group will believe that its own interests are tied to maintaining a certain perspective or keeping a certain other group suppressed. In these situations, you may encounter resistance, either in the form of “dirty politics,” such as rumor-mongering, or even open threats and violence. However, such mean-spiritedness cannot not withstand genuine openness, honesty, and loving engagement forever. It will ultimately melt.

Unfortunately, this does not mean that there is no risk involved, especially in the short term. This is why people speak of the strength of the Spiritual Warrior. Dan Millman calls it the Peaceful Warrior. Most popular notions of a warrior are defined in terms of fighting prowess and the ability to crush enemies on the battlefield. The image of the warrior who has conquered all opposition and claimed victory over the bodies of fallen foes has been extensively romanticized.

However, what has been lost or diminished in most popular romances is that in order to grasp such victory, the warrior must first conquer him or her self. This mastery of self is by far the greater challenge. It has been observed that such mastery of self is the true victory. Outward challenges shrink to insignificance in comparison. The war in the outer world is only a reflection of the inner truth.

There is a remarkable scene in Seven Samurai in which two sword masters meet in a field. Obligations and codes of honor dictate that they must do battle, although if freed from such entangling alliances, they would most likely be great friends and allies. They stand facing each other, swords drawn, completely motionless for long minutes. Each is meditating and connecting with his experience of himself, truth, and the honorableness of the cause and company he fights for.

Suddenly, they both lash out with furious speed and intent. Blades flash as they rush past each other in the sun. One falls, dead. The physical action takes almost no time at all. The true battle is won and lost in the inner landscape of each warrior’s deepest being.

Fortunately, there is little need to engage in life-and-death combat to test your warrior spirit in the modern world (or perhaps that is unfortunate – battle can focus energies and attention to a remarkable degree). Opportunities abound to exercise your ability to either honor your deepest wisdom and connection to truth or to compromise and choose to serve your apparent needs of the moment.

The true warrior honors the truth, even when doing so might feel inconvenient or uncomfortable. The spiritual warrior speaks out for the truth through the manner in which he or she lives and connects with others and the world. Even when saying nothing, the warrior speaks volumes.

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