LET YOUNG BOYS SLEEP

September 12, 2015


Women and children among Syrian refugees striking at the platform of Budapest Keleti railway station. Refugee crisis. Budapest, Hungary, Central Europe, 4 September 2015 by Mstyslav Chernov

Let young boys sleep and

Don’t wake them up in their dreams.

Let young boys sleep.

Don’t mention the war stories

Or the lack of fish,

But let young boys sleep

Aylan crossing the seas,

Drowning right by our feet.

Let the young boys sleep

Fly away from the site

And stare the beast in the eye.

The story is one and the same

Not a drop of blood lost in vain.

Let’s wake up from the trance

And adopt a new stance.

Let young boys sleep

Giving them a fighting chance.

Spend the night by their side,

Sing them a lullaby.

Purify the air,

Invite the angels to this dance.

Leave the windows open

So the moonlight can touch their skin,

Be like the gentle wind

Enveloping their nakedness

With the sweet aromas of the night.

Fight your demons in the dark

Be forever brave, or evil,

But let young boys sleep

I suddenly begin to vanish and

Understand

What it all meant.

I achieved again

A nondescript reality

Between my head and

the hand that writes.

Behind a curtain that hides the very essence of my burnt skin,

I rediscover the beginning

Of my torment.

It all reveals in vain

The moments described

And the pain I suffered

In vain in my lonely heart.

Nothing was descriptive

Nothing was

The same,

and I

remained silent, watchful –

While you – volatile muse of my writing demons –

Cherished the darkness of my dancing soul.

  • (FEATURED IMAGE: “FASCINATION” by Victor Brauner, 1939 – San Francisco Museum of Modern Art)

EVERY MOMENT OF LIFE IS A MOMENT TO SAY GOODBYE

August 12, 2015


28bIn a way or another we are constantly dealing with the experience of death in some form. Life is made up by a succession of experiences that are moving through us all the time. In one moment we are delighting ourselves while eating a delicious dessert and the next moment we might be working at our desks on an important project. We rarely pay attention to the changes at every second of our lives unless something major makes us stop and notice that something is indeed taking place – or not.

Chances are that the only times we indeed take notice of the changes in our lives are in those moments when those changes are bringing some sort of negative experience or discomfort. However, every moment is flowing into another moment in an incessant flow of minuscule changes. One moment is never the same as the one which preceded it, while at the same time every moment is always a repetition of a previous model already set in motion before.

All we really have is the present moment, and even the concept of the present moment is an abstraction that ceases to be valid the moment we think of it because it is no longer there. Whether time is an illusion or not, fundamental or not, is all part of a debate that is yet to find a conclusion due to the limitations of our understanding of time-space as being relative or something fundamental from a total quantum mechanics perspective.

Are we predetermined to repeat models in eternal succession, or are we able to act as agents of our own stories co-creating our futures and manipulating realities at will? All in all, one can unquestionably argue that human perception is subjective and the physical reality we experience is relative  to the individuality of one’s understanding and interpretation of any given event.

The flow of time is an illusion and it takes place in our understanding of events from the perspective of an objective and temporal phenomenon applied to the atemporal manifestation of the universe. The truth of the matter is that it is a puzzle that have entertained scientists, philosophers and laymen alike for centuries.

In relativity, reality is all part of a compact mass where past, present and future already exist in a static structure that seems doomed to repeat itself in a deterministic fashion. In quantum mechanics the probabilities are varied and the angle of perception of the observer and the implications result in parallel universes being combined, recreated and experienced all the time. It is within this field that we may question reality according through the perceptions experienced by each individual.

Each person experiences reality differently. This fact alone brings us to the concept of moral relativism and the resulting discussion that nobody is objectively right or wrong and therefore all perceptions or perspectives need to be taken into account when we try to understand any phenomenon we are conscious of.

Can we really tell we are experiencing anything at all while we are in the process of living through an event of some sort? Scientists agree that time actually exists; what does not exist is the flow of time as an active entity permeating the universe. In a four dimensional universe, time is only another component that intersects with, let’s say, length, height or breadth, thus generating a continuum that meshes them together and creates multiple and malleable realities within any given energetic field.

In order for us to consider the concept of time we need the presence of an observer and an object in relation to the velocity one passes from the other. So, the perception and duration of time is relative in relation to the other three dimensions active during the phenomenon observed. as we contemplate this, we cannot fail to realize that all understanding and interpretation of reality is relative to the one observing and therefore never objective. It is interesting to note how cosmology and mathematical laws are pointing to similar conclusions found in spiritual traditions. If my interpretation and understanding is always relative to my own experience of reality through my senses, how can I be completely right if someone else is also interpreting the same reality according through their own subjective perceptions of that same reality? We are both right in our interpretations because the probabilities are manifold and only together they can be whole.

In a way, from a simplistic viewpoint, we are constantly saying goodbye to things, situations, people, places etc, at every moment. Because time is never linear but cyclical, the concept of the “eternal recurrence” proposes that there is a strong probability that life can repeat itself ad infinitum. Since every configuration of atoms and events are also possible to occur, the probability of life occurring differently in its repetition of combinations is also suggested here.

In this sense, the acceptance proposed in Buddhist philosophy agrees with Nietzsche’s concept of “amor fati” – or “love of one’s fate”. It is the premise that reality cannot be argued, disputed or refused, but instead it is what it is and one can only accept without judgement. It does not mean we should not strive to change circumstances, but it says that being in opposition with reality will not change the components that brought the facts together as an intrinsic and necessary aspect of that reality.

As we meet time and space in a manifold conceptualization of the universe, we may come to realize that all events are combined into past, present and future altogether. Through this perspective, today, August 12th – exactly 2045 years ago -Cleaopatra commits suicide. We might as well meet at the point where that event took place and observe, through our perspective, that day in history, and wonder how many Cleopatras are repeating the same historical act today.

Oncle Cacá est mort! Il est mort. Morreu. Uncle Cacá passed away.

I never met the man, but he made himself present in my life.

In a land far away, where a two-river system nourishes the soil and impregnates the landscape with the tantalizing nectar that make up the air molecules we breathe, death opened its overarching wings and glided, smoothly passing through the living with its remarkable touch that silences our souls. Loss is inevitable, and everything changes all the time, anyway.

Abby – a four-year-old girl who has been battling leukemia – marries her favorite, handsome nurse Matt, in Albany, New York. The ceremony celebrated life, the strength of the human spirit and unconditional love.

Life and death hold hands and dance around while projecting shadows on the walls of time through darkness and light. This ancestral dance speaks of our pain and suffering as we sing about our joys and loving kindness in most unexpected ways.

Oncle Cacá est mort. Ele morreu. Cacá – the uncle – passed away. The ground shook under their feet. We danced the night away at the Church of the Whirling Souls. We celebrated life. We breathed. We live.The innocent child with golden eyes seduced our hearts and sang the words of glorious poets. She married the one who loved her without conditions.

Oncle Cacá has died. WE die. We live. We go through life and we die every day in a succession of many seemingly impossible occurrences. Life is a surrealist game painted on a distorted canvas hung upside down by an artist who does not know the concepts of morality or comfortable beliefs. Nobody has answers to anything. The human experience is a world of madness covered in a veil of suspicions and flustered attempts at being right. How presumptuous of our species to even consider ourselves apt to this luxurious task.

Death makes us humble. Through the experience of death we are face-to-face with our basic fears of not being able to be remembered. We fear the false appearance of our existence. Who are we? What do we really want? How would we like to be remembered? Does it make any difference at all? How do we know? Why do we question? Why do we feel separate, distant, disconnected, aloof and indifferent?

I am following my own path of discovery, inquiring and self-love. For so long, I have been running away from myself, from who I am. The essence of who you are is the intrinsic part of the whole composition of your perception, reflection and life imprint of the universal creation, bestowed upon you, as an indispensable function of the role you play in every interaction in which you find yourself.

There is no map, no guidelines, no GPS. We find our way as we get lost in the fantastic landscape of our dreams and personal stories. We are the artists painting on the canvas of our lives. All experience comes to us as a form of seduction. The energy exorcise the fears within the abyss of who we are. We look transfigured, transubstantiated. It is a continuous dance of love infused by the obsession of passion and all-inclusive love.

We all fear loss and pain, and yet the essence of life flows through the pathways that are not always easy for us to accept. I want to be peaceful and true to the journey upon which I set myself off. Life is a shitty hole to the level that we do not accept it the way it is being revealed to us.

We can only hope to accomplish and perform the activities necessary to follow through with one’s mission and talents in every second of life, experiencing the physical reality of the body while tending to the needs of an inner calling that incites us into action and change.

When my mom died I felt liberated, in some strange way, from primeval fears. However, I also noticed a trail of uncertainty and doubt before me. Now death happens every day and I see the impact it leaves all around me through the stories of those I know, but also the faceless ones, with their own stories, that passed by me, and remind me that one day I will be gone as well.

Today we have the safe illusion of technology to create the distance from the philosophical questions that intrigued humankind for so long. It is, in my way of seeing things, through the contact with our inner emotions that we seem to get closer to an understanding of our ontological nature, and that understanding becomes materialized in our complete surrender and acceptance of what we do not know without creating devices, mental or otherwise, that mask the true nature of life. Only then are we able to rest in peace, while living.

* Featured image: Lyonel Feininger “Bird Cloud” – 1926

Have you ever felt as if your entire life you have been trying to be just the perfect individual, or say the perfect thing in every situation, or be this example of human being that you have believed all your life to be what people expect you to be? Have you ever tried to live your life based on old beliefs of success the way they are laid out in front of you by the existing norm? Well, you are not alone.

All my life I have not done what others seemed to expect from me, but then, I lived with the dissatisfaction that somehow I wasn’t following the correct path everyone seemed to do so well. The great surprise in my case came early in my life because I realized that everyone seemed to be criticizing each other and trying to pretend they were doing the very things that had been told to them, but in reality they were also living a double life where their desires and motivations fell short in face of the pre-established patterns that they had to follow; a pattern that had never actually proved to be the perfect formula for personal success and happiness. Big wake-up call!

We are born without beliefs. We simply have no awareness of what it means to be a woman or a man, or what nationality we have, or what ethnic background we belong to. As we grow up we learn how to behave within the social context of our parents, family and friends. That’s where the conflict starts. We all want to be free and act according to our own motivations, talents, inclinations and desires. When those drives are in accordance with the main social ideology our family subscribes to, and that we tend to feel comfortable navigating through, the course of our lives flows in a relatively smooth way. However, when we see life in a way that questions and differs from those around us, that’s when the road gets bumpy.

In our times the emphasis on expressing yourself and having your own identity is so intensely advertised that sounds mawkish and ridiculous. Companies have jumped on the bandwagon and are shrewdly cashing in on the philosophy of “be yourself”.

Identities are malleable and easily created. Our culture shapes the identities that will generate powerful consumers. We also have our own set of identities which we have created during the course of our lives and that were influenced by fear, trauma, need for acceptance and other general belief systems. I know, the picture seems quite grim when we observe that our lives, and what we think, are dictated by something beyond our control. It is rather depressing to think that the concept of freedom is a far cry from our dreams and ideals of being unique and expressing ourselves genuinely.

Can we sincerely answer to the ultimate question? If someone asks you: “Who are you?”- can we sincerely be honest enough to let them know who we are? Do we know who we are? What motivates us? Are we sure about anything at all, or are we simply an undistinguished mass of unknown motivations? It is my understanding through constant observation of my own self that we act as we go along with our ever-changing stories. The choices we make shape and pave the way ahead of us.

Every minute we are faced with choices. Sometimes it is difficult to make a choice when we are experiencing intense emotions and emotional drives. Our subconscious world is still a vast unmapped territory that will unleash unexpected parts of our personalities we have never been aware of. It is there, however. And, at critical moments, we experience this overwhelming power testing us out and building our character.

It is important to stay true to what we believe while keeping an open mind to accept other people’s beliefs, opinions and lifestyles without intransigence, but also without compromising our own truth. Dealing with our own drives and desires is also challenging because we need to accommodate our inner world with the objectivity of the implications of our choices in real-life situations.

When we are confronted with real situations that’s when we have the opportunity to let our true selves come to the fore. Our unaltered true nature will be able to reveal itself when there is space for the forces of desire stemming from the egoist part of our personalities subside in face of what path we would like for us. Eventually we will be able to determine the exact moment when those choices are available to us at the time that they will actually make a difference for our own improvement and happiness.

In a world that is constantly pushing everyone to be themselves, when can one actually determine that they are exercising their free will and not putting into practice the dictates of the dominant ideology subliminally inserted into positive messages of self-improvement? The answer should be found inside ourselves. We ought to be the light that will guide our own paths, and ultimately find the way that will bring us happiness while having an attitude of respect and compassion for our struggles as well as of those around us.

This post was originally intended to be the last one on a series of koan-like expanded pieces of my experiences while revisiting my native city, making peace with my past and tapping into the lucid reality of its present. I might not be able to accomplish this task exactly the way I had planned, but I will give it a try.

Going back to your native city after a stretch of time has passed since you first left can be an interesting experience; going back after more than twenty years have passed, is fraught with expectation, fear, doubts, and flaming inquietude.

I was born in Anshan in 664 BCE. At the age of six I had already crossed the seas and traveled to distant lands and explored a variety of wild jungles with my mother and aunt. Uruk became my temporary residence.  I communed with the spirits of the land, the birds, the animals, the reptiles, and otherworldly beings. The galaxies opened up a world of stars and possibilities that materialized in front of me. I was touched by the Great Eagle and learned the secrets of arrow shooting at an early age. As a trickster I had to tame the darkness of my soul. But kids are always what they are, no matter what may come out of them.

A world of fantastical creatures and monsters inhabited my space without my control. Voodoo dolls and magic potions surrounded my space in a hallucinatory and psychedelic composition. Those were the times of great knowledge and wars that shaped and mapped the history and the landscape of my native country. I was the scion of the ruling dynasty in my imaginary world. The political powers at the time generated a coup d’état to overthrow the government and bring about the downfall of the entire civilization by establishing a military autocracy, a ruthless dictatorship.

Writers, artists, poets, playwrights, educators and singers were stifled, silenced, or killed. Many fled the country in order to survive. Others simply perished while fighting and defending their beliefs and ideals. I was unaware of the many crimes committed at that time. Throughout the world, it was also a time of revolt and change.

When I returned to Anshan, I was almost twelve years old. I never met King Gudea – my father. He was the missing puzzle in this historical hodgepodge of sorts. Upon my arrival in Anshan, I had a harsh encounter with the Devil himself, or was it Ishkur, the storm-god,  striking me back to life? I will never know. My mother and aunt raised me in the city of rivers, the fertile land of ancient times broken apart from the original Pangaea. The land and the mud is within me. The spirit of gypsies, the culture of the eastern  Slavic civilizations, the Sephardim Jews that brought with their genes the Ashkenazim life into my soul. Prophet Mohammed spoke to me in my dreams, and Moses’ Burning Bush fired up in my heart with the Light of Yahweh, Adonei ha’ adonim: Lord of lords.

I am made up of all the constituent parts that inscribed the history of our civilization on this planet. I come from all galaxies above and beyond. I exist. I am caught between the crossroads of this knowledge and the evanescent seeming reality of our impermanent selves. I meet my descendants and ancestors at the same time.

Death made its first introduction in my life when it took my aunt, but left the sound of the aulos within me. Later it took my mother too, but left in me the power to see within and be in harmony with the spirits of all directions.

I left.

I got a call from “those who live at red earth hole”. The spirit world of the Pomo people summoned me here to return home for shamanic healing . That is where I belong. My roots were entwined with those of so many who came before me, and without giving any thought, I heeded the call. I came. I arrived. I answered. I drank the wine and the nectar and infused my veins with the strength and the ultimate connection with those sacred elements. I invoked them. They answered me. I showed up. I am a creature of the night. My veins are open to absorb the gaseous, billowing flow of smoke that brings the presence of spirit and light and the whole of nature in one glimpse of truth that is all too simple to grasp, and yet, it reveals the incomprehensible state of human life as we know it.

Time penetrates the incongruous spaces of the physicality of things, but can never clearly capture the essence of spirit that lives beyond the conceptualism and duality inherent in the illusion of nominalism, reality, and the metaphysical investigations of ontology and cosmology. Kant’s Transcendental Idealism weaving the history of our lives together. In the theory and principles of Monadology “everything which exists has a sufficient reason to exist”“Nothing arises from nothing”.

An overall interest in meditation has been increasing over the years all over the world. People are turning to meditation for numerous reasons. However, it is my firm belief that this interest comes from the ancient Greek aphorism “Know Thyself”. Only by careful observation of one’s own mind and intentions can one intrinsically know who they are. The true spiritual quest is the acknowledgement that we set ourselves off on a journey that begins with the spark of creation infinite eons ago. It is an ongoing process of self-actualization and evolution established upon reoccurring principles that follow universal patterns imbued with an energetic ripple effect.

My entire being rejoices with gratitude for partaking in this complex system. I follow rivers. I cover myself with the dust of time and the presence of foreign lands. The whole universe is contained in me and only in silence am I able to catch rare glimpses into the intricate simplicity of everything there is. There is nothing to know and yet so much to see. The mind must be under constant scrutiny because it is as ethereal and unsubstantial as the air itself.

I am a beginner. I am a constant learner and I am starting everyday anew, with what I have and with who I am, doing what I can, giving my best shot. And, always, trying again and again, and moving forward – certain that I am already home and at peace. I put the ghosts to sleep. Medusa has been dethroned. I survive.

There are days that we feel that we can conquer the world. There are days we feel motivated and energetic, filled with inspiration and absolute determination and joy. However, there are those many days that everything we wish for ourselves seem but a distant dim light at he end of a long tunnel. Every day is an open spectrum of undetermined occurrences and random situations that test our abilities for adaptation.

Are we willing to take upon the challenges of becoming the best we can be, or are we destined to be ruled by circumstances beyond our immediate control? Are we able to deal with fear and doubt in an objective way, step out of our comfort zone, face our dreaded ghosts and accomplish our goals that we set out to achieve, or are we going to succumb to the immobility that takes over us and renders victims of our own unbridled minds? Can we bridge the gap between the practical reality that requires our direct and objective participation and the subjective inner world of our dreams, desires and utmost potential for greatness?

It comes as no surprise to anyone that many times we feel as if we do not belong, or as if our place in the world is unfounded and compounded of a whirlpool of doubts and insecurities. A lot of times we have a set of goals in mind that seem to take up our time and involve in a way that we feel as if consumed by a creative fire that burns brightly and handsomely within us. Then, all of a sudden, we feel nothing. We are completely numbed and absorbed in muddled state of lassitude and prostration. We lose the enthusiasm we started with. This happens more frequently than we would like to admit, and we make our way to the verge of quitting.

It is easy to lose track of our goals. It is easy to lack the motivation and discipline necessary to continue on the road to success. These are the so-called bumps in the road. We need to learn how to navigate all types of terrain in order to follow our path and not get lost along the way, or lose sight of why we started on that particular path to begin with.

It is not only my personal experience on that matter, but I have also heard numerous times from my friends, and acquaintances alike, that they are often confronted with incontrovertible evidence that they, also, lack the motivation and determination to continue what they started so eagerly enthusiastic about. How many times have we started a work-out program only to stop after a few weeks due to an injury, a vacation, or any other unplanned break in our routine? Any other project we attempt to undertake is susceptible to an unexpected failure. How can we fix that so we do not have to feel bad about ourselves, especially when our intentions come across as honorable but our disposition and interests do not remain stable enough to keep up with the rhythm required to bring all the positive elements to fruition? We need to do something about it.

When opposing forces are at work during the process of any undertaking, such as the intention to change one’s life or habit, but an opposite force, in the form of an old habit, pull us back to a state of lethargy and immobility, these forces are actually pushing against each other. The situation is not stable enough and at some point, something’s gotta give. One force will overpower the other; it’s the boiling point of a given state.

It is precisely at this stage that we ought to remember what reasons prompted us to initiate an activity, a new habit or the changes we want to operate in our lives. We need to stop and get clear about the reasons that made us start  in the first place. Quitting is not an option for those who wish to find out how to break through boredom and intermittent periods of inertia. The key is to keep going and find one simple task that we can accomplish during those times so we can make a small dent in our attitude when we feel overtaken by passivity and discouragement.

We must come to terms that behavior is not set in stone and that every day, every moment, we need to look at things from the perspective that we are always beginners. No matter how much we have accomplished, we should never rest on our laurels. As long as we live, we are constantly paving the way for ourselves and others. The experience of life teaches us to stay humble while reaching for our goals.

There is a popular quote (author unknown) that inspires me every time I am beset with stumbling blocks such as fear, doubts or obstacles of any kind: “When you feel like quitting: think about why you started”. This concept always helps me to gain perspective and have the humility to admit to myself that I am a constant work in progress and a beginner at heart.

Without veering towards politics, today (June 26th 2015) marks a great victory for human rights in this country (U.S.A.). It certainly corroborates the fact that the experience of life is following an unfinished path of evolution. We are all part of this process together, and the world as a whole becomes better with each act of justice, freedom and respect for one another which, in turn, improves the consciousness of this planet of ours. The process, however, is unfinished, and it is up to each one of us to contribute, in our own unique way, wherever we might find ourselves in our lives.

__________

* Featured image: Screen shot from the Apple mobile game “Monument Valley”