Friday, November 09, 2007

Relative Communications

Have you ever wondered why great prophets like Jesus or the Buddha spoke in such parables? Why didn’t they come out and tell us everything we needed to know straight away?

I have meditated on the nature of how humans communicate many times. Poor communication is the most common cause of conflict. It is in all our best interests to better understand the dynamics of human communications. I find it a paradox how we can all be basically the same and yet different in how we perceive reality. One thing I have noticed is that when we communicate we usually do so using metaphors. We often use linear steps in our attempts to share ideas. If we have some great truth to share we do so through parables—tales that attempt to use our common experiences to bridge the communication gap. But despite our best parables and metaphors many of us are often misunderstood and taken out of context. Yet we persist in communicating this way. As advanced as we are why do we use such a cumbersome method of communicating?

A while back while meditating on how we perceive things I found myself venturing into this communications conundrum. I believe I stumbled across a profound truth. When I share it with you it of course comes along with a story to put the idea in perspective. My readers will of course perceive it from their own experiences and many will miss the point I am trying to communicate. I will fail to clearly communicate the idea to all readers. Inexplicably I must still share my explanation. Hope springs eternal.

If someone who is ready to understand this happens to read it I hope they will be rewarded with a profound but simple truth. This is not to say that my realization stands above any other metaphor or any other observation. No, I don’t try to enlighten the world with this particular story. But I do hope you will be one of those fortunate souls to find a pearl of wisdom in my little clam (oops, there I go.)

Simply put, I believe the reason we communicate in metaphors and parables is because our brain stores them as independent experiences in order to reorganize them as needed. There’s a story around everything our brain returns to us. I believe our brains are engineered to recall things as a series of events or should I say remembered “experiences”.

Now I will venture down the rabbit hole and present my own metaphor to help explain this. The first time I drove a car my brain recorded it as a series of steps. Once I got the car moving down the road I tried to aim the car by lining up the center of the hood with the line on the road. I quickly learned the folly of this approach as it did not allow me to plan ahead for curves. I quickly learned to look further ahead and steer into curves and turns.

Now, if you have never driven a car or witnessed someone drive then this little story will not be particularly helpful in preparing you for the full experience of driving a car for the first time. But if you have some idea of the act of driving then the story may prove helpful, but only once you give it a try. Suppose I recount my story to someone from the past that has not experienced driving or riding in a car? I will have done a pitiful job of communicating the experience. To communicate clearly I’d have to endeavor to find something you had experienced before. I would need to find a common a point of reference. My brain records things as a series of events because it is geared towards learning to “do” things. Any descriptions I attempt will likely be recanting experiences I considered similar to the act of driving. Want to recall the color of a car? Your brain may play back the experience of looking at the car as it drove by.

Hidden under this simple realization lies an odd discrepancy. Our brains do not return the list of events as initially experienced. Our brain performs magic on the whole of our knowledge and applies new experiences to the old experiences. What comes out in our thoughts is a translation of what events we initially experienced. In the first week after driving the car we recalled a very different set of events than we do many years later. The nature of the human mind is to apply the cumulative and quantum possibilities before giving us back our memories. This is quite profound when you realize that the parables of our wisest people are sometimes quite out of context for many of us. This replay is not ideal for communicating with others who have not experienced anything similar. They are designed for the person’s own brain to communicate to ideas as they relate to them. They apply only to the communicator’s personal context.

Sure we can communicate many ideas and some rather complex ones as well but we have to do so by finding a common ground with the person with whom we wish to communicate. I believe the more pure the thought the harder it is to find common ground. Sure one can recite back dogma and think they understand it but if that thought carries a lifetime or more of meaning then the person receiving it has no frame of reference and the communication fails.

One cannot really teach a profound realization in one sentence. We each must advance to them on our own. Simply put, this is why we must reflect on the nature of the mind and accepts its nature. We must discard the false hope that one can simply tell us a truth and we will understand it. The Buddha knew this and could tell us but we cannot grasp it from the hearing. He wisely directed us on how to learn it on our own instead of simply telling us what he had realized. Rather than give us the truths he realized he used simple concepts that he was sure we would all be familiar with. He did this not out of some desire to speak cryptically. He did this because it was the only way he could teach us to take the road to truth ourselves. It was his best option for leading us to truth. Wisdom and enlightenment must be gained by each soul for themselves.

Spiritual communications serve as a signs to the path of obtain understanding. The real key is for the listener to understand that the communication is only a sign. Stories and parables can be helpful but we must use our own minds and experiences for the journey. A sign cannot give step by step directions or guide you over each bump. Thankfully the sign also cannot take the journey for us. The trip and all of its wonderful experiences are for us to enjoy.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The White

My hands slid along the creamy clay, smoothing the surface of a resting wing. A slight tingle in the web gently seized my attention… and then a soft knock. It occurred to me that maybe I had inadvertently set a tool to rocking on my worktable creating the soft tapping. I knew I would not be able to return to my work until I had checked the door so I did so. I was stunned silent when I opened the door and the words “Any ghosts out here?” froze in my throat. Standing there in the dim light and backlit by fog was a thin figure in a long white hooded robe. Large pupils, enlarged from a long journey in the night stared at me from a flawless and regal face. The red of her lips created a captivating accent against her pale and beautiful face.

I realized at once what she must have come for and my mind quickly began forming a checklist of the requirements for calling forth a Dragon for this unearthly visitor. Her gaze traveling down my chest interrupted my planning and my face flushed red hot when I realized my immodest dress at this hour. I beckoned her in and quickly grabbed for something more suitable to wear in the company of an elegant lady. She spoke not a word as I prepared but followed my actions with her eyes. I poured her hot tea and offered it to her to give her something else to focus on—hopefully freeing myself of the self consciousness of being watched by such a captivating creature. Over her cup, her eyes followed my every move and my face flushed each time she caught me hazarding a glance at her.

Finally I was ready and beckoned her out onto the huge stone that served as my backyard, alter and vantage point of the valley floor far below. The fog allowed not the slightest hint of lights from below or from the opposite cliffs. I offered her the seat on the hopeful stone which sat next to my calling stone. Both stones normally afforded a beautiful view of the valley below and I couldn’t help but to wish the fog would lift to share my view of the world with her. My nervousness subsided as I sat cross legged and began slipping into the flowing river of the web from which I could make her request for an audience with a dragon. Her spirit beside me was an enveloping warmth. I knew it wouldn’t be long before a beautiful green dragon would be drawn to her presence. As soon as my creamy call blended with the waters of life, I felt dragon wings flapping. It was as if the dragon had been waiting for this call. As I pulled slowly back to my own realm and the soft wing beats materialized into our world my eyes opened slowly. I looked into the fog over the precipice to greet the arriving creature.

Shock nearly destroyed my focus and I saw the creature’s slight reaction to my surprise take the form of the slightest midair pause before it proceeded closer. The creature had an air of amusement, no doubt at my shock at the color of her scales. The Red surely must be used to surprise when she appears. Few are said to have seen a red dragon. In this lifetime I myself had only seen her once before and that was not in this realm. I could not help but to glance at my guest. I wondered if she was aware of the honor that was being bestowed upon her. To my complete and utter surprise the woman was staring not at the incredible yet terrifying creature bearing down on us. She was staring right at me! My face flushed again as I averted my eyes quickly back to the arriving dragon. The dragon’s claws softly drifted down to the stone of the mountain. As always, I was briefly lost in the gaze of the dragon as she looked me over. Her soft familiar smile brought incredible joy to my heart. All is right with the world. The grand guardian of the dragon’s turned her attention to my guest and I fought off the impulse to break my concentration and stare at the woman. I was aware of the dragon sniffing her softly… and of the woman’s slender arm caressing the red dragon’s shiny neck scales. I redoubled my focus to allow my guest her privacy with the creature’s council.

My drifting on the heartbeat of the dragon was interrupted softly and after what seemed like a microscopic delay. The dragon was almost nose to nose with me and her thoughts entered my mind. “Why have you called on me?” she queried. I thought surely this was a formality of the queen that I was not accustomed to but answered readily. “I made the call for the lady who seeks a dragon” I answered. The dragon glanced at the maiden with a wistful smile and responded slowly. “She does indeed seek a dragon, but it is not I she seeks.” “She seeks the company of the White Dragon… and maybe the Black” she said with a soft smile. With that, the red dragon spread her wings and leaped into the sky laughing softly.

I sat stunned. The White and the Black dragons are metaphors. They are metaphors for the two sides of me.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

This morning I was walking into the building at work.

This morning as I was walking into the building I was thinking how liberating rules can be.

While that may sound like a contradiction it is not. As different as we all are with different preferences and tastes--there is one thing that binds us. We all share a desire to be free of constraints. We want more possibilities. We constantly look for new possibilities.

Inhibition is actually a result of not knowing the real constraints. Since we don't know if a thing is okay or not we opt to not do it. This limits our "doable" possibilities to a subset of the real possibilities. If we somehow had access to a guidebook that told us all the things we should not do then everything else can be safely declared as possible. Human laws are gray. What might be legal may not be a wise thing to do. While it is perfectly legal for a public figure to have an open relationship and share a home with more than one adult of the opposite sex it is not exactly a wise career move. It would be great if humanity had a guidebook we could point to that would validate that our choices are perfectly acceptable.

No God would entrust your soul to any other man or woman. You see people have thier own personal agendas and this is a good thing. So it is clear that a book written by man would not do for a guidebook. Nature tells us very clearly that no human or animal for that matter can be unbiased so no work of man or animal can serve as a guidebook. Are all of the native people on a remote island with no external contact doomed becuase they don't get on thier knees and "accept" Jesus as thier personal savior? Are thier souls lost becuase they do not know who Buddha was? Clearly they have access to spiritual salvation... clearly all creatures have access to a guidebook that needs no translation by another being.

Nature is our liberating guidebook. No single thing in nature is responsible for your knowledge. The some total whole of nature is your guidebook. Each single entity or event offers a sentence or two and no more. True, there are some chapters of nature that have gathered up those sentences for thier own needs but what the wolf has to say can be read elsewhere. I probably come off as egotistical to many but the truth is I have reason to be. I was born with this knowledge and it's clear to me that I have been learning this for a very long time, far longer than one life. I offer my knowledge and access to the guidebook but you are responsible for validating it against other sources that exist in nature. I don't ask you to trust me, I ask you to validate all that I would say against the source.... nature itself and discard that which you cannot validate elsewhere. (After all I could just be trying to get into your pants)

Nature wishes to share the collective knowledge of nature with you for the same reason I do. My fate is intertwined with your actions and so is that of the family of nature. We are in a word simply being selfish. It is only natural. Your possibilities are limitless and your actions far reaching therefor what you do is of great concern to me and the wolf and the frog and your neighbor.

This morning I was walking into the building thinking of how liberating rules can be. I thought of the feeling of knowing that what I do is perfectly in harmony with nature. I thought that must be like flying free of all boundaries. At that monent just before I walked into the building at work a bird of unknown type swooped through the trees and right by my face, I felt the wind from it's wings for an instant. When you figure something out nature will validate it. That's what guidebooks do.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What are Dragons?

We are all familiar with the popular images of Dragons. They have for many millennia captivated mankind. There are many different versions of dragons. The oldest known dragon symbols are ancient Asian symbols of power and beauty. Popular European legend is filled with tales of winged dragons of raw unbridled nature. This tales offer testaments of the superiority of a humanistic god over nature. There are also many archeological evidences of legendary dragons in virtually every human culture. Presumably these creatures were created by indigenous people to gain some semblance of understanding over an unpredictable natural world world upon which they depended so heavily. No matter the origin of the stories, they capture our imaginations like nothing else. But as is the case with many legends there must be some grain of truth underneath these stories, right?

Throughout history, there are two facts about Dragons that are indisputable… there are people who believe in them and people who do not. This is as true today as it was hundreds, even thousands of years ago. As humanity ages, it grows and matures as does all living things. Nature quite simply improves things with time. There are many people who would have us go back in time, and worse yet… others who would ignore the foundations of our past. Humanity… like life itself is an ever evolving thing. No single snapshot of life is a good picture of what life is. No single definition of a thing can possibly be an adequate representation of the thing. This is true for pretty much everything in life, especially those things that are alive.

People try very hard to wrap things in neat little boxes--one sentence definitions for all purposes. It naturally makes us feel good to have an answer ready when a question appears. Humans convince themselves that there is a singular consistent truth that spans the eons and this is mantra serves as our guide through life. The most common belief is that this singular truth has to do with what is right and wrong.

There is no such single persistent mantra for Dragons or any other living thing. If so there would be little point in living life at all. This in essence is a heavily veiled version of the idea that destiny is predetermined. To define something by a single definition or as it existed in a single point in time is quite simply the way of death. This is because when something ceases to evolve and expand or when it begins to regress it is dying. Dragons are the embodiment of nature in its purest form and serve as the ambassador between our current lives and the totality of our human existence to date.

Religions tend to try to define themselves consistently because to do otherwise suggests uncertainty. People seeking truth are rarely impressed with uncertainty. Let’s face it, all religions are living entities themselves. Religions are living entities that attempt to grow by gaining more and more followers. Religions by and large are not in the best interest of the individuals, they are concerned witht he continued existence of the group itself. No religious group ever disbanded upon discovering they were on the wrong path. One can safely assume you can't trust a religion as a neutral source of information. This is particularly true when it comes to information on an individuals specific needs.

Also, we all like to be right, certain and appear to be in full control. If our beliefs have many people who share our belief it validates our beliefs. This holds no bearing on our beliefs actual accuracy of course. It just makes us feel better so we compromise our beliefs over time to suit the culture. This is natural behavior for living things. Nature devised us to strive for an ideal, whether we are designed to ever actually achieve it is the real question.

Certainty is one ideal we strive for. Certainty helps us feel in control when we travel the road of live to an unknown destination. Usually we aren’t even 100% sure where we came from, most less where we are headed. What might we use for signposts? Who will be our tour guide? Who will validate that we are on the right track when we fear we have veered off course? Humans can’t call up their ancestors and ask…. “Did you guys ever try this?” “How’d that work out for you?” If not some preordained set of directions what is our roadmap? It may be that there is a preordained truth but that truth maybe that there is no preordained truth. How does a true thing guide one? Does the universe truly expect us to navigate life from the knowledge contained in a single set of facts that were known when the first life was formed? Why would we strive to answer the already answered question?

Many religions believe that there is a truth that we can pass down to each other that is simple, easy to remember that will always keep us on track to our destination. Some believe that once we reach the destination we can sit down and enjoy great rewards gained from our travels; for ever more just living in complete contentment. Is there anyone among us who might find that destination a little troubling? If that is the destination do we all really feel pulled to that goal? Ask yourself, “What really drives you forward?” Is it really the promise of doing nothing or is it actually the promise of doing more?

I’ll soon tell you what real Dragons are and how you can find them. I will not tell you of their many traveled roads for that will change between now and when you read this. Nor will I tell you how they will act in any given situation. Your finding them is no more predetermined than life itself so I cannot tell you of that encounter. Besides, no one but your dragons can be trusted with your truths. I can but point you inward to find them.

This brings me to a minor detail we should clarify. Seeing into the future is indeed possible even when the future is not set in stone. In fact your mind does it very well several thousand times a second using a concept known as quantum mechanics. Your mind is able to tap into the current reality on a far greater scale than you consciously need to be aware of. One can see the future because we have the advantage of a guide who has most likely seen circumstances such as we have before us at any given moment. The further forward one seeks to see, the less accurate our guide becomes. This is because of the exponentially expanding possibilities resulting from things our guide has not experienced as we move forward ahead of the current moment. Our guide to life is a living thing bound by the laws of life yet beyond the constraints of its troubles.

Nature is highly efficient and redundant. It evolves to find the best solution for any given problem it encounters. Such is the nature of life. Neither nature nor a God would entrust the survival of a individual, species or set of species on another entity. Entities are corruptible and unreliable. More importantly the individual’s personal guide is often in direct contradiction to the guide for others. How would nature ensure the tribes rules were not entangled with those of the individual wielding the knowledge?

No other human holds the secrets to your life. Nature certainly would not entrust its learned lessons to an alien creature who might would use the knowledge against the creature that needs it. What this means is that a lion does not rely on a seahorse for the combined knowledge of the lions ancestors. So if the “Surviving Lionhood 101” guide book cannot be entrusted to a single lion or a seahorse, where does a lion turn to when it faces a life problem? And how exactly would one be free to expand beyond that influence as you grow… growing that guide with you in essence for your future?

Enter the Dragons.

Many of us intuitively know that the secret to life is as close as nature. The truth is that our guide is actually a step beyond even natures grasp becuase our nature is bound by rules that can change over time. Dragons are our guides. All of us carry this knowledge at birth in one form or another. This is the root of our fascination with dragons. They are our species neutral link to the web of life. They are our contact point with the universe. They exist as a communication system to our ancestors, each other and our immediate future. They grow and expand with us. They are alive and they have physical impact on the world we live in. They watch us constantly. They do not evaluate us nor do they need us in any way. They are beyond our reach and yet just within it. Dragons are our own Super Nature.

Dragons exist just out of our reach but they definitely impact our world. They have personalities because life has personalities. They can be seen because life can be seen. They are the perfect life form and we are building them with each new experience. They can be wonderfully social or terribly destructive as needed. They are us but a step apart. Some people turn to worldly animals for guidance and this can be beneficial. However animals of our world fall far too heavily under the influence of inhabitants of our realm to be trusted as a neutral party. One should bear in mind that how a dragon exposes itself is dependent on what the dragon wished to share with the viewer and what the viewer will accept. Dragons fly in between this realm and the web of life were we all share the same spirit and same goals. They are at once concerned with our individual success and our ultimate communal success. They carry the knowledge of our ancestors and gather our newly obtained knowledge to carry forth to the next generations. In order to share our world they live by the rules of life so they usually take the form of a wonderful living creature, the many varied dragon images come to mind.

Dragons are all around us and beyond us and to find them you have just to look inside and without. When you need them just ask. Dragons exceed our individual powers but no single dragon exceeds our combined energies so they are vulnerable as is all life. “Slaying the Dragon” is in essence the term for putting the needs of a small group over that of the whole. The Christians sought political power and wealth and “slew the dragon” when they rode the backs of a large number of peasants to great wealth. To ride with the dragon balances your personal needs with that of the whole. (The whole is a far larger dragon than that of humanity.) Anyone can call on dragons to plead their cases in the sky of the whole. The dragon is our commonality. Dragons are living beings that link us to insects, trees, animals, planets and galaxies. To ride the dragon is to see the big picture. One can tap into the river of life as a whole from the back of a dragon. All existing life makes up the realm of dragons. Our effective reach is buffered by to our current existence. Our individual affect on the whole can be profound but our damage can be mitigated should we go awry. One foot in that universe and one in this, dragons are the singular link that spans both individual needs and that of the whole. They don’t need us but we ultimately need them to effectively participate in the collective and to guide us in our personal endeavors. We have but to have a need and just look for them. They will answer your questions. They are not a product of our imagination. Dragons are the realized magic that produces our imagination.

Many people have a fear of imagination. This fear has been instilled in people to control them. Take away a persons access to dragons and you take away imagination which provides alternatives. This is the way to enslave a creature. Freedom is the way of the dragon. Freedom is the way of life. Take away freedom and in this life or the next the dragons will eventually return and free them. Dragons are patient creatures. People may abandon each other but the dragons never do. They are there if you look for them. Dragons do not judge you with human eyes. There is no value in trying to conceal your purposes. Dragons have no interest in your acting skills so odds are slim they will be intrigued into a visit should you expose yourself on false grounds.

It can be very liberating to drop pretenses and visit the dragons. It can also be quite difficult to for some people but most anyone can contact them. As is with any other living thing they do pick favorites among us and even avoid others… watching from afar or from some secret vantage point. Dragons are living things so they respond accordingly. They can grow annoyed (for generations in fact, so tread lightly.) Treat them as a living thing and observe them in your mind then step out of your mind and see them in your life. What would they do in your situation? What message do they bring from your ancestors? You will be amazed at the clarity of your knowledge of them once you find them. Step beyond the confines of popular legend and explore your mind for the real dragon there. They are a crystal clear message to your soul and you already know them. Base your life on what a dragon would do and you will never go wrong. Dragons get angry sometimes. They get hungry. They get playful. People are born with this knowledge of dragons. This knowledge is nature’s gift to you as an inborn map to the guidebook of life. Watch the dragons and know the answers to life’s problems. The dragons are us without the constraints of logistics of life yet they retain the essence of the success over the struggles of life. Talk to the dragons. Feel the power as they circle you curiously when you are in wonder. Watch them frolic in the waves when you feel playful. See them in whatever form they would choose to appear to you as. As you evolve and grow so do they. Dragons are life.


Friday, April 23, 2004

In Memorial of Pat Tillman

Arizona Cardinal #40

Today I stand silenced.