The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the month “May, 2020”

My Karma Ran Over My Dogma

NEW!

 

I was having a conversation with a friend recently about politics (which I talk and think about wayyyy too much for my psychological well-being).   She jokingly mentioned the ways karma might punish some of the most evil players.

I know a lot of people refer to karma as a form of cosmic punishment but there seems to be a gross misunderstanding about what it actually is.

Karma is not a punishment that one must suffer for doing bad things (not exactly, anyway.)  Rather we must each suffer the consequences of “bad” or unproductive behavior in order to understand how that behavior/attitude hinders our spiritual development, if not in our current lifetime then in the next.

For example, someone who is bigot may come back as a member of the oppressed group they hated, finding themselves now subjected to that same bigotry.  Simplistically, that might seem like a punishment.  But I would argue that it is rather an opportunity to learn the lesson they did not learn in previous lives, and which they must learn in order to advance karmically.

This is not to suggest that everyone who is a victim of ethnic, religious, or racial hatred was, themselves, a bigot in a previous lifetime.  That implies  karma as retribution or that the experiences of each lifetime are in direct correlation to the actions of previous lifetimes.

This is not necessarily so.  Or at least not in a way that many humans simplistically understand it.

I (and many others) believe that we choose the basic circumstances of our lifetimes — our parents, our social situation,  our position in society,  our physical attributes,  our intellect – while we are between lives. Our spirit reviews what lessons we have learned already and what lessons still need to be learned,  and we choose the life that will put us in the path to encounter those lessons. However, whether we actually learn them is up to us.

So, using that same example: someone who suffers racial discrimination in this lifetime, might have chosen such a path not because they needed to learn the lesson of bigotry as a victim, but perhaps what they needed for their personal growth was to be part of a community that is bound together by the prejudices of others.  Or maybe they need to find their voice and rise up against their oppressors.  Or perhaps they need to succeed in spite of the obstacles.  Or possibly the lesson comes via feelings of anger or helplessness. Or maybe they needed to work through specific issues that are intrinsic to a particular ethnic/culture/religious group. Or it might be any one of a million other reasons I can’t begin to imagine.

And likewise, a life of privilege is not necessarily a reward for living a ‘good” life previously.  As we have learned through many of the narrators, very often lives of privilege have their own challenges. Wealth and power are rarely positives from a spiritual perspective.

It’s also possible that some souls choose come back to a life of suffering, whether physical, emotional, or psychological,  not because they need the lesson for themselves, but because those in their soul group need the lesson. For example, a sick child might have agreed to a short life full of pain and suffering not for their own spiritual development but for the benefit of their parents and/or siblings; for the lessons they could learn.  It was a karmic arrangement made in the in between.

Thus, karma is not a punishment but rather an opportunity.

Buy the book!

If you are enjoying this blog, please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days). When you think of others who might enjoy it too, it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media. Email a particularly apt link to a friend. Even better, talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also, I have just started a discussion group on Facebook, for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts. Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself. I would love get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

Stranger in a Strange Land

First published Oct 11, 2014.

Note:  This abuse of Native Americans by the U.S. government continues to this day.  The Navajo Nation has suffered more deaths from Covid19 than most other US states (as of 5/15/20.  That might change.)  The American government’s purposeful disregard for what’s happening on reservations around the country, where lack of running water is common,  is the modern day equivalent of small pox blankets. https://navajotimes.com/coronavirus-updates/covid-death-toll-spikes-cases-near-4000/ 

–aeg, May 15, 2020

_____


indiginous

Je

I was born among my people on land we had lived upon since the beginning of time. I was bound to that land through my soul.  I lived many, many lives there.

I knew all the trees by name. The paths through the woods had been worn deeper into the earth by my feet, over thousands of years.

I knew the place in the river where it curves around a sharp bend.  The fish got trapped there.  They were easy to catch. I knew the warrens of the rabbits  — the entrance hidden between the roots of a large tree or under a large, moss-covered rock. I knew where to set my traps. I never went hungry.  I knew every plant, nut and berry and which of them were edible, medicinal, intoxicating.

I knew every landmark; the way the silhouette of the hills cleaved the sky from every angle. I always knew how far I was from home.  I could walk for days and never get lost.

Everything I had ever seen or tasted or touched or heard or smelled had been of that land.   My parents were born there.  My grandparents were both there,  and theirs, and theirs, and theirs.   I was married there.  I had children there.  And everything they had ever seen or tasted or touched or heard or smelled had been of that land.

It was not a paradise.  Life was hard.  But it was our life.  We were characters in the same story as the land.  Inseparable.  Our histories, intertwined. To take one from the other would be to destroy both.

And then, eventually,  the Strangers came.  I was a grown child before I ever saw one with my own eyes.  But slowly,  like stalking a deer,  they drew closer in increments so small we barely noticed.

Soon there were borders which were not allowed to cross; where we were not allowed to hunt.   They would not bother us as long as we stayed on our side.  But they kept pressing forward,  encircling us,  drawing the noose tighter.  We were being strangled but we were too small a group to put up much of a fight.

Eventually,   they took us all to a place far, far away. There were many different people there, speaking languages I did not understand.  It seemed there were many who did not understand each other.

I did not understand this land.  It was dry and dusty.  There were no forests.  There were no streams or rivers anywhere.  There were no hills.   Just ugly, flat, colorless dust for as far as my eyes could see. I hated it instantly.  I was resentful and angry.  I had been forcibly removed from my past.  I no longer felt whole. I knew as long as I lived there I never would.

Some tried to live outside our forced settlement,  but it was nearly impossible to survive.  It was a world so different, so strange from the ones we had known. We had no skills; did not understand their customs or their ways.   At least within the settlement,  we were with others in the same predicament.  For the benefit of all, each People tried to put aside their ancestral differences with others,  so we might all work as one.

The elders knew immediately this would be the end of all of us.  In order to survive, it would be necessary to give up some of our past identity and forge a new identity.   If we were unwilling to do that, if we insisted on clinging to the old ways,  if we wasted our energy to getting back to the old lands which no longer existed as we once knew them, we would have been too divided and too weak to survive in the face of the Strangers.  We needed a single, strong, united voice.

Positions of power went to those from warrior Peoples.  My People were small in number and not known for their bravery against the Strangers. It was natural that we all put our faith in the mightiest warriors of all.

But,  in the end,  none of it did any good. Our weapons and tactics were ultimately useless against them.

The old ways are gone.  Some rituals and stories remain of course, but now, disconnected from the land, they no longer make sense. The food and methods of cooking are lost, because we could not find what we needed in our new land.  We lost our cures, our intoxicants, our aphrodisiacs.

We survived, but we did not thrive.

It had always been the duty of all elders to teach the young ones their People’s history, traditions, language,  culture and skills.   But now,  what did it matter?  Many elders realized this knowledge was not useful for the new world.  We needed to learn a common language so we could communicate with other People.  We needed to learn new skills for new land with new rules. What was the point of passing on valuable information such as the best place in the river to catch fish,  or the best place to set a trap for rabbit,  when that river and that mossy rock were half a continent away? (Nobody knew exactly how far,  but certainly a walk of many moons.)

There was no going back.  The elders were without hope.  Most,  like myself, who remembered the land eventually died lost and heartbroken,  with wounds to our souls that never healed.

The younger ones took to changes more readily,  more willingly.  For them, it was an adventure.  They didn’t have such long memories.

They had fewer psychic wounds but they also grew up without traditions and stories that bound them to their spiritual past, without the reassuring knowledge that they stood upon the land upon which they were born and to which they belonged.

They had no ambition for anything for what could they aspire to?

Some took on the ways of the Strangers.  I did not blame them.  They needed something to fill the huge gaping voids inside themselves.

If the old stories don’t work, find new ones.  So they discovered Jesus. They learned to read and write and count many things.  They learned the ways of the Strangers so they could interact with them and perhaps find some advantage.

But even with this, they were not accepted outside.

And so, all the Peoples are not really People at all anymore. They are the children of People and Strangers. It is impossible to be anything else.   They live in two worlds and will never again be whole.

I am grateful that many still have pride in who they are, in who we were.  It is good to know that the People still endure.

—-

Buy the book!

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne22

Did I Astrally Project?

First published September 30, 2018

 

The other night,  in my dream,  I “flew” to St Luis Obispo, CA, a place I have never been in real life. In the dream,  I was approaching a very distinctive looking building which I took to be a school.  There was a large courtyard in front of it.  The image was so vivid, so realistic,  that when I woke up I did a Google image search (Schools St. Luis Obispo). I found it immediately.  It looked exactly as it did in my dream.

Did I have an OBE while sleeping? Or did I, at some time beyond my memory, buried deep in my unconscious, see a picture or video of the place, and it just popped into my dream?

There was nothing in my life to make me think of that city.  Although I’ve traveled to some very far-flung and exotic places around the world and across the US, I’ve never been to CA. (Strange, I know.) But when I think of California, that’s never a place that comes to mind.  Until I Googled it, I didn’t even know exactly where it was.  So, why would it be in my unconscious?

Very mysterious.

 

—-

Buy the book!

If you are enjoying this blog, please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days). When you think of others who might enjoy it too, it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media. Email a particularly apt link to a friend. Even better, talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also, I have just started a discussion group on Facebook, for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts. Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself. I would love get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

Tibetan Book of the Dead

 

 

NEW

Dear Readers,

I stumbled upon this the other day —  a documentary on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, narrated by Leonard Cohen.  (As regular readers know,  I have been a huge fan of his since I bought his first album in 1967. I played it on my crappy record player until it wore through to the other side. When I was in my early 20’s, I literally stalked him to Hydra, Greece,  where he was living with Marianne. I did manage to meet him. He was, as always, very gracious.)

His is the perfect voice for this.  As I’m sure many of you already know, he, himself, became a Buddhist monk later in his life. But enough about Leonard Cohen (at least  for the moment!)

This film explains the Tibetan religious view of what happens to the consciousness/soul after death.   It seems that most of what I’ve been channeling and posting in this blog is very much in keeping with this philosophy.  The only place we diverge in belief is how quickly people are reincarnated.  I feel that newly crossed souls sometimes have to wait for other spirits to arrive on the other side,  in order to be reincarnated with them.  But that’s just MY belief.  I’m sure not going to tell the Dalai Lama what to believe 🙂

Back in 1987, I traveled in Tibet and Nepal.  I fellow traveler and I were visiting a monastery, hanging out and chatting with the monks who were as interested in us as we were in them.   It soon became time for a daily prayer session with all the monks, led by the abbot.  While Tibetan pilgrims were allowed to stay in the room, Westerners are generally asked to leave. My companion, a very charming Spanish guy, finagled a way for us to stay and observe.  I feel extremely fortunate to have witnessed and heard this.

The abbot began with a deep sonorous OM, which resonated throughout the large, painted wooden room,  seemingly rising up from the depths of the earth.  It went on for longer than any breath I could hold.  I’d never heard anything like it before or since.   All the monks joined him in wave after wave of OM.  Afterwards, some young monks came around and offered pilgrims (and us) some tsampa (roasted barley mixed with salted yak butter). (I guess it’s an acquired taste. I found it inedible. But I was grateful for the offer.)

Many pilgrims make their way across the breadth of Tibet, prostrating themselves, every few steps.  It’s a grueling journey and may take months or even years.  They are fed by the monks at monasteries along the way.  I passed many of them in my travels. To witness such devotion is humbling.

Watching this video,  I can easily recall the scent rancid yak butter candles which burn everywhere.  It’s a smell that imbues everything in Tibet — every place and every person. It’s not immediately pleasant to the western nose, but it quickly grows on you, as it mingles with pleasant memories of happy, kind, generous, and devoted people.

 

Here are the  The Root Verses of the Six Betweens from The Tibetan Book of the Dead, translated by Robert Thurman, pp 115-116, Bantam Books, New York ©1994

These Root Verses summarize the six betweens, each verse formulating the insights and resolves that are keys to the successful redirection of each being away from the continuing life-cycle between, toward liberation and enlightenment.

Hey! Now when life between dawns upon me, I will abandon laziness, as life has no more time, Unwavering, enter the path of learning, thinking, and meditating, And taking perceptions and mind as path, I will realize the Three Bodies of enlightenment! This once that I have obtained the human body Is not the time to stay on the path of distractions.

Hey! Now when the dream between dawns upon me, I will give up corpselike sleeping in delusion, And mindfully enter unwavering, the experience of reality. Conscious of dreaming, I will enjoy the changes as clear light. Not sleeping mindlessly like an animal, I will cherish the practice merging sleep and realization!

Hey! Now when the meditation between dawns upon me, I will abandon the host of distracting errors, Focus in extreme-free experience, without releasing or controlling, And achieve stability in the creation and perfection stages! Giving up busyness, now one pointed in meditation, I won’t surrender to the power of erroneous addictions!

Hey! Now when the death-point between dawns upon me, I will give up the preoccupations of the all-desiring mind, Enter unwavering, the experience of the clarity of the precepts, And transmigrate into the birthless space of inner awareness; About to lose this created body of flesh and blood, I will realize it to be impermanent illusion!

Hey! Now when the reality between dawns upon me, I will let go of the hallucinations of instinctive terror, Enter the recognition of all objects as my mind’s own visions, And understand this as the pattern of perception in the between; Come to this moment, arrived at this most critical cessation, I will not fear my own visions of deities mild and fierce!

Hey! Now when the existence between dawns upon me, I will hold my will with mind one-pointed, And increased forcefully the impulse of positive evolution; Blocking the womb door, I will remember to be revulsed. Now courage and positive perception are essential; I will give up and be, and contemplate all couples As my Spiritual Mentor, Father and Mother.

“With my mind it distracted and never thinking, ‘Death is coming,’ To slave away on the pointless business of mundane life, And then to come out empty—- it is a tragic error. Recognition of necessity is the holy teaching of the gods, So won’t you live this divine truth from now on?” These are the words of the great adepts. If you don’t put the Mentor’s precept in your mind, Won’t you be the one who deceives yourself?

—-

For more reading on this subject: http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhism

—-

Buy my book!

If you are enjoying this blog, please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days). When you think of others who might enjoy it too, it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media. Email a particularly apt link to a friend. Even better, talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also, I have just started a discussion group on Facebook, for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts. Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself. I would love get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

Rarefied

First published May 28, 2016

mountaintop

Arj

Looking back, if I have anything to apologize for, it’s that never apologized for anything. I did what I wanted, what I had to. If people were hurt or inconvenienced by the way I lived, this was their problem to solve. I couldn’t be responsible for the feelings or well-being of others. Should I have pulled back on the reigns of my ambition for fear of stepping on the toes of those who did not want to win as badly as I? Should I have kept promises which no longer suited me, for fear of shattering someone else’s dreams? (Simply being able to shatter the dreams of others made me feel powerful!)   Should I have allowed myself be weak so as to give space to those who were not as strong?  To do any of those things would have compromised who I was and who I was determined to become.

Others hesitated for such sentimental reasons, and consequently lost ground. Greatness requires a monomaniacal fixation on the prize.   One misstep, one falsely placed trust, one momentary glance away from the path, and it might all crumble; the fractured shatters of ambition tramped upon indifferently, like long-neglected Roman ruins.

The best game is at the top. There you meet others who are as good and as determined as you are. Maybe more so.  Players are steeled for a fight to the death. Dying is better than achieving that height without finally taking the prize.   Each, willing to die for the glory of standing in the rarefied air at the top of the peak. Each, willing to kill for the privilege of being able to look down and survey the land below, knowing everything and everyone belongs to you.

It was in this struggle that I felt most alive.

The urge drove me like a ravenous, heartless beast.

Most humans don’t have the stomach for this game. They do their best to stay out of the way of people like me. Little fish, schooling together, believing that in numbers and anonymity, they will better their odds of surviving the inevitable shark attack.

Most, even those with a fair amount of ambition, are limited by their unwillingness to sacrifice everything else in order to play The Big Game. They are unwilling to take what they want. Only those who take, get.  They are unwilling to compromise their so-called morals.

I had only one moral: Win at any cost.

And so I did.

I lived for years at the top of the mountain, self-glorified and in absolute belief that I was deserving of my lofty place. I never fell from grace; I died of old age at the pinnacle.

Only then did I understand what I had missed by not living in the valley below.

 

—-

Buy the book!

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: