Temenos Journal II

July 2, 2013

The Primal Prayer

Filed under: Kabbalah,Temenos Journal — by Genie Webster @ 11:02 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I’m not too big on prayer. I don’t ask other people to pray for me or my loved ones. I figure God already knows every detail about everyone’s situation.

I meditate, though. I think about my loved ones and hold them in a space of healing love. But I wouldn’t call that praying.

However, in a crisis, I know a prayer that works. It goes like this: “Help me!”

That prayer worked when I was confronted by two snarling dobermans, alone on a mountain trail. (Obviously, I survived!)

(See On Barking Dogs and Sovereignty of Mind for the whole story.)

That prayer worked when I woke up in the middle of the night with awful heartburn… only to realize “Wait a minute… this couldn’t be heartburn… I skipped dinner tonight…. oh shit! It’s a heart attack. HELP ME!!!” And I got immediate and clear instructions to slow my system down by taking some deep breaths. (This was turning out to be a terrific prayer!)

Fast Forward to this year.

I’m a new student of Kabbalah. The homework after the first class was very simple. Say one short prayer first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Ask for help. Say “Help me!”

Aha! I already know this is an effective and easy-to-remember prayer! Now I learn that this is the first lesson of learning Kabbalah! So I did the homework. Now, instead of praying “Help me” only when I was in the middle of a crisis, I was praying this prayer every morning and every night. I was making deposits into my spiritual bank account.

“Simply acknowledging our need for the Creator’s help can be a major step in the right direction. This is the whisper that we are not alone, the first step in building a relationship with the Creator, and the first crack in the shell of ego that imprisons the Light within us.”  – Michael Berg

It so happened that the first week I started this “Help me!” prayer routine, my car broke down upon exiting the freeway… only ten minutes from my home.  While I was waiting for the tow truck with the hood up, at least eight people stopped to offer help. This nice guy Julio even stopped to see if it was anything easy that he could fix. So helpful! The tow truck arrived in a very short time after my call, and dropped my car off at the neighborhood mechanic, only a block away from my home. When my neighbor saw me walking home with no car, she offered the use of her car the next day so I could go to work.  Help was around every corner!

I said the prayer fervently again that same week, when I learned that my position was being eliminated at my company. The rumor was that I was going to be let go. I was furious. Of course I was scared… and my car needed major repairs on top of that! My head was reeling… I was very crabby… I was beating myself up… why did I spend that money? Why didn’t I take better care of this car? blah blah blah…

I knew I needed help to reverse this downward emotional spiral and so I sent out the alarm: “Help me!” Help me remove the blocks to my powerful and unlimited Self! I need help!

That’s when I felt what I can only describe as a power surge. It was a physical sensation that propelled me into a proactive mode. I decided to go into my own business and I announced it to a couple of close friends. At the same time, I sent out resumes to about six different companies, three of which responded the next day. I was on a roll and I was confident and empowered! By the end of the week, the boss had not only decided to keep me, but he was going to send me to training for a new product.

No, I’m not too big on prayer. My only prayers are “Help me,” and “Thank you.”

a.aaa-God-help-me-please.

 

Rene Best musician guitarist

April 2, 2013

Free Falling as Spiritual Practice

freefall

The willingness to free fall for a while is necessary when you take a leap.

Who can break through to the next level without taking a leap? No one. To be able to free fall peacefully is required in order to break out from where you seem to be stuck.

You will not die if you practice free falling in your mind. No one gets hurt and if you imagine the feeling and vibration of free falling vividly… that’s as effective of a practice as bungee jumping or sky diving.

When my former husband and I came to the decision to divorce, we decided to commemorate the event by taking sky diving lessons and jumping from a plane. I can honestly say that yes, I experienced physically free falling from 20,000 feet up in the sky… but I knew I had a parachute. I don’t think it’s really free falling if you have a safety net.

Free falling is letting go of any attempt at control.

Free falling is emptying your mind of all thought.

Free falling is riding the wave while becoming the wave.

This video gave me a whole new perspective on free falling:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlUNevsIgE4

May 29, 2012

Will ya get a load of that, Marge!

Saved by Jesus

Not just any street, Bedford, Ohio

Will ya get a load of that, Marge! Looks like one of the neighbors done got SAYuhv’d by JAYuhzuhss!

Come on… you have to admit you’ve made fun in your mind sometimes when you’ve heard a zealous person who gets healed and throws away his cane and cries,  “Hallelujah! I’ve been SAYuhv’d by JAYuhzuhss!”

Praise God! Someone was a gimp… now they walk proudly!

Someone is stronger now, and can walk on their own two feet.

Someone on my street is clicking their heels, relieved of the burden of a crutch that no longer serves them.

File under Lessons from the Street.

July 28, 2011

On Bullshit Busting and Allergic Reactions

nobull

Besides being allergic to cats and shellfish, I am allergic to bullshit. Cats give me hives and cause my eyes to turn red and burn and itch. Bullshit causes me to go insane. So, naturally, I avoid cats and I avoid bullshit, whenever possible.

Bullshit can be defined as “anything which impedes clarity.”

Perhaps someday I will be strong and solid enough so that bullshit will just roll off me like water off a duck’s back. But I hope I don’t become too desensitized. Even though I’ve been in recovery from codependency for many years, I’m still vulnerable to its seductive lure. I guess you could say that I am a recovering bullshitter myself.

My friends call me a bullshit-buster. That’s because I will expose bullshit when I encounter it (and my bullshit sensor is keen). I will invite it to either transform or leave. Or I will leave.

I’ve found that when you are dealing with other bullshit addicts (i.e., codependents) – especially if they are still in denial – to expose their bullshit is to invite intense defensiveness.  It will undoubtedly cause tension and sometimes an emotional reaction. This intimidates a lot of people and so they allow themselves to be manipulated into going along with the bullshit. Or they go away without at least trying to smooth the tension.

But I’m not easily intimidated. I stand up to it and call it what it is. Because I know that bullshit is only that… bullshit. Pshaw!

Bullshit takes many forms.

1. DRAMA

A few years back, a couple of girlfriends and I were planning a garage sale. Peggy, Maryann, and I decided on a date and a time for the event and then we went back to our busy daily lives. When Peggy called me to see if we could move the date back a couple of weeks, I agreed. I just assumed that Peggy would also call Maryann and check with her, too.

When I spoke with Maryann the following week, I discovered that she had not yet found out about the date change. “Oh… Didn’t Peggy call you about the date change?” No, she hadn’t. It was an unfortunate – though innocent – oversight, I thought.

Maryann did not think this was so innocent. She reacted in anger, insisting that she had been intentionally left out of the loop. I apologized for the oversight, but that did not satisfy Maryann. I asked Maryanne what I could do to help make amends for this mistake. She said, “I want you to admit that you didn’t call me because you have little regard for me as a person.” I thought to myself, “That’s bullshit.” And I answered, “No, Maryann, that’s not why I didn’t call you. I mistakenly assumed that Peggy was going to call you.” This only aggravated Maryann, who replied, “This conversation is going no place!” and she hung up the phone.

Maryann was determined to create a drama that would support her self-image as a victim. When I refused to participate in her drama, she left the friendship. (There was no garage sale.)

2. IMAGE CONTROL

A person will modify or cover up the facts in order to engineer a desired image – either for themselves or for someone they are protecting (for whatever reason).

To quote Anne Wilson Schaaf from her book When Society Becomes an Addict"":

Codependents refuse to see people or things as they really are. In doing so, we are fundamentally disrespectful of them. It is only when people are seen as they really are that they can accept and honor and take responsibility for themselves. It is only when they own who they are that they have the option to become something else.

3. OVERLY GULLIBLE

Codependents tend to trust people who are untrustworthy. This only contributes to perpetuating more bullshit in the world.

Bailing someone out is often a kind, compassionate thing to do. To bail out the same adult person over and over again is not helping them, it is hindering them… and it’s participating in the person’s bullshit that they are not capable of taking care of themselves.  It is hindering them from learning to take responsibility and become self-sustaining.

When I first met Connie, she confided that she struggles with a compulsion to rescue people. She liked to feel needed, especially by her children. She continued to send her grown son – an intelligent, capable, resourceful adult – money whenever he asked for it. “I believe in him,” she would say. But she really didn’t. Because if she truly believed in him, she would have allowed him to learn to live within his means. By continuing to bail him out, she was helping to perpetuate his bullshit – his lie about himself that he was not capable of taking care of himself. She robbed him of an opportunity to grow.

Another way to describe people who are overly gullible is to say they believe what they want to believe. “The polls are wrong,”  for example.

5. IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION

And then there is the bullshit of expecting instant gratification or quick-fix enlightenment. I know this one well. How many of us have gone from workshop to workshop, read book after book, tried one method after another… only to be disappointed that instant transformation or instant salvation did not magically occur?

So many seekers think that enlightenment is like instant mashed potatoes… no peeling, no boiling, no mashing… just add hot water and you’re done. Many are even reluctant to add the hot water! There are no shortcuts to an authentic and lasting bullshit detox. It’s an ongoing process and requires practice, like any life skill.

Step One = Stop bullshitting yourself. Take an honest moral inventory and start cleaning up your act. Simple… but not easy.

Group Bullshit

It seems so ironic that a person like me — who is allergic to bullshit – wound up in Reno, Nevada for 17 years… home of instant weddings, quickie divorces, neighborhood pawn shops, billboards promising the biggest  gambling pay-outs and the prettiest girls. This city depends on bullshit to sustain its very existence! The bullshit habit had become so ingrained in that city’s culture that lying (bullshitting) is not only tolerated… it’s expected and accepted… in its government, in its media, and its business climate.

I’ve heard that there are more nicotine addicts per capita in Reno than in any other city in the U.S. There are also multitudes of alcoholics, drug addicts, sex addicts, and compulsive gamblers. For every addict there are the accompanying multitudes of codependents. It is a culture of denial, avoidance, and getting numb.

Naturally, such a culture makes an imprint on its inhabitants. The psychic atmosphere is so muddy there that you cannot help but get your feet dirty.

What if we made it less acceptable in our communities and tribes to tolerate bullshit? If we can’t do that in our homes and families and neighborhoods, then we can’t change the world. We have to start with cleaning up our own little circles. We can do that in our homes and our workplaces and communities by sticking with a very simple guideline:

  1. Do what you say you’re going to do.
  2. Be courteous and respectful.
  3. Take responsibility for your own equanimity. If you feel you can’t be kind and emotionally stable while being truthful, then walk away until you figure it out
  4. Don’t exaggerate. Be truthful and reasonable.

It’s a start.

 

You might also like: On Spiritual Activism

July 25, 2011

A David & Goliath Tale – No. 1

I’m not afraid to take on the big cats.

The first time I took an unpopular stand against a daunting authority figure was when I was 19 or 20… working for a company called Tube Craft in Cleveland, Ohio.

I was quiet and focused on the job then, just like I am now. I started out as a “shipping clerk.” I learned quickly and soon got promoted to something like a production expeditor (? I don’t remember…). I do remember that the guy who worked side by side with me and who trained me was a tall blonde young man around my age. He was a nice guy, happily married, and we became pals and sometimes went out to lunch together.

The company was expanding and soon there was another guy around our age… a dark-haired shorter Italian guy. This time I was the one who trained him and we all did the same kind of work and became pals and often went out to lunch together.

One day, the tall blonde guy was complaining that he had to ask for a raise. “My wife and I have a baby on the way. We can’t make it on $XX per week.”

I think he was making about 30-40% more than I was.

Now I had been a feminist since the 6th grade when I challenged the recess monitor, Mr. Lehman: “How come the boys get the good kickball field and the girls get the junky one?” It just so happened that when I got home from work that day, the headline in the Plain Dealer said something like “GE (or some other huge corporation) must pay ($ some huge amount) in back wages to female employees in class action pay discrimination lawsuit.” It was a huge victory for feminists who were working to achieve equal pay for equal work at the time.

The next morning, little soft-spoken Genie went in to see the immediate supervisor, Frank Petrovich. I showed him the headlines and asked him “Did you know that it’s illegal not to pay women the same wages for equal work?” Frank was a really nice guy and a great boss. He said, “I was wondering when you would bring that up. I’m sorry but I can’t do anything about it. You’re going to have to take it up with Mr. Wiley (the president of the company).”

Bruce Wiley was ancient, but authoritative and an intimidating figure. Everyone was afraid to talk to Mr. Wiley and I was no exception. Although he did have a soft spot for young girls like me. So when I asked to see him, I was given an appointment.

I brought the Plain Dealer headlines with me. He was friendly and all smiley with his pale complexion and fine white hair and he invited me to have a seat. I sat across from him at his huge shiny desk and I put the newspaper headlines down in front of him. He adjusted his wire-rimmed specs and took a look and his pale face turned a bright shade of pink and his smiley-smiley face went dark.

I bravely asked him, “Mr. Wiley, are you aware that it is illegal to pay women less than men when they are doing the same work?”

He was angry that I would even ask such a question. “Young lady,” (I’ll never forget his words) “In this company we compare the women with the women and the men with the men.”

“I know you do, Mr. Wiley. But now that’s against the law.”

Mr. Wiley was really angry now. “What makes you think you’re worth more than Viola May, or Betty Sadowski?!! I don’t care what the law is! We compare the women with the women and the men with the men here.”

Then I did something that amazes me now. I mustered up all my courage and I said, “With all due respect, Mr. Wiley, this practice is illegal, and I am going to take steps to protect my rights by the law.” (My heart was pounding!)

Mr. Wiley never spoke to me again and I became a pariah in that company. The guys wouldn’t eat lunch with me anymore. The women would avert their eyes. And I was just a sweet young girl!

I think I took a day off to go downtown to fill out a report at the Ohio EEOC. Long story short… I won the case. And Mr. Wiley’s Tube Craft had to pay me all the back pay which was the difference between the guys’ wages and mine. I think that was the first time I took on Goliath and won.

But it wasn’t the last time…

June 18, 2011

On Speaking Truth to Power

anitahillquote

I was spellbound by the Anita Hill hearings regarding the Clarence Thomas nomination to the Supreme Court. I watched it every minute that I could be in front of the TV. To me, it was a bizarre drama that was being played out live in front of the entire nation (this was before “reality TV”). I knew this was was an important moment in our society.

I admit that I became fascinated with the cartoon-like drama being enacted by members of the senatorial committee, and the whole event had a big impact on me.

The senators were being confronted with having to deal with a woman who was not going to back down from her assertion of the truth. It was as if they had never confronted a situation quite like this before. And Anita came across with such dignity, intelligence, and grace… that the contrast caused the senators to come across as cartoon-ish caricatures of themselves.

Only Joe Biden stood out as human and real, from my perspective. If only he had been a stronger, more powerful influence in those days…

Orrin Hatch came across as sinister and adversarial, and Arlen Specter could have been cast as the evil Sheriff of Nottingham–he had that creepy vibe (at least on camera).

I remember thinking to myself, “These are our nation’s leaders??” What a bunch of pompous clowns. I couldn’t believe there was so much drama and posturing. I wondered why they just didn’t put on their white wigs and robes and admit that they were just going through the motions to make it appear as if they were giving Anita Hill a fair hearing. The decision had already been made by the powers-that-be to discredit her.

Anita Hill came across as real. She remained consistent and solid and her testimony rang true. I believed her then and I still do.

I remember when Anita Hill appeared at a big fundraising event in Cleveland in 1992. She appeared on the bill with Gloria Steinem and Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop chain. My then teen-aged daughter Melody and I went downtown to the Cleveland Music Hall to hear these prominent women speak.

They were all inspiring. But Anita Hill’s message was the most specific: “Speak out about your truth.” She said things would never change if we allow the truth to be swept under the carpet. “Speak out,” she kept saying. “You may pay a price, but the price is worth it.”

It was an important affirmation for me, as I was beginning a big transition in my life (although I did not know it at the time). I think Anita’s influence may have had an impact on my daughter, too, who courageously continues to speak out about the truth.

I was so impressed by Anita Hill that I bought a bumper sticker for my car, “I believe you Anita.” I didn’t know how else I could support her other than by sharing some of the heat.

Six years after the hearings, my hero wrote a book, Speaking Truth to Power. The book is about her experience before, during, and after the hearings. It goes a long way in helping the public get to know Anita Hill, and to better understand her motives in standing up for the truth, despite the punishment she had to endure for bucking the white male system (at the time).

She came forward with information that she, as a citizen, felt was vital in assessing Clarence Thomas’s character. If only Clarence Thomas had come forward with (something like): “I understand how my actions may have been construed as offensive or disrespectful. I will make amends for those past actions and I will be more conscious of being more respectful moving forward.” But, of course, he denied any responsibility at all. Even worse yet — Clarence Thomas, along with the senatorial committee — tried to get him off the hook by bullying the witness and trying to discredit her character.

Many of us can identify with Anita Hill. Our confrontations with denial systems may be on a much smaller scale, but the courage required to stand your ground despite punishment and attempts to discredit you is just as real. It astounds me to see the lengths to which some people will go to defend their version of reality, and how threatened they feel when challenged.

I am grateful to Anita Hill for telling her story, and for inspiring others to have the courage to stand up for their own truth.

I caught Anita on “Bookwatch” on C-Span when the book Speaking Truth to Power
came out in 1997. The interviewer asked her if she could ever forgive Clarence Thomas. She paused thoughtfully, then answered, “I’m not necessarily looking for an apology, but I would like some sort of acknowledgement that he understands what he did to my life by calling me a liar in front of the entire nation.”

I believe you, Anita.

June 11, 2011

On Barking Dogs and Sovereignty of Mind

Imagine being at a cabin in the mountains, nestled in the valley between the desert of the Diamond Mountains and the green pines of the Plumas National Forest. Golden, rolling hills with sagebrush and wildflowers and 36 acres of peaceful, private space.

The closest neighbor is a mile away. Imagine there is an artesian spring that originates on the property, and there is an unlimited supply of cold, crystal clear spring water.

This was back in 1996… I had just been to the source of the spring, where it bubbles up from the earth amid sparkling flecks of gold pyrite and ancient dancing pebbles. I felt perfectly safe and protected as I gathered up my jugs of cold fresh water and began to follow the path alongside the brook that flowed from this source.

Lost in my peaceful reverie, I was aware only of the rustling grass beneath my feet and the gentle mountain breeze that swirled around me as I walked. The sound of the bubbling brook beside me was like a soft song.

I was startled suddenly by the sharp, loud sound of dogs barking and I could tell they were close. (A little background… At that time, I had an acute fear of large dogs! One of my worst fears!)

I stopped in my tracks and there they were right in front of me… Two very large dogs–dobermans, I think–and they were showing their teeth, barking aggressively, about ten feet away.

At first I kind of panicked. “I’m going to be mauled by dogs in this isolated place and no one will find me for dayyyyys!!” Thankfully, I recovered quickly and changed my thoughts to “No way!”

I called on my acting training and I got in to the character of Zena, Amazon warrior woman. I planted my feet firmly on the ground and sensed a connection with the solid earth. I sent out a psychic alarm for help (a prayer?). I breathed in all the courage I could muster and in my mind I made myself huge. “Go AWAY!!!!” I bellowed in a voice unfamiliar to me.

The dogs immediately turned around and ran away. “Wow,” I thought to myself. “I scared the dogs away!” I shrank back down to my normal size and my normal voice. “Cool.”

The dogs in this story remind me of the internal demons that can surface at any time without warning, uninvited. When I am over-tired, or feeling uncentered, or just plain not paying attention, I am more likely to let down my guard against the “barking dogs” of self-doubt or unworthiness.

But I am the queen of my world and I claim sovereignty over my dominion, which certainly includes my own mind. I can choose my thoughts. Our thoughts create our world.

So now, when I am invaded by uninvited “dogs,”–obsessive thoughts or worries or regrets–in my consciousness, I simply insist that they go away. Just like I did to the dogs on the path beside the brook.

I am the gatekeeper of my own mind and you are not welcome here. SCRAM!

And it works.

Related: On Mind Training