The Circle of Existence: Chapter 9 – The Forge

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by DCH Park

Rick Sharloch, Yuma, sunrise in the Sonoran desert

Rick Sharloch,
Yuma, sunrise in the Sonoran desert

“26 April: I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”
– James Joyce

“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.”
– James Anthony Froude

“Nothing splendid was ever created in cold blood. Heat is required to forge anything. Every great accomplishment is the story of a flaming heart.”
– Arnold H. Glasgow

I was watching some random television the other day when one character said something to another about a stretch of desert called “The Forge” and how crossing it would prove fatal. It suddenly connected for me how life is in many ways a forge in which we temper our spirits.

There are many teachers and authors who espouse the value and virtues of success, wealth, and joy. No doubt, these are worthwhile things. The ability to open to joy in our lives directly determines how much joy we can have in our lives. Likewise, financial success will at best be difficult to achieve and maintain for someone who believes that rich people are somehow dishonest or less honorable than poor people.

Nonetheless, I have found that it is dealing with the challenges – the difficult things – in life that have led to the most potent lessons and often to the greatest joys. It has been said that what we look at disappears and that by noticing and holding silent presence with those parts of ourselves that are in pain, anger, or discomfort, we allow them to open like a seed softens in water, and lead us to the heart of our pain.

(Although doing so is a whole practice unto itself. Being able to be aware of something without creating or echoing any blame, recrimination, or judgment is a skill that is not taught, much less widely practiced, in this society. Hence it is easy to get lost in the first step – noticing what is there, how you feel. When you get lost and enlarge the emotion, you can never experience all of it. You make it larger all the time, so you can never find the edges or the center.

When you take the opposite approach and notice yourself feeling whatever is there, you are both inside the emotion, feeling it, and outside the emotion, noticing yourself feel. You are bigger than the emotion and you experience that you are bigger. The emotion is thus limited and you can experience it completely. Then you can follow the trail it’s a part of all the way back to the wound it springs from and heal it.)

It has also been said that in order to lessen the influence of undesired or “negative” thoughts and expectations our best course is to redirect our focus toward things that we would prefer. The intention is to allow the undesired experience to dissipate as we gain momentum with our preferred experience. This is an alternative view that, although popular, runs counter to the idea of turning into the pain.

To be fair, it does seem to lead to financial and/or romantic success for many people as they define it. However even when it does work, it is relatively slow (often taking 20 years or more) and it fails to consider the question of whether the game we find is the game we “should” be playing. In other words, it fails to recognize the existence of defining beliefs, much less ask the questions of what existential beliefs we have, how those beliefs shape society, and what beliefs we would prefer.

Consider the image of the forge. Sword makers in ancient Japan were able to produce steel blades of remarkable quality using techniques and materials that were very primitive by today’s standards. They successfully married two disparate qualities of steel (characteristic of different types of steel) into single blades. Thus, their blades were flexible (a quality of ductile, low-carbon steel) while also being hard and able to hold edges (a characteristic of brittle, high-carbon steel).

At no point does the steel resist the process. It accepts the intense heat and the plunging cold as silently and gracefully as it accepts the pounding hammer. Each blow of the hammer and each calorie of heat energy is felt and shared by the entire billet. As they are accepted, they induce a change in the steel itself. These changes are shared throughout the depth of the steel and accumulate to transform a jagged piece of ore into a shining blade. This transformation is as critically dependent on removing impurities as it is on strengthening and interconnecting parts. Too many impurities and the blade is fatally flawed, just as not enough of the right steel or a weak inter-layer bond ruins the blade.

Do not resist, analyze, or otherwise try to contain, control, direct, or buffer your experience. Doing so will only prolong the process and possibly weaken or damage the final result. Be humble. Be accepting. Be the blade. Allow the heat and the hammer to do their jobs. Bring your whole self to the moment. Be honest with yourself and with your experience. As impurities burn off, let the smoke go. Let new connections form, recognizing that each new link changes the potential and dynamic of your whole web of connections, allowing you to bend or cut as needed.


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

© 2015, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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Sand Gets In-Between Your Toes

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by DCH Park

By Skip willits (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“I don’t remember what day of the week it was, but it must’ve been a Saturday or Sunday. I used to work a nine-to-five job back then and I remember spending the whole day with you. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if it wasn’t the weekend.”

Jefferson was listening to his father. It was getting late in the afternoon. The sunlight on the floor was decidedly angled and creating shadows that stretched halfway across the room. He looked at the window. He couldn’t see the sun yet but it would probably shine through the glass soon. He shifted slightly so that when it did it wouldn’t shine in his eyes.

“My boss wouldn’t have allowed that…” His father was still talking. “It’s funny though. I can remember spending time with you like it was yesterday. Even from something like this, from when you were a little, tiny person, but I can’t even remember his name…”

After a moment, he continued, “You’d think if I remembered anything, it’d be his name…” He thought about it, losing sight of the here and now.

“Hm. I guess that’s as good an indication as any of what’s really important. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend with someone or trying to do something. The things you remember, the things that’re important, stand out. They come back easily and clearly, even if they only occupy a single moment in time.”

They sat in silence as that unfolded. Henry’s eyes glinted a tiny bit. They were facing each other in a drawing room. Their over-stuffed chairs were soft and inviting. Jefferson saw his dad run his hand over the upholstery of the chair arm, admiring its texture. He noticed that he was rubbing his hand over the upholstery, too. How long had that been going on?

He noticed the smell that lingered over the place. It was like a palpable thing that had, for reasons of its own, moved into the house; an invisible resident of the house, always present, never seen. His dad didn’t seem to notice.

He supposed that every living thing had to have its own smell. After all, bloodhounds had to smell something and there were two people living in the house now – his father and step-mother. Did he have a smell? He supposed that he had to. That thought bothered him. “What about that weekend, dad? What stands out for you?”

“Hm…” Henry let the conversation dangle as he rummaged through his memories. He was silent for so long that Jefferson almost said something but just as he was about to speak up, Henry continued. “Sand. I remember sand. And the smell of the ocean. What do you remember?”

“I don’t remember anything of that day.”

“Yeah, I guess you were about 1½. Probably too young. It was before we moved across country. We were still in New York. I don’t know where your mother was that day. I guess I was already doing things alone with you, even though she and I were years away from the divorce.”

He paused. The divorce had been a sore subject once, but that had been a long time ago. Henry was fine now. He had been for a long time. He had gotten used to the fact that his first marriage had failed. In fact, that failure was a vital part of his growth. The divorce itself was a part of a healing process that had led to many important insights for him. It was an early part of the process but it was an important part.

For reasons of his own, though, Jefferson had been angry. He’d nursed a grudge for a long time – long after his parents’ divorce was final. He’d fed it and it had grown. As it grew, it seemed to consume him. He’d let it grow to the point that it threatened to eclipse his whole life. But that was over now. Maybe the anger was a necessary part of his growth. Either way, Jefferson had gotten to the point where he was constantly amazed with how life unfolded.

“Anyway,” Henry went on, “we were living in New York City and I took it into my head for some reason to take you to the beach. I don’t think you’d ever seen the ocean before. I didn’t bother trying to explain it. I just said that we were going someplace special and that you would enjoy it. That was enough. That was enough for you.” Henry’s voice trailed off.

“You had complete faith in me.” He was quiet for a long time.

“You used to love water. Any water, really, but especially moving water. Do you still?”

“I don’t know.” said Jefferson. “I hadn’t really thought about it.” He thought about it. Henry waited.

“… but I notice now that I don’t associate movement with water. When I think of water, there may be waves but the body of water is still. I have to remind myself that there’s movement.

“When I think of movement I picture people dancing across a dance floor or machinery moving – or their parts, anyway. Solid things. I don’t picture moving water.”

“Maybe that’s why moving water was so fascinating for you.”

“I hadn’t thought of that.”

“You used to stare contentedly at a river or a lake. You wouldn’t budge. You could stare at it for hours. The larger the body of water was, the more fascination it seemed to hold for you. Maybe it was the promise it seemed to carry.

“You could gaze at a fountain forever. I remember pushing you through a mall in a stroller and coming across a fountain. We watched the fountain for a while. When I tried to leave, you complained. You didn’t want to leave! You were so disappointed.” He trailed off again, remembering the baby Jefferson used to be. After a moment he continued.

“So anyway, on that day we drove to Jones Beach. At least I think it was Jones Beach…

“It was late enough in the season that the beach was pretty much deserted. I remember a boardwalk. It was still fairly new back then.

“When you caught your first sight of the ocean, you stood transfixed. You were young enough that you didn’t have many words, yet, but I could feel your wonder. It seemed like you’d never guessed that there could be so much water in the world.

“You just stared at the waves and the vastness of the water. As I recall, you finally moved only because you wanted to stay with me.

“Together we crossed the parking lot and stepped onto the boardwalk. It curved to the right, out onto the beach and around the building where they sold snacks and drinks but the building was closed.

“We must have walked over a mile out along the boardwalk. You were a little guy, so that was a long way for you but you weren’t tired. You almost danced along, watching the water.

“After a while I noticed that the sand had gotten into your shoes and socks. I sat you down on the next bench that we passed with your legs pointing straight out. Even so, your ankles just cleared the edge of the bench. I took your shoes off and they were tiny in my hand. I knocked them against the bench. Then I took off your socks, turned them inside-out, and shook the sand out of the little loops and fibers. Then, after turning them back, I brushed your feet off, tops and bottoms but mostly the soles of your feet. I remember the feel of your feet in my hand.

“I even went between your little toes and into the crevice between your toes and the balls of your feet to make sure no sand remained. Then I pulled your socks and shoes back on before you hopped down.

“You smiled at me and watched me, the water completely forgotten. After that, you wanted to sit down on every bench we passed. You even got sand in your socks deliberately.” Henry smiled, remembering. He was quiet for a while. Then he said, “It was an extraordinary moment that we shared together although you don’t remember it. I never told anyone about it before…

“…it’s been a private memory. I wasn’t hiding it from anyone. It was just something that only I held…”

He sat silently and then said with a sigh, “I never thought about it that way before – as something private or just mine. I’ve only ever been aware of the care it showed. Of the amount of care that we both had for each other. I don’t know if you knew how much you empowered my life…

He caught himself, lost in the rush of emotions. All of his airways suddenly seemed too small and his tongue rolled to the back of his mouth but his mouth was dry. Nevertheless he made several swallowing motions to release the tension. When his throat relaxed enough for him to continue, Henry concluded, “…I liked it, too.” A tiny tear formed in the corner of one eye. Henry wiped it away.

They sat together for a while, each one seeing his own silent world yet each one keeping the other company. Then Henry said, “I can’t remember the walk back or the drive home but I remember walking along the boardwalk with you and you wanting to sit down on every bench we passed and give me your feet. I remember cleaning your feet.”

After a while Jefferson said, “Thanks, Dad. I never knew.”

Then he said, “Brooke is waiting for me. I said that I would meet her.”

He got up and headed for the door. He called over his shoulder, “I’ll see you next time!” Then he was gone.

Henry sat in his chair and savored the evening. At last he got up and padded through the door and down the hall. He entered the kitchen and switched on the light. The dogs were both in their crate, eagerly sitting up and vigorously wagging their tails. It was time for their walk and they knew it.

“Okay, okay, you guys. I haven’t forgotten.” Henry opened the door to the crate and they exploded out and bounded to the door. Chuckling, he followed and grabbed their leashes and the little strap-on rosin bag that they used to carry treats and bags.

Helen would be home soon. He clipped the leashes to their collars and followed them out into the gathering night. He smiled into the dark as they went on their walk together.


© 2015, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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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,, 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?


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

© 2015, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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”The Circle of Existence: Chapter 7 – The Background Trend” by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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The 5 Kingdoms

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by DCH Park

The 5 KingdomsThere were once 5 Kingdoms who traded with each other. They grew prosperous from the trade and all was well.

The people of the first kingdom were great foresters and farmers. They cared for the land and all the plants and animals that grew upon it. The farmers grew things in great variety but always allowed the land to lie fallow for one year out of four. The foresters cared for different plants and animals from the farmers and did it in a different way but produced delicacies that no one else could. The changes of the seasons and the rhythms of the land and the reverence they felt for the land were all in the food they produced.

The people of the second kingdom were hardy fishermen and women. They harvested all manner of wealth from the sea. They knew that their lives were intricately bound up in the sea. They even timed their comings and goings to coincide with the tides. They had parties and celebrations on the beach and gladly took any excuse for a clam bake or a crab bake or a lobster bake or just a dance party with no bake at all. High tide under a full moon was a particularly special time for them.

The people of the third kingdom were excellent miners, which was fortunate because mineral deposits in their their land were rich and varied. They had an intimate knowledge of the land and were constantly probing and imaging it to find new deposits or a new cave. They loved nothing more than to explore a new cave or digging through the earth, searching out the hidden roots of things.

The people of the fourth kingdom were masters of the fiber arts. They could weave a basket or take hemp or linen fibers and make a fine suit of clothes or delicate paper out of them. The things they made were the finest imaginable. They could make rope of any thickness or colored thread, yarn, or paper and make all sorts of things from these materials. Their costumes and decorations were beautiful and surprising. Their festivals were always bright and colorful. It was said that you hadn’t lived until you’d attended a festival in the fourth kingdom.

The people of the fifth kingdom were smiths of all types. They worked with wood and stone as well as with metals. They could make a fine needle or a complex machine. Their people also included marvelous chemists. They were able to fashion fuels and other raw materials out of things they bought or found. They refined metals from some stones and cut others into jewelry and statues. They made porcelain tableware and figurines out of earth, glass implements out of sand, and caved wood into a variety of objects both useful and decorative.

The 5 Kingdoms were very different but they shared a sense of respect and reverence for the land. It sustained them. It gave them their lives and also their livelihoods. There was no reason it couldn’t continue to do so forever as long as it was taken care of. So each generation took care of the land so they could pass it on to future generations. They knew they didn’t own the land. They knew that they were merely part of a long succession – a chain of generations – who managed the land together. They formed a symbiotic relationship with the land. They benefited from the land and the land benefited from them.

Still, the people of The 5 Kingdoms knew that the land would be nothing without the people. People were the true source of wealth. Prosperity flowed from the efforts and genius of the people. Everyone in The 5 Kingdoms owed the creation of his or her personal wealth to everyone else. They all rose and sank together and they knew it.

Thus the various peoples traded with each other and were able to get everything they couldn’t make for themselves from each other. They had everything they needed for life. In fact, they became so wealthy and life was so fulfilling together that the life expectancy of the peoples of The 5 Kingdoms increased to a phenomenal degree.

Rarely did anyone mention one of the kingdoms as a separate entity even in passing. They were legally separate kingdoms but their trade agreements had lasted for so long and their cultures and traditions had merged so much that they seemed more like regional variations of a single, vast country than separate kingdoms and although there was certainly no law against trading with anyone else, there was little incentive to do so.

Strangers were welcome in any of the kingdoms. Many times such strangers were destitute in the beginning but had come to make valuable contributions. Many of them had risen to become highly regarded and influential. Who knew if the next stranger wouldn’t create the next great thing?

So all was well in The 5 Kingdoms for many generations. Then one day a money counter appeared in the first kingdom. He was obviously poor and had traveled a great distance. No doubt, thought the people of the first kingdom, he sought the prosperity of The 5 Kingdoms. However all the money counter could see was the vast wealth in the forests and the farms of the first kingdom. He imagined they were all his or controlled by him and everyone in the kingdom worked for him but he kept his imaginings secret. He said nothing to the people of the first kingdom.

As was their custom, the people of the first kingdom put him up in one of the apartments they had set aside for indigents. He was provided food and means to wash and press his meager clothes. He was left alone to tend to his needs and get his bearings.

Soon he was hard at work in his trade, keeping track of the coming and going of money. He had a practiced way of looking at money and his suggestions invariably increased profits. The businesses of those he worked for grew even richer. He started his own company and hired employees to satisfy demand.

The people of the first kingdom didn’t know why he had failed where he came from. He was certainly wise in the ways of business. Nor did they understand why he had shown up in their kingdom alone, with no family or tokens or anything reminiscent of any ties. But they were glad that he had come. They assumed that he would talk when he was ready. At any rate, they were certain that a person’s actions would be consistent with his thinking, whether voiced or unvoiced, so they didn’t press.

In the meanwhile, they were focused on making more money. The promise of riches often produces a kind of mania. That mania was taking hold of the people of the first kingdom. It was so slow and they were so distracted by their mounting frenzy that they failed to notice what was happening to them. Instead, they set their sights on the money they imagined before them. Soon that was all that they could see.

The money counter was in high demand as excitement spread. He became very rich but that didn’t satisfy him. There were others who had more money than he had. He had to be the best. He had no family or friends to share his money with and he didn’t trust new people. He was sure they wanted nothing more than to separate him from his money so it was hard for him to make new friends.

Rather than feeling out the hard things to understand them so he could heal them and make them easy, the money counter followed his training and avoided the hard things. In a way, the money counter was a victim. He was trying to be true to his training but that didn’t remove his personal responsibility for what he did or towards other people.

Not surprisingly, it didn’t help him make friends. In fact, avoidance made it harder to make friends. However, he was unaware of all of this. Without awareness of what he was doing, he pursued the only thing left to him. He pursued money with a single-mindedness that was inhuman.

In a short time, he became the most successful money counter in the whole kingdom yet that wasn’t enough. One day, he announced to his employees that he was going on a trip. He would go to the second kingdom to begin operations there. Surely the people of the second kingdom would appreciate him and his keen insight and counting abilities just as the people of the first kingdom had.

So he set off for the second kingdom. But this time he did not travel on foot wearing threadbare clothes. This time he rode in a fabulous carriage and wore expensive, new clothes. He made arrangements for his living space and counting house ahead of time, so they were waiting for him when he arrived.

His reputation preceded him. As soon as he opened for business, he had as much business as he wanted. Soon everyone in the whole kingdom employed him. He did the same with each of the other kingdoms.

After he became well known throughout all of The 5 Kingdoms, he settled back and looked at the figures from his business. He wasn’t the richest person yet but he was gaining. His growth was faster than anyone else’s. Still he wasn’t satisfied. He didn’t feel secure.

There were people in The 5 Kingdoms, thought the money counter to himself, who were so powerful that they could have him arrested and exiled. He remembered what had happened in the country of his birth. He was determined to not let that happen to him again. He imagined that the powerful people could have him thrown into a deep, dark dungeon to rot, cut off and forgotten. Never mind that such places didn’t exist in The 5 Kingdoms. His imagination was ruled by fear.

Fear demanded that he act. Fear demanded that in addition to being the richest person in all the land, he should be the most powerful person in all the land so he wouldn’t be thrown into the dungeon of his imagination. He would have to act cunningly and slowly at first, but after events gained their own momentum, he would be able sit back and relax and watch things unfold.

He waited patiently and continued to pretend to be everyone’s faithful friend while secretly working to undermine them. He used his position as money counter to all the businesses in The 5 Kingdoms to casually say things or whisper things to certain individuals in each of the kingdoms. He made suggestions that sounded wise but always caused business owners to question the motives of anyone from any of the other kingdoms. He raised questions about their reasons for doing things.

Later, when he was somewhat bolder, he suggested that they needed to protect themselves. Who knew, he would whisper, what hidden plans there might be to steal someone’s wealth? He planted seeds of doubt and suspicion all over The 5 Kingdoms. Slowly doubt and suspicion became normal. Contracts became long and laboriously exacting. Safeguards were built into every transaction. If someone began with an attitude of trust, that person was considered a fool and people tried to take advantage of him by presenting one face while secretly honoring another.

By the time that the first price increase was charged for exporting something to another kingdom, the pressure between kingdoms was nearly unbearable. That first increase led to a firestorm of reprisals as increase followed increase. No one trusted anyone else, especially those from another kingdom. Generations of successful trading were forgotten in the frenzy of suspicion and distrust.

The only thing that anyone seemed to be aware of was his own money. Each would-be trader imagined his own little treasure increasing beyond measure and a horde of jackals waiting to steal it from him. The money counter had successfully changed people’s expectations without revealing the truth so the norm was defined by suspicion. This created an opening for the money counter.

The only person whom everyone would accept was the money counter. His company was already present in all the kingdoms and he wasn’t from any of the kingdoms. He had originally come from a foreign land, they reasoned, so they sought him out. They begged him to oversee their deals and to make sure they were fair.

Putting on a big show, he feigned reluctance but he secretly celebrated. He agreed but he said that his staff was already overburdened. He would have to hire more staff, which would require more funds. He would also need to expand his staff further as the number of trades increased. So in addition to the startup funds, he required a portion of every trade that passed between the kingdoms. The former trading partners were desperate and didn’t know what else to do. The money counter’s demands seemed reasonable, if somewhat stiff, so they gave him what he asked for.

The money counter set up his main headquarters near the location of his first company in the first kingdom but he had offices in every kingdom to oversee transactions. His various offices were lavish and extravagant but that was only fitting, so the people told themselves, for someone overseeing every transaction between any of the 5 Kingdoms.

Fewer saw his personal apartments. These were more lavish even than his offices. They rivaled even those of the various Kings of The 5 Kingdoms. Yet still, the money counter was not satisfied.

He looked about him and saw that he was the richest man in The 5 Kingdoms. No one had more money than he had. He was also extremely powerful, perhaps more powerful than the Kings themselves, since he controlled the trade between kingdoms.

Best of all, certainly most ironic, he had done it through their respect and love for him! He had managed to get them to hate and fear each other while their love for him grew! It was as if they had traded one for the other and made him rich and famous while impoverishing themselves at the same time! He licked his lips and smiled. The pretty picture he presented to the world hinted at none of the thoughts he carried within. He would use their distrust of one another to even further separate the kingdoms and boost their love of him.

He took a moment to ponder the age-old philosophical question. Was it better to be loved or feared? Which was safer, he asked himself.

He couldn’t see that he had already chosen fear. He could only see his actions. He failed to notice his own thoughts or expectations or how his choices shaped them. He failed to see that the actions he took were in turn shaped by his expectations so his actions were ultimately shaped by his choices.

He was acting in accordance with fear but he didn’t see that those actions only seemed reasonable from within a context of separation – a context that he had chosen to begin with. He was already driving people apart and thus honoring the illusion of separation. Thus it should be no surprise that the money counter decided it was better to be feared but only after he thought himself safe.

In this way, he was no different from anyone who chooses fear and separation in any form. He was basically a coward. He “reasoned” that once he had isolated everyone to the point that they had no choice but to live within the system that he created, he would be absolute ruler, imperiously doling out things that no one else could even question because he had crushed all opposition with his strength.

Once they were all in his system and had given up hope of living any other way, then he could let drop his mask and reveal his true face. He could let go of all pretenses to love and acceptance and let fear show itself.

He would be the most feared person in The 5 Kingdoms. He would be terrible and wrathful most of the time and kind and merciful when it pleased him. He would be unpredictable and that would just make people fear him more. He would be free, he told himself. It would be wonderful.

He sat there, imagining his power and freedom for a few minutes and then pulled himself out of his reverie. Perhaps, he told himself, it would be wonderful but he wasn’t there yet.

He continued to sow seeds of distrust and suspicion throughout the kingdoms while continuing to pretend to be everyone’s friend. He continued to oversee the trades that passed between kingdoms while collecting a growing percentage of each transaction. He watched while relations between the kingdoms continued to fray and tensions continued to mount.

When the fifth kingdom erected a fence all around its border and checkpoints on highways to neighboring kingdoms, the money counter was surprised and delighted. Soon all of the borders were patrolled and fortified. The money counter knew that increased threats of violence gave him a built-in excuse to charge even higher fees and he did.

As misunderstandings grew into conflicts and conflicts became fights, the checkpoints and their surroundings grew more and more desolate. The money counter quietly supported installing higher and stronger walls. He quietly encouraged each kingdom to separate itself more and more from the other kingdoms.

The people of the kingdoms were suffering. The things that they needed, which had once been plentiful and easy to find had become scarce and expensive. As trade became more restricted, fewer and fewer goods were sold. At first, people banded together and distributed the reduction in income across everyone. They all shared the burden. But instead of passing, as such troubles had always done in the past, the reductions kept mounting. Eventually, they became so severe that many people lost their livelihoods altogether.

Many necessities were beyond the means that most people had remaining. They grew desperate. They began to organize, agitate, or steal – anything to stay alive. Marshal law was imposed in the various kingdoms. Conscription followed after that and border patrols and fences came soon after that.

Conscription into the armed forces was a welcome change for most because it meant that they could at least eat and send their wages home but the royal stocks, on which most people now depended, were limited. They were vast but they would run out eventually.

In addition, royal treasuries were tapped to pay wages to the vastly increased army and to subsidize the high fees that were charged for the trades that still went through to keep things running. The 5 Kings didn’t realize it, perhaps the money counter himself didn’t realize it, but the vast stores of food and treasure were being used to enrich the money counter. The money counter was benefiting and everyone else, including the Kings, were being hurt.

But the Kings realized none of this at the time. All they were aware of was their alarmingly rapidly dwindling stores, their swollen armies (swollen with people who would soon become desperate again once their conscription ended), and the apparent inevitable war. None of them wanted to go to war but none of them could think of any alternative plan. It seemed that the walls between the kingdoms were higher and the trades that passed between them were fewer every day. The people grew more and more desperate. War seemed unavoidable.

Then, just as he was about to proclaim war, the King of the fifth kingdom heard of a little market that had just sprung up in one of his towns. Intrigued by what he heard, he went to see it.

He traveled for a day and a night and finally came to a little village on the edge of his realm. It sat near the border his kingdom shared with the first kingdom. Being honest folk, the people of the village told the King the truth about their market even though they were afraid. They were technically breaching the border between kingdoms although they hadn’t directly broken any laws. The fence and then the wall had been erected to protect the people of the fifth kingdom from the people of the first kingdom. It wasn’t thought that any laws were needed.

But people from the villages on either side of the border had interacted and traded freely with each other for generations. Many had family members who had crossed over from or gone to the other side, before the fence had been built. Apparently they had found a way to continue trade under the notice of the money counter and the border patrol.

They had constructed a trebuchet and with it, they could shoot things high over the border to the other side. The King looked at the trebuchet and admired its craftsmanship. After they’d launched the plans for the trebuchet to the other side and established that it was possible to have two-way communication and material transfer, all that remained was negotiation on what to send, how much to send, and its price. Of course since no money changed hands, prices were based on exchange. But since each side needed what the other had in abundance, exchange was easy.

Furthermore, since no money was involved, there was no need for a money counter. People on both sides benefited and this benefited their neighbors and their respective Kings. Both kingdoms benefited. The people didn’t even notice the lack of a money counter.

The King went back to his castle in a daze. It seemed that even in a situation in which all trade is strictly limited and controlled to enrich one person or a small group at the whole community’s expense, a way to trade freely will be found. Being wise and well-schooled, the King saw that this implied that love and connection are more powerful than separation and control – that openness and honesty are more powerful than secrecy and lies. Of course, the King realized, they would be. Why else would secrets be held? Why else would something pretend to be something else? He pondered this all the way back to the capital.

Once he returned, he immediately called for a conference with the other Kings. While he waited he noticed that news of that first market had spread like wildfire all across his entire kingdom. Soon, similar markets had appeared in towns along every border that his kingdom shared with another kingdom.

When the Kings were all together, he recounted his experience and what he’d learned. He wasn’t too surprised to learn that the markets had spread across all five kingdoms. They now connected The 5 Kingdoms together. There were now two exchanges. One was an official exchange, overseen by the money counter, and the other had been invented by and was managed by the people.

The significance of the markets was not lost on the Kings. They agreed to immediately open the checkpoints between their lands to allow for free trade among the people, in accordance with their original agreements. They also tasked their armies to dismantle and destroy the border fences and walls before the conscriptees were released back to their families.

Finally, they issued a joint decree, calling for the money counter to cease all operations and for him to be arrested and all of his records seized and all of his assets frozen.

It took many years for all of the money counter’s records to be found, organized, and read. It also took many years to find the money counter, himself. This was because once he realized the soldiers were coming to arrest him, he fled. Having kept his plans secret and working to separate individuals from each other just to increase profit or to feel more powerful, when he realized that he had been discovered, he fled. This does not mean that fleeing proves guilt but in the money counter’s case, since he couldn’t hide his secret any longer, he tried to hide himself.

Over the years, he tried to remain hidden while moving to escape The 5 Kingdoms and take his hidden stash of gold with him. This is what undid him in the end. Someone saw him and reported it. He was arrested and brought before a special panel of judges from each of the kingdoms and a jury composed of citizens from each of the five kingdoms.

He was found guilty and stripped of all of his money, which he coveted so highly. He was removed from The 5 Kingdoms and exiled. He was sentenced to remove himself from that place for three times as long as he had been there. At the end of his exile, he could return if he wished, provided that his activities from that moment onward were motivated out of genuine concern for the betterment of everyone and not just himself as measured against other people.


© 2015, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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An Angel’s Shield

by Ingrid Dean

Photo by Dnalor_01 on Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 3.0).

Photo by Dnalor_01 on Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 3.0).

In 1992, I worked the 12th precinct (now the Western District) of the city of Detroit in a marked uniformed patrol unit. My regular partner and I had been separated by a shift supervisor who didn’t like either one of us. I was paired with a desk officer who had little street experience. As we went out on the road, I hoped it was going to be an average day.

As it became dark, we found ourselves driving north on Wyoming Road near Santa Clara. There was a red light at the intersection and all traffic was stopped. The car in front of us was occupied by three guys and had license plate BNL661 (I’ll never forget that number). The car stopped momentarily and then drove through the light. My first thought was that the light was stuck, but then it turned green.

The occupants of nearby cars looked at my partner and me as if to say, “You’re the police. Do something about it.”

We activated our lights and attempted to pull the car over. The occupants began to argue. We could see them yelling at each other. They weren’t going fast; they were just cruising. But they weren’t stopping the car either.

I advised our dispatcher of the situation and the direction we were traveling. The car turned down a side street and parked. Instinct told me to stay further behind than I normally would on a traffic stop.

As I started to exit the patrol car, the person in the front passenger seat leaned out of the door window and fired at me with an Intra-tech 9mm Uzi-style weapon.

Everything happened so fast, he fired at least three shots before I realized we were under fire. I quickly re-entered the police car to get to the radio to call for help. I shouted, “Officer in trouble! Twelve-11 under fire!” As I reached for my weapon, I could see bullets tearing through the metal hood of the patrol car on an angle toward the driver’s door—my side. I knew if I exited I’d be hit.

Then the gunman fired a shot directly into the windshield of the patrol car at face level. I should have been killed. It should have hit me directly in the mouth. However, the bullet flew up, deflecting off the windshield. I knew the windshield wouldn’t take another hit without being penetrated. I had no choice but to get out of the car to fire because my shots were not effective
from a seated position.

As I started to leave the car, everything went into slow motion. I saw a golden light fill the car and heard a voice say, “Don’t worry. You’re going to come out of this fine. You won’t be hurt.” It was a calm male voice. I believed the voice. It felt as if a shield had been raised up in front of me. I knew that I wouldn’t be hurt!

I exited the police car. The gunman was still shooting. I aimed and fired my weapon, causing the driver to floor the car and speed away. I emptied my magazine as the gunman and his accomplices fled. I was not harmed at all.

I looked around and saw my partner’s hat in the street; the passenger door was wide open. The first thing I thought was that my partner was hit. I searched around the patrol car and advised dispatch that I couldn’t find my partner. Moments later, additional police cars arrived, one with my partner in the backseat. It turned out she ran from the gunmen after the first shot.

Physically, I had been left alone—but spiritually I had the best backup in the world. I am alive today because of divine intervention.


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

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Surrender and Will

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by DCH Park

It has been said that there are two avenues toward spiritual enlightenment. One is the way of surrender and one is the path of will. Many in modern society are familiar with the path of will. It requires great discipline. Many are drawn to it. They see it as strong, like iron or stone. They gravitate toward will and reject surrender as weak. like water.

In following will, you often start out by noticing and criticizing others and their choices. You look around you and see that many are consumed with the “wrong” things in life, things that won’t carry them forward, things that won’t make them more “spiritual.”

Looking toward yourself, you may recognize such “wrong-headedness” in yourself and begin to reject it there. Self flagellation and deprivation are often ways to “punish” yourself and in particular those parts of yourself that are “wrong.”

Ultimately the followers of will find that the only way further into spirit is to surrender to a greater will. Some call this the will of God. Others know it as the will of the universe. No matter what name you give to it, in the contest of wills, it is clear that your little will is bound to be overwhelmed by the greater will.

According to Osho, the practitioners of will are destined to either surrender their will or to stop growing. If we must surrender sooner or later, why, asks Osho, waste time?

Furthermore, while the path of will requires great discipline, the path of surrender calls for extraordinary trust. However, I find that there is something beyond these apparent opposites. We are taught to believe that antagonistic opposites rule existence. In nature we find male and female, right and wrong, and hot and cold, to name a few.

What’s more, we are taught that if something is not one thing, it must be its opposite. In fact, many things are defined in terms of not being their opposite. This can even be the basis of supposed humility – one avenue to “humility” lies in denying what you are not without saying what you are.

However this only works if there are only two choices. In that case, not being one thing implies that you must be the other. But in most cases there are many more choices than only two. Even the supposed “natural opposites” listed above are idealized states that do not exist. There is, in fact, a range of states between each extreme and even the extremes change based on the range that is chosen. Thus, what is hot in one context may be cold in another. Even fighting against something gives life to what you oppose.

This is why the path of will or applying discipline must ultimately fail. Anything and everything that you oppose must grow and may ultimately grow too big to ignore. This is because it grows from all of your opposition.

The only way to defeat something is to surrender to it, but this is more than giving in. In order to stop fighting against something you have to accept it, which looks like surrender. However beyond surrender, it is possible to transcend distinctions and see not only that it defines you, you can see that it is a part of you.

From here, taking personal responsibility for all of your experience and ultimately choosing what you experience is only a matter of practice.

© 2013, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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Everything Is Nothing

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by DCH Park

To me it makes logical sense that it is somehow equivalent to say that nothing is real as it is to say that everything is real. On the one hand, there is the apparent logical conclusion that makes this equation precisely because it is nonsense.

How can they both be true? Aren’t they obvious opposites? The apparent logic stops here. Logically speaking, it is equivalent to asserting that, “this statement is false.” It is true because it is false. It proves itself by proving that it can’t be so. The statement that nothing is real (or everything is real) is only true because it isn’t.

However, it also stops here. Logically there is nothing more to be said, nowhere else to go from the idea that everything/nothing is real. This because there is no feeling to logic. Notice in yourself that all feeling, all sense of what comes next or where else to go, feels dead.

I distinguish here between emotion and feeling, as is discussed in several earlier essays. However, I do not rely on such distinctions here. Both emotion and feeling would be seen as “not logical” and therefore rejected by logic. At least, that’s how most of us have been trained.

Logic feels dead because there is no feeling in it. Much of our training is focused on the sense that we are safer or on steadier ground as long as we are logical. However, even logic and what we accept as being logical or “making sense” is based on how it feels or how it sits with us. We may have learned not to talk about feelings, but feelings are where it lives. Feelings are how we find truth. Logic comes only after feeling, though logic wants you to believe otherwise.

The nature of these feelings and where they come from is a worthy one, but is beyond the scope of this essay. For now, note that by going into this feeling and following it, you can go beyond everything and nothing. The feeling itself is the trail that you follow.

Asking what this feels like and what else feels this way is one way to sense that the apparent or “obvious” difference between “opposites” (such as “everything” and “nothing”) is an illusion. When you pierce that illusion and go deeper, you find that all opposites are really different expressions of the same, deeper truth. The concept of opposition itself is an illusion.

Nevertheless, it is a powerful illusion. Opposition in one form or another (sometimes multiple forms of it) account for most or all of the major movements through history. Each side tries to utterly destroy the other but also finds that it needs the other.

Each side more than needs the other. It creates the other. As one side becomes stronger, the other side must also get stronger. In creating itself, it creates its opposite and vice versa. This can be seen in many ways in language and elsewhere. For example, in trying to distinguish yourself from your opposite, you have to define what you are. You also have to define what you are not and more often than not, cast your enemy as what you are not.

Thus, the same definition can be reached from either end. They may both say nothing, but in some sense they both say the same nothing. Going to one is equivalent to going to the other.

Understanding this deeper unity allows you to transcend the separation and create healing based on the greater unity rather than being limited to a partial or incomplete understanding of truth.

What opposites do you find in you life? How do those opposites rule your expectations? Are certain things “ruled out?” What possibilities have you not considered because they are too outlandish or would require too much to change? What is “too much” and why?

© 2013, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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A Tiny Dog

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by DCH Park

We currently live with two dogs. I am aware of the rivalry between dog people and cat people but that is something that I do not want to pursue today. I do note that the small one, a Yorkshire Terrier we call “Happy,” makes it a habit to stand guard over me when I go to the bathroom.

Seeing his furry back after he plants himself in our hallway between me and any imagined transgressors is cute beyond words. His little fuzzy ears are alert for any noise that might give away an intruder. He takes his guard duty very seriously. Beyond that, though, he creates the enemies that he guards against. I don’t expect him to understand this, but he does. The fact that he creates those enemies and still doesn’t see his role in creating them is part of his cuteness.

It occurred to me that from his perspective, guarding me from intruders is serious. I laugh because I can easily imagine Happy being overwhelmed by the sheer size of anyone who truly wanted to attack me. He would probably have trouble with anything larger than a rat.

Yet, I have seen Happy stop an on-rushing person several times his size with nothing more than the ferocity of his bark and the baring of his teeth, tiny though they may be. There is definitely something to be said for the power of ferocity and commitment.

Even small beings have met and overcome odds much greater than they with nothing more than commitment. I don’t want to underplay the importance of commitment here. Nevertheless, I do notice that such commitment in fighting your foe is only important when you have a foe to fight.

In a very real sense, the foe creates the fight and vice versa. When you let them go, you can free yourself to define your relationship with your former foe to be anything you wish, even friends. While you hold on to either, you hold on to both. Having a foe means that you look for ways that you are different from your foe and what better way to distinguish yourself is there than a violent clash?

When you want to fight – when a fight is “alive” for you or near to your heart – you can cast anyone with even a slight difference from you as your foe and you can see him or her occupying the opposite end of a fight. Similarly, while these definitions are alive in you, anyone who suggests that there can be something for your foe outside of or beyond being your enemy can be seen as crazy or completely alien.

Alternately, you can recognize these tendencies and find a different way. For example, instead of defining your foe as different and looking for ways that you are different and expecting those differences to separate you, you can look for differences and discuss them. Rather than seeking out differences to separate you, you can celebrate differences as means to build bridges.

Ultimately, the reason that our little Yorkshire Terrier can take his guard duty so seriously is that he believes that there is something to guard against. In his seriousness, he sees a difference as an unbridgeable gulf between friend and foe. He pushes against foes. However, as soon as you establish yourself as a friend, he welcomes you warmly and runs to get a ball that you can play with together.

In the same way, the seriousness of any conflict is determined by the degree to which both participants buy into their separation. As soon as they cease to behave as if the differences that separate them actually separate them and accept that those same differences can connect them, they do.

This is also one way in which size doesn’t matter. The only difference between Happy and a hulking bully or a nation threatening war is size. To the nation, the bully is inconsequential. Similarly, to the bully, Happy is. No matter how large you might seem to become, there will always be someone or something bigger and more menacing.

This will always be true as long as you continue to define yourself in opposition to everything else around you. However, when you notice that you can find everything within you, it no longer matters that something else seems bigger than you are. Since you can find everything within you, you can find this, too.

This means that you must be bigger than it is. You and it are part of a continuous cycle in which you, then it, then you again are bigger. You both contain it and are beside it. You are bigger and smaller.

Let go of the illusions that insist that it be one way or another. Experience it as both. Experience yourself as both. There is no need to conquer because it is only yourself that you conquer. There is no need to push because you only push against yourself. In this way, life can become a continuing practice of becoming ever bigger.

What do you find within yourself?

© 2013, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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Be Your Own Master

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by DCH Park

What does it mean to be your own master? I shared the gist of my experience with it last week. I think the gist of it is that you are your own master. In other words, you set your own course. No one else sets it for you.

Many may object to this idea and note that they set their own courses even though they don’t claim the mantle of mastery for themselves. Nevertheless, even without that claim, no one dictates to them how they should act or what they should do. That is, after all, one definition of adulthood.

However, is it really true that you set your own course? It may be true that the blatant paternalism of childhood is gone. It probably is. However, does society have other, more subtle ways to direct us? If I decide the way that society wants me to, have I decided that way because I wanted to or because society somehow influenced me? Did society make its decision before I came along? Would it make the same decision even if I made a different decision? What would be the value of making a different decision?

After all, are we not all together, the sum and total of society? Do we together not decide where society goes? Rather than being pushed by society, do we not embody society and thus decide what shape it should have and what direction it should go in? When we talk about the shape that society has or what society wants or expects from us, are we not ultimately talking about ourselves?

Perhaps that’s what mastery boils down to – conscious clarity about what decisions I make and honest responsibility for the decisions I find, including both ones that I’ve made and ones that I haven’t, if only because I have accepted them. To me, such clarity seems to call for honesty, at least with myself, about what I find in my experience.

In fact, I suspect that if any part of my experience remains hidden and important, it will inevitably rise up to be felt somehow. By being important, my experience makes a difference, even if it remains unseen. That difference is felt (otherwise it “makes no difference”) and by acknowledging that it is felt and what is felt, the unseen experience can be revealed and dealt with directly, but only if I am honest with myself about what I feel.

I agree that the value of making a decision for the sake of making a different decision seems dubious. It seems more well suited to a petulant child and less well suited to a self-directed master. For one thing, it is defined in terms of whatever it finds. It is defined in terms of the opposite of whatever it finds. It can therefore be controlled.

Instead, I advocate making decisions you are called to make and taking the shape that you are called to take, regardless of how society has trained you. These decisions may be the same as before and they may be different. Either way, you are clear about where they come from and you can exercise choice over them as a result. You can’t choose something that you don’t know is there.

Does society or the individuals that make it up move in ways that seem mysterious and unpredictable to you? Is there something that seems unknown or unknowable? Perhaps it involves relationships. Others find money (getting it, keeping it, increasing it, etc.) mysterious. Others see pain as the great unknown. Still others fail to see and understand themselves.

What mystery or mysteries does life present you with? If more than one present themselves right away, which one seems most charged for you? If they are all equally charged, it doesn’t matter which one you start with. Any way, you have something to start with. You have a mystery to delve into.

Why is that mystery in your life? Do you return to conclusions so often they seem like clichés but they don’t take you any farther? There is something that the pattern or cliché is hiding or directing your attention away from. Undoubtedly, it is you. What part of you, of the truth, do you not want to see? What part of you feels uncomfortable, especially next to what you’ve come to expect of yourself and/or society? What part of you do you not want to look at?

The fact is that, especially as a master, you are all the love and healing that you crave. You don’t need to go outside of yourself to find it, because it’s you that you have craved all along, in spite of the message that you probably got that you can only legitimately find that love and healing outside of yourself. I know that I received that message.

However, in spite of the message, I found that I was able to bring all of the love and healing with me to the part that craved it because it was me. I was able to heal myself and grow with and into that love. I continue to seek out parts of myself that are still hurting and heal them and I continue to practice bringing that love and light to myself and to others. So can you. For me, this is being a master.

© 2013, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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What Is Transcendence?

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by DCH Park

When I look “transcend” up in the dictionary, I find something about going beyond limits. I also find mention of how those limits are imposed and determined by emotions. Thus, transcending how I feel requires me to go beyond how I feel, to not be trapped, determined, or limited by my emotions.

It is always possible that in transcending my emotion (say anger), I might land in another emotion (like fear). Certainly emotions like this can and do build up in layers so that rather than finding that my “work” is done, transcending emotion can merely lead to more emotion.

Emotions can definitely build up this way and can provide protection the same way that ice can be laid down in layers and protect something seemingly impenetrably, once it is thick enough. However, something that one of my shamanism students commented on once is that the energy that runs through all of these layers is the same. I notice that it is the same even if the emotions on each layer is different. Thus, I can use shamanic tools to follow that energy all the way to the root it springs from.

If you have never studied shamanism, you can still follow the thread, though it may be harder.

Ultimately, it is possible to trace emotion all the way back to the root. At that point, I find that I am often called upon to make a choice. One of these choices is invariably to transcend myself. When I can let go of my emotions from the root, I find that I let go of the whole chain once and for all. They usually don’t come back when I do and if they do come back, it is in a form that I can easily recognize and dismiss.

It is not necessarily quick or easy to transcend myself, though. I notice that I have been trained to see myself as my emotions, so in a way, when I transcend my emotions, I (by definition) transcend myself. However, there is a sense in which I can recognize my emotions as not being me, in spite of the fact that I have been trained to define myself as my emotions.

When I transcend myself, I find that there is an experience waiting for me that is different from what I expect. It is as if this experience of myself is what the layers of emotion are there to protect me from and it is always there, waiting silently on the far side of my emotion. It is surprising in its clarity and simplicity. I have always known that it was there and trained to deny it because I accepted the idea that what it called for is anathema to life.

However, I find that far from being the opposite of life, I am most alive when I find and embrace this sense of being. It is myself. I invariably discover more of myself on the other side of my emotions. Society might want me to reject myself and feel the emotions it dictates (“you’re not good enough,” “you don’t care enough,” etc.), but when I choose to reject myself, the only one I am hiding is myself.

To be fair, it’s not clear to me how or even if it is possible to make a society of realized individuals pay. For that reason it may be true that the few who get rich at everyone’s expense (including their own) and see their own fortunes tied to and defined by narrow monetary considerations alone will see their fortunes decline. However, everyone will become infinitely richer.

I find that meditation tools, like Witness Consciousness and Narrative Consciousness, are useful in transcending my emotions. Transcending myself in the moment is the second step toward ultimately transcending myself and discovering me and my happiness. The first step, without which transcendence itself becomes impossible, is to notice what I feel right now. Not to distance myself from what I feel, but to feel it and notice myself feeling it.

Unless you feel what you feel, it is impossible to transcend it.

© 2012, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

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”What Is Transcendence?” by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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