This Is Not A Dress Rehearsal

December 3, 2016 § 4 Comments

001-martha-graham-theredlist

“In Buddhist practice we say congratulations because now is the time we have been practicing for. No more just practicing the dance. We must now dance. And this is not a dress rehearsal.” ~ Zenju Earthlyn Manual

There is one good thing about the Trump presidency as far as I can tell—it has, for many, eradicated political complacency.  For the 75 % of people who did not vote for Trump (nearly half of Americans didn’t vote—thanks guys!) we no longer feel we have the luxury to let our politics go on without us.

black and white photography, political art, http://hyperallergic.com/311570/an-art-historical-perspective-on-the-baton-rouge-protest-photo-that-went-viral/ black lives matter[Protestor Ieshia Evans, photo by Jonathan Bachman]

People in power and policies are shifting in American government.

Trump has appointed propaganda machine Brietbart news executive Steve Bannon to be his chief media strategist, a man who thinks “Darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power,” (Bannon, in a recent interview to the Hollywood Reporter.)

ink bleed, watercolor bleed http://creativedojo.net/ink-fx-studio-rodypolis-freebies/

This it is a time of reckoning for Americans.

For those who did not vote to put Trump into office, it is time to decide who we want to be politically and personally. For many who will be directly affected—or whose community will be directly affected, or whose values will be directly challenged—by these policy changes, the personal has become the political. As, indeed, it seems destined to do.

This is equally true for those who voted for Trump. It is your responsibility to watch the chess moves of the man you put into office and make sure he does not exploit your hopes for ill.

In both cases, we must ask ourselves: what do we stand for? And accept no substitute.

political art, black and white photography http://www.decorecomgigi.com/2015/01/sonhos-e-devaneios.html

Newscaster Dan Rather recently released a rousing statement to this affect:

“Now is a time when none of us can afford to remain seated or silent. We must all stand up to be counted.

History will demand to know which side were you on. This is not a question of politics or party or even policy. This is a question about the very fundamentals of our beautiful experiment in a pluralistic democracy ruled by law.

“When I see neo-Nazis raise their hands in terrifying solute, in public, in our nation’s capital, I shudder in horror. When I see that action mildly rebuked by a boilerplate statement from the President-elect whom these bigots have praised, the anger in me grows. And when I see some in a pliant press turn that mild statement into what they call a denunciation I cannot hold back any longer….”

black and white racial unity photography http://www.astucesdefilles.com/2014/12/18/14-idees-de-photos-geniales-a-faire-en-couple/

Rather points out that the “self-evident truths” of equality & unalienable rights are not self-replicating. It is up to each new generation to renew the vows.

“We have survived through bloody spasms of a Civil War and a Civil Rights Movement to extend more of these rights to more of our citizens, ” continues Rather. “But the direction of our ship of state has not always been one of progress. We interned Japanese Americans, Red Baited during the McCarthy era, and more. I feel the rip tide of regression once again swelling under my feet. But I intend to remain standing.

“This is not about tax policy, health care, or education—even though all those and more are so important. This is about racism, bigotry, intimidation and the specter of corruption. But as I stand I do not despair, because I believe the vast majority of Americans stand with me….”

connection[artist & source unknown]

I believe in human dignity, equality & progress. To me, progress first and foremost means caring for the ailing planet, our only home within the void of space, and for each other—which means not dismissing the raised voices of the disenfranchised as products of “victim culture,” as Bannon has and the alt-right does.

That is damn easy to say when you haven’t walked a mile in another person’s shoes, suffering the indignity of constant low grade, often unconscious, prejudice. Where the default space is a white space.

Slogans like “make America great again” may sound good to white men, for whom the 50s was a fine time to be a man, but it sounds like hell to most black people, who were still fighting segregation and legal discrimination, and to many women, who were still deeply oppressed by gender expectations and sexism. That America was not great for a large swath of Americans.

civil rights, political art, black and white photography, politics, black lives matter

There are already some undeniable parallels between  Trump’s rise to power and the atmosphere of early Nazi Germany, already some alarming developments which hark back to the witch hunting of the McCarthy era. A Professor Watch List site, for instance, has been launched by a conservative youth group called Turning Point—where professors with a liberal bias are listed. Presumably & eerily, to be “watched”—to what end remains unspecified.

It’s true, the majority of teachers are generally more politically liberal. But trying to control individuals through intimidation is not the answer. And we can’t discard the connection between higher education & progressive values—clearly, one begets the other. It’s not some mass conspiracy to plant liberal fingers into the minds of the young. It’s the personality type that is attracted to education positions.

If conservatives want more conservative teachers, they need to rally for more conservatives to apply for teaching jobs—not exert witch hunt tactics, intimidation and thought control over existing teachers.

“In the United States in late 2016, as the president-elect’s surrogates cite Japanese internment as a ‘precedent’ for what may come, any ‘watch list’ of any sort is worrying. One that targets outspoken intellectuals with views that oppose a mercurial future president who spent the weekend tweeting petulantly at the cast of a Broadway play? Abjectly terrifying.”

you are being watched art http://tonikor.deviantart.com/art/YOU-ARE-BEING-WATCHED-367369825

“If we are not careful,” notes professor George Yancey, “a watchlist like this can have the impact of a theoretical prison designed to create a form of self-censorship among those imprisoned. The list is not simply designed to get others to spy on us, to out us, but to install forms of psychological self-policing to eliminate thoughts, pedagogical approaches and theoretical orientations that it defines as subversive.

“I am now ‘un-American’ because of my ideas, my desires and passion to undo injustice where I see it, my engagement in a form of pedagogy that can cause my students to become angry or resistant in their newfound awareness of the magnitude of suffering that exists in the world. Yet I reject this marking. I refuse to be philosophically and pedagogically adjusted.”

mark riboud politcal art https://photobabe142.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/photojournalism-is-forever-political-art/[Mark Riboud]

Yancey continues: “I refuse to be silent about forms of militarism in which innocent civilians are murdered in the name of ‘democracy.’ I refuse to remain silent when it comes to acknowledging the existential and psychic dread and chaos experienced by those who are targets of xenophobia and homophobia.

“I refuse to remain silent when it comes to transgender women and men who are beaten to death by those who refuse to create conditions of hospitality…where unarmed black bodies are shot dead by the state and its proxies, where those with disabilities are mocked and still rendered ‘monstrous,’ and where the earth suffers because some of us refuse to hear its suffering, where my ideas are marked as ‘un-American,’ and apparently ‘dangerous.'”

martha graham, lamentation[Martha Graham, “Lamentation”]

He concludes: “If it is dangerous to teach my students to love their neighbors, to think and rethink constructively and ethically about who their neighbors are, and how they have been taught to see themselves as disconnected… then, yes, I am dangerous, and what I teach is dangerous.”

This is not a time to be silenced or to feel disempowered, but rather to seize our power and raise our voices; not just to stand up for what we believe in but to definite what that is with depth, precision and love.

claim power, savannah spirit political art activism black and white photography[Savannah Spirit]

Should you choose to accept, I encourage all readers—whatever party you identify with—to create a personal manifesto detailing your values. And I will do the same. After drafting, I encourage you to list them in order of priority. From your top three values, I invite you to pick one issue to be your cause for 2017, something you dedicate concrete energy and actions towards.

Let this new era of uncertainty be a time that forces our own values into stark relief—let it forge us in the fire, concentrating and refining who we are and what we stand for. We need to take part in this shift in America, and influence its direction in whatever way we we can towards what we believe is right—not just with a shared Facebook post, but with concrete action.

The pendulum is always swinging—that is part of the dance, part of progress and a working democracy. It’s up to us to make sure it swings responsibly. And if it doesn’t, to speak up. This is not a dress rehearsal.

martha graham http://yearofwomen.tumblr.com/post/118947893106/may-14-martha-graham-known-as-the-mother-of

“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” ~ John F. Kennedy
 
 “My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.” ~ Teresa Pinkola Estes

 

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The New Not-Normal

November 19, 2016 § 18 Comments

http://cosascool.tumblr.com/image/50988925557, mind blown, art

[Post-election reflections.] In writing Parallax, I have always made it a point to think outside the box.

One way of keeping my critical thinking skills sharp has been to consciously avoid overly-identifying with either of my country’s two major political parties. I have tried to avoid confirmation bias by trying to remain somewhat outside of politics ideologically. While I have strong liberal leanings due to my interest in human rights, and I don’t identify with the social values of the right, I have always believed that disrespect of The Other, whichever side it’s on, is the root of unnecessary conflict.

We can’t expect “them” to listen to “us” if we dismiss them. In short, I am a bridge-builder by nature.

bridge building art http://untitledarchive.tumblr.com/post/23998993454/motherjones-happy-birthday-golden-gate-bridge

Tolerance of diversity, I have always believed, should not just be limited to those allied with one’s own cause.  These values should be demonstrated through example. If we want to uphold a celebration of multi-culturalism, we should not cherry-pick whose culture is worthy of that tolerance & respect. (With the exception of outright hate groups of course.)

It’s understandable why people do gravitate towards a buffet style concept of what diversity means—who wants to tolerate a religion or culture that does not tolerate them?—but because even the less tolerant religions and cultures are made up of individuals, I personally believe it is worth erring on the side of inclusivity in order to keep the dialogue going between all groups when possible.

art diversity http://artedexperience.blogspot.com/2012/03/multiculturalism-in-classroom.html[art & diversity]

While this approach is largely thankless—bridge-builders are viewed as a quasi betrayer by both sides, having no cultural country to call their own—I have persisted in my efforts because I feel that to remember our common ground as human beings is essential to progress. Cultural compartmentalization breeds contempt. It breeds violence and war. United we stand, divided we fall.

Therefor, I am careful to read both sides of the argument, assume nothing and make up my own mind with every new case in question, because I believe it is the responsibility of every independent thinker to avoid a default ideology. Dogmatic adherence to any ideology, even one that appears positive, creates blind spots & a ripeness for manipulation.

lady justice by chad awalt[“Lady Justice,” by Chad Awalt.]

However, I find myself in a very difficult position as a bridge-builder in this post-election climate.

There is a limit to the bridge builder’s credo—for the Jewish people to have attempted to build a bridge with Hitler’s Third Reicht, for example, would have been an exercise in futility and naïve delusion.

When something is wrong, deeply wrong—like a blind nationalist fervor that excludes and demonizes certain sects of the population based on ethnicity or religion—we can not stand for it. You can not build a bridge to hell. Or rather, in doing so, you negate the initial purpose of the bridge: to create harmony & unity within the human race.

broken-bridge art http://www.m3k.ch/cest-gratuit-mais-a-quel-prix/

Unfortunately, I am having to assess whether this is such a time in America—a time when bridges become compromises.

Every cell in my body is feeling a sense of foreboding. In my gut, I am scared. All the signs are there for those who will see—the unexpected rise to power by a man whose campaign rhetoric feeds on & into an inherent distrust of The Other, channeling civic frustrations into racial scapegoating via negative stereotyping. This looks bad, very bad.

But are the charges of racism, sexism & xenophobia against our new president-elect “trumped” up? (Haha.) Is the rhetoric surrounding his newly appointed media strategist Steve Bannon—that he is a white supremacist bigot—sensationalized by a news media bent on destroying Trump? Let’s pan back for a minute before we answer that question.

"la condition humane" by rene magritte http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-norfolk-37299450[“La Condition Humaine,” lost painting by Rene Magritte.”]

One important piece to the puzzle—something that most conservatives know about and few liberals are exposed to—is the puppeteer presence of multi-billionaire George Soros behind nearly all of our so-called unbiased & reputable news sources.

My personal favorite news outlets, “The New York Times,” “The Washington Post,” “The Guardian,” NPR, “The Huffington Post”—sources that to me feel like a beacon of sanity, culture, measured thought & emotional intelligence—are in fact all funded by Soros.

Don’t get me wrong; I still love these news sources—and they are responsible beacons of sanity, culture & intelligence—but we have to keep in mind they are neither neutral nor independent. They answer to someone in the global elite, an immensely powerful man with a history of manipulating elections through propaganda.

conspiracy eye, art https://webapp.zedge.net/browse/wallpaper/?id=10891878#featured

At the same time, these news sources are not propagating outrageous, false, inflammatory material in the same way that alt-right journals like “Brietbart News” do. There is a respect & regard for intelligent, responsible reporting.

Now, it just so happens that the leftist ideals that these Soros-funded news sources champion align with my own cultural inclinations. But I can not assume that he, as a member of the global elite, is doing it all out of the goodness of his heart. Money & power must be involved as well.

One problem with Soros’ monopoly, as well as his interest in funding grassroots movements  in a major way, is that it creates an atmosphere of mistrust for conservatives & independents. It becomes easier for them to dismiss marches & protests & hate crimes as Soros-lead manipulations with the goal of foiling Trump’s presidency.

Beyond that, it’s also entirely possible from a conspiracy theory standpoint that, like most of the world’s elite, Soros is operating from a perspective that we are easier to control when we are confused, disempowered & divided.

make-america-white hate crime http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/78634/spike-hate-crimes-since-trump-win-real-warns-advocacy-group/#LRKHJR7d2TJlt5su.97

“Despite skeptics asserting that most incidents of assault, vandalism, or harassment publicized since Donald Trump won the presidential election are unverified and over-reported, the US has indeed seen a spike in hate crimes in the past week,” reports the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).  

Apart from this heartbreaking & terrible development, it’s worth noting that the Southern Poverty Law Center is funded by none other than…George Soros. Maybe because he’s such a great guy! I don’t know. But his pervasive connection ends up de-legitimizing these attacks in the eyes of the right at the very least. ( It wouldn’t be the first time someone with power & an agenda exploited already present issues to create civil unrest, fear & confusion.)

Unfortunately, knowing America, I’m betting on this wave of hate crimes being sadly quite real. And we can not afford to buy into conspiracy theories when we have black people fearing for their lives.

racial conflict, art D http://racialconflictartseducationpack.weebly.com/[Domingo Ulloa]

So this is the atmosphere we find ourselves in; no one trusts anyone. Facts aren’t facts.

No major news source is purely independent or objective. Minorities feel betrayed and unsafe in their own country, liberals feel disillusioned that someone like Trump—a man who objectifies & degrades women, who blames the country’s problems on immigrants & denies climate change—could have been elected president.

Third party voters feel alienated as Democrats blame them for Trump’s win. Conservatives are tired of their concerns being neglected & dismissed as racist, when there appears to be data to back up the fear of, say, a surge of refugees increasing rape statistics—liberals consider this subject a sacred cow for fear of adding to xenophobia, but may be putting women in harms way in the process. Minorities & progressives are tired of reaching over the isle to try to explain how comments their leaders are making are in fact racist & sexist.

Racism

As one example, some Republicans I’ve spoken with seem to think that racism has only one obvious face: the overt hatred of another race or the perception that said race is fundamentally inferior. While that is, of course, one face of racism, saying things like “I love the Muslims” & “I have a great relationship with the blacks,” as Trump has said, is another. Lumping all black people, or all Muslims, into a single category shows a detachment from perceiving this group as being composed of individuals.

I know that explanation plays into conservative’s irritation with “smug liberals” explaining cultural issues to them, but hey! Liberals study this stuff. Conservatives study other things, like the constitution. We have different strengths. As CNN contributor Van Jones has remarked in his web series “The Messy Truth“: liberals love justice, conservatives love liberty. Both are important aspects of the American ethos.

american liberties http://www.myphilanthropedia.org/blog/2010/11/23/american-civil-liberties-union/

Speaking of “smug liberalism,” the tone & content of  “alt-right” publications such as Brietbart News appear in many ways to be a reaction against “political correctness”—otherwise known as considering the feelings & perspectives of other races & genders than yourself when speaking.

The progressive taboo placed on loose, culturally insensitive language has lead many to call “political correctness” a new form of facism due to word policing.

word police https://mythsofthemirror.com/2015/08/03/the-word-police/

What is ironic about this reaction, is that people are feeling oppressed by oppressed people’s objection to the use of language that perpetuates their oppression. So anyone upset by the oppressiveness of PC needs to understand that they are getting a taste of the very reason PC started to begin with!

I get it. Hey, if drag queen superstar RuPaul is getting heat from GLAAD for a segment playfully titled “Female or Shemale,” the serpent has definitely reached the point of biting its own tail. But it’s not like people are being jailed for using an outdated word. They are being notified by those who have to fight every day for visibility & validity & basic human dignity that—“Hey! That hurts me when you say that. Perpetuating these words have real life consequences for me.”

It’s up to the person being told that if they want to listen or not.

Christian Schloe[Art by: Christian Schloe]

(Many on the right are concerned that political correctness is hurting America’s ability to defend its people in the fight against terrorism, which may warrant a different category than other PC issues, as it involves the fear for physical safety rather than just a feeling of entitlement.)

So, is the new administration as bad as it seems to the 75% of us who didn’t vote for Trump? (The majority of Americans didn’t vote. Thanks guys!) And is bridge building at this time an act of naïve futility? It’s not looking good—to the first question. And: no, to the second. Not yet, anyway.

The news media may have trumped up charges against Steve Bannon to some degree—though there’s no direct evidence I can find of anti-Antisemitism, there are whispers: Bannon’s ex-wife, who has also issued spousal battery charges against the media mogul, has said in court that he is anti-semetic. Additionally, his media company Brietbart published a story that needlessly brings up a Republican senator’s Jewishiness—“Bill Kristol, Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew”—albeit written by Jewish writer, David Horowitz.

However, the sexism propagated by the site is completely overt (see “Here’s Why There Ought To Be A Cap On Women Studying Maths & Science”). If Bannon’s Brietbart is that out-of-touch with concepts of equality, I think it’s fair to assume the prejudice won’t stop at women.

agpanic

This is a man who, like Trump himself, proudly caters to the disenfranchised white working class by feeding them fear-mongering, prejudice-stirring opinions masked as news. He has had no problem exploiting fear & already present prejudice with divisive rhetoric. His Brietbart news has helped empower & legitimize hate groups. He is not part of the solution to the already present human tendency to demonize The Other. And he’s fine with that.

“Darkness is good,” Bannon told The Hollywood Reporter this week. “Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they [liberals] get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing.”

Um…guys? The president’s key strategist just told us evil is power & aligned himself with the lord of darkness. This is not normal. This is not okay.

political art

As far as bridge-building goes: as long as we can agree that all humans deserve equal rights & treatment, I’m not giving up yet. I completely understand that people of color & other minorities are sick of always having to be the ambassador of their own legitimacy. I hope that this is one way I can use my white privilege for good, to continue to try and speak diplomatically with the other side, to ferret out objectives truths like human dignity that have fallen between the cracks of rhetoric, overlapping narratives & unmet needs.

Republicans, be kind to your liberal friends and family members. We on the left are not just being sore losers. We are genuinely afraid—deep down, in our bones—-for our rights and the rights of others. We are afraid of a political climate where casual bigotry & cultural insensitivity is normalized…and where that will lead. Because it’s been the harbinger of some pretty dark chapters of history in the past.

mark riboud politcal art https://photobabe142.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/photojournalism-is-forever-political-art/[Mark Riboud]

We always look back on twisted times like Nazi Germany and wonder: how did it happen? How could a nation be so mesmerized by such obvious evil? Unfortunately, it starts like this, with the normalization of racial scapegoating & negative stereotyping. As Trump did with Mexican immigrants & Muslims on his campaign trail. As Bannon did with Brietbart news before he became the president’s right hand man, aka the self-described lord of darkness. (See Joshua Foust’s “This Is Not Normal” to avoid falling into the spell of normalization; Sara Kendizor’s “We’re Heading Into A Dark Time: How To Be Your Own Light In The Age Of Trump.”)

But liberals, in the interest of our survival as a country, let’s not make a monolith of all Trump voters as racists. Demographics are composed of individuals, with complex motives. Trump addressed many neglected issues for a certain swath of voters, many of which had nothing to do with race. Where there is a monolith, there is an enemy. But where there are individuals, there is hope for dialogue, communication & humanity.

At the same time, those of us who are feeling spooked by the current rhetoric have to stand for what we know is right: human dignity, equality, diversity—America’s cornerstones. I believe we can do both.

http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=1393 unity art

I feel I can no longer responsibly remain impartial or “outside” of politics. The threat to human rights is too real.

I don’t feel like the same person I was before this election. The person who wrote “Surviving The Collective Exorcism,” as though this rising rhetoric were just some passing ghost in the night to make us all think a little harder about the specters of oppression. As though I knew it would all be okay in the end. I no longer feel that I know that. And I’m worried this exorcism could become a living nightmare.

But if we keep talking to each other, if we continue to stand for what we know is right—if we can get out of our comfort zones & privilege bubbles & the impulse to tune out the inconvenient drone of American politics & actually take action to further the causes we believe in—then we will still be moving forward.

source: http://ffffound.com/image/1d3a1b794331157a8ffa403819f94cecfdcea240

 

 

*A note: I would love to hear your thoughts, reader. I feel like this offering is jumbled, in-process & not up to my usual Parallax standard.  Your comments encouraged! I think the only way this post makes sense is as the initiation of a conversation, not as a finished piece, because I’m still trying to process & untangle everything myself, as you can probably tell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Surviving The Collective Exorcism

October 16, 2016 § 10 Comments

“Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.”

~ John Kenneth Galbraith

“We try to fix the outside so much, but our control of the outer world is limited, temporary, and often, illusory…achieving durable happiness as a way of being is a skill. It requires sustained effort in training the mind and developing a set of human qualities, such as inner peace, mindfulness, and altruistic love.”

~ Matthieu Ricard

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

On top of an already fraught, fearful & divided world, the approaching presidential election of 2016 has ramped up feelings of rage, alienation & despair across America.

In part, because social issues—race relations & sexual politics—are at the forefront of the debates between Clinton & Trump, this election season has invoked a truly personal, emotional response in us.

black pain, african american tear, oppression art[Detail from K.A Williams (aka “WAK”) “The Worst Sight.”]

The advent of smartphones has given us the means to monitor our monitors, and footage of police abuse of power against black male bodies surfaces constantly, raising pleas for social justice to a fever pitch.

While many are listening to these raised voices of protest, large swaths of the conservative demographic are reacting with mistrust and shutting down. And so the #blacklivesmatter movement gives way to responses of #allivesmatter and #bluelives (meaning officers) matter.

us vs them, teams, war, chess

Yes. We all matter. That is the point of the “black lives matter” hashtag—a reminder that a swath of our “all” is struggling and needs attention.

As if this issue weren’t fraught enough, it has become politicized. The left, being the party of social progress, has taken up this and other causes, attempting to “explain it” to the right; which has largely been perceived by conservatives as a buzzword-fueled lecture and accusation.

Although it may be difficult to understand why anyone with such superior social power would deign to listen to the struggling underdog, this reaction itself is framed in a certain view with specific assumptions. The people who aren’t hearing the message behind #blacklivesmatter, for instance, aren’t filtering it through the same set of reference points. The right perceives itself as the underdog under attack.

The “us” vs. “them” mentality is in full effect, raging across America like a wild fire. We seem to be in a Chinese Finger Cuff situation—the harder we pull, the more stuck we become; if the goal is ultimately peace and human unity. Which, come on, if we are to survive as a nation and a species, it logically has to be.

political art(source.)

One important fact to remember is that the “us” vs. “them” mentality is literally hardwired into our neurology; the second we identify with a certain group, it has been proven in experiment after experiment that the brain begins filtering facts to skew the data towards the perceived “us.”

“Our tendency toward partisanship is likely the result of evolution—forming groups is how prehistoric humans survived,” remarks Brian Resnic (“How Politics Breaks Our Brains.”) “That’s helpful when trying to master an unforgiving environment with Stone Age technology. It’s less so when trying to foster a functional democracy.”

us vs them, we, unity

“Studies have shown,” adds Steven Handel, “that people tend to favor a group bias even when they are categorized on relatively meaningless distinctions, for example: eye color, what kind of paintings they like, or even the flip of a coin.

This tells us that we can potentially separate ourselves from a certain group of people on any random and arbitrary characteristic. Therefore, everyone is susceptible to be a perpetrator and/or victims of social prejudice and ostracism.” (“The Us Vs. Them Mentality.”)

us vs them, dr. seuss

Although it feels like things are getting worse, this very well may be a time of national exorcism; the rock we didn’t want to look under has been overturned and we are staring directly at its maggoty underside. At least now we are facing it directly; the dank hidden pocket of darkness is being aired. And we are looking at it, talking about it.

A hundred years ago, only white men could vote in America. Today we have a black president and a female candidate. We have progressed! But we are still healing from historically recent wounds. Sociological blindspots, unconscious prejudice, glass ceilings and abuse of power still remain as a result of that past. The specters of oppression can not be banished so easily or quickly.

anxiety_by_vera_chimera-d57e6fw[“Anxiety” by Vera Chimera] 

With emotions running high and so much dissonance in the air, empaths and highly sensitive people are particularly vulnerable to depression & anxiety—it is essential that we combat this by practicing steady, systematic, daily routines of self-care. We must stoke our own light in order to better illuminate this darkness.

As we all navigate these stormy times of controversy, misunderstanding, anger, alienation and above all the tendency to break off into warring factions, let us try to outsmart our biology.

When politics breaks our brains, let us turn to the heart. For our goal logically must be harmonious co-existence, and we are united by more than divides us.

rainbow hand

 

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Unveiling The Mysterious Higher Self

September 3, 2016 § 6 Comments

chiffon, sheer figure, mysterious

“Every man is a divinity in disguise, a god playing the fool.”  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The Higher Self is whispering to you softly in the silence between your thoughts.” ~ Deepak Chopra

“Through meditation, the Higher Self is seen.” ~ Bhagavad Gita

In a time when depression & anxiety have become an international epidemic, we can no longer afford to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater—when we dismiss the idea that humanity has divine connections simply because religious dogma has made a mess of the sacred, we do just this.

We can observe that wherever great power exists, corruption will feed.

In this way we can deduce that the seed in the heart of all religious movements—the basic idea of a presence within us that transcends flesh & connects us with a vaster power—may be just such a smeared truth. I invite you to consider, as a thought experiment, that this is the case.

debra shaw, black woman, magical, http://giokathleen.blogspot.com/2012/01/debra-shaw.html[Debra Shaw]

In rejecting the idea that we are more than we appear, we cut our power off at the roots before even exploring its possibility. It should be considered logically suspicious that what has potential to be our greatest power has been routinely corrupted from the beginning of time.

Modern thinking embraces logic as a hallmark of reason, it is therefore only reasonable to consider all possibilities when considering something as elusive, mysterious and important as our place within the universe.

portal

While the the idea of a higher self has been revived in New Age literature, it is an ancient concept, dating back to the oldest sacred texts of India, The Vedas, a body of insights written by various sages after long periods of meditation between 1700-1100 BC.

The Vedas describe The Atman as the inner self or the soul, which is the true self or essence of an individual, beyond identification with form. In order to attain liberation, a human being must acquire self-knowledge (atma jnana), which is to realize that one’s true self (Ātman) is identical with the transcendent self Brahman.

By Ignacio Torres, www.ignacio-torres.com/projects/stellar/[Stellar Series by Ignacio Torres]

As pioneering thinker Terence McKenna said, “You have to take seriously the notion that understanding the universe is your responsibility, because the only understanding of the universe that will be useful to you is your own understanding.”

But you don’t have to meditate for hundreds of hours to touch this transcendent aspect of self, just block off five-to-ten minutes a day, preferably before you start your day, and go inward. As a thought experiment, open your mind to the grand untapped majesty that might await you, and investigate!

Germany by Aneta Ivanova[Germany  series by Aneta Ivanova]

What comes up when you focus your attention on connecting with the higher self? I’m not talking about the doubts and fears—push those aside, it’s only a thought experiment. I’m talking about: what colors? What images or words? What feelings?

Here’s an exercise. Think of a time when you felt most yourself, most alive and vibrant.  Hone in on that feeling and stoke it like a fire with your attention. Then, see what comes up. The imagination is the language of the subconscious, which is the gateway to the higher self. Play, explore.

rainbow prism, crystal sparkling

It is my experience that the better our relationship with our true selves is, the better we feel and the more we excel at what we do. So it is worth asking what your true self wants. And listening. It has rich gifts to share.

For me, discovering and forging a relationship with my higher self involved many years of trial and error, as well as an intensive year in shamanic psychotherapy, where I worked with a trained guide to re-integrate my fragmented self.

(*To work with this model yourself, check out my post: “Soul Retrieval. “ If you have trouble connecting to your higher aspect, try doing this exercise a few times to clear the psychic debris.)

reflection, hand touching hand, hand touching reflection

When I am aligned with the aspect of myself that I would call my true self or higher self, I make self-caring choices. There is a tenderness, a sweetness, a reverence at the heart of everything I do. I am kinder to others, I receive insights and visions and creative ideas…the world opens up.

My day is vastly improved if I give myself just a few minutes in the morning to tune in with my higher aspect and seek its guidance. To start the day out in this manner is a practice of many I have known and respected, and I highly recommend it. People have busy lives—do it in the bathroom if you have to. But connect, feel into this possibility, receive its impressions. There is a wealth of inspiration and insight waiting.

The conditioned mind, the mind society has groomed, has been trained into docile disconnection. The systems of control don’t want you to be empowered. But there are answers and insights waiting beyond the conditioned mind. The higher self holds the key.

cosmic human gif

 

 

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Patterns & Portals: Exploring The Fabric of Reality

August 5, 2016 § 8 Comments

new_flower_of_life_by_capstoned-d4rhwsk

“Plato said God geometrizes continually.” ~ Plutarch 

Sacred geometry patterns have been associated with mystical schools of thought for time immemorial, from the medicine wheels of North American tribal cultures to the sand mandalas of Tibetan Buddhism. But why?

At the forefront of this question is the idea that, because we see mathematical formulas & recurring geometric patterns in nature, math must be the highest form of expression—as mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss said, echoing Plutarch & Plato before him: “God arithmetizes.”

golden ratio, sacred geomtery in nature, sunflower

But many of today’s meditation practitioners & psychonauts are discovering a far more intimate connection to these patterns: through developing third eye perception, or spiritual/energetic sight, we are, many of us, beginning to visually perceive these sacred geometry patterns emerging from reality itself. (See the comments section of  Parallax’s “The Art of Seeing: Third Eye Perception & The Mystical Gaze,” for a plethora of reported anecdotal experiences.)

Psychedelics, such as ayahuasca, magic mushrooms & LSD, are also popular portals into viewing these sacred designs—though they are only brief glimpses into states which meditation can achieve in a more sustainable manner.

The implications of so many people perceiving these patterns—not just reading about them, but experiencing them directly—are profound. In a recent visionary journey with a friend we both came to the conclusion that existence is a constantly recycling infinity, much like the shape known as a torus.

torus, giff Source

This insight was accompanied by a tremendous sense of safety and security, because there was no falling through the cracks in this model of reality: everything remained part of the moving whole, and energy was never destroyed—the endless cycle spoken about in ancient texts, particularly of Eastern origin.

Viewed from above, a torus becomes a mandala, which is particularly interesting when we contemplate how long mandalas have been around, and how the modeling of the three dimensional torus is a relatively new construct.

torus from above, yantra, mandala Source

To those of us seeing through the spiritual eye, it appears not only that we each have a personal vortex of this nature within our own skulls—the third eye—but also that the greater fabric of reality is composed of these patterns. The more we cultivate our third eye perception, the more we will see these patterns emerging. Staring at the sky on a clear night or during a day with no clouds can be a great place to begin seeing these patterns emerge.

Our culture doesn’t encourage skywatching, because it has forgotten the importance of cultivating Being—conspiracy theorists might say this is no coincidence. But that is where we seekers must pave our own paths and rekindle the ancient truth that stillness & contemplation are essential for understanding, and hence progress.

Meditation, of course, is a major gateway into starting to perceive this phenomena—particularly third eye based meditations. (Although not specifically third eye based, Headspace offers a fantastic free guided meditation app that will get you comfortable with the basics.)

third eye meditation visionary artSource

So how does it all come together? What does it mean? For one, it means we are living in an energetic matrix, that we ourselves are composed of these fine patterns, which suggests a larger coherence & beauty underpinning existence than might meet the physical eye.

It would appear that the sacred mandalas repeated throughout history are intended as portals to initiate awakening to this awareness.

As the veil begins to lift, we see that we are more beautiful than we had imagined, that life is more full of the potential for joy than we may have conceived. And that this beauty and joy is already ours in its potential. It is not something that we can buy. It is something that we are. All that we need to do is access this untapped state within.

self-love, roses blooming inside silhouette, double exposure, flowers“Jade Rose” By Sara K. Byrne

As we become more aligned with these patterns of existence, we begin to receive more personal revelations and connect more dots—find more pieces to the puzzle. Our instinct becomes sharper…and our anxiety begins to recede. Because the more we understand about the nature of existence, the more we see that, from an ontological standpoint, there is nothing to fear.

We see that, while there are many atrocities perpetuated by man, the universe itself is always waiting, within stillness, to lead us home back to ourselves, to a place of peace and eternal unfolding.

child painting a flower of life

When I experienced this state of satori recently on my vision quest, I was particularly aware of one thread running throughout all of my visions: a sense of deep sacredness & reverence for life, which permeated all of existence. A feeling of sublime love was central to the feeling, and I understood why so many great spiritual thinkers return to the idea that Love is at the center of everything.

The more aware we become of our own being, the more tenderness & compassion we develop towards ourselves. The more tenderness & compassion we develop for ourselves, the more kindness we are able cultivate towards others—the more rippling outward effects we create, which is ultimately the road to world peace.

SacredContract matrix visionary art“Sacred Contract” by Robby Donaghey

At the conclusion of our vision quest, my friend voiced that she would never feel purposeless again, because she had tasted this state of intoxicating unity & bliss within her own Being. “It’s simple,” she said. “The purpose is to attain this frequency as much as possible, and to cultivate it wherever & however possible.”

This was music to my ears, because I have come to exactly the same conclusion, and it has served me well.

This is the higher consciousness we have been striving to bring forth.

Robby Donaghey "awakening", sacred art, visionary art, stars, matrix, meditation, sacred geometry“Awakening,” by Robby Donaghey

“There is nothing to seek and find, for there is nothing lost. Relax and watch the ‘I am’. Reality is just behind it. Keep quiet, keep silent; it will emerge, or, rather, it will take you in.”

~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

See “Connectivity Through Form: Sacred Geometry & The Golden Mean,”

“Beyond Division: Studies in Bliss”

& “Inward Bound: Exploring The Fractal Matrix.”

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Object Recognition

June 29, 2016 § 1 Comment

3D-Robot-byBenedict-Campbell (18).forblogSource

There is something different about today. Dr. Perry’s facial muscles are registering high degrees of tension associated with smiling. He is giving off a pheromone of anticipation. But I have learned it’s not considered polite to mention a scent in the hormonal spectrum. It is only acceptable to comment on perfumes, and then, only in a complimentary manner. I have three hundred and fifty-six possible salutations, and beyond that, four-thousand-and-forty-nine possible reconfigurations of existing salutations. But today, I go for the basic:

“Greetings, Doctor Perry.”[To continue reading this flash fiction piece by Parallax author Tai Woodville go to www.visitantlit.com]

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Getting Grounded: Re-Possession & Embodiment

June 7, 2016 § 4 Comments

getting grounded, roots, art, nudes, kristy mitchell, photography, artKristy Mitchell

“It was when I stopped searching for home within others and lifted the foundations of home within myself I found there were no roots more intimate than those between a mind and body that have decided to be whole.”  ~ Rupi Kaur

What does it mean to be grounded? We say it when we wish to describe someone who is very present, who seems steadily rooted in what is real—not flying off into some obscure mental space.

There is a spectrum of disassociation. On the one hand, we have Disassociative Identity Disorder, and on the other we have the common occurrence of zoning out for ten minutes of freeway driving, or losing ourselves to internal thoughts while someone is talking to us.

tumblr_nun2lzDYWt1rp9k9ro1_500Source

Groundedness is contagious. When we speak to someone who is very present, we find our own roots deepening.

Learning how to ground ourselves—and remembering to dip into our toolkit—is the most immediate respite from anxiety. It is essential in the mad rush of modern life. And it can be just a few centering thoughts away!

I would like to share with you a video blog post by my inspiring friend, trained transformational coach Alisha Westerman—she’s got some fantastic tips on the subject!