Monday, August 31, 2015

Eye of the Tiger

Life's not about how hard a hit you can give ... it's about how many you can take, and still keep moving forward. 
(Sylvester Stallone)

I was a teenager when the Rocky Balboa movies came out. I remember how they resonated with me; how I mentally shifted a couple of gears higher on the soccer field, or by studying for my seemingly endless exams. I felt during these years that nothing could stop me on my journey. Rocky Balboa's fighter spirit was just a confirmation of what I knew was inside of me anyhow.

Nothing in fact has changed over the years. Today I have simply replaced the hunger for success by the faith that I will succeed. Today, however, I understand that fears pushed me forward in my student years. I focused all my energy on going for a PhD and being the best at what I do. While this all may sound good, I understand in hindsight that this drive was not a lust for knowledge and creativity, it was a drive that was based on the fear of not making it. I don't regret whatever happened then, but today I simply refuse to go after something that doesn't have the three Cs as a motivation: creativity, curiousity, and community! Something that hasn't changed though, is the youthful naivety that when the prophet arrives at the Red Sea, the waters have no business being in the Way.

I remember a scene in Rocky III when Mr. T beat Sylvester Stallone merciless, and his coach asked him, "What are you doing Rocky?", to which he replied, "He will get tired. I know what I am doing." Well yes, willpower may get you through this ordeal somehow, but always tell yourself when you bang your head into a wall, that there must be another way! Resistance has to be part of your path because there are still interferences inside of you 
that need to be overcome. But every external resistance is also an encouragement to look for another creative turn along the Way. Keep your determination my friend, but flexibly adjust your goals along the Way.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

On Our Future

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. 
Soren Kierkegaard

I can so resonate with Kierkegaard's quote; yet, there is something about our future that we seem to understand as well. When we are young, the future seems like an unwritten book to us. We may make many plans, but life often has other ideas for us. But there comes a time around the mid-cycle of our life, when we suddenly understand our soul's overarching mission. And at that point we go after it with determination and purpose, perhaps for the simple reason that we no longer have all the time in the world at our hands anymore to see it through. Surprises and setbacks still may come our way, but they will be just absorbed and integrated into the "story of our life". So there comes the stage in our life, when we take on the roles of producer, director and script writer next to the main actor as well. The pen is in your hand, make it a good one. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Meet the Death Instinct for but a Moment

I find it hard to belief what Sigmund Freud got away with. Certainly, Freud's insights on the power of sexual repression were an enormous step forward, and came at a time when Western societies were finally able to step out of the shadows of church oppression. Yet, some of his others so-called scientific break-throughs were nothing but idiosyncratic self-observation wrapped up with a lot of scientific blah blah. 

The so-called "death instinct" that he discovered later in life is one such example. I am in my 50s now, and I too have discovered that "instinct" in myself. It is just a misnomer. All this "death instinct" really is, is the ego beating you up, calling you names and telling you that you and humanity would be better off dying. Why would you call this voice an instinct, you should call it a moment of delusion instead. Psychology is the wrong discipline for this insight though; that's where spirituality comes in. 

Meet the Spirit and the ego and the voice in your head will be melting into nothingness. That's why we spiritual travelers advise you to go inwards, or to meet divinity in the holy interaction with life and fellow (wo)man. You can handle this rascal called ego only that long and one day he will simply wear you down. So you can in fact rejoice over the mid-life crisis when the wear and tear of your own self-abuse finally shows and when you simply no longer have the energy to keep going as before. Every spiritual traveler can tell you that the wall that you perceive and feel as you bang your head into is not real. Take a few steps around it and let Her show you the Way.

Friday, August 28, 2015

When the Sword of Discrimination Falls

It is said that Japan samurai in the olden days repeated a mantra every day, "I am already dead", to be mentally prepared for the upcoming next fight that might well bring death with it. But once you have nothing to fear in battle, you might as well be positively surprised to live another day.

The ego melts in the heat of the holy now. We spiritual travelers also don't know what will come our way. What we know, however, come what may, it will be spiritually meaningful to us. Decisions present themselves and the "sword of discrimination" cuts through illusion and make-belief of the ego. In fact, we need this thrill of the moment, the fear of not knowing what comes next. Otherwise we would be helplessly exposed to to the ruminating thought process, and our egotistic cravings. 

Don't fear the uncertainty of the holy now. Just like the samurais of the olden days, let the "sword of discrimination" fall and see for yourself what the next moment will bring. Choices are here to help you find yourself. The edge you are standing on is necessary to force you to get in tune with what lies deep inside of you. Let the magic of the moment win you over, and rest assured, more likely than not you will live to enjoy another magic day!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pious and Wild

Pious women dream about forbidden romance and lust. Promiscuous women dream about finding that special someone. This tension is in the psychological literature referred to as the  "Madonna and the Whore Problem". It is not difficult to find out where this conflict originated. Christianity developed the Madonna image, and the Christian mindset pretty much conquered, raped and murdered the existing pagan belief system at that time; just as the European settlers conquered, raped and murdered the Native Americans. Now we are caught in that tension of what our religious super ego thinks is right, and what our body feels is right.

Let me ask you, why is that dilemma not called the "Tension of the Prude and the Woman" instead? As it turns out, thanks to the spectacular fame of the singer Madonna, the meaning of the Madonna and the Whore Complex has been stripped of all its meaning anyhow. The so-called pagans didn't have a problem with sexuality, Christians did. It is time to go back to our roots, while holding on to Jesus' discovery of unconditional love and the Holy Spirit among (wo)mankind.

We are back on a journey to our origin where we leave the age of sexual repression behind, but also don't just have meaningless and random sex. Spiritual wholeness implies that we creatively react to the situation that presents itself. We dance with the energy of the Way and express the language of our heart. Today's spiritual woman is pious and wild all at the same time. Just as it was in the olden days before the gates of the Garden of Eden opened.

"I", as in Inspired

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder;
you get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger.
May you never take one single breath for granted,
God-forbid, love ever leave you empty handed.

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens.
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance:

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
(Lee Ann Womack, I Hope You Dance)

We spiritual folks love beating up the ego; that rascal that stands in the way of experiencing God here and now. Yet, isn't that longing a little like fast-forwarding a movie, or reading the last page of a detective story? The "I" with all its history, expectations and drives was given to us so that we can manifest our story. We are here to add our piece to God's magnificent puzzle, and the "I" is perfectly designed to accomplish just that feat.

We are a fluid part of a vast energy field. We are God's Co-Creator, not a flimsy leaf in the wind. We can experience our ego, our soul mission and the creative energy of the "holy now" all at the same time. Stop wishing that you are somewhere else instead; stop wasting your time hoping that you are the enlightened guy who shows everyone else the Way, and stop battling your ego in order to get to that state. What you are really looking for is the "I Am that I Am" when the "I" gets inspired by the "holy now". And you only can get to that blessed state when you accept God's invite to dance with Her.

So how exactly does one get to that inspired "I Am that I Am" state? Well, muster your will-power and have the guts to dance while everyone else is sitting; "give the Heavens above more than a passing glance" as Lee Ann Womack puts it so well in her inspired song, and simply put your best foot forward in whatever you do. Along the Way, being inspired is the norm rather than the exception. Just keep on dancing whenever a good opportunity presents itself. And if it doesn't, create one.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sex: Just Follow the Energy

Can we have wild sex and at the same time be considered a decent and spiritual person? Can we allow ourselves to explore sex without any limit as long as it is consensual and if we don't hurt anyone in the process? Can we allow ourselves to explore sex and just feel what is spiritually kosher or not?

Too often, we feel guilty about our sexual longings and suppress it in a dark corner of our being. We don’t dare to let people know how much we long for sex and how wild we want to be. We sometimes don’t even dare to let our partner know how wild we want to be.  Isn’t that sad?  What really restricts us?  Do we have that belief deep down inside that decent people don’t have wild sex?  

Could the spiritual community have it all wrong? Instead of saying that the ego wants to have steamy sex, it is in fact the ego which blocks the way for wild sex. All the expectations of the society to be "proper", are they not built around the concept of sin and guilt? Why can't we consider ourselves as decent people even we have wild sex?  Why do we need to live up to the expectations of society anyway? When you let go of your ego - your image of yourself - perhaps the wild and authentic side of us is coming out to have fun. Perhaps many of us discover that longing for wild and explosive sex in us because it comes natural to us when we let go of all the expectations, belief sets and constraints imposed by society. 

Just give it a try. If you have a partner to dance with, follow the energy and see where it leads you. Enjoy living out your true self!

By Christian and Su Zhen