Posts Tagged ‘transformation’


Philosophy Tuesday

January 2, 2018

You are whole and complete


You always have been


And you always will be


You may not experience it


And you may sometimes take actions that don’t reflect it


But it doesn’t change the truth of who and what you are


There are just barriers to your experiencing it


Welcome to the New Year


Whole and Complete


Philosophy Tuesday

December 19, 2017

We were in a maze.

We’d discovered the maze while randomly visiting the art projects out in deep playa at Burning Man.  It was no small maze either – made of wood posts and plywood, it measured some 70+ feet to a side, and the walls were 8′ tall.  It was also really tricky.*

It had been eight, maybe twelve, minutes since we’d entered when, from over one of the walls (we had inadvertently split up) my friend shouts out “Hey!  There’s a door here!”

“There are no doors in mazes,” I solidly replied.

It wasn’t that I didn’t believe them per se – in fact I gave it nary a thought after my proclamation.  It was just… true.  Mazes were things with walls and passageways and dead ends.  Doors did not enter the picture.

By now of course you all can probably guess where this story is going, and what I was about to exclaim not more than a few minutes later:

“Holy crap!  There are doors in this thing!”

And it wasn’t even the same door.

It’s a funny, fluffy example, but I love it as a reminder of just how, when something comes up that doesn’t fit our view, it’s not so much that we don’t believe it, or that we actively resist it, it’s often more that it simply doesn’t even register.  No such possibility exists.  It’s so completely outside the realm of (our personal) reality that before we even become aware of it it’s been dismissed and we’re moving on with our day, acting as before.  Which equally means, quite potentially, staying as constrained as before.

Our life remains the same.

Hence why I like reminding myself with this story.  Who knows what I/we could be missing on the other side.  Who knows what I/we could learn, could do, or could be, with that new piece of information, with that broader view, and with those new possibilities.  Worlds can open up.

Because, while in a maze in the middle of the desert it was a very physical door that I was all too ready to miss, quite often the doors that we dismiss and don’t go through are very much metaphorical, and very much transformative.


* Seriously, the maze was killer.  The people who made it did a fabulous job.  Doors, bridges, and more, and it was well laid out in order to obfuscate some of the necessary routes.  My friend and I spent 30 minutes in the maze, escaped out, went back in, came out again, was told a hint or two by people outside who had completed it, went back in a third time, and still were stymied.  So we chose to D&D the heck out of it!  We came back the next day with hand-made graph paper and proceeded to map the sucker out like a dungeon… and thusly discovered a route we’d delightfully missed.  In rather short order, past few more doors, traps, and bridges, we found our way to the exit.  Superbly well done maze!


Philosophy Tuesday

October 24, 2017

Halloween is just around the corner, a time of costumes.  A time quite loved for that very fact, the one day everyone is allowed* to put on a costume and play.

Though… it’s not the only time of costumes.  In truth, don’t we kinda wear costumes every day?

In many ways, I’d assert, we do.

Natch, they are quite the different kind of costume than that of a ghoul, an anime character, your fishtank, or of a sexy [insert profession/noun here]**.  But they are costumes nonetheless.  They are the costumes we wear to reinforce the role we want or feel the need to play, and they are the costumes we wear to project a (specific) message to the world.

They are our broadcasting system.   Clothing choices, hairstyles, technology, brands, patterns of speech, mannerisms, the accessories we sport, and the vehicles we drive… all crafted and brought together to be our costume we put on (often every day) and go out into the world as “it”.

It’s a great mode of communication.  And when the costume comes from a place of authenticity, it can be a glorious self-expression.

When the costume comes from a hope of hiding, of identity, of shouting something we want to feel or be, when a costume is born of external concerns and of uncertainty and self-doubt, it can lead us places we don’t really want to go.  A costume can be the personal version of James Howard Kunstler’s description of the banal suburban home:  a television broadcasting 24 hours a day the message “I’m normal, I’m normal, I’m normal.”  A salve, but one that ultimately leaves no freedom or peace of mind.

As with many things in life, we often pick our costumes by accident.  We put them on without knowing it, we inherit them because it’s what we were surrounded by, we get into habits.  And often we get quite muddled in trying to figure out if we truly like something, if it is truly authentic… or if it is just our identities telling us we like it as a way of protecting itself.

It could be fun to add another layer to Halloween and use it as a chance to be mindful and examine all the costume choices we’ve made (and we make).  Sit back and take stock to see which of them truly serve us, and those we are instead caught in serving for.***  We can even fold in and take a lesson from children, who are wonderfully facile at putting on a costume and playing it to the hilt for twenty two and a half minutes, and, on a dime, change their outfits and get deep into playing something else.

Be clear, create and play on, reveling in the game of knowing we get to be in a costume of our choosing every day.


* That “play” and “costumes” are societally considered (still/by some/most) childish and weird and taboo and incompatible with being an adult is in of itself an interesting avenue to investigate the underpinnings of.  Equally interesting is the split in the mind of the avenues of play, such as sports and the surging acceptance of computer games, that are socially OK and are not thought of or siloed into the same category of what may be called play or playtime… ****

** The whole ‘sexy noun’ phenomenon is also a whole other post onto itself…

*** And for that latter group, seeing what’s there and getting onto the work of completing and transforming to create the liberation and possibilities we want.

**** Here’s a TED Radio Hour episode on play.


Philosophy Tuesday

October 17, 2017

So there’s this funny* tendency we have, as humans and that is the tendency for one disparaged group to disparage another.  For a group, or individual, under duress to all to readily and quickly turn around and perpetrate the same onto another group.

On the one hand, this doesn’t seem to make any sense… surely this group, or individual, knows what it feels like to be disparaged, denigrated, diminished, disowned, and discriminated against, right?  The hurt that accompanies it, the feelings of frustration, the harshness it is to exist under… why would they then do likewise to another?

But, on the other hand, it also makes perfect sense – in the same context.  This is the world they (we) live in, this is the world that has been modeled, this is the world that has been taught, a world where if you are to have power and agency, you gain it, at least in part, via the act of disparagement.  It is what the “powerful” and “well to do” and “respected” and “right” and “normal” people and groups do.  They disparage.   It is a hierarchical system, a caste.  And so, to be, and to demonstrate you are, in “power”, you disparage.  It is the path forward, the path to confidence, security, and self-determination.

Except, of course, that it doesn’t really work.  Nor is it authentic.  And in the end, if we’re honest, doesn’t leave anyone on any side feeling great.  It only perpetrates the precarious anxious knife-edge feeling of precariousness, balancing on that “knowledge” that, at any moment, something may happen that will drive us out of favour and perpetrate our rush to the bottom of that ladder.

No matter where on the chain we (currently) sit, there’s no authentic self-confidence there, no peace of mind, and no self-actualization.   And , above all, no freedom or self-expression.

There isn’t much more to say other than the invitation play the game of being mindful and present, and be aware of what the actual impetus is when jumping on the disparagement train.

There are plenty of other trains that lead to far more exciting and heartening places.  Let’s travel on those.


* Funny in the cosmic sense, though it is also, at the same time, not so funny at all and cosmically unfortunate.

** Years ago I played in my first LARP (Live Action Role-Playing Game).  When I got there, a bunch of the regulars were talking, and were fully embroiled in disparaging this other, particular, fandom.  “Yeah, those losers are almost at the bottom of the geek hierarchy chart…” one person proudly said.  Putting aside the vapidity of such a chart, the illuminating thing was that LARP players are also right near the bottom of that same chart.  This person was using a chart that disparages them to disparage someone else… trapped in the downward spiral in hopes of somehow regaining pride and agency.   (It didn’t/doesn’t work)


Philosophy Tuesday

October 10, 2017

The greatest crime is
The overlooking of
Who you really are
In favor of
The story of
Who you think you are.
This preoccupation with
Your personal drama is
The cloud that masks
The sun.
What one really is
Is what one is
In the absence of
The who that
One thinks one is.
There is no requirement to
Transcend the past.
All that must be done is to
Stop carrying it,
Like a block of stone,
On one’s back.

-Wu Hsin


Philosophy Tuesday

September 19, 2017

There are two types of “learning” in the world.*

The first is the kind that things like mathematics fall into.  There is a definite set of processes, rules, procedures, and methods that produce a solid and individual answer.  2 + 2 = 4.  Physics is like this.  Chemistry is like this.  And, in many ways, most of our schooling is like this.  Even the bits that aren’t, the bits that would fall into the second type, are generally taught in the same manner.  Spelling, history/dates, geography/lines on a map, algebra:  all quantifiable and capable of a right/wrong ranking.  You either know it, or you don’t.  You either have it, or you don’t.  And to learn it means memorizing, logicizing, and proper reproducing.**

Which is all fine and good.  Informational learning is important, vital, and can help us do a lot of things.  We want the engineer designing and airplane to know their equations and figure things through.  The brain surgeon should know the structures of the brain and how to diagnose problems, and what remedies to apply.  Statisticians can help us make sense of large sets of data through rigorous procedures.  It’s all great.

At the same time, this early instruction can create a strong context, feeling, and view (read: reality) that this is how learning happens, and that everything in the world can, and/or should, be known in this way.  Outside->In, knowledge based, right/wrong result type learning.  A context which then limits our access to, and comfort with, the second type of learning.

This second type is the kind of learning that is intuitive, fluid, and arises mostly from immediate, visceral, self-discovery.  It is gotten, but it is not fixed; it lives in the present.  It often bypasses the traditional take on what “knowledge” is.  This is the domain of the arts, of all kinds, the broadest casting of arts, the arts beyond that of just aesthetic pursuits.  It is the art of relating to others, the art of living, the art of movement, the art of the cosmos, the art of “emotional intelligence”, the art of mindfulness, the art of expression.   They are the arts that form our experience of life.

These are very important arts.

They also cannot be “learned” like math;  knowledge and examples and techniques can only be lighthouses to guide us towards the moment of personal discovery that makes it ours.  Trying to stick to the rote routines gained by knowledge only leads to stilted outcomes. ***

It can be hard to do the second learning when you’ve walled it off, forgotten and unknown, and haven’t used it for a long time.  Or maybe not.  Maybe all it takes getting and transforming the contextual trap we’ve been in, opening up to the ability we’ve had all along.*****   Let it out, let it exercise, play, explore, and get stronger.

Opening us up to new abilities, greater wisdom, and a plethora of new possibilities for our lives.


* Of course, we could probably create many more than two categories, or possibly there’s even a third or fourth category equally large to these two , but for the moment and for this exploration, let’s keep it at two…

** In later schooling, this tends to break open a bit more, such as with essay questions in English class, where a good teacher will allow for many modes of answers to be graded well.  In the flipside, though, even the most open, such as art, drama, music, etc, can get bogged down under the need to rank things.  The technique gets graded – something that feels as though it can be “learned” and demonstrated in a very right/wrong, have it/don’t have it kind of way (and which has much less to do with actual artistic expression).  This further creates the context that can limit being able to be in and play around in the second kind of learning.

*** This post arose from something I’ve been noticing in my kung fu practice recently, which has blossomed into a meditation on the nature of the art part of the phrase “Martial Arts”.  Especially as you delve deeper and deeper into the art(s), and, for me, as I teach others.  Some of my students are caught in an, for lack of a better term, “engineer’s mindset”, a very strong adherence to the first type of learning.  They learn the outlines of the forms quickly, but their progress hits a wall as the detail work comes along.  Trying to do kung fu from the outside->in, coming from memory and reproducing all the correct angles and tensions and body linkages and movements and etc doesn’t work.  The brain isn’t wired to do so, there’s too much there to keep track of and try to figure out or reproduce in the moment.  That first way of learning doesn’t work here. ****

**** This is also starting to intrigue me and make me wonder about those who are “not good at sports” – could this “not good” be caused by the context of what learning is (ie, caught in the context of the first kind of learning)?  It would be a barrier to  being in their body and learning intrinsically… *****

***** Interestingly, it’s the way we all did when we learned to walk.  We didn’t have language then, and thus no contexts and thus no idea of what “learning” is supposed to be… so we had to learn intrinsically.

****** For all of this, BTW, I had to break out of my own type-1 learning context (that, of course, I didn’t even realize I had) (And I still need to practice my type-2 more and more).  My kung fu training accelerated by leaps and bounds once I started my journey into transformation, as that type-2 learning suddenly became available to me.


Philosophy Tuesday

August 22, 2017

Often, when we say, “I could never do that,” what we really mean is, “I don’t want to do that…” which really in itself actually means “my attachments and identities don’t want to do that.”

The “I” has nothing to do with it.  Rather, the hijack is in full swing, leading us away from what the “I” truly wants.

Afraid for its survival, our identity goes on overdrive.

And, unfortunately, we end up the poorer for it.