Thursday, February 20, 2014

What Matters Most

In his book of the same title, James Hollis, Ph.D. “asks each of us to consider more thoughtfully the relationship we have to ourselves, for that is what we bring to the table in the sundry scenes of this serial we call our life.”

What matters most is that we 1) aspire, 2) explore, 3) develop, 4) transform and 5) inspire others by modelling the divine virtues & spiritual qualities that we believe to be important states of being and ways of being in the world. What matters most is that we gain and practice the spiritual discipline of beginning this process anew each and every single day of our lives.

Allow me to hereby assert to he or she that will listen without judgement that I am a man who is more than a victim to the anxiety and depression which at times has plagued me. I refuse to runaway or hide from my personal challenges any longer. If I appear less than perfect in the eyes of others well then I am fully capable of accepting that. But I will not allow it to hold me in place or restrict my possibilities like some animal chained to a post.

If at any time in my life a private physician recommends that I take medication for either a chronic physical or mental health condition then I will open-mindedly consider doing so after seeking a a qualified second opinion. However, I shall always reserve the right to intelligently explore the possible benefits of a combination of non drug treatment interventions such as aroma therapy, art therapy, diet, exercise, creative writing, keeping a gratitude journal, meditation, movement therapy, music appreciation, personal counseling, prayer, reflexology therapy, travel, reading sacred text, reiki healing and other cost effective and advancing treatments for managing and furthermore improving one's overall health, consciousness, personal happiness and general well-being.

Although from a religious perspective I was raised as a Christian and in the past publicly accepted its tenets for my life without argument, my continuing level of education, my personal life experience and my ongoing interests in comparative religion, cognitive, educational and developmental psychology, interfaith dialogue and neurobiology and universal spirituality prevents me from continuing to formally accept or claim myself to be a follow of any religious doctrine, dogma, ideology, political party, religion, rhetoric or worldview that chooses to advocate and remain publicly locked in a position of inequality for women, intolerance of gay, bisexual, lesbian, and trans-gender persons or promotes prejudice towards those of a different economic class, ethnicity or religion anywhere in the world.

To be fooled into believing or far worse to be fool enough to believe that these negative aspects of societal practice are reasonable or reflective of that which is good in the world is completely absurd, hateful, insane and unsacred.

If we take a long and panoramic look at the world that we are living in together it should become profoundly clear to us that nothing in all of existence has ever remained stagnant.  Why then should our concept of the Almighty, the Creator, and originating Source of All Life as we know it be bound by our small thinking to do so?

As with for our bodies, our minds, our hearts and all of the life that surrounds it has all been given the capacity to transform itself. This is the most obvious principle for all of existence. A mission of sustainability is written into our DNA and we need to protect this undefinable element it or at the least die trying! Maybe that is the lesson we are meant to be learn from the existence of cancer.

This I do believe is what matters most.

Eventually, we all come to learn that the truth, your truth is not something you can read about. It is not something that someone else can lecture you on or describe to you on a Sunday morning while you remain seated in even the most comfortable pew while never uttering a single word or objection.

Your truth, the real story must be written by you and it must be intuitively known by you. Thus the phrases, “know thyself” and “to thine own self be true”. In other words, we each enter into this world with the same job assignment. It’s the very important job that you and I are here to do. It may not always be easy, fair or even fun but guess what?  We own it!

Permit me to also share with you some of the ideas that James Hollis, PhD. has provided regarding 'What Matters Most' :
"Life is a series of gains but it is also a series of losses; failures to grieve loss and disappointment openly, honestly, will rise again, as unbidden ghosts from their untimely burial, through depression, or as projections onto objects of compelling, delusive desire, or through captivation by the mindless distractions of our time. Failure to incorporate loss into our lives means that we have not yet accepted the full package life brings to us. Everything given is also lost, redeemed by us only through a more conscious affirmation of values that we continue to serve.
  1. The recovery of personal authority is critical to the conduct and reconstruction of the second half of life. If we are little more than our adaptations, then we collude with happenstance, and remain prisoners of fate. No matter how sovereign we believe we are, we remain the lowliest of serfs to the tyrannies of whatever remains unconscious.
  2. Despite how risky love is, how easily we are hurt, none of us can run from risking the dangerous shoals of love, compassion, and openness to others, lest we live a sterile, unrelated life, locked within the constricted frames of our history and our comfort zones. The paradox of relationship will always be that rather than solve our problems for us, relationship brings us new problems, new complexities. In short, the greatest gift of relationship proves to be that as the result of encountering each other, we are obliged to grow larger than we had planned.
  3. All of us feel ashamed by life, all of us consider ourselves failures of some kind, screw-ups in some arena important to us. Notice how shame , consciously or unconsciously, pulls us away from risk, ratifies our negative sense of worth through self-sabotage, or compels us into frenetic efforts at overcompensation, grandiosity, or yearning for validation that never comes. How much each of us needs to remember theologian Paul Tillich’s definition of grace as accepting the fact that we are accepted, despite the fact that we are unacceptable.
  4. Staying psychologically balanced so that in the good moments, we also remember the decline and dissolution that rushes toward us like tomorrow, and that in the moments of quiet despair we remember  we have a soul, and that our soul is inviolate unless we give it away.
  5. No matter how well intended we begin, sooner or later we all spend good portions of this journey stumbling through savannas of suffering, wherein we nonetheless find tasks that, when addressed—even in those dismal, diminishing circumstances—enlarge us. Going through suffering, rather than denying or anesthetizing it, knowing that if we hang in there, it will bring us choices that can either enlarge us or diminish us, and that when we are least in control, we still retain the freedom of choosing what matters to us.
  6. And it matters that we retain a sense of humor . Humor is a way in which we honor the contradictions, acknowledge the discrepancies, suffer the reversals, and release the tension through laughter when, on other occasions, tears are our preferred recourse. Recall Robert Frost’s wry couplet “Forgive O Lord my little joke on me / And I’ll forgive They great big joke on me.”
“Love is always invisible, and in our world of hard-nosed materialists it’s important to remember that our highest good is something we can never really see or grab hold of, much less understand by passing enough people through an f.M.R.I. machine to look at their brainwaves. What we take as the real world is not the world that matters most to us: the substance of our lives takes place in an invisible realm.” ~ from NYT review of Paul Auster’s “Invisible”