Ghosts should be minded and NOT feared

We are afraid of the boogeyman, even though i believe we don’t really know who or what he is.  One of the most comical scenes in any movie is when Michael Myers surprises his next victim by wearing a sheet with eyes cut out.  He wore glasses on the outside of the sheet in an attempt to fool his victim into thinking he was her boyfriend.  But what that scene really did was show how we really don’t know of what we are afraid.  Our visions of what we should fear drive us and, while people may not admit to being afraid of ghosts, it is exactly our ghosts that limit us and keep us hoping against hope that some force will emerge in our lives and “save us” from the boogeyman.  But even Michael Myers knew that those primal fears are irrational and even a bit funny.

Ghosts aren’t to be feared, really.  They do their thing, really, and for the most part leave the physical world alone. However, people like me learn to read their messages and then are stuck with having to do something with the information.  Since I tell stories, when I do find a ghost (rather, when a ghost finds me), i have to tell his or her story. I’ve known about this for a really long time, but I haven’t been all that willing to admit that i have this mission.  I’ve come to understand that we all have that ability, it’s just that we ignore and dismiss anything that doesn’t fit into our world view.  This is true, especially when it comes to things of a spiritual nature.  We are often herded into religious frames of reference that can have value, but more often than not exist to control us and make us even more afraid.  Sure, people like Jesus of Nazareth did all they could to teach humanity how the supernatural world works, but then we take his message and box it into what WE think it should be.  Therefore we wander the physical realm like ignorant robots spewing things from our mouths that weren’t our own thoughts in the first place.

I’m not out to be believed. I gave up on that years ago.  If I’ve learned anything over the years of following my writing path it’s that people seek to reinforce their own opinions, regardless of their origin and don’t do much to escape or fold in new learnings such that they own the space between their ears.  The majority of people with whom I’ve come into contact are stuck in an endless loop of reinforcement that they don’t want broken.

So why do I continue to chase windmills as though they’re dragons?  Because I will leave the physical world someday and there needs to be a record of this path of mine such that future generations might actually find the record and realize that past, present, and future are all integrated into one single flow within the supernatural realm and perhaps my descendants, direct or indirect will actually see that someone knew about this integrated time.  In the physical world, time dominates almost all of humanity’s actions, but in the supernatural realm, it doesn’t even exists, which is why when ghosts give us messages, we don’t believe them: Since time doesn’t exists in their world, they approach they physical realm out of context and without context, messages seem like random coincidences that have no reality.

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Addiction treatment should address spirituality. Here’s why and how…

The biggest challenge with which I’m faced as a substance abuse counselor is the idea of spirituality both while in active addiction and while in recovery.  In my opinion, the reason people cower at the idea of spirituality is that it immediately brings to mind religion.  But, religion is NOT spirituality, although there can be a relationship between the two.  From my perspective: 1) Religion is the set of rituals and beliefs of a specific “faith” community; and, 2) Spirituality is the care and maintenance of that which is sacred to a person.  Furthermore, religion is communal, while spirituality is personal.

These concepts are not really interchangeable, especially from an addiction treatment perspective.  When a person is actively maintaining his addiction, the only thing sacred to him is his drug and the “hustle” through which he goes to get it.  This singular sense of value allows for any form of malevolent behavior because the drug is all that matters and nothing or no one has any value in comparison to the drug.  When we factor in the physical impacts of the drug’s pharmacology, we can see that the malevolence really can develop into something evil.

For example, heroin addiction provides abundant material for the study of malevolent spirituality.  I’ve written at great lengths about the relationship between heroin addiction and demonic possession and I have no doubt that heroin addiction really can open a “portal” through which pure evil can enter a person’s humanity.   That’s not to suggest that heroin addicts are evil, because they aren’t.  However, heroin creates the perfect storm for the emergence of malevolent spirituality.  Even if a person doesn’t believe in “spirituality,” it’s not hard to see how a heroin addict becomes inhuman with those who love and care for him.  Lying and stealing are the domain of the addict; however, heroin’s short half-life and intense withdrawals exponentiate the lying and stealing for the drug.

What’s needed is the create a healthy and benevolent spirituality as a part of a treatment program.  Each layer of humanity must be addressed, including the re-initiation of healthy sense of the sacred.  “Conscious creativity” is at the core this the re-initiation process. The idea behind “conscious creativity” is that a vision of a healthy life must be defined before it can be attained. Therefore, conscious creativity seeks to evoke both the reasons and the vision for developing a healthier life. When it comes to Addiction Treatment, there are two (2) things about Addiction that I feel make conscious creativity effective: 1) Addiction, by definition and by nature, is driven through unconscious processes. That is, once an addict (for lack of a better label) is triggered, he will seek his drug of choice without much conscious thought. It’s as if the addict switches to “auto-pilot” and doesn’t see anything else but the drug; and, 2) Addicts, to me, are quite susceptible to energy and often turn to drugs in order to “dampen” what they sense. The amount that they sense leads to over whelming feelings that mimic anxiety. Several people who I’ve worked with have been hyper-sensitive to their surroundings and then want to numb out how much they sense and feel. They may be “creative” in some ways; I’ve known several musicians, for example, who are great songwriters and performers, but they drink and drug quite heavily. However, if they approached their art from a conscious drive toward health, they would be less inclined to reinforce the feelings that evoke the darkness within themselves. To me, then, the idea of conscious creativity disrupts the unconscious drive towards a drug and can redirect overwhelming adverse emotions and coping mechanisms.

What I learned from making the pilgrimage to the Santuario de Chimayo (3 photos, 1 video)

I’ve been making the pilgrimage to the Santuario de Chimayo since I was 12.  Although I’ve missed a couple of years, here and there due to sickness, for the most part, I’ve “made it” every year.  This year was no different…

When I first started making the pilgrimage, I would walk with an intention, that is, I’d pray for something, whether it’s a person or a test score or, well, something.  However, ever since my dad was diagnosed with cancer and he stopped walking with me, I’ve been praying in thanksgiving for having the opportunity to experience the same pilgrimage that my ancestors made.  I’ve become far more thankful, in general, because I’ve been directly faced with the fleeting nature of health and of life and that I can still walk to Santuario is a blessing that I don’t take for granted.

What I have found as I changed my prayer type on the walk is that when I would walk with an intention, it was like I was making an offering such that prayer intention would be heard.  I’d be sore and bruised and simply a wreck for a couple of days.  Ever since I’ve been praying in gratitude, I still get tired, but I’m not nearly as sore and I don’t bruise, at all.

Maybe that’s the lesson I take from this year’s walk: Maybe I should try to live in gratitude every day.  Maybe if I do, I’ll be able to see the bad times as learning experiences for which I should also be thankful.  Maybe I wouldn’t have as much fear or worry because it all happens so fast that there’s really nothing about which I should worry, anyway.  Maybe walking to Santuario is a metaphor for how I should approach each and every day and experience.  In faith, I think it is….

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Learn to sense angels and be comforted…

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The simple fact of which I’ve become certain is that we all need to recognize the good and understand the bad.  What most people do is reinforce the bad, or worse, try to fight the bad, and in doing either, only make the bad more powerful.  As an addiction counselor, I try to teach clients to reinforce the good in their lives, once they learn to see it.  Unfortunately, it’s far easier to see the bad and most stay addicted because the bad in their lives is driven by so much shame that it’s quite difficult to overcome.

It’s not impossible, however, to learn to recognize the good.  We can start by recognizing the presence of angels all around us.  The fact is that we all can sense angels’ presence, but we’ve gotten so entrenched in seeing the bad that we have deadened our internal senses that can feel the angels in our midst.

Several years ago, I was at a cemetery when I first became aware of angels in my life.  I was there visiting my grandmother’s gravesite feeling quite low in my life.  I sat there while the wind blew and leaves danced around me and a raven landed maybe two feet from me.  It cawed while it stared upwards;  I looked up to see what the fuss was about and I saw an enormous redtail hawk looking at me.  The wind stopped and the leaves became still while me and that hawk locked eyes.  I felt this sense of peace that I hadn’t felt and I knew, right then and there, that I was being touched by angels.  This isn’t to say that the hawk or the crow were angels, but I do think that they were angels’ messengers and know they are to this day.

Really, we have all been touched by angels, it’s just a matter of learning to feel their presence.  I practice that skill, everyday, and know they comfort me.  I highly recommend it….

Have you ever been touched by angels?

 

 

Confusion and despair don’t have to be all-powerful…

Because I’ve lived a life “in between”: in-between cultures and in-between languages, I know what it’s like to be confused.  There were many times when I was too immature to understand that participating in two cultures was a source of strength, not a source of shame.  But, there was a time that I didn’t quite see truth.  So, now, when I hear people tell me that they’re confused about anything they face, I do understand.

I’ve heard it said that demonic possession occurs when the targeted host is at a point of real confusion.  Once an evil spirit enters a person, that person requires external help to exorcise the presence.  Whether or not you believe in such potentially hokey things like possession and exorcism is immaterial to the point that confusion leads to bad things.  I mean, being torn between polar opposites can’t possibly be healthy.  Here in the U.S., most of our lives are cluttered with those from the Left clashing with those from the Right.  Plus, many people walk around confused because they just don’t know if they’re the right or wrong religion or race or gender or sexual orientation.  It appears as though our whole lives are wrought with choosing between polar opposites.  I’ve come to see that when people end up knocking on Death’s doorstep, confusion makes an appearance as a guide to that doorstep.

Let’s face it; people don’t end up knocking on death’s proverbial doorstep because they’re healthy.  Nope.  Not at all.  People end up on death’s doorstep because at some point in their life’s path they stood at a crossroads and in their confusion chose to accept sickness as their only choice.  Now, I get that people don’t have the same access to opportunities and that even if they did; they still need to see those opportunities as accessible.  Confusion, though, clouds people’s perceptions and triggers an incapability of seeing anything other than their confusion.  People’s confusion, all too often, leads to shame.  By the time someone ends up at Death’s doorstep, their lives have been lived in such shame and confusion that there was few other options BUT to become unhealthy, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

The flip side of the unhealthy coin is that healthy people who live joyful and healthy lives don’t just become healthy out of some great cosmic accident of chance.  Nope.  Healthy people tend to be healthy because they embrace every day as an opportunity to savor and cherish the breath in their lungs.  They find joy in the salmon run colored early morning sky and hear the music in the wind, even if it blows twenty below gusts that freeze faces into a numb that even Novocain couldn’t provide.  They savor that cold and the numb and don’t accuse the wind of playing a part in some great conspiracy against their person.  The healthy choose life and accept the courage to face life with conviction.  In my experience, healthy people aren’t confused about their place in the world.  Regardless of their income or of any other circumstance, they know that their lives present one and only one opportunity to make the best of all that comes their way.

I know confusion and its twin sister: Despair.  And in knowing them, I also know that their power exists only as a force that is allowed to become real.  I say to everyone: Live life in certainty that there is a purpose to our existence.  In that certainty, confusion will disappear.

Spirituality, not necessarily religion, should be part of Addiction Treatment

Reality does not progress as a series of discreet moments that are separated from the flow of time.  Rather, moments occur as part of a continuous process in which the infinite is connected with each individual person.  That is, no action or event occurs within the vacuum of individual experience.  All reality is connected and failing to recognize this continuous connection is where people fall to the singularity of stunted individuality.

This single-pointed focus of a person’s experience reflects a development process that stops at a person’s own need for self-validation.  Many people, such as Piaget, Vygotsky, Kohlberg, and Maslow have written about human development and how it happens over time.  There are many theories about human development, both physical and psychological, but what’s left out, in my opinion, is that a person’s sense of spirituality also develops over time.  In the years I’ve been studying and treating Addiction and Recovery, I’ve learned that when a person’s spirituality is developed to a point at which it can be leveraged, people tend to be more successful within their pursuit of health.  However, when a person’s spirituality is as stunted as her psychological or emotional perspective, she is not quite as likely to become successful.

I believe most automatically associate religion with spirituality, and while I admit there is a relationship between the two, I also think religion is a big part of the problem within a stunted sense of spirituality. We all develop over time and how we learn to negotiate challenges within our development often reveal the core beliefs we have about life and how it works for us.  If we are successful in negotiating the adjustment challenges life’s flowing time throws at us, there’s a high likelihood that we will think of ourselves as capable people.  If, however, we struggle in adjusting to life’s challenges, then there’s a strong probability that we will think of ourselves as incapable of handling the challenges of our lives.  Whether we see ourselves as capable or as incapable, our sense of spirituality will reflect that belief.

All too often, people turn to a church as a means to resolve challenges within their lives.  In my experience, people who see themselves as incapable tend to pray for things; that is, they pray that God grants them certain outcomes and believe that if they attend church and “are good,” then God will grant them their prayer requests.  People who see themselves as capable people, however, pray not for things, but pray in order to give thanks for their lives.  They tend to communicate with God and realize that there’s a relationship between their humanity and their spirituality.

I strongly believe that “pastors” of strip-mall churches are aware of this difference in people and take advantage of those who need God to fulfill their prayers.  They create and maintain people’s stunted development in order to maintain their organization, such as it is.  All too often, strip-mall churches have a pastor who is endowed with great power by the congregation and actually needs that power.  To maintain his own sense of self, he doesn’t really allow people to continue their spiritual development, unless it occurs as he says it should.

The way I’ve experienced spiritual development is that it progresses from empathy/love of self, to empathy/love of other, to the integration between self and other such that the recognition exists that religious differences are irrelevant, as we are all part of a single creation.  Very few actually live through the integrated perspective; really, saints are the only ones who attain that level of development (in my opinion).

Therefore, I think conscious spiritual development should be a part of any addiction treatment plan.  I’m not saying that religion should be a part, but if it allows healthy development, then what could it hurt?

There is no such thing as “me”

Disclaimer: While I spend quite a bit of time researching ways and means to both gain and maintain a healthy emotional landscape for myself, I am still learning and trying to figure out my own place in the world.  There have been times when I think I know where my own path is supposed to lead, but those times dissipate into the ether of time and history.  For me, it’s been like grabbing a tiger by the tail: Just when I think I’ve got it, it squeezes out of my hand and disappears.  But I keep on searching for the truth and how it can assist me in along my walk in time and space.

The probability of finding a single truth is low.  There are many trails to the top of the mountain and it’s kind of hard for me to believe that one is better than another.  But I do believe, with all that I am, that the mountain itself is real and that there is a top of it.  I might not ever get to that top, but it’s worth climbing, if for no other reason that I’ve learned quite a bit of the mirage that is reality. Enough, really, that I know that I have something to offer the proverbial universe. 

It seems to me that the majority of suffering in the world begins between people’s ears.  We believe in the concept of “me” so much that it becomes overly personalized into all of its forms like “my” and “mine” and those personal forms of the “me” concept initiates pretty much whatever suffering people face.  Now, I’m not saying that I don’t succumb to the myth of “me.” I’m human and the experience of being human is, in fact, my own.  Just like everybody else’s experience is their own, I too am the subject of “my” own story.  However, I’ve just realized that “me” isn’t real; it’s only a perception and that “me” is only what it seems to be and isn’t anything real, in and of itself.

Most people are concepts, really, and while they are made of flesh and blood, their “personality” is something that only exists in their minds.  Whatever we define as “mine” is just as ethereal and the wind – it appears to be real, but no one really created it.  There’s no such thing as “my personality” for anyone.  Therefore, when someone takes something personally, those feelings just as non-existent and unreal as a unicorn.  People might say something (or think something) “bad” about a person, but those sentiments are nothing more than mental creations, just as any concept of “me” is.

I see the erroneous use of “me” in people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol.  They often become consumed by the idea of “Me” that they devolve into a singular point of focus that drives every single behavior and thought they have.  Yes, studying Addiction is studying extremes, but the reality is that in today’s age of social media, “me” has become the single biggest point of people’s focus; addicts are just more honest about their worship of “me.”

There simply is no such thing as “me.” Not in reality and not in any way that can be proven.  No one can prove the existence of “me.”  I dare anyone to try – the only thing people will be able to do is further demonstrate the power of the great “I am…”

Addiction results from a consciousness of scarcity

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I wish I could say that I met him while I was deep in the woods.  I’d say that I was wandering along a trail and that I met up with him while he was washing what clothes he had in the river.  In my wishful thought, he enlightened me, as great teachers do, and when I found my way out of the woods, I understood life’s great mysteries.

But I didn’t meet him that way.  As a matter of fact, I haven’t met him at all and never will, seeing how he passed away in 2009.  I did learn of him and his teachings while reading a Rolling Stone article about the late Leonard Cohen.  It seemed that after Mr. Cohen completed his stay at a Buddhist monastery, he came upon the work of Ramesh Balsekar (RM) and decided to study with him, personally, in India.  Now, I don’t know what the outcome of his studies were; however, if Mr. Cohen found RM’s work of merit, then I felt compelled to also find RM’s work and study it for my own learning.  I am a big Leonard Cohen fan; his language mastery comes from a place that wish to be.  If RM aided in developing that mastery, then perhaps RM could help develop my own mastery.

I researched RM and found out that he was married and had three kids.  Really though, he wrote way too many books for me to read in one lifetime.  I narrowed down his immense list to two books whose titles resonated with me: 1) The Final Truth. A Guide to Ultimate Understanding; and, 2) Confusion No More.  Those two titles seemed to coincide with my own work; that is, I know that understanding one’s reality is a big key to health and if I could find the “ultimate understanding” then maybe I could teach it.  Further, I also know that confusion leads to a portal through which evil can emerge; if I could find a means to eliminate confusion, then maybe I could also pass it along to others who need to eliminate confusion and in doing so, we could close those portals of evil.

So, I’ve begun with The Final Truth and after one chapter, I’m not sure what to make to RM’s writings, but I can see the validity in understanding consciousness, which is his primary teaching.   What’s more, he says that, “The spontaneous arising of I Am (as a movement in Consciousness) is the sense of existence, the sense of presence.”

To that, I say, “From where did you get your idea of ‘I Am?’ It sounds pretty dang familiar…” The reality is that I do agree that consciousness determines a person’s circumstances.  For example, where there’s substance abuse, there’s usually a consciousness rooted in comparison and/or scarcity.    If, however, people realize that there’s a consciousness rooted in connection to all life, there’s usually an empathic and healthy person exhibiting that consciousness.

Plus, I agree that the arising “I Am” is the birth of a sense of place and responsibility.  So, while I’ve only gotten through the first chapter as of yet, RM’s statement, “When the truth is realized, and apperceived, all notions of dualism cease.  Whatever is seen, in any form, can only be consciousness because all is consciousness, and all manifestation now or at any time cannot but be consciousness” sounds a lot like what I believe to be the Imago Dei.

Lastly, though, a consciousness based in comparison and/or scarcity creates dualism, which creates suffering.  The idea that all is separate and “either/or” does little to build an integrated spirit.  If humanity is to succeed, it will require recognition that we all emerged from the same source, whatever it is, and that we are all stewards of the same place.  Perhaps RM is onto something….

Conversion Therapy practitioners are nothing but moralizing idiots

Without any doubt, any person or organization that supports conversion therapy is nothing but truly stupid.  I don’t know how to say it any other way: Conversion Therapy is complete and utter load of B.S. and should be banned in New Mexico, as it is based upon hate and a morality that is so misguided that I’m beginning to think that it, too, should be banned.

For those who don’t know: Conversion therapy is a religious-based brand of “counseling” that seeks to make homosexuals heterosexuals.  It is based upon the idea that homosexuality is a clinical pathology that needs treatment.  Perhaps some people agree with that basis, but it they do, they contribute to and share the general stupidity that appears to be running rampant in the United States.  As a counselor, I can’t believe that this form of “therapy” even exists.  Yet it does. I can’t think of anything more unethical than a therapist who would say that there’s something wrong with a person who’s homosexual.  There’s no difference, to me, in saying that being Hispanic is a pathology or that speaking Mandarin requires inpatient treatment.

The thing is that there is a segment of the population who honestly believes that their religious beliefs give them the right to judge others as being “good” or “bad.” They tend to back their stupidity on the Bible, although people who really believe in the Bible’s Gospels would understand that ALL are worthy of love and that ALL require work in the eyes of God.  But stupidity doesn’t really allow rational thought: It feels good to have power and religious power is the biggest damn opiate to which people are addicted.

Unfortunately, I have heard story after story that gay people have shared with me about the pure hate they have experienced just for being who they are.  They invariably turned to opiates and/or alcohol attempting to numb the pain the feel as a result of their parents or family hating them for being gay.  The emotional and spiritual destruction is real, yet “churches” continue to label homosexuality as a sin.  Ok, I don’t attend back-asswards churches, but when “colleagues” of mine actually practice something that actually teaches self-hatred, I have to speak out: We need to stop this practice completely and make it illegal.  Any clinical counselor who thinks he or she has can formally judge others should have his or license stripped.  It’s that simple to me: Anyone who practices conversion therapy should NOT be allowed to carry a clinical license of ANY kind.

Who people love is none of my business.  Who people have sex with is even LESS of my business.  All I care about is that people become as healthy as they possibly can, but when forms of counseling exist that actually teach self-hate exist, then we have to eliminate those counseling practices.  If you practice conversion therapy, then you are nothing more than a moralizing idiot who should pull your head out of your ass.

Hey Stupid — Addiction is a DISEASE NOT a SIN

I simply cannot believe that there are still stupid and ignorant people who associate Addiction with “Sin.” Addiction is a progressive and measurable disease that can, in fact, be treated. Sin, however, is not a behavior, but a spiritual state in which a person is separated from God. To make it simple: Addiction is a disease and Sin is a spiritual state.

Too often, behaviors are labeled as “sins” as though behaviors, in and of themselves, create spiritual states. Here’s the thing: Behaviors are SYMPTOMATIC of a person’s spiritual state; however it’s the WILL behind a behavior that determines if the behavior will result in separation from God. In other posts, I have discussed the power of the IMAGO DEI and how it’s the source of all that’s good and strong and beautiful in the world. Behaviors that are contrary to God’s Image (the IMAGO DEI translated) can be said to be sinful because it’s clear that they separate a person’s humanity from God. HOWEVER, Addiction IS NOT A BEHAVIOR.

There are clear biological and psychological processes at work behind an Addiction. Once those processes become ingrained, they require DAILY treatment in order for them to “normalize” away from a drug or process of abuse. The thing is, many people who become addicted didn’t even realize how far their addiction progressed. It’s almost as if they woke up one day as one person and then woke up the next day as a totally different person. This is due to the compulsive nature of Addiction and, because it’s compulsive, there is no personal will involved within the Addiction itself. As a matter of fact, the most deadly blockage to treatment (other than continued use) is the moralizing that surrounds Addiction. To be clear: A person is lost to an addiction and only when WILL is recovered does humanity return. Until it does, an addict is split against his own nature and needs to have the abyss shake him such that he finds value in his own humanity.

Can an addict be in a state of sin? Not sure, I’m not the sin police. I have no idea what anybody else state of grace is or isn’t. I know what sin is and I know how behaviors reflect a spiritual state, but I can only speak to my own soul. I CAN NEVER look at another person and say whether or not he or she is in a state of sin.

I can, however, help an addict find his or her own sense of humanity. I can also maintain my own recognition of the IMAGO DEI in my life. But, I can’t say that anyone else’s path is sinful. Perhaps a person NEEDS to heal from an addiction as part of his overall life’s path. Quite frankly, if I were to label a behavior, general moralizing stupidity is FAR more sinful than almost any other single behavior.