Friday, November 21, 2008

An Inner Knowing 55

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with a 55 that I thought better-suited to this blog than to my "other writings" one. Here it is:

Worlds open up to the heart that asks itself, "What do you want?" and then waits patiently for an answer.

It is the readiness to know the self that primes us for understanding our place in life.

This trust of what is inside, even things hidden, surpasses any pangs that might assail us from without.


Thank you, goddess of love, for questions and for ears.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Be a Spirit in Search of Beauty

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with the holy word "love," and I wish upon you its sister, "beauty."

The title of this post really says all I mean to say at the moment.

Be a spirit in search of beauty.

If you seek, you shall find.

The only real clarification I need to add is, don't be a picky spirit. Don't insist on a certain kind of beauty, don't await the pinnacle of your preconceptions.

Thank you, goddess of love, for the will to look for you in all things.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

Give, and Do Not Ask

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with a lesson that I seem unable to retain, no matter how many times I learn it.

The old saying insists that It is better to give than to receive.

There are several ways to interpret this. One interpretation is that the act of giving is superior to the act of receiving. I'm kind of dubious of that interpretation, because in an awful lot of situations, receiving just plain rocks. Let's be honest -- if a mysterious black void appeared in the air in front of you, would you rather take a present and throw it into the void, or would you rather a puppy fell out of the void for you? (Assuming you're the kind of person who likes puppies.)

This first interpretation of the phrase suggests that generosity is superior to avarice -- which is true enough -- but if that's all there is to it, then it seems like kind of a weak way to guilt us all into being more generous. I don't like it when people (or aphorisms) try to make me feel guilty, because I've got my own guilt complex to start with and I don't need any help with it, thank you very much. So that's another reason I shy away from this reading of the saying.

A related interpretation is that we should strive to enjoy the act of giving, because if we can teach ourselves to get pleasure from giving, the world will be a better place. I'm a lot more willing to buy this interpretation. But it still carries a rather lecturesome tone. Reading between the lines, one can't help but take it to mean, "You know, you're kind of a selfish twit, and you need to fix yourself. So shape up and do some giving."

But here's the interpretation that I have learned (and keep relearning) to be true.

Giving is simply a better strategy for happiness than receiving.

When you give, you are almost guaranteed to receive some form of gratitude in return. Not in every case, but in most of them. And because the gratitude you receive is unasked-for, it's a bonus. 

In contrast, if you depend on receiving for your happiness, you live your life in a constant state of expectation, and every time that expectation goes unmet, you are disappointed.

So if you give, and give without expectation, life is full of bonus happiness for you, whereas if you hunger to receive, it is full of disappointment.

And if you adopt giving as a strategy, and make it a habit, and find your life constantly enriched by the gratitude that naturally flows your way in response, then sooner or later you find that, without even trying, you've learned to enjoy giving for its own sake.

And then you can give into the void and be delighted by it.

Of course, the giving life requires a lot of energy, and can take a lot out of you. And if you run into a string of ingrates who fail to respond well to your generosity, you can begin to doubt the strategy.

Which is why you need to remember to regularly give to yourself.

There's nothing in the saying that says the giving always has to be giving to others.

Just remember, when you give to yourself ...

Say, "Thank you."

Thank you, goddess of love, for generosity, for gratitude, for lessons learned both easily and through hard knocks.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

Monday, November 03, 2008

Forgive Yourself

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with cheeks recently red on a day when the sun is bright in the blue sky outside and I know that things are looking up.

If you're anything like me, you probably think, pretty regularly, "I am such a moron."

Now, you're probably not actually a moron, and you almost certainly know that you're not actually a moron, but life is weird and difficult and forces us to make choices and most of those choices are completely unremarkable and cause us no ill effects, but when even a small choice turns out to be a small mistake, we think, "I am such a moron."

In the best of cases, we think this with a laugh and it is healthy.

But in the not-so-best of cases, we think it and mean it, and in those cases it's a very dangerous thing to think.

There are two reasons why it's so dangerous.

First, our brains are self-reinforcing mechanisms. Habits of thought strengthen neuronal connections in the brain and create the patterns that are our memories and that guide our outlook on life. The more often we think of ourselves negatively, the stronger the negative connections become, and the more quickly our brains jump to those patterns when we receive a negative stimulus. This is the biomechanism of depression, and it's why depressive people can go into a tailspin at even the tiniest problem. Their brains have practiced negativity so thoroughly that the response is automatic.

The second danger is that even if we're not prone to depression, we will start to use "I am such a moron" as an excuse. It will become a shield against the need to improve ourselves. And really, even if you're not a moron (in fact, especially if you're not a moron), you need to improve yourself. 

Not because it is bad to be flawed, but because it is so good and so empowering to conquer your flaws.

Own your mistakes. Forgive yourself for them. Take them in and build a better you with them.

You're definitely not a moron, and I believe in you.

Thank you, goddess of love, for self-forgiveness, and for friends who help us to practice it.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee