Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Three Things I'm Not Going to Write About This Week

A few things regarding the Virginia Tech mass murder that I’m not going to write about, and why.

The main, overarching reason why: 33 sets of family and friends suffered an overwhelming personal loss this week, not to mention the injured and the witnesses to this tragic event. It’s not really the time to grab this “news item” and run with it for one’s own purposes.

1. Gun control: every time one person shoots a whole lot of people in this country, gun control becomes a hot issue. Check your statistics for who dies of what in this country on a daily basis, then decide what to write to your congressman about.

Check our infant mortality statistics for example-- appalling, especially for an industrialized nation like the US: we’re on a par with some third world nations for infant death primarily because we don’t provide good prenatal care.

Why I’m not writing about gun control: It’s always an issue, April 16th didn’t change that.
Our most recent mass murderer apparently made bomb threats prior to the 16th, he rented a van..., he apparently set a dorm room on fire previously. The single largest mass murders in the US were conducted with box-cutters (9-11) and fertilizer bombs in a rental van. Another mass murder in the US was conducted with a gallon of gas (Happy Land Fire, NY, 87 deaths) The perpetrator was drunk and angry at his girlfriend. He didn't plan anything and he gave no warnings.

On the other hand if you’re a black male in Michigan between the ages of 15-34, you’re most likely to die by homicide than any other cause. Probably by gun, and this goes on every day, not in one headline grabbing day. That’s why I’m not writing about gun control relative to a single event this week.

2. “Why didn’t somebody prevent this?” Many people tried. A lot of people are probably going to get sued, possibly fired from their jobs. New policies will be instituted, maybe even on a nationwide basis.

Why I’m not pointing fingers of blame: We enjoy a lot of freedom of choice in this country and I don’t want that to go away.
Freedom and safety are always at odds with each other, at best we strike a balance. Individuals can always find a way to do great harm if they choose to. Fear can’t be allowed to overwhelm us to the point where we try to tightly control everyone. Easy for me to say right now-- all my family and friends are healthy and intact. That's another good reason for me not to write about this; let those most affected have their say first and foremost even if they are grieving and raging. All us spectators can pontificate later.

3. What about mental health issues? Yes, what about them-- your next door neighbor might be mentally ill. See the above about freedom versus safety. It might be true that we’re mostly concerned with the mentally ill when they grab weapons. But the most recent example of this was a guy who absolutely alienated everyone by his own choice, then blamed everyone but himself for it. He wasn’t the first mentally ill person to refuse treatment, and conversely there are a lot of folks who seek treatment but can’t find it or afford it if they do.

Why I’m not writing about this in relation to recent events: It’s a complicated issue involving personal freedom, the availability of care, the stigmatization of mental illness (depression being most common) and it bugs me that our recent “super villain” grabs the headlines when a lot of suffering people never get the attention that they need because their story isn’t spectacular and therefore “newsworthy”.

Last night we watched a KSBW news editorial from the management, and he really nailed it, covered a lot of the same points that I just did, including when he said something to the effect of “Capitalizing on this event for demagoguery or political agendas is innapropriate.”

Good thing I didn’t do that.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Very little for me to say

I can’t seem to write a blog or anything else without first saying that I wish healing for all those affected by the horrible tragedy in Virginia on the 16th. I’ve been reading about it but I don’t really want to write about it. It’s one of those things; I’m not interested in jumping on the bandwagon of discussing it, and yet something really awful happened this week in our country and I can’t pretend that it didn’t happen.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Master Puppy Speaks

Ask Master Puppy:

Q: Master Puppy, What is the meaning of the universe?

MP: The meaning of the universe is to essentially explore infinite expressions of reality. We’re all sparks of the divine consciousness, acting out a grand play. Basically, it’s for the fun of doing it.

Q: Sparks! So, we’re all going to go up in a conflagration of flames any minute now?

MP: Yeah, we’re in a constant conflagration of existence. That’s why there are so many different answers to the first question that you asked. It’s all a matter of your point of view. It’s only really limited by the subjectivity of your individual experience. There may be limits that we’ve agreed to when coming into a human body: but we don’t really know what those limits are because many of us have witnessed miraculous events.

Q: What’s one of the more exciting things about the universe today in your experience?

MP: That more and more people are waking up to the essential truth of infinite possibilities. The worlds of science and spirituality may come back together again.Back in the Renaissance there was this split where the scientific world began to consider all of religion superstition, and the religious world could see the heretical nature of where science was going. Really great and really horrible things have come about as the result of this split.

I don’t know if the religious world has recognized the self-reinforcing quality of belief (the more you believe it, the more you see it, the more you see it, the more you believe.) And that can lead you down a pretty narrow rabbit hole. Worse yet, I don’t know if the average scientist realizes that he’s part of that dynamic as well.

For example, does a scientist understand that the tools he uses to measure empirical reality have all been created under precepts about empirical reality? You measure a yardstick with another yardstick and come up with 36 inches. Well congratulations, Sparky. Every tool we have for measuring had to be concieved of before it was produced. We get so caught up in the measuring that we forget where it began.

Take the speed of light for example: in essence we measure that by timing it as it travels over a distance. And from our subjective, static point of view, light travels at about 186,282.397 miles per second in a vaccuum. From our relatively motionless point of view, with our timing devices, that’s correct. But if you’re a photon, that figure is completely wrong.

From the subjective point of view of a photon traveling at the speed of light, the hands of the clock are moving at a much slower rate because of time dilation relative to velocity. If you’re a photon, quite possibly the hands of the clock have stopped completely. And while time is dilating in relation to velocity, space is contracting. What then, is the actual speed of light? Depends on your point of view.

On Reiki

On Reiki and other titles

Several years ago I took Reiki initiations. I had already become a healer and while I was still trying to figure out what to do with the skill, thought it would be good idea to get, well, credentials. Reiki was the first of a series of certifications that I would attain in order to make sense of my my spiritual life, mainly for others, as it has always made sense to me. By the end of my credential gathering, I had a few titles, and sometimes I still consider gathering a few more, but finally a title or certificate is only a peice of paper. It’s no free lunch, and one still has to prove oneself.

My Reiki initiation was a little different, in that I rejected my first Reiki teacher part way through the process. I just didn’t like her: she was a showboat and maybe a showoff. When she bragged about her past life memories of the city of Atlantis, I got upset. Why would anyone want to brag about that? Because it makes you an “old soul”? Speaking of credentials, is that one of them when you’re working in the field of New Age spirituality? A self professed claim to have been around a long time? Anyway, it had squat to do with Reiki. I got the hell out of there and so did another guy, who later called me to see how and where I had ended up.

I ended up in the hands of another Reiki Master whom I just liked better. Debby felt like a more kindred spirit, with an eclectic spirituality similar to mine and I didn’t mind ponying up about a thousand bucks for the series of initiations. Back in those days, there were numerous people who had paid about ten thousand for the same thing, again, so I am told. Nowadays it’s possible to get initiated pretty cheap, or free even. But regardless of the price, and even though I may still choose to use my title (after all I did pay for it) I wouldn’t take Reiki initiations again if I had it to do over. Here’s why:

“Reiki”, so I am told, means “life force”. I don’t think anybody holds a patent on that, and no matter what you call it, I don’t think any person has an inherently better method of utilizing it, just because they may have a title. The title “Reiki Master” is particularly ridiculous once you’ve been through the initiations because essentially it’s a religious ritual that you just sit through. At the end of it you’re a “master” even though you haven’t been trained to master anything. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great healers who hold the title, but then there are plenty of great healers who don’t. Why is that?

Reiki has a mythology attached to it. Some say it has a lineage, there’s a controversy attached to that which is easy enough to find, but that’s a little on the soap opera side and I don’t want to recount it. Controversy aside, the Reiki story began when a guy named Usui apparently climbed a mountain and meditated/fasted in a cave until he had a vision and an epiphany. Upon returning from the cave he found that he could perform healings by using certain symbols, Reiki symbols, that he had been given in his vision. Later he discovered that he could give other people these symbols and that they could be healers too, but somehow just knowing the symbols wasn’t enough, he had to pass on, or “initiate” the student with these symbols energetically. That’s the ritual.

In theory there was an unbroken line of Reiki masters, starting with Mr. Usui, who passed these initiations from one person to the next so that every Reiki Master today could be traced back to him. There is some variation on that story that you’ll get from anybody giving Reki initiations. Is the story true? My teacher said to consider it a myth, and not to worry too much about the literal truth of it. In the end, who cares. It does not matter.

My Reiki teacher, Debby, the one I liked, right up front explained to me that she had traveled a bit in Asia, and discovered that aspects of the Reiki myth simply weren’t true. Names, dates, places appeared to be wrong, possibly nonexistent, perhaps fictional. One of the claims flying around is that Reiki healing is attached in some way to Tibetan Buddhist healing techniques. It’s in the literature.

Later I went so far as to ask more than one Tibetan Buddhist monk about Reiki, and none of them knew what I was talking about. I also paid for a healing once from a Tibetan Buddhist Rinpoche: interesting techniques, familiar techniques for those who are students of Shamanic healing, and the “Medicine Buddha” of whom I was given an artist’s rendering and an incantation to memorize let me know that my Religious Studies degree had at least been accurate regarding some of the differences between Theravadan and Mahayana Buddhism. What was not validated was any connection whatsoever between Reiki and Tibetan Buddhist healing techniques.

Why would I even be so dumb as to ask: after all Usui lived in Japan, did his Spiritual Journey in Japan, a long way from Tibet. Also Usui was reportedly a Christian, so I would tend to find it far more likely that there be a connection between Jesus, a well known healer by reputation, and Reiki, than I would expect to find between Usui’s vision and Tibetan Buddhism. That is if Usui was not a Buddhist. But who cares? It does not matter.

Thinking about Reiki I got reminded of a story I had heard about Hopi boys-- between the ages of 8 and 13 they go through an initiation ritual into adulthood. Their whole lives they have been taught to interact with Kachina’s, both in doll form and in fullsized sentient form. They respect them, sometimes fear them, sometimes the Kachina spirits make them laugh but they are always teaching lessons and it is always understood that they are real supernatural beings with real powers, even though they appear to be men in costumes.

On the day of initiation the boys are led away from their homes by the Kachinas. Out in a field they are covered in blankets in a pile, basically being terrorized that the Kachinas are going to do something terrible to them. In the end the Kachina’s take off the masks and reveal themselves to be their parents and other familiar tribe members. At that point the boys are in on the secret, they’ll be taught to grow up and wear the masks of the Kachinas for the next generation. They are the spirits, they have the powers, just as their fathers and grandfathers before them.

So, is a Reiki Master wearing the mask of the Kachina and just doesn’t know it? Could be. I have little problem here in that I'm not Hopi and so I don't really understand what it means to be wearing a Kachina mask, I don't therefore understand what it means to take it off, nor do I understand the viewpoint of a child who sees his father appear from behind one for the first time in his life. So this is where I stand simultaneously: I'm a Reiki Master taking off my mask, I'm also the child observing the mask come off and seeing someone familiar behind it.

Reiki initiations give permission, to your average Joe or Jane, to be a healer, to posess supernatural powers and to perhaps be a miraculous healer. That does matter. But what are the consequences of this? What I find tragic, is that Reiki really caught on a while back and became so commonplace that it is now one of those certifications that every other massage therapist has added to their list of credentials.

Not every Reiki Master performs “miraculous” healings, and I’d venture to say that most do not. Usui purportedly did. So what went wrong? Today, Reiki has garnered a reputation only as a “feel good” therapy, but back in the day-- Usui was putting broken bones together and healing them . Did the original energy get stretched too thin? Did somebody memorize their Reiki symbols incorrectly? I don't think so. Sheryl and I have written about the importance of the client being ready and willing to accept healing, and how sometimes it is not in the highest interests of the client to be "instantly" healed.

I’ve got no problem with “feel good” therapy, and anymore I don’t even have a problem with a couple of fairly useless certifications that I’ve collected. And even though I work in a field which some people would call “mumbo-jumbo” at best, I have a big problem with superstition, with misunderstood outcomes, and worst of all, with a massive short circuiting of human potential.

Aha, human potential. Maybe I’m being too anthropocentric, but I think that every human participates in a complex reality which includes so called miraculous events. No certification required. The sooner we realize that, the better. I think that we all have the potential then, to bring about miraculous events, once we understand how our conscioussness can connect with the world of matter.

More on meditation and some spiritual principles

Wrote that whole previous blog “what’s all this about meditation?” and neglected to say how to do it. Turns out my mom gets hit up for advice on the subject:

“The high school and jr. high students are always asking me how to meditate... 
I have often ended up telling them, "stare at a candle flame and relax and throw the thoughts that come to you into the flame."  Finally, one day, I said to keep repeating Ohhhhm and that will help other thoughts to stop, and , etc.....
 Only I think it's spelled "Aummm". Hmmmm.”

I don’t think the spelling matters that much. OM, It’s a word representing the primal sound, the first sound-- the sound, when uttered by God, which started all of existence. Spelling was invented later. I tell you what, it’s that kind of simplicity that I like, even though I enjoyed getting a religious studies degree, so often it’s the simple things which work best.

Why would a person want to throw their thoughts into a candle flame and utter OM? Because so often we confuse our thoughts with reality, or with our own identity. Conscious thoughts are so often verbal, an internal monologue, and you might want your consciousness to transcend language at least for a little while. OM is more sound than language, and what it represents, to me anyway, is an acknowledgment of something larger than personal consciousness, and an intention to return to that original, primal utterance that all possibilities derive from.

I wrote something back in June 2006 that Sheryl found while digging through her emails and deleting stuff. She thought I should share it.

Some spiritual principles and practices that I like:
Forgive absolutely everyone for absolutely everything, including yourself. There may well be people from your past who have done you wrong, never apologized or “repented”. Or there may be people who have done you wrong who have apologized, but you never really got over it. It’s not for them that you forgive, it’s for you. You have no choice other than to continue to suffer if you refuse to forgive. Any old unforgiven deeds, even small ones, they register in your consciousness and continue to trap you. So forgive others, and forgive yourself.

Life is full of mistakes and learning, and you are not the karma master of anyone, it’s out of your hands. Forgive and be glad that you can forgive, it’s a gift, It is grace, and we all deserve some grace.

If you're really stuck and can't forgive, try imagining that under the right circumstances, you could do the very thing that you currently find unforgiveable. Beleive it, and then forgive yourself.

Practice extending unconditional love outward from yourself--to everyone  and everything. Why not? Do you have something better to do than that? What could be better than pouring love from yourself without waiting for a reason to do so?

Try to be in the moment, always. Most instances of not being in the moment can be classified as “worrying.” This is not to say that you shouldn’t plan for the future, or never reflect on the past. Just know that you are constantly in the act of creation, as a participant. If you are actively thinking about the past or possible future, be aware of your own mind and cognizant of what you are doing right now. Write down your future plans if necessary, then let them slip away from your mind. Come to grips with your past, and then let that reflection on the past slip away quietly, come back to the now and be empty.

Sex is not something to feel guilty about, it’s not wrong , bad, dirty or forbidden nor is it separate from the spiritual, nothing is. It’s ok to be having sex, and it’s ok to abstain from it. We’re made to enjoy sex but we also are made to have our own selection process about who and what we do. Be OK with your own process and your choices.

Meditation is important to quiet the mind, but stimulating the mind is important too, and even sometimes overstimulating it. In fact some people find what they really need by overstimulating, over working and exhausting the conscious mind. Some spiritual practices are based upon pushing human endurance until the still point is acheived. The mind needs challenge, but it also needs to have the background information wiped away clean like a blackboard. That’s the most basic aspect of meditation. People need to understand that the quiet mind is not only possible, but actually easy, and takes no time to reach. The noise in the mind is due to attachments, and when the attachments are gone the natural state is silence.

Attachments are related to desire, and desires are always voluntary. Sometimes desire is manifested as a negative:” I don’t want this.” “I wish it weren’t so” or, “Man, I suck at meditating, and this is stupid anyway.” Quit if you want to, nobody is making you do this. But you do need to know that desires are like heavy weights that we pick up and carry of our own volition. Attachments are like chains.

The state of emptiness is very pleasant, persistent, good for your health. It’s a very beneficial place to be. It’s not emptiness like hunger, it’s more like total peace. It’s not boring, and there is a reason that meditative states of mind are called “ecstatic.” Nobody is making this stuff up, it’s real. Having an empty mind is not being an “air head” its’ about stillness when no activity is required, it’s about centeredness in the perpetual moment.

Judgment versus discrimination: Discriminating is a natural part of perception. Judgment is when values are overlaid onto perceived discriminating factors. Trust your senses and perceptions, but be aware of your judgments. In all these things, don’t force yourself to go against your nature, but be aware, and know that it is kinder to be understanding and accepting.

Austere measures are not necessary, and when the Buddha spoke of the middle way, he knew what he was talking about. It’s not necessary nor beneficial to deny yourself, food, sleep or any of life’s simple pleasures. It doesn’t make you a better person to deny yourself. As you progress along your path, you may discover that desires and attachments are diminishing, and you simply don’t need very much in order to experience real happiness. But you can be very spiritual and still enjoy a hot fudge sunday, these things are not mutually exclusive.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

A few facts about Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan

The map above is in the public domain, click on it for a larger view.

The following is from Wikipedia:

Iran has the world's second largest reserves of conventional crude oil at 133 gigabarrels, according to the CIA World Factbook, although it should be noted that both Canada and Venezuela have larger reserves if Non-conventional oil is included. Iran is the second largest oil holder globally with approximately 10% of the world's oil.
Iran averages about 1.5 gigabarrels per year, which is a significant decline from the 6 gigabarrels per year it produced when the Shah of Iran was in power. The United States prohibits imports of oil from Iran, which limits its exposure to an Iranian oil cutoff, but does not reduce the likelihood that an interruption of Iranian oil would cause a spike in world oil prices. American pressure on Iran to renounce Iran's nuclear program makes the possibility of military confrontation quite high, and the political risks of Iranian oil far outweigh any geological ones.

Iraq has the third largest reserves of conventional oil in the world at 112 gigabarrels. Despite its vast oil reserves and low costs, production has not recovered since the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. Constant looting, insurgent attacks, and sabotage in the oil fields has limited production to around 0.5 gigabarrels per year at best. Political risk is thus the main constraint on Iraqi oil production and likely to remain so in the near future." (end Wikipedia quote)

Iraq used to be the second largest oil reserve, but since the war it dropped one place. Saudi Arabia is number one, they're friendly. So is Canada which falls in at around fourth place. The top ten world oil reserves is a list worth watching, you might want to know where your sons and daughters will kill or be killed. My older daughter spent months in a Naval hospital in Kuwait patching up American soldiers. She got deployed right after finishing her A-school training. Watch out Venezuela, you may be next.

If anybody you know might have a long term goal of invading Iran, they'd probably want secure military bases on it's borders-- like in Afghanistan and Iraq (see map). Afghanistan is also a really great place to build a pipeline, see:

There's a top ten worst dictators list, but we haven't been real hot to invade those countries. No "prize". North Korea is number one or two, with Kim Jong Il. They don't have oil, but back when their major export was conventional weapons to middle eastern countries (Iraq was one of them) we started seeing news bulletins about a Korean missile that might reach California. Funny how that "threat" just dried up and blew away. The day that I saw the news report on TV, I researched it and discovered that the story was well over a year old and not very credible. Breaking news or propaganda?

On the lighter side you might want to check out the video at:

I got set off a bit reading our president's remarks about Congress tightening up the purse strings on the war, basically they are trying to get a commitment to end it in the foreseeable future. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Monday, April 2, 2007

"Kundalini" Funny Shoes, funny words, things that fit and things that don't fit.

Somebody please send me an email and tell me why people from all over the world are looking at the photo above. Please?

What’s a Kundalini and where can I buy one? Well, if you’re my dad, you can’t sit through my twelve minute video:
to listen to me talk about my own experience with spontaneous Kundalini awakening. But then my dad wishes he didn’t have to tell people what I do for a living anyway, let alone having to add in strange sounding words like “Kundalini.” He’s still struggling with the word “Psychic.” Sheryl and I struggle with that word as a title too: we use psychic skills constantly but we call ourselves healers. My dad probably wouldn’t like that title either. Maybe we should call ourselves ministers, (we are both ordained in the ULC) but since we aren’t technically religious, that doesn’t feel right either. We work in the spiritual realm to improve people’s lives, one day we’ll get the language worked out.

So, lets just call it a “spiritual opening” in the interests of being plain spoken. If you have a “spiritual opening” which feels like a lightning bolt but goes on for several minutes or longer-- you’re glad to learn the terminology and to know that others have experienced it. The aftermath of a Kundalini awakening often includes the appearance of special powers like clairvoyance, healing or other enhanced manifesting abilities. It’s in my video because it’s in the “about Paul” section of our website and Sheryl wanted to ask me some questions about it on camera. I had no idea what she was going to ask me about before we started.

The funny part about that video is that Sheryl kept asking me leading questions and I kept answering them “wrong” which would then cause Sheryl to ask me other unexpected questions and so on. The whole thing got edited into two separate videos now and we don’t know if we’ll release the second one or not. Maybe we’ll re-shoot it. Why, why am I so difficult?

Because I don’t believe in limitations. If you get me talking about healing work, you’ll find that I believe anything is possible. As an educated man, as a thinking man, this can cause me some embarrassment, but there it is. Actually, with enough education one gets beyond the “standard wisdom” in any given field pretty fast, and off into the realm of the unbelievable to the layperson. In the interests of being unlimited I constantly check myself for pig-headed beliefs, preconceived notions, assumptions or dogmatic thinking.

So if Sheryl asks me, on camera no less, about the importance of spiritual healing, I might have talked to her the day before about compassion, about how much I love it when a client goes “wow, that’s exactly it” or about how much I love the work that we do in general, I may nonetheless answer: “Maybe we shouldn’t steal the suffering from a client: what if they need that for their highest growth and development as a sovereign being. What about the role of Karma?” Consider that a preview. I’m surprised Sheryl doesn’t throw things at me sometimes. If she asks me the same question a day later I’m going to say, “Consider the concept of divine Grace: forgiveness unearned and undeserved. Suffering can be washed away like so much dirt, and it a moment it’s just gone. That’s pretty important; it’s self evident that we should embrace joy replacing pain and accept it without question.” Both viewpoints are true aren’t they? The universe is that big and a whole lot bigger. Boundaries, but no limits.