Tag Archives: music

The Middle E=Energy Level of the Life Wheel

The stand-alone I Ching reading for October 22, 2020 is ENERGY. In conjunction with that reading, I’m publishing a bonus blog on the vastly important but misunderstood, overlooked middle, e=energy level of the Life Wheel.

This information was originally published in Rethinking Survival, and again in abbreviated form in the Handbook.

Most is written in the language of the person who I was in 2014, which at end-stage 2020 seems a lifetime ago. I’ve reworked it a bit for brevity and timeliness. I’ve sectioned off bite-sized pieces where some has been deleted.

Most, however, stands for itself. Given the dynamics of 2020’s prior-election chaos, with swirling rumors of drug addiction and treasonous corruption in high places, the following is highly relevant RIGHT NOW. None of it makes sense without the whole picture. So it deserves your careful attention.

e =energy. Much ignorance, misinformation and confusion surrounds the middle, energy level of the quantum paradigm.

Chaos in 2020 is a consequence of this tragic information deficit.

The middle level of the Life Wheel is the domain of Natural Law. The Chinese I Ching, the Book of Change, maps its repetitive, cyclic patterns. This body of knowledge evolved over eight thousand years as sages observed the operations of energy and documented the essential dynamics of change.

Natural Law maps the underpinnings of the physical world. Though invisible, everyone experiences its influence in their lives. Changing seasons occur on all levels in nature. They also repeat on every scale of magnitude in human experience, from the personal pattern of birth, growth, decay and death to the repeating cycles of human history. (Strauss and Howe’s The Fourth Turning is but tip of the iceberg.)

The middle level is the realm of less tangible but still measurable states of energy, including electricity. More subtly, it is the chi, ki or prana described by Chinese, Japanese and Indian traditions as the life force which animates all living beings. In Greek and Christian contexts it correlates with the breath, the psyche.

These subtle energies influence internal psychological states and drive external human behavior, which in turn affects social relationships. Knowledge of these dynamics is essential to personal survival.

Effective leadership and the quality of live withing organizations hinge on the quality of awareness brought to dynamics at this level. Some leaders understand the dynamics of change at a gut level as a matter of common sense. However, systematic education would significantly improve results of the decision-making process.

Many “sensitives” survive by channeling socially banned, unacceptable awareness into the arts: music and literature, including romance, murder mysteries and science fiction.

Humor provides another outlet for releasing the pent-up emotional tensions which cause illness. The quantum paradigm gives credence to the Norman Cousin’s belief that “laughter is the best medicine.” It validates the healing wisdom of Patch Adams, the paradigm-breaking physician who’s earned international fame for clowning with patients.

Rather than merely releasing pressure build-up, however, yogic practices harness that energy. They integrate the levels. According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the purpose of preliminary disciplines is to to heal the physical body of disease and then correct ignorant character flaws which result in personal misfortune.

The next step is to purify the body-mind of toxic, emotional disturbances which clog the middle level. This enables students to penetrate the so-called astral sheath and prepares them to travel deeper to merge with the innermost source, thus fulfilling the ultimate purpose of life. Incidental powers (siddhis) which sometimes occur at this mid-stage of development are warned against as obstacles: dangerous distractions from the goal of enlightened inner peace.

The power generated at this level is the driving force that allows seemingly ordinary people to perform extraordinary feats of strength and endurance. The mother who single-handedly lifts a vehicle off of a beloved child trapped beneath demonstrates the stored energy potentials which can be released in response to a crisis of Titanic proportions.

When sufficiently purified and mastered, disciplined and intelligently harnessed to positive goals, the middle level fuels Anthony Robbins’ “unlimited power.” These subtle energies explain the possibility of seemingly impossible feats, including the miracles attributed to Moses and Jesus.

The concept of Natural Law as America’s founding fathers understood it was based on the writing of European philosophers: Rousseau, Locke and Hobbes. Though in some ways similar, for the most part it’s a different subject. In the 20th century, Wetherill reinvented “natural law.” Unfortunately, his valid contribution is distorted by the imposition of an evangelical agenda.

Other than to acknowledge that different approaches to Natural Law exist, they’re outside the parameters of this discussion.

In Life Wheel context, the “subtle” energy realm exists between the outer, surface level of matter and the deepest center of unchanging stillness. As the functional link between extremes, both on the out-going and the in-going paths, it serves as the gatekeeper and mediator between the two. “You can’t get from here to there,” except through this middle level of experience. Cluttering or denying access to it make connection with the Center difficult, at best.

Historically, Asian cultures are more comfortable with this middle level. Asian healing arts and practices including as chi kung, tai chi and hatha yoga use exercise to intentionally circulate, balance, harness and direct subtle energies through the physical body.

Westerners are beginning to catch up. As international business and educational exchanges increase, Western technologies and Eastern subtle sciences are cross-fertilizing.

Musicians, especially ones educated in the Eastern and Western sciences of sound vibrations, are keenly attuned to this level. Inspired, harmonious music can heal the physical body and uplift the soul.

It’s no accident that Einstein was an accomplished violinist. Or that the biblical David — first musician, later warrior and king — soothed King Saul’s feverish fits by singing to the accompaniment of his stringed lyre.

Don Campbell describes the benefits of performing or just listening to classical music. His title, The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit suggests music’s ability to harmonize and coordinate the levels of the Life Wheel. Research has shown that the effects of music delay or even prevent dementia. Harsh, strident sounds, however, trigger negative emotions and can damage the nervous system.

The middle level is also the repository of karmic information, where the history of past actions is kept, along with a record of debts to be repaid. In psychological terms, it’s the repository of short and long-term memories. The composite of emotions — fears, desires and repressed tendencies — are stored here in what Western psychologies call the “unconscious.” It is the stuff of dreams — inspired visions, nightmares and everything in-between.

The bardo, where (according to The Tibetan Book of the Dead) recently departed souls travel, is located within this level. Spirits, ghosts, leprechauns, angels and demons or jinn acknowledged by various mystic traditions also reside there. From here, unseen hands from the “dark side of the force” reach out to derange the minds of power-hungry rulers and undermine political affairs. (It’s for this reason that disciplines for “cleaning out the swamp” precede introduction to advanced yogic practices.)

So long as invisible energetic influences remain unaccounted for, the failings and depravities of human leaders remain mystifying. Conspiracy theorists can track the complicated networks of human crime on the surface. But to trace world domination plots back to their lair, one must look deeper. St. Paul described it in his letter to the Ephesians:

6:12. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

When cluttered and undisciplined, the middle energy level is like a swamp full of alligators.

Once the swamp is cleared out and the alligators are tamed, however, energetic potentials can be harnessed to worthy goals. They’re like the gas that fuels the car engine, or the horses that drove Plato’s chariot. They become the generator of what Tony Robbins calls “unlimited power.”

But easier said than done. The quantum paradigm validates experiences which report a dark side to the subtle realm, which the life traveler must be prepared to encounter and survive. Some describe it as “Chapel Perilous” or “the Hero’s Journey.”

There’s much truth to the classic lines from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The beleaguered prince, haunted by the horrific vision of his murdered father’s ghost, tells his steadfast friend, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Here are three examples of encounters with the dark side. The first has a positive outcome, the second a tragic result, and the third a comic twist.

The most familiar is the temptation of Christ. After forty days and nights spent fasting in the wilderness, he was approached by the devil. All the kingdoms of the world were promised to him in return for bowing down in worship. Jesus answered, “Get thee hence, Satan, for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and only him shalt thou serve.”

The tragic example of temptation is the Faust story, most famously told by the German romantic poet, Goethe. Fed up with the arid emptiness of intellectual life, an aging scholar agrees to sell his soul to Mephistopheles in return for youth, power and the love of an innocent woman. Inevitably, he pays a terrible price.

The third example is the comical but cautionary tale of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, animated as a Disney cartoon, staring (appropriately) Mickey Mouse. In his master’s absence, a lazy student tries to harness the forces of nature to do his cleaning chores. He succeeds in casting a spell on the element of water, but can’t turn it off. He escapes drowning only because the master returns to rescue him.

This third example brings up an important point which deserves emphasis. The Life Wheel’s paradigm is called “positive” because all the components of Einstein’s formula included, balanced, aligned and prioritized. The center is the first and primary core. Energy is subordinate to it. It emanates from this source and returns to it. The surface, though largest in circumference, is but the final and transitory manifestation of the creative process. It depends on the center for its existence and upon the energy level for life-sustaining vitality.

History is full of seekers who get a taste of power and then, tragically, forget from whence it came and to which it must return. They presume to challenge and rebel against the Creator, as if it were possible to usurp the center place within the wheel. They distort the relationship amongst the variables, attempting to turn things upside down. Inversions and perversions inevitably bring harm to those who try to put themselves first, mistakenly attempting to subordinate either nature or nature’s God to the whims and ambitions of human ego.

Turning off consciousness is far from an optimal option. Inhibiting awareness of the energy level cripples efforts to acquire self-knowledge, much less enlightenment. Religionists, moralists and even poets like Edgar Alan Poe warn against exploring the middle realm, portraying it as dangerous, fearful or unclean.

But in effect this slams the lid on libido, the motivating life force. Doing so doesn’t avoid its dangers. It just banishes this level from conscious awareness. This part of inner experience then festers, rendered inaccessible, relegated to “unconscious” status.

Enforcing taboos on access to energy level awareness backfires, resulting in mental illness, socially aberrant behavior, addictions and personal tragedy. Jung’s observation, quoted in relation to irrational prejudice, bears repeating here:

Our time has committed a fatal error; we believe we can criticize the facts of religion intellectually. . . The gods have become diseases; Zeus no longer rules Olympus but rather the solar plexus, and produces curious specimens for the doctor’s consulting room, or disorders the brains of politicians and journalists who unwittingly let loose psychic epidemics on the world.

The facts of religion Jung referred to include not only the existence of a supreme being residing at the center of and permeating the whole of creation, but also the middle energy level — including the dangers of its satanic potentials — as an integral part of that whole.

Chinese sages, who trod lightly but surely in that middle realm, used the I Ching as their instruction manual. Recently, it’s been correctly called a “spiritual GPS.” Jung understood the potential good that could come from introducing this wisdom to the Western world, where it could be used as an instrument for making the unconscious again conscious, restoring intelligent competence at this level.

– – –

I summed up the repressive attitude of the materialistic science paradigm in the following Essay Sketch:

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? Funny how the mind works. For centuries it’s been known that if you tell people not to think of white elephants, they’ll think of nothing else. So, to pervert children, forbid them to think about sex.

Slamming the lid on libido drives it into the inaccessible “unconscious.” While publicly feigning compliance, people thus repressed will privately indulge compulsive sexuality in extreme.

Energy science trains students to be wise/skillful in sexual matters, fulfilling intimate needs without tearing the fabric of their emotional/social life apart or harming innocents. Why aren’t these basics taught in schools, instead of filling young heads with ignorant fear and shame of their bodies and God-given potentials?

Havoc reaped now for enforcing ignorance/silence is sure indicator that long-neglected basics should be top educational priority of Positive Action advocates.

And ask this: Who, if anyone, stands to profit by the results of ignorance?

Many a politician and educator knows this sad truth. It would be instructive to look at the tragic (if predictable) sex abuse scandals which plague the Catholic church through the lens of the quantum paradigm. See Daniel Goleman’s work on “emotional intelligence” (why it can matter more than IQ) for an approach to educating competent behavior at this level of experience.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) looks at emotions from a complimentary perspective. “E-motion” is an energy-suggestive word, suggesting kinetic potential. It’s closely associated with “motives.”

Each of the basic emotions correlates with an internal organ, giving new meaning to clichés like, “My gut tells me . . .” or “It makes my heart ache . . .” In TCM, anger is associated with the liver, fear with the kidneys, worry with the stomach, and so forth. When the physical body is basically healthy and the energies of the internal organs are harmoniously balanced, each is associated with a specific virtue. The virtue of the lungs is courage. The virtue of the liver is kindness. The virtue of the heart is compassion.

Those denied access to material and social resources are often forced inside. Of necessity, turning inward, they develop and depend for survival upon strengths drawn from the middle and center of the Wheel. It these cases, it expresses as “street smarts.”

At times, material deprivation and hardships yield the opposite and equal blessings of in-sight and emotional fortitude. Other times, however, excessive investment at the middle level results in delusions, latent with the potential for erupting into violence.

In any case, making a virtue of necessity by rejecting the material world prevents completion of the pattern. It can’t correctly be equated with spirituality.

Cultures which enforce an exclusively materialistic worldview and deny the experience of everything which isn’t tangible and measurable place severe hardships on those whose inner lives are especially active. The Handbook gives ample opportunities to diagnose such imbalances, the better to remedy them.

Societies which deny their citizens practical outlets for harnessing inner energies creatively drive people crazy — to political extremes, homicidal violence, to suicide — or at best, underground.

Many “sensitives” survive by channeling socially banned, unacceptable awareness and longing for self-fulfilling adventure into the arts: music and literature, including romance, murder mysteries and science fiction.

This is a great loss to society. The world would be better off if high-energy, creative individuals were identified as potential leaders, trained and given employment options accordingly.

Shifting Gears – IC – 100520

Today’s reading begins where last one ended:

At this crossroads, there’s a choice.

Either we can get sucked into the drama. Play out the anger. Drown in despair.

Or . . . we can use the opportunity of chaotic times to shift gears. Take a deep breath. Go within. Shift our minds to a higher level of consciousness. Change the way we think. Get better results.

The key phrase here is “SHIFT OUR MINDS.” What does that mean? How is it done? If there’s a shift, what are we leaving behind? Where are we headed?

Is a shift – a change in the way we think – really necessary?

Einstein thought so: “You cannot solve a problem from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

This needs unpacking. It’s really important.

***

Q. What problem are we talking about?

A. The problem of human survival. Einstein warned it can no longer be taken for granted. At end-stage 2020, we’re talking about conflict, within and without. Internal fear, anger and hatred is driving explosive external violence, tearing the world apart.

***

Q. At what level of consciousness was this conflict created?

A. On the outer m=mass, material rim of the Life Wheel. Conflict is the result of being cut off from the inner levels, separated from Source.

***

Q. At what level can the problem of conflict be solved?

A. At the innermost levels of intuition (Einstein’s good friend) and Creative Power.

***

Q. How do I get from here to there?

A. It starts with a paradigm shift, first personally, then collectively. Problems can’t be solved without a complete and accurate reality map that shows 1) where problems start and 2) the higher levels of consciousness where the Source of solutions resides.

***

As a matter of human survival, we urgently need to shift the way we think from the exclusively materialistic paradigm of empirical science to the Unified Field paradigm pictured below.

So. Here’s another picture worth 10,000 words. It shows that the called-for shift is one of focus, away from the M=Mass material world of drama and the e=energy level the emotions (fear, anger, and hatred). It’s a shift of attention towards the deeper realms where healing, solace and solutions are found.

So. How do I get from here to there?

Early on, my beloved teacher said it was my choice.“You can make it as easy or hard as you like.”

The easy way is to repent (admit mistakes) and atone (change). Increasing self-awareness with introspective tools, including scriptures and/or the Book of Change, helps. Meditation, especially Joe Dispenza’s dogma-free, science-based approach, is a fast track.

In each case, the purpose is to restore original UNITY to our lives. For this, we need to honor all levels of the Life Wheel. They need to be prioritized, aligned and integrated. Like the gears of a finely tuned mechanical clock designed to tell the correct time, they have to be in synch.

That’s the short story. : )

But then . . . . there’s the hard way. Sadly, it’s the path most often traveled – the fractured one of attachment, denial and resistance.

Another OA story makes the point. It starts with a man who sold a mule, guaranteeing it was a hard worker. But the purchaser returned it, disgusted. Wouldn’t do a thing.

No problem. The seller picked up a 2’x4’ and whacked the mule, hard, right on top of the head. Instantly, it perked up and did whatever it was told.

He chided the purchaser, “All you had to do was get its attention.”

It seems to me that, to get our attention, life is whacking the world with a 2’x4’. . . hard.

Since the vast majority has ignored calls to change that could have been answered the easy way, it’s happening now . . . the hard way.

The I CHING READING

Because we’ve never been taught about The Book of Change, it’s unfamiliar. Along with most of what belongs to the “taboo” inner level of e=energy, its ways remain a mystery, its value forfeit. That’s why I’ve chosen to bring the book to you. Let these bi-weekly readings serve as an opportunity to make what was unfamiliar more familiar.

The answer to today’s question, “What should we be aware of NOW?” is unusual in this way. For the first time in this series, there are no changing lines. OVERCOMING stands unchanged as the consistent, recommended way to Shift Gears:

The harmonizing arts are useful tools for OVERCOMING the forces which block and separate. Inspired music, drama and art express the common light which guides all. Community celebrations remind participants to cooperate in seeking prosperous peace. Rituals celebrating the changes of life affirm the unity of all beings. Avoid isolation.

The vibrations of music evoke and release emotions. Through resonance, inspired art touches and uplifts the soul.

When we immerse ourselves in any kind of creative work, however humble, the inner levels of our personal life wheels open and align.

Music is said to be the easiest, most joyous path to enlightenment. Sufi Inayat Khan (a master musician) wrote:

The art of music has been especially considered divine, because it is the exact miniature of the law working through the whole universe. . .

Exactly. Einstein most certainly experienced this mystery first-hand. He was a violinist, especially attracted to Mozart. When he got stuck, like Sherlock Holmes, he took out his fiddle. Music relaxed him. And inspiration would flow.

Like the I Ching, sacred art that mirrors “the law working through the whole universe” reminds us of our divine origins. It speaks to the universal truths we share in common, but too often forget. Here are variations on the wheels-within-wheels theme of life:

NB. A pattern is forming here. Today’s post builds on earlier ones, systematically, as if it’s all preplanned. Synchronicity at work. I look forward to finding out where it leads next. I hope you do too.

Collected readings will be published as The Lessons of 2020: Using the Wisdom of CHANGE to Build a Better Future. Look for it on amazon in January of 2021.

If you’d like your very own copy of the CSBOC, to answer your unique questions at your own convenience, or want extras to give others, click here.

Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tze’s Common Sense Way of Change is a yoga-based version of the Tao Te Ching, the ever popular, poetic and practical expression of IC Natural Law.To order a copy, click here.

Okay, then. That’s all for now. Talk with you again soon. Take care, all.

Be an Instrument of Light

Although the HOW and WHAT vary over time, for me, the WHY of writing is a given. It’s a calling.

Whenever I doubt or become distracted by immediate daily concerns, the inner voice that guides me (call it what you will), sends messages to steer me back on course. Sometimes they’re subtle – even comical. Other times, they hit with the force of incoming bricks. (Maybe you know the feeling.)

Here’s a good example.

I tell it, by the way, because it’s not just about me. More importantly, it’s about you too. So . . . please stay with me.

One day, a couple of years ago by now, I was on the way to the grocery store when the van I was driving took a sharp turn in a different direction. (Sometimes it seems to have a mind of its own : )

It pulled up in front of a Dollar Store. So I decided to take a look around.

As I walked through the aisles, what caught my eye was a small table lamp. It was okay. And I did need a reading light for my bed stand.

But there was no room for extras on my card. I counted out my pocket change to see what I could afford.

I had $6.26. Down to the last penny, that was the exact cost of the lamp. An “all-in” moment. I was being asked, as an act of faith, whether I was willing to give everything I had in exchange for this lamp.

It seemed like the thing to do.

guitar lamp.sized

As you can see, it works fine. The lamp shade is opaque. It appears to be black. But when I turn on the switch, electricity shines through, making it brightly translucent.

I liked the guitar motif, but didn’t get the hidden message for quite a while. Then, Click!

I should have known. Being a string player, the message was tailor-meant for me.

During my musician-yoga years, I’d actually outlined a book, The Body as Instrument: How To Tune It. Did you know that string instruments are modeled on human anatomy? They vibrate the same way we do, which explains our resonance with music.

It’s no accident that violin parts are called the back, belly, neck and head. Strings (which used to be gut) are stretched across the neck. They resonate with an underlying sounding board called the spine.

There’s much more. But here’s the point. Going deep into music, I discovered that there were important similarities between me and my violin. I too am an instrument. One that needs tuning.

In essence, my guitar lamp was an answer to unspoken doubts about writing, confirming the call to “be an instrument of light.” Cool.

But I still continue to unpack the meaning. Is writing the way to serve? I could just as easily be a light in my daily life, in the conduct of my ordinary responsibilities. Becaring the humans and dogs I love. Making meals. Doing laundry. Running errands.

Who’s interested in light, anyway? Most humans are hidden away in Platonic, cave-like normalcy. Historically, they kill light bearers. They certainly shun inspired messages, or else imitate them, adding spin to negate the message.

There are, however, small windows in time when catastrophes make it suddenly “convenient” to hear truth. My thought for a long time has been, prepare. Put the writing in place, so when the opening occurs, what’s needed is ready and available.

book header bird

I’ve waited several years to write about the lamp because its hidden messages are still unpacking. Now, taking it to next level, the connection with you becomes clear.

I’ll give you the Aha conclusion first, then back up to show how I got there.

God is not

and could not possibly be

dead.

Being made in the image of God,

YOU are the living proof

of God’s existence.

(How convoluted and ironic is this? Though made in God’s image, we have the free will to hide from our Creator and deny the very being which our existence mirrors, upon which our lives depend.)

Nevertheless. The truth cannot be altered. Each of us is the embodied form of a musical instrument. Even if, for any multitude of reasons, your light is switched off right now, you still have the innate potential to conduct electricity (energy, prana, chi) that in turn transforms into light.

Ancient Hindus mapped the internal energy transformers knows as chakras [“wheels].” Know how to activate them, they taught. You’ll experience enlightenment.

Throughout time, various systems have reached the same conclusion, though using different avenues to reach the same destination.

If that were not enough, there’s more. Did you know that each and every part of our anatomy is a fractile-like mirror of the whole?

Maps of the front and back of the head catalog pressure points which correlate with every other part of the body. Stimulate one and corresponding internal organs throughout the body resonate with healing effect.

face & head.jpg

Similarly, complete correlations are mapped for the hands, for the feet, for the eyes, ears and tongue.

hands & feet

As such, the human physical body is a magically redundant fail-safe system. If you’re hurt in one place, you have a full-spectrum range of distant locations from which to choose. Use one or any combination of sites to intercept and remedy what ails you.

A few of us are natural healers. We intuitively know how to regenerate from injuries, often with remarkable speed. But most have forgotten. The maps, much less the sciences which explain their effectiveness, are not within the range our limited, fractured belief systems currently allow.

Why? Who does it serve, that we’ve been so alienated and cut off from the magical inner workings of our miraculous, musical bodies?

The Egyptians knew about subtle anatomical correspondences. Sages in China and India based their healing practices on them. Though suppressed by the politics of unnatural Western science, the facts now packaged as “reflexology” are available for you to act on, if you to so choose.

It may well be that, given the inevitable, coming collapse, it will suddenly once again become convenient —  perhaps even urgently necessary — to seek out and restore what we’ve relegated to the outer limits of conscious awareness. We have untold, as yet unknown resources for obtaining information, guidance and healing — if and when we are sufficiently motivated to heed them.

In 2014, I put it this way in Rethinking Survival:

I’m now convinced that the Life Wheel imaged as the Positive Paradigm of Change is the ultimate answer to the ancient ultimate question. It’s the literal proof that humans are made in the image of the Creator — the microcosm resonates with the macro. I AM that I AM.

Put another way, “God don’t make no junk.” In this context, the exhortation, “Ye must be perfect like your Father in Heaven” makes perfect sense.

Just as Einstein had the Unified Field Theory, but didn’t know it, each and every one of us on the planet is perfect in potential: made in God’s image. But we’ve forgotten.

And tyrants want you to sleep on. They’ll do anything to prevent you from remembering that you’re inherently okay. Because once you do, as Einstein did, no one can intimidate, control or dominate you. You’re aware that nothing anyone has for sale can make you more perfect. Nor can anything that anyone threatens to take away alter your essential okayness.

It’s your inalienable birthright. A given.

The Positive Paradigm is the viable basis upon which to build valid self-esteem. It’s the key to personal freedom — freedom from ignorance, freedom from fear. It’s the rock-solid foundation of functional relationships/community. It’s grounds for rethinking what the word “freedom” really means and how to implement its promise.

girl w guitar sized

One minor caveat: it all depends. While we all have the option to remember who we truly are, most of us are like Lambert, the Sheepish Lion. It takes a smack with a two-by-four upside the head before we’re finally ready to wake up. Often it takes the form of life-threatening danger to those we care for. A personal health crisis will also do the trick. So will job loss or a run-in with natural disaster.

But, like Dorothy stranded in the Land of Oz, when you want dearly enough to return “home,” you can click your heels whenever you chose — and come to find out, you’re already there.

 

11th hour

Maybe my calling as an instrument of light is simply to remind you that you are too – if and when you choose to remember who you truly are. And to warn you that crunch time is upon us. The time to wake up to your unlimited potentials is NOW . . or never.

Angel Calling

WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET

After months of over nights engrossed in writing Rethinking Survival, the kaleidescope has turned. Time to put on another hat. It’s now or never. Give form to thought. First I produced the Kindle version and now the paperback edition. Quite a strenuous project. A friend likened it to giving birth.

Tonight, Friday, December 27th of the waning year 2013, I’m waiting for final approval of the submitted book. How, then, do I announce this new arrival? It’s full of hope for the New Year, yet so fragile in its uncertain future.

When I draw on my memory banks for the best way to describe my concern, I’m remembering a powerful experience from Oberlin years. It was the mid 1960’s. I was a college Freshman. The occasion was a performance of Brahm’s A German Requiem.

I was seated towards the back of the upper balcony in Finney Chapel. This 19th century, church-like assembly hall was fitted with wooden pews and a large front stage. The Conservatory Orchestra and College Choir were seated up front. The chapel was filled to capacity with a mix of students, faculty and “townies.”

The Requiem wasn’t new to me. As a member of the Festival Choir at Interlochen’s National Music Camp, I’d actually participated in an earlier concert. So the power of the music was reinforced with memories of intense rehearsals.

The unforgettable, dirge-like opening weighs on the soul with its ponderous message of mortality. ” . . . all flesh is as grass, and the glory of man like flowers. The grass withers and the flower falls.”

But at Oberlin, I had the misfortune to be seated behind a clique of music students. (Conservatory students called their building the Con. We called them “Connies.”) They were remarkably oblivious to the solemnness of the Requiem. Throughout, they showed off their cleverness by critiquing the performance. In stage whispers, hissing derogatory remarks. A soloist’s pitch was off. The conductor’s tempo was too slow.

However, right next to them, ignoring the Connies entirely, sat a single listener, engrossed in his attention to the music. His right elbow rested on the pew before me, his hand resting on his chin, as if deep in thought. I could actually hear his wind-up wristwatch ticking in time to the morbid music. It took my breath away. It seemed as if the watch was in synch with the Brahms, confirming the shortness of human life on Earth. The countdown clock was ticking for those with an ear to hear.

Were the Connies rude? That was the least of it! They’d totally missed what Brahms had labored to communicate to us from an earlier century. What a loss.

Were they correct in their technical assessments? Maybe, so far as it went. I wouldn’t know. Because I was listening for the music, not the mistakes. This was my choice.

I made this decision at Interlochen while attending student concerts there. On the one hand, I realized, I could listen with my physical ears, focusing on the limitations of amateur musicians. But that approach would have driven me crazy. I’d have made myself miserable.

On the other hand, I could listen with the heart. I could open myself to what the composer heard with the inner ear and done his best to express in the language of music. I could admire the energy of enthusiastic, sincere students who loved the music and were doing their very best, however imperfectly, to measure up to it. That was the beneficial path of gratitude and enjoyment.

In the English language, we use the same word for both the piece of paper upon which physical notes are printed . . . the sheet music . . . and for the music itself. In contrast, in the German language of the Requiem, two different words are used to distinguish between the notation and the actual sound.

Just so, I agreed with myself not to worry so much for the technical notes, but instead to focus on the actual music. I chose to listen with the inner ear to hear what the composer intended and what merely human musicians labored to recreate. Here Brahms was reminding us with his dark, brooding music that mankind, as numerous as blades of grass on the face of the earth, is perilously mortal. Like flowers, all human greatness ultimately comes to naught.

But the Connies missed it in their chit chat, hearing only with their physical ears.

This memory serves to illustrate the choices available for approaching Rethinking Survival. It’s my best hope that readers will meet me half way — that they’ll focus not on the book’s technical mistakes but on its substance and value. This book is about survival in the very literal sense of the term. And like the Requiem, it balances short-term warnings with long-term hope. Brahms completes his reminder of mortality with the confirmation of immortality: “The word of the Lord endures for eternity.” Rethinking Survival mirrors this balance.

In short, what I’m offering is the very best I could do given limited time and finite resources. For the sake of the message, I urge readers to forgive an imperfect messenger for the sake of the message. Because what you see is what you get — either a powerful paradigm or a less than perfect physical book. Your choice.

 

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