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Posts Tagged ‘mind’

A Formula for Life

Posted by Amanda Gray on June 25, 2014

Tremendous bit of news to start: I moved to the most beautiful place on Earth!  I am now living in the stunning and mind-blowing Pacific Northwest city of Vancouver!

Vancouver Seawall

Yippee!!

Getting here, mind you, has been a challenging exercise, and the city hasn’t quite opened it’s great arms to my full participation yet.  I’ve been applying energy in every direction I can think of; dipping my toes into a wide assortment of potential activities, tippy-toeing down myriad paths of possibility for groups and collaboration; and after 2 months, I still haven’t quite got my groove on. 

The main thing, of course, is for some income. My mom and I have both been bleeding green for months now. I keep reiterating that it can’t go on like this forever, that money has to flow back to us eventually. It’s the fundamental nature of energy.  It’s science. It’s truth. And yet, every day continues to show itself as another day of spending, spending, spending. Yikes!  Ok. Fine. I repeat my favourite mantra; TRUST. I have to trust.  Everything is being taken care of.  Worrying about it will make no difference.  The energy will move when it does, and not a second sooner.  But it’s wearing on me – on us.  And we’ve had many, many moments of anger, and disagreement, and fear, and frustration, and tears, to tangle with, then to release, discuss, and forgive.  So, if nothing else, we’ve certainly been doing our spiritual work!  Continuous and ongoing!

I had one job interview.  Only one – but it’s a super good one – for a job I would REALLY enjoy.  At a gorgeous new arts centre close to home.  I don’t think I could do much better – it aligns so clearly with all the aspects of work I’d want. It finally seems that I’m ready to clear away some majorly dysfunctional divisions in my mind, and, in particular, an idea that I could have a Mc.job that paid the rent OR I could have creative work that I wanted, but never both. This idea kept me in jobs that I didn’t much like, always craving to be someplace else, but never able to get to that mythic holy land of creative fulfilment. If I created or performed, it was a hobby, enjoyable and collaborative, but short-lived, and almost always zero budget. If I earned income, it’s often been with repetitive functions, with little opportunity for creative expression or collaboration with others, and, usually, short-lived as well.  You see, because I was never truly committed to either side.  Both sides presented some difficulty or danger.  I get money, but sell my soul – I express myself creatively, but starve to death.  Jeesh!

Well, now I’m finished with all that nonsense.  Now I’m simply asking for EVERYTHING I want.  I want work I can approach with my WHOLE MIND.  My logical, analytical, technological left brain AND my playful, creative, spontaneous right brain – all together for the first time in my life!  I want to collaborate creatively with others, take responsibility for a bigger picture, use technology to organize data and create networks, and to challenge, play and evolve every day with something vivid, fresh and delightful!  This word – evolution – it’s a PARTY in my mind right now – I want to EVOLVE in every direction all at ONCE!!  I feel ready to push through all barriers of dualistic thinking, and move in a whole new way – EVERY WAY – ALL WAYS!

As I recently created an infographic resume (using easel.ly), I developed a motto for my work – actually – in fact, it’s more of a formula that encapsulates my recent philosophy of life.  It goes like this:

 

care + attention = excellence

 

This simple formula can be applied anytime, anywhere, with any thing, person, object, goal or activity.  In every way.  In all ways.  It will always ensure the same result.  It’s science.  It’s truth.  It’s the formula for my life now.  Income, or no income – all I need is to look around me – at the stunning creation that’s springing to existence in this marvellous city at every remarkable moment – to nod an acknowledgement to it’s shining divinity – to bow in awe at it’s unknowable, vast, tumult – it’s light-speed velocity – and remember that I am ONE with it.  I can’t be left behind.  When I open up, relax and go with the flow; give this moment, every moment, my full care and attention; allow myself to expand, expand, and expand some more; then the excellence of life surrounds me, invites and welcomes, and embraces me.  Ahhhh….

 

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Right Brain

Posted by Amanda Gray on March 23, 2014

18092011_001

Sufferin’ Subterranean Subconscious Subterfuge!  Digging a little further under the surface of some of life’s little goings ons, I’m starting to think about the concept of ‘work’ vs. ‘play’.  About a year ago, I decided that I wasn’t going to ‘work’ anymore – I was only ever going to ‘play’.  It’s all a matter of thought anyway, so why shouldn’t I simply decide for what I really want?  Well, that was all well and good, and I proceeded, in general, to live accordingly, yet now I see that I’ve had an underlying belief system that has been surreptitiously objecting.

I see it from my experience at the Living Miracles Monastery in Utah, when I got a terrible migraine headache that prevented me from joining in a much desired project to paint the tipi.  I simply couldn’t allow myself to enjoy the project.  In essence, I punished myself for my creative desire.

I also see it from my recent clown workshop.  The first two days were excellent and full-on, but the final two days were difficult because I was in a lot of resistance.  Particularly, I was resistant to moving my body, to open-heartedly playing with the group – and even more specifically – joining freely with the (in my opinion) more physically rambunctious boys.  Instead of saying, “yes” to the experience, I began to say “no.”

I also see it from my recent firing at work.  Particularly, since starting, I kept a fundamental attitude of ‘play’.  It made the day go by more pleasantly to maintain this attitude, and, particularly when I felt most down or resistant, I made concerted efforts to change my mind as soon as possible.  One of the other mental adjustments I was practicing regularly was to speak freely with my customers – even if I was feeling angry, tired, sick – all the entirely human qualities a customer service person isn’t supposed to share.  After some experimentation, I learned that people would allow me to say anything as long as my intention was relaxed, open and sharing – and I learned that limits only occurred if my intention slipped to attack, judgement or punishment.  As I learned this, I began to share myself more and more freely – and, especially as I began to know people more personally –I tentatively shared my sense of humour – which, at times, could be obtusely abstract, playfully teasing, or confusingly deadpan.  I was learning about it for myself along the way, as well, and it would surprise me at times, as much as it might surprise the customer.  So, it wasn’t entirely a shock to hear that some customers didn’t understand my humour and complained to the boss.  I now think it’s particularly interesting that I was ‘judged’ and  ‘punished’ (losing my job) for expressing myself more freely, openly and honestly – and just as I was genuinely allowing my sense of humour to come out and play.

This all leads me to a realization that I must still hold a deeper belief about personal self-expression; a belief that I must repress my natural expression for fear of being misunderstood, judged and punished.  I must have fears about playing openly with others, and sharing my stranger – but also more unique and interesting – quirks.  I can also see how this connects to my early childhood experience when, in the exuberance and excitement of playing with some older boys, it got me into life-threatening trouble.  I bet I decided then that ‘play’ – right brain, creative, abstract – was bad or dangerous, and I abandoned it, completely, in favour of the serious, safe, logical, fact based left brain.  I think most of us do it.  As adults, we decide that life is about ‘work’ and we forget about the joy, light and freedom of our curious, lively, foolish inner child.  We forget our child’s easy laughter and the ability to accept others however they are in every moment.  We begin to think our ‘judgement’ will protect us.  We begin to ‘juice’ our grievances and let our thoughts linger on the ‘injustices’ we face.  We begin to believe that other people are ‘against’ us – that they’re only there to present obstacles to our desires – and that the only way to get what we want is to manipulate, force or remove these obstacle-people.  We think that if we could just remove everybody, perhaps we’ll finally get the peace and freedom we feel entitled to.

But it’s a lie.  A pretty convincing set of concepts, I’ll give it that, but entirely, a grievous, pitiful lie.  The left brain is extremely limited.  It can only give us what it ‘knows,’ which means it’s always bound by the past.  Only the right brain, the open aspect of mind that’s ‘unknown,’ can truly extend us into the infinite.

I expressed in my last post ( Kitties, Clowns, Authority and Desire ), that I LOVE my kitty clown, Zephyr.  What I realized in clown class, and what I’m accessing in that character, is my natural right brain creativity that feels SOOOOO FREE!!  It’s powerful because it’s the true self I always wanted to express, or, at least, it’s the denied and repressed part of myself that’s required for complete mental equilibrium.  My deepest desires and passions are linked in there too and, of course, as these passions awaken, they’ll probably drag out a few demons from the arcane depths too.

Which is fine.  It’s worth it.  I’m going there.  Nothing can stop me – except ME.  And, like A Course in Miracles says, “Truth will correct all errors in my mind.”  And so it will.  AMEN!

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Three Miracles

Posted by Amanda Gray on March 8, 2013

While I’m still experiencing a general malaise toward creative writing, inspiration is still full blast for making short videos. I collaborated with a local band to create a music video, which then spawned three full versions, as I experimented with my new editing program, Sony Vegas. It’s about a light years advantage over the Win XP Movie Maker I was using before! I took some film at my birthday party in October and created a promo for the restaurant. And, recently, as I reviewed my last video blog, posted here about a year ago; and attempted to make another, which turned out poorly; I was inspired with a little story that I could easily perform and film myself. I dressed up, arranged scenes, filmed for a day, and now I’m into the, rather complex, edit, which is proving a delightful challenge! I look forward to posting the finished product here soon. Wait ’til you see! The project uses SO many of my skills and interests – I truly never imagined they could be combined into such a perfect package of unlimited JOY!

Today, I’m inspired to share three experiences from my visit to San Francisco at the end of November 2012. They were three lovely little miracles!

1) On my first day in San Francisco, I left my hostel at Fort Mason and wandered down to Fisherman’s Wharf. It was such a beautiful, sunny day and there were endless moments to capture on my new handycam. Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island were in the distance, and boats and swimmers were in the foreground. As I travelled along the waters edge, looking for my next vision of loveliness to put on film, I heard quick footsteps behind me. A thought came up in my mind, “He’s going to snatch my bag off my shoulder.” I turned quickly and looked the man full in the eye. “You better not be thinking what I think you’re thinking,” I chastised him in thought alone. He stopped suddenly and his face widened with shock. I’d evidently caught him at something. There was a short, narrow cement wall along the sidewalk near him, and he sat down, like a little boy who’s just been smacked. I paused, with my hand shading my eyes, pretending to look over the water, but keeping an eye on him, and thinking, “No, no punishment. I don’t need to punish you.” After a moment, the man stood up. I knew that all notions of theft had left him, and he simply passed behind me and carried on up the hill.

What’s especially interesting about this experience is that it confirms a specific lesson for me. Throughout my life, I had a terrible fear of danger coming up from behind. It was a common theme when I was at the monastery in Utah: mice attacking from behind my head, curtains being bumped into me by the wind, a bee stinging the back of my neck, etc. For me, it was like death was always lurking behind my right shoulder. At one point, I realized that even though I believed that my vision was limited by a body – with a front and a back, and one side of which is unprotected and vulnerable – spirit could NOT be limited this way. This incident proved that spirit could, indeed, watch my back. Wow!

2) The next day, when I left the hostel at Fort Mason, I encountered another man on the street. This guy was old and dirty, and loud and shouting. As I passed him, he said something derogatory about tourists. I paid him no mind. As I got to the bus stop, about 15 yards away, I turned my luggage to face him. Although his shouting did make me feel intimidated, I thought, “I’m not afraid of you.” My energy became defensive. “No,” I told myself, “Not to defend. Not to challenge him. But to be peaceful with him.” And so, then I was. A young man pulled up on my left side. He had a bicycle like mine at home, so I struck up a conversation with him. All the while, the loud street person was coming closer, trying to demand our attention. Some buses arrived on the street to my right, and one of them was mine. It was at that point that I noticed the street person had gotten quite close and I had to pass him directly to board the bus. Yet, I was completely unfazed – still totally secure and unafraid. Without incident, I boarded my bus, sat at the front, and watched placidly as the man shouted at me from behind the closed door.

A few days later, at the Adyashanti Retreat at Asilomar, Adya talked about a Buddhist deity called Manjushri. With a delicate hand, Manjushri wields a

Buddhist Deity, Manjushri

fiery sword of truth and cuts illusion clean away. This was the perfect description of my experience with the man on Fisherman’s Wharf and the man at the bus stop. What beautiful miracles provided to heal a couple of my most basic fears!

3) After the Adya retreat, I met a fellow that I only knew from Facebook. Ben struck me as an “enlightened” type, so I trusted, as I made arrangements to meet him, that it was by divine appointment. And it sure was! I expected, at first, because I was a dim-witted tourist, that he would travel downtown to meet me, but he defined such careful directions to Berkely, I decided on the adventure to get to his neighborhood.

First, I was misdirected by the clerk at the hostel, who said it would only take about 10 minutes on the BART. Wrong, because it was a weekend. Anyway, as I contemplated the system map at Powell station, a lovely girl, named Irene, asked where I wanted to go. She told me that I’d have to change trains to get to Berkely, but that she could show me where because she was going to the same stop. We travelled together and chatted. She even walked me all the way to my meeting place. By this time, I was more than 25 minutes late and was worried that my friend would already have given up on me. But he was there! (Late, himself too, as I found out later.)

“Bye, Irene. Thank you!” I waved, as my sweet BART gift carried on to her yoga class.

Ben and I fell right into step, electric essays filling the air between us as we strolled around Berkely. Honestly, I remember very little of the neighborhood because I was so engrossed in our exchange. We had smoothies and encountered a friendly squirrel. We met friends of his, shared an umbrella as we shared philosophy, and walked innumerable blocks. Eventually, we sat at a pizza place and shared a mushroom pizza. Our conversation slowed. I felt slightly awkward then, and breathless. I searched for something to say… but he tapped my hands on the outer edge of the table, “Stay with me,” he urged. My mind was tilting at an odd angle, but I righted it, and then stayed. Still. …and then gentle laughter bubbled up from within. His face filled with delight! We stayed together like that for a while, laughing and looking at this new, open place in our mind.

“It’s not even ‘nothing’,” I noticed.

He exclaimed, “Yes! Music to my ears!!”

“It’s just the laughter.”

On our way back to Berkely station, a blind woman asked us to help her cross the street. Ben took one side and I took the other. It was like the greatest joy in my life to be with that woman crossing the street in that moment. She thanked us for helping her and Ben thanked her for asking us to help.

As she carried on, I laughed and hugged Ben, “That’s IT too!” I cried, “It’s SO wonderful! Thank you!”

“Well, you did it.”

“Yeah. I guess I did.”

By divine appointment. Indeed. I now call it our “Mystic Pizza” moment. Wonderous, even as I remember.

God bless you all, readers.

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What is True?

Posted by Amanda Gray on December 30, 2012

“I have done this thing, and it is this I would undo.” I was just reading that line in the Course this morning. My lesson today is to see that I have been trying to make this body valuable, but that the only value the body has is its use – like a pointed stick pokes, or a hard rock hammers.

As the body ages, gets sick, becomes weaker and weaker, fatter and uglier, the stronger is my urge to prove it’s usefulness. Is it only the belief that I AM a body that must prove itself? If I’m not a body, what am I? If I don’t use this body or those other bodies ‘out there’ to punish and hang guilt upon, what are they for? If “I am only here to be truly helpful,” what is ‘truly’ helpful besides the doing of a body? The truth of this physical world – that this body is, ultimately, entirely expendable – is like choking a bitter pill down a dry throat. Anger yields to grief. And that is why we don’t want to see this awful truth. It hurts.

Yet, can this be the whole truth? The body must yield to spirit… grief must yield to love… mustn’t they?

And with this small light of hope I look into my mind and ask again, “What is true?”.

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Dream Interpretation

Posted by Amanda Gray on July 18, 2011

The interpretation of dreams leads to the understanding of the activities of the unconscious mind.  That’s the line that Jesus took, and, in fact, made that line the whole basis of A Course in Miracles.  Because, whether you know it or not, Jesus was a Freudian.  The whole thought system of the ego in the Course is directly based on the work of Freud.

~ Ken Wapnick, from A Course in Miracles, The Movie

When I dream at night, all the characters are fragments of my own fractured mind.  When I wake up, I, unknowingly, continue to dream, and the people I encounter in my so-called ‘real’ life are also mere fragments of my fractured mind.  There are no ‘others’ out there.  There is no ‘world’ out there.  It’s all in ME.  Every place, thing, and person I encounter are all pieces of ME.  Generally, we lend very little importance to our dreams at night, unless we use them to learn about the activities of our unconscious. Just as well, there is little importance to the dream of the ‘real’ world, except for what it teaches us about the self we seek to separate and hide deep in the fractured mind.

Just as dream symbols in a dream can be interpreted to discover the activities of the unconscious mind, so can the symbols of our ‘real’ life.  For example, I’ve had an ongoing issue with acne around my mouth and on my chin.  Over many years, I’ve tried several methods of curing the problem, but nothing has worked.  In January, I linked it to a dairy allergy and quit eating all dairy products.  The problem subsided for a short time, but returned and persists still.  If I look at the problem as a symbol, I recognize:

  1. Mouth = speaking, singing, sharing ideas and inspiration, communicating with others, being heard, accepting nourishment.
  2. Skin = boundary of the body, separation from others and from the world, touch, feeling, intimacy.
  3. Dairy = nourishment, pleasure, mother’s milk – acceptance of nurturance, caring and love from my mom, from others, and, ultimately, from God.

If I have believed that I’m unworthy of love, or that I need to be heard, but no one is listening, then suffering will be created from those negative, unconscious thoughts.  Suffering arrived as acne around my mouth.  It’s right up front on my face, can’t be ignored, and I’ve been super embarrassed and self-conscious about it.  My embarrassment has inclined me to keep my mouth shut, so I don’t draw attention.  Therefore, the number one goal of the ego, to maintain separation and block communication, has been successful.

The good news, is that once unconscious beliefs are brought to the ‘light’ – accepted consciously – they lose all their power.  Now I can give myself a choice.  I can continue to believe in crap, and suffer, or I can simply stop believing, and be free.  As I become one with all the parts of myself, accepting and connecting to others and the world without judgement; and as I open my mouth to communicate freely, and joyfully with trust, the ego weakens and must, eventually, disappear all-together.  And suffering (the acne) must disappear too.  This is what I believe, and so it must be, and it is.

For more on dream interpretation, check out these articles:

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A Course in Miracles - The Movie

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Topic of the Week: Trust

Posted by Amanda Gray on July 14, 2011

I saw my therapist again. I didn’t think the meeting was particularly helpful – I left more confused than when I started – but I had some important thoughts afterward. I realized that I have particular difficulties with trust.

  • I rarely trust others – they’re often unreliable, may abuse their power, and may make mistakes that could result in pain (or death) for me.
  • I rarely trust myself – my thoughts, feelings, abilities, or decisions. OMG, I make mistakes, am unreliable, and abuse my power too!

I can, generally, trust people who appear to have their heads on straight. Those that have confidence in themselves allow me to confide. Like, for example, the great spiritual teachers I’ve followed. But people, who seem just as confused and doubtful as myself, are anathema, and I won’t trust them at all. I also notice that I’ll trust a man more than I’ll trust a woman, and it’s particularly true if the man is gay.  Yet, if a man expresses any sexual interest in me, he’s automatically and totally, untrustworthy!

When I had a boyfriend, this was always a key issue. No matter what he did, I always believed he was ‘out to get me’. I would accuse him of trying to control me (without acknowledging that I was trying to control him), and since I usually behaved in alternating extremes, I either trusted him with far too much, and too soon, or with nothing at all. It was all deeply unconscious, at the time, of course, and I’m sure we both played into it equally. Our unconscious energies ‘clicked’, and that’s why we attracted each other.

As soon as I stopped having intimate relationships with men, I started projecting my trust issues to my work. If I distrust, I can find the untrustworthy anywhere. On page 462 of the text of A Course in Miracles, it says:

Yes, it [ I ] can dream it found an enemy [the untrustworthy], but this will shift even as it attacks, so that it runs at once to find another, and never comes to rest in victory. And as it runs, it turns against itself, thinking it caught a glimpse of the great enemy who always eludes its murderous attack by turning into something else.

Therefore, when I’m tired of projecting distrust on something else, then I project it on myself. After all, something has to be the untrustworthy ‘enemy’. If I distrust, and feel weakened, something must be the cause. Something or someone must have taken my power, and left me helpless. And since I think I can’t trust myself, perhaps I’m doing it; I become the enemy, in my own split mind. The Course says on page 463:

Could he admit that no one made him powerless? Reason would surely bid him seek no longer what is not there to find [the enemy boyfriend, or the enemy job]. Yet, first he must be willing to perceive a world where it is not. It is not necessary that he understand how he can see it. Nor should he try [but, oh, I have]. For if he focuses on what he cannot understand [no kidding], he will but emphasize his helplessness, and let sin [a.k.a. unforgivable mistakes] tell him his enemy must be himself.

The projection goes from outside, to inside, and:

[…] your belief that truth may be the enemy you yet may find. Here, then, would seem to be the last remaining hope of finding sin [mistakes], and not accepting power.

How can I trust myself to choose anything, even truth or power, when so much of my choosing has been a mistake? As my choosing became more and more erratic over the years, I saw that no choice ever led to lasting happiness. Happiness was inconstant – and so, it couldn’t be trusted either.

Elusive happiness, or happiness in changing form that shifts with time and place, is an illusion that has no meaning. Happiness must be constant, because it is attained by giving up the wish for the inconstant. Joy cannot be perceived except through constant vision. And constant vision can be given only to those who wish for constancy.

I tested the world through goggles of distrust, and found it lacking. Like an army of little tin soldiers, I knocked it all down. I proclaimed the whole world to be false, inconstant, and untrustworthy. My toy box got smaller and smaller, darker and darker. I felt more and more helpless. I appealed to many: “Help me,” I begged. But they couldn’t help – no, they can’t. Somehow, I have to trust myself to choose again.

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