Heavenly Creatures

Sreejit’s Friday reflections are getting more profound every week. This is my favorite of them all.

The Seeker's Dungeon

When I was 16, my guru gave me the name Sreejit and I immediately went to the courthouse to change it legally. Everyone in my school knew the reason for the change, so I didn’t have to explain it. When I joined the workforce, people would constantly ask me where my name came from and I wouldn’t want to go into the details because that would require a longer, deeper discussion. I hated the presumptuous question of, what is my real name, because that would require and even longer and even deeper discussion. They were asking a simple question and I developed a simple answer for it. “My Dad is black and my mother is Indian,” I would say. “Oh cool,” they would say. A simple question, a simple half-truth and we’d all move on.

As we call our guru, Amma, or mother, it wasn’t a full lie, but was…

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Finding Light in the Darkness

Sreejit from The Seeker’s Dungeon has started posting reflective articles every Friday. I am finding them very interesting and thought provoking. His reflection this week was about finding light in the darkness.

The Seeker's Dungeon

Somewhere along the way, The Seeker’s Dungeon turned into a yes-the-world-is-fucked-up-but-there’s-a-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel blog. When I started out, I mostly wrote boy-it-sure-is-dark-down-here articles. As the blog grew, I developed a need to be ok with the darkness. I needed a reason for the darkness. It couldn’t just be that it’s damn dark in dungeons. No it had to be – whether through death, or enlightenment – we’re serving our time, and at some point we’ll be released into the light, and the purpose would make itself known.

But, ‘at-some-points’ are like ‘tomorrows.’ Eventually we have to be ok with today. We have to be ok with a journey, just being a journey. We all want to get somewhere. We can fight, and need to fight the injustices in every direction, but for the sake of our heart, we have to accept that darkness is part and parcel of the human experience.

Sometimes…

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We Had a Great Month Thanks to You

Last night, Sreejit posted the summary of his Rage Against the Machine event. He did it in a new way in that for each post he included a quote and one of the comments that a reader made. I think that is a valuable way to help new readers choose which posts to look at, so I’m passing his summary on to those of you who read my blog.

The Seeker's Dungeon

We made it.  30 guest posts in 30 days.

As you may have noticed, the Rage Against the Machine series was not so much about rage as it was about figuring out how we can be productive global citizens, and what we can do as individuals and collectively to make this world a better place.

Everyone brought different perspectives – including the ever present To Rage or Not to Rage question – and different issues to the series.  One of the most pleasant surprises was that not only were the guest posts exceptional, of which I’m grateful, but we had a lot of interesting discussions in the comment section.

So, to recap the articles that you might have missed, or to remind you and encourage a second look, I will share both a snippet from each article and also one comment from the discussion, to give you a taste of…

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The End of a Powerful and Informative Event

At 5:00 a.m. this morning, the last entry in The Seeker’s Dungeon Rage Against the Machine Month was posted. The posts by 30 guest contributors were all so different from one another and each person had important things to say. I looked forward to reading a new post each morning and am sorry the event is over.

Some of the event instructions were:

Your post doesn’t have to be about the United States or even politics, but should be about what is keeping our world in darkness and your own solutions for shedding light. Talk about where your own passions lie, your own causes, and the glass ceilings you are trying to break on through.

I’ve listed all of the posts below so that you can read some or all of them. I suspect you will find them as thought provoking as I did.

 

The Rage Against the Machine Contributors:

 

 

Day 1: Thank You for Your Service Mr. Trump by Kevin (Rudran) Degnan

 

 

 

 

Day 2: Pistol Shots at the Past by Levantine

 

 

 

 

Day 3: Creating Light in the Darkness by Karuna Poole

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4: Rage Against Racial Prejudice by Sanaa Rizvi

 

 

 

 

 

Day 5: Let’s Choose Love by Mark Paxson

 

 

 

 

Day 6: An Unexpected Journey by Jagati Olson

 

 

 

 

 

Day 7: Letter to the Editor by Vince Horan

 

 

 

 

 

Day 8: The Dictatorship of the Clock by Carl D’Agostino

 

 

 

 

Day 9: Lost and Found by Lori Bonati

 

 

 

 

 

Day 10: Anecdote or Antidote to Rage by Kathie Arcide

 

 

 

 

 

Day 11: Earth Grief by Sherry Marr

 

 

 

 

 

Day 12: Searching by Oliana Kim

 

 

 

 

Day 13: Instead of raging… love and compassion by Leigh Gaitskill

 

 

 

 

 

Day 14: The Hip Woman by Ana Daksina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 15: On Being a Lady by Kripa Gressel

 

 

 

 

Day 16: Hear Me Roar by Trevor Washington

 

 

 

 

Day 17: I don’t understand… by Amy

 

 

 

Day 18: Stemming the Tide by Amar Gressel

 

 

 

 

Day 19: Into the Depths by Chitanand Nass

 

 

 

 

Day 20: #BeKindToElephants by Monika

 

 

 

 

 

Day 21: Finding A Way by Bertie Hutchins

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 22: Fated by Rebel Willing

 

 

 

 

 

Day 23: The Trauma Lives for Years by Sreejit Poole

 

 

 

Day 24: The Skin I’m In by Dr Noreen Nguru

 

 

 

 

Day 25: Enough is Enough by Jessica Cypher

 

 

 

 

Day 26: Coming Out by Elmari W.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 27: What Sort of Men by Gary Maxwell

 

 

 

 

Day 27: Just One Word by Sonya Kassam

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 29: Rectitude by Tobe

 

 

 

 

Day 30: The American Dream Needs an Update by Hugo Groenendyk

 

 

 

 

 

Earth Grief

During the month of November, The Seeker’s Dungeon is publishing posts by guest authors on the topic of Rage Against the Machine. The articles have been so interesting and varied. Today’s contribution is titled Earth Grief. I resonate with everything she said and was struck by how articulately, passionately and from her heart she said it.

I hope you will take a minute and read Rage Against the Machine Day 11: Earth Grief by Sherry Marr.

While you are there consider taking a look at some of the other posts. I have appreciated every one of them.

I Am Not a Sightseer

I am not a sightseer. I haven’t liked sightseeing for as long as I can remember. That attitude was firmly entrenched by the time I was in 10th grade and we lived in Hawaii. There, my brothers and I were expected to go sightseeing with my parents every Sunday. I’m sure I moaned and groaned and pouted.

During our year in Hawaii, I remember resenting that I couldn’t run away from home.  I knew if I made it past the guard at the gate of the army base where we lived, it wouldn’t do me any good because we were living on an island. I’d never be able to find a way off the island.  Continue reading “I Am Not a Sightseer”

Needing Some Inspiration

Sreejit’s directions for this week’s Dungeon Prompt is:

When you’re feeling down or just need a push forward with your day, where do you look for inspiration? What drives you, or keeps you smiling? Or when you’re really down, what keeps you alive, and getting out of bed each morning? You don’t have to write about a major presence or source of inspiration in your life, but can just tell us about one of the little things that elevate you in some way.

I could create a long list of things that inspire me and can’t imagine pairing it down to one. Therefore, I will compromise and settle for sharing two of them with you!  Continue reading “Needing Some Inspiration”

A Bridge Between Worlds

Sreejit’s directions for this week’s Dungeon Prompt were:

If the journey of your life could be boiled down to a particular mission, what would it be?  What has been the primary focus or purpose of your particular birth?  You may believe that all of life is on a big picture path, but I’m asking about your particular journey.  Is there any lesson or goal that has defined the majority of your life?  What is your life’s mission?

I once used the process that Stephen Covey described in his book First Things First to develop a personal mission statement. The document I created that day is as relevant and alive for me now as it was on the day I created it. (My mission statement can be found in this blog post: Living with Purpose.)

For this prompt, I decided to look at my life’s mission from a different angle. Throughout my adolescence and young adult years I believed that I didn’t “belong” anywhere. That belief developed, at least in part, because I grew up as an army brat. I generally moved every three years, and if I wasn’t leaving then my friends were. No place or group felt like “home,” I always believed I was an outsider.  Continue reading “A Bridge Between Worlds”

Where the Wild Things Are

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Frequently, when I reflect on Sreejit’s Dungeon Prompt for the week, I end up writing about something very different than what I had originally intended to write about. This week was no exception. The topic was “Where the Wild Things Are”  and the directions for the prompt were:

Tell us all about one of the more wilder things you’ve done in your life that looks a little out of place when put up next to the rest of your life’s journey.  Or take it in another direction and tell us about your monsters, or demons.

Initially, I intended to write about my early days with Amma. As the deadline approached, however, I realized that there were many other times in my life when I did things that other people might consider “Wild” or perhaps “Strange.” I decided I would share some vignettes of those memories. Continue reading “Where the Wild Things Are”

No Matter Time Nor Place

Sreejit, as always, picked an interesting Dungeon Prompt for this week; one worthy of considerable contemplation. His instructions:

Which truth do you hold no matter the time or place? This isn’t a prompt about whether you believe in God or not, or in science or not. This is a morality question. For example, most of us can say that we believe in the commandment, thou shalt not kill, regardless of religion, but would you be able to stick with that even while witnessing your mother or sister being raped? Would you feel that it was wrong if another person, in that kind of situation, killed an attacker to save someone else? So the question here is, which of your values do you hold so strongly that it wouldn’t matter the time or place? Explain.

I did my personal therapy with therapists who used a process known as corrective parenting psychotherapy. When I finished my therapy, I decided I wanted to become a therapist. After obtaining the necessary education, I chose to do the same kind of therapy with my clients.

All corrective parenting therapists and their clients use a set of six self-care contracts as guiding principles in their lives.  The contracts are:

  • I will not hurt myself or others nor provoke/allow others to harm me. I will stay safe and honor the safety of others
  • I will not run away. I will stay and work through my problems.
  • I will not be sneaky or lie. I will be honest with myself and others.
  • I will not make myself sick or go crazy. I will stay sane and healthy.
  • I will not be passive. I will be proactive.
  • I am responsible for my feelings, thoughts, actions and attitudes.

There is no expectation that anyone will keep these contracts perfectly. In fact, if we look closely, we probably break one or more of them every day. By using them as guiding principles, however, we learn to become conscious of our actions. When we break one of the contracts, we look at how and why we broke it and determine what we will do to prevent ourselves from breaking it again.

I still place great value on these principles, but since I have no expectation that I will keep them perfectly it would not fit into the “no matter time nor place” criteria.

Since Sreejit mentioned the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses, I decided to take a look at those. They are:

  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
  2. Thou shalt not make any graven idols.
  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. Thou shalt not kill.
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  8. Thou shalt not steal.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor
  10. Thou shalt not covet.

I found it interesting to reflect on the list. Some I have broken at some point in my life either overtly or subtly, intentionally or unintentionally (3, 5, 8, 9, 10). I know there are people who would believe I have broken two others, although I would disagree with that opinion (1,2). One of the ten I have broken because it is not part of my belief system (4). There are two I have not broken and can’t imagine ever breaking (6, 7). When I ask myself if I would I kill in self defense or to save someone else,  I conclude that I can’t answer the question without being in the situation. I don’t see myself as someone who would ever commit adultery, but I am always leary of saying “never” about anything. All in all, I see that I cannot give “no matter time nor place” status to the ten commandments either.

I place very high value on my path with my spiritual teacher Amma. However, I don’t do many of the spiritual practices that she instructs us to do and even though I may ask her questions about my individual practice or my life, I don’t ask her for advice unless I am willing to do what she suggests I do. I clearly am not committed at the level of “no matter time nor place” even though my process with Amma, in many ways, is the center of my life.

I place great value on my relationship with my children, Sreejit and Chaitanya. For the purposes of this prompt, I reflected on whether I would give my life if it would save theirs. I would like to think so, and I think in almost any circumstance I would, but after recently rereading the book 1984, I recognize that when tortured, a person can be made to betray even those whom they love the most. So, while I think that this would be the value I would most likely hold on to “no matter time nor place” I cannot even be sure of that.

So after much consideration, I have come to the conclusion that there is no value I hold that I can say, without a shred of doubt, that I would be 100% committed to regardless of the time or place. I wonder if it is possible for any human being to stay that committed to anything.