northern_lights

Image credit Malcolm Manners available on Flickr under Creative Commons.

One of my favorite little books of poems is “Northern Lights and Midnight Sun“. It was bought by my friend in Norway many years ago. Norway is a special country on many levels. It opens you up, mirrors back who you are and inspires you to follow a transformation from a caterpillar to a butterfly ;). Not even mentioning the gorgeous northern lights.

I keep reading these poems as they reflect more and more how I feel with Winter at the horizon.

***

I like the night. It’s as if night had no right to exist.
People are always harping on about the beauty of the sun and the day.
They’re a delight to the eye and soul, that’s true.
But there are hidden rooms in us the sunlight never reaches
but where only the night dare creep in.

Sigbjorn Obstfelder

***

I love the night, indeed. I adore her quietness. I love her magnetism. I feel her presence. I love the night, indeed.

The Night, the dark, the negative perhaps, is the fuel and restoration for the Day to come. We have learned to appreciate the Day and the light, but we keep forgetting how important the Lady Night is.

Night is a welcome for all the “in”s. Inward focus, intimacy and inspiration. Without the Night, the Day cannot exist. There is this never ending pendulum swing between polarities, Day and Night, action and rest, Out and In.

Day and Night have different qualities, similarly as men and women do. When Day produces energy and strives for results, Night produces form and strives for understanding.

Day has qualities of a man. There is the electric push for action, work to be done or responsibilities and duties. The spark, the pulsating energy, the outward spiral.

Night has qualities of a woman. There is this magnetic release and relief, reflection and restoration. The appreciation, dissolving and the inward spiral.

Producing and delivering is governed by Day. Nurturing and growing is governed by Night.
They co-exist in a rhythm and permeate each other.

In the rush for a day and things to be done, we forget that the quality of the Day depends on the Night.

Stop welcoming Night and your Day will suffer tremendously. Stop embracing the female qualities, and you will find yourself lost in the wrong stride. Skip the time for reflection, and you will break your leg by climbing the wrong ladder to success.

Day provides function while Night gives structure. Without structure, everything falls.

Appreciate the qualities of Night and restoration.

Embrace emotions. Welcome the dark side of you. It is still you.

Take the time to empower yourself with female qualities.

Look for the Night to nurture your body and spirit. It will ignite the Day!

 ***

I am Darkness. Darkness
that makes a thousand swaying lights
shine so painfully clearly.
I love those burning lights,
love the flame
that lies down
and trembles ecstatically before
the breath of night, I want to be
alive like that flame, but
I am darkness
that makes those lights shine.

Hans Borli

***

being_whole

 

Lines, circles and spirals

Imagine a straight line. It can be used to measure a length or a distance. It is there. It defines a boundary. It divides.

A straight line is about the number 2. Two points, the beginning and the end or moving along from the point A to the point B. It suggests a steady progress.  It is stable. It is predictable. Perhaps, it is an ideal.

Imagine a circle. It is created when you join the two end points of the straight line. It is about the number 12, as we usually divide the circle into 12 equal intervals, each 15 degrees, similarly as we have put the 12 hour measurements on the clock.

The circle is a closed and complete system. It goes around and never dies. There is an endless repetition, a change of hours, months, seasons or patterns.

There is a balance. There is a circular movement of a pendulum, a swing between polarities and everything in between. Perhaps a circle is about perfection because we capture symmetry, balance and the repetition of patterns.

Imagine a spiral. It is created when you attempt to connect the straight line into a circle but you finally don’t. The end becomes a beginning to something new, moving away from a circle. There are 13 points, at least. The 13th point is the step out of the balance and repetition. And then we may extend this spiral to grow bigger and bigger or contract it to make it smaller and smaller.  Alternatively, you may also think about a spiral in which each circle is a similar type of repetition as the one before but on a different level.

The spiral is an open system with the beginning and the end.
It is disturbing, because it is unsure where it leads to. There are new things on the way. Perhaps a spiral is a pattern of reality because we capture both the repetition and the change.

The symbols

The straight line is here a symbol of a stable life, with steady growth and progress. There is a daily routine, a sustained effort which directly translates to appropriate results. Life is perhaps boring but things are under control. The point, however, is that it doesn’t happen this way. And if it does, it is for a short while only.

The circle represents the balance between the polarities and everything in between. It is a symbol of repetition and going through the same stages. It is a symbol of life in balance between qualities and quantities, always the same. There are no or little surprises and this may be comforting for some.  There is however little learning too.

The spiral represents the change, learning and growth. Certainly, a conscious growth.  It is here a symbol of life. Not surprisingly, we find the pattern of spiral in the plant and animal kingdoms, as well as the formation of galaxies. They speak to us about growth!

What do we want to believe?

We want to believe in an illusion of a happy life, with stability and good income, perfect health, great kids, wonderful marriage, joyful friends and little problems. We want things to be predictable. We want to identify life with steady progress, reliability, moving from A to B. We want to think straight line.

It is not so.

We want to believe in the repetition of patterns, maintaining the balance between polarities, moving kindly between our needs and responsibilities, managing compromises, being patient and kind and always in control. We want to believe that when we balance things well, we live our perfect life of a circle.

It is not so.

On being whole

What we need to believe, or in fact accept, is the reality which includes the repetition of patterns for the sake of routine and order, but also unpredictability, chaos and confusion. Every day encompasses the circle of hours twice, yet every day is different. We change, from moment to moment, from day to day or from year to year. Even our solar system moves in the space, so the earth rotating around the sun doesn’t come into the same place ever again. It spirals in the space!

Spiral is about movement, change and evolution.

I think that spiral is a good symbol for life. When we are tired or lost, when we question our difficulties or events, when we dream about control and progress, let us remember that we are changing and growing. We are becoming. We are expanding in our consciousness and understanding. 

Every moment is different. Every moment is new. Every moment is to live it through. 🙂

If we take a spiral as an idea of growth, we become to understand that balance is flexible, being practiced in a moment. When we gracefully accept what comes and look at things with an eye of an enthusiastic learner, we begin to approach wholeness.

The secret is that we don’t need to change or improve or heal or suffer to become whole. We accept ourselves as a whole and start from there.

We then stop dividing and judging ourselves and others (the line approach). We then stop expecting the same movement between polarities and the control of events (the circle approach). Instead, we appreciate surprises, unpredictability and a little confusion. We learn from patterns, yet we choose to live in a moment to the best of what we can.

Confusion and chaos are welcomed as a part of life, similarly as health and diseases, births and deaths, progress and regress or work and rest. We understand that change may be difficult and scary and we are gentle with ourselves. The spiral approach is to accept and nourish ourselves and others. It is simple and effective as we both let go and go with the flow

Let us grow happily!

***

Photo courtesy John McStravick, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

***

We learn from others.
We have family and friends.
We have teachers, mentors, supervisors, managers or bosses.
We have colleagues, politicians, media people, musicians, and stars.

We observe. We analyze. We model. We emulate.
We compare to others.

Without perhaps noticing, we keep dancing between two worlds.
One world is defined by Similarity or Sameness.
The other world is defined by Difference.

Similarity is Interdependence, Belonging, Sharing and Being a part of a Group.
Difference is Independence, Individuality and Self.

We want to belong to a family, community or a peer group. We want to be with others, share experiences and have fun. We want to be appreciated. And we want to be loved.

At the same time we want to explore the boundaries of Self. We want to mark who we are by the way we think, we look, we walk or we talk. We want to do things in particular ways, choose our likings, make own decisions and create. Above all, we want to love.

So, we need both, Similarity and Difference, Interdependence and Independence, Individuality and Belonging, to live happily and healthy. No doubt about that.

And the middle way is about the flow between these polarities, between giving and receiving, self-focus and focus-on-others, individual thought and cooperation, being an individual and a part of a group.

***

We learn from others. We exist both as Selves and in relations to others.  And we compare.

It is impossible not to compare.

How else can we receive feedback?
How else can we measure progress to a baseline performance?
How else can we evaluate our growth?
How else can we identify the borders we want to transgress?
How else can we test new skills and practices?
How else can we determine which rules or ideas serve us or not?
How else can we define realistic goals?

We look to other people for inspiration, mentoring, help or example. Comparing to others gives us the necessary context  for growth. It also enables us to find out what is possible to achieve or whom we may choose to become. However, it gives us a partial view only. The other important view is to compare to ourselves. In a timeline. And we often forget to do that.

We forget to learn from ourselves.
We forget to measure the progress along our own journey.
We forget how much we have developed with respect to the starting point.
We forget our milestones and achievements on the way.

So, if you are tempted to review your progress, look back at who you were a month ago, one year ago, 5 years a go or 20 years ago. Any progress?

If we are not careful, it is easy to compare to others with a diminishing light, focussing on our inferiority. This may lead to thoughts of jealousy, envy, shame or guilt. And from that place, there is only a small step to unhealthy self-criticism and over-beating. If continued, we will likely pick the fruits of self-devaluation, low self-image and low self-esteem.

Now, imagine this.

Next time when you notice a big difference between yourself and others, just at the very moment you are so much tempted to think how unskilled, untalented you are or how much you suck, welcome and cherish a new thought. Do it consciously.

This thought tells you that what you are perceiving as a difference is merely a distinction.

And this distinction makes you – unique You.

You, who is welcome here, loved and appreciated.

***

Other inspirational or educational posts:

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The image above shows a beautiful quilt by Inge Duin. See more of her works on www.ingeduin.nl.

There is a concept of the middle way as a path of development. The followers of this path likely apply moderation to everything. They tend to avoid extremes. While this seems a reasonable way of living, there is a much more advanced approach.

Two extremes and the center

As we know everything has its opposite. As a result, we have two extremes and the center, the middle point in between. And if we carefully observe the workings of the universe we will notice that the natural rhythm is to continuously swing from one opposite to the other and back. This is the principle of rhythm. We go from a day to a night, from joy to sadness, from summer to winter, from a high-tide to a low-tide or from work to rest. There is this basic rhythm, the basic swing between the polarities.

The same understanding applies to practicing the middle way.

Counter-intuitively, the true middle way is not narrow. Oh, no no no.

The middle path is not about boring miniature movements around the middle point. On the contrary, it is a challenging path when you walk between the extremes. Traveling between the polarities does not mean, however, all polarities that exist, but only the opposites that define the space of your maturing and personal growth. And you choose to walk this path with consciousness. You keep visiting the opposites and swing consciously between them.

The paradox of the center

There is an interesting paradox of the middle way.

Our goal is to be in the middle. The middle is the center. What is the center?

Center is Integrity. Center is Peace. Center is Christ.

Being in the center is the ultimate goal. However, center is not achieved by standing still there, but by balancing between the opposites.

Center is Balance. Think about it this way. When a person walks on a tightrope, he is constantly moving his body, swaying from side to side to move forward and prevent the fall. And although his goal is to stay on the rope, i.e. keep the center, most of the time he is outside the center, being either at one side or the other. He is keeping the course of movement not by standing still but by actively balancing between the opposite sides and between up and down.

So, the balancing between the opposites is the core of the middle way. The center is continuously being reached through an active balancing.

So, the key understanding here is as follows.

  1. The middle way is a path between opposites. It is a spacious path. There is a lot of room for experience and even more for investigation. There is freedom to manoeuvre, to make mistakes and to learn.
  2. Personal experience or deep understanding of the extremes is essential for finding the true center for yourself.
    • When you loose health, you understand how valuable it is.
    • When you become poor, you begin to appreciate what wealth is.
    • When you are live in noisy environment, you begin to value solitude and silence.
    • When you are about to loose your life, you begin to live with an contagious passion.

Even when you experience the darkest sides of yourself, making deliberate errors, committing crimes or hating others, it may serve you as a powerful experience for a personal transformation towards kindness, gratitude and love.

The big challenge

There is however a big challenge when you want to follow the middle way.

Think for a moment about a pendulum swinging from side to side.  When there are no external forces, the pendulum will naturally stop at its center.

Let the pendulum be now our metaphor for life. Our ultimate goal is to know the center and to be at the center.  However, there are always external circumstances that act on us, be it consequences of our decisions (that we can hardly foresee) or events outside our control. As a result, the pendulum never stops. It is always in motion.

What is the swing?

The external forces and circumstances may override the natural rhythm of the pendulum. So, they will tend to keep you at one of the opposites, usually the less favorable one such as the permanent state of grumbling and complaining. As a result, the center you find is not the center at all. You simply have too little experience and understanding to be able to define the center well as the pendulum has an abnormal rhythm, highly biased towards one of the polarities.

E.g. if you have been unhappy and complaining for years, you may only have a vague idea about happiness. As you lack the direct experience and cannot even imagine what a true happiness is the way you define happiness is colored by the negative interpretations of your experiences. As a result, your perceived center is far from the middle point.

The how-to of the middle way

The advanced way to follow the middle path is to transcend the duality, the opposites. What does it mean? In practice

  1. You take the time to understand the principle of rhythm and its working in your life. It means that you are knowledgeable about the rhythm and cycles of changes. When you know a change is to happen, you can prepare for it in advance in order to take advantage.
  2. You know where the center is because you have chosen to experience the opposites and to understand them. You simply take the time to go through the extremes personally, learn about them from other people, or extrapolate from your own life experience.
  3. You always keep your intent to return to the center. Or, in other words, you hold the consciousness of the center. Even if the external circumstances or life challenges want to keep you stuck at one of the polarities, it is you and your consciousness that will encourage you to swing towards the other side.
  4. The middle way is achieved by your active and conscious balancing between the opposites. So, it means that you first go to one extreme and spend the necessary time there, then you follow to the other extreme. And repeat.

    For example, the advanced balancing of your work day is to work hard and with deep focus followed by a full rest. This can be implemented in any way that is convenient for you. E.g. you can choose to work hard for 50min followed by a 10-min rest and repeat it all, say 8 times a day. Or you can choose to work hard for 3h followed by a 25-min rest and repeat it 3-4 times a day. Or you can work very hard for a full day followed by a free morning the following day. Any of such approaches is efficient as long as it suits you.

Transcendence is by choice. You are in charge. Accept it.

And your middle way will become a fantastic experience.

***

The image above shows a beautiful quilt by Inge Duin. See more of her works on www.ingeduin.nl.

 three

Here, I will share my conceptual outlook at the numbers One, Two and Three.

To understand that well you will need the foundation built in the two previous posts, one on Polarity and the other one on the Principle of Rhythm. Please read them first.

Imagine you are the only Being that exists.
There is you and nothing else.
It is a likely boring existence.

Say, you are a cell in the World which is the cell itself.

You are the White on the White canvas, including the canvas as well.

You are both a Thought and a Thinker of that Thought.

Anywhere you reach, through the medium of yourself, of course, there is only you. In fact, you are a Presence permeating yourself.

You are.

You cannot discriminate because there is only one Sameness expressed in what there is. There is no Difference yet.

The concept of One is Totality

You can also perceive One as Unity, or Sameness.

Metaphorically, you can understand One as God. You may also consider One as the Whole universe, or total Power.

Or, you perhaps remember your experience of One when you were a fetus developing in your mother’s womb for whom everything was a complete Whole. Even though you might have explored the boundaries of Self, there was no reference for you to understand what they were, simply because you had no experience of the outside. For you the boundaries was also the Self.

Totality may be both, the Conscious Presence such as Active Intent or the Unconscious Presence such as a Potential or Power to be exercised. In both cases, Totality is the Essence from which everything originates.

If Totality is unconscious it expands by practising the basic awareness until it develops the intent to think.  Thanks to this intent it will develop further on until it will become conscious. At this point, Totality will possibly become bored by being so same, homogeneous and All that is.

Totality will want to make a further progress by discriminating a part of itself. It may distinguish an aspect of Self from the rest, or it may distinguishes an aspect, such as Love, Sound or Matter.  By doing so, everything but this aspect will become distinguishable as well.

Polarity is born.

The concept of Two is Polarity

You can also perceive Two as Duality or Difference.

The act of bringing one aspect forward is the act of setting everything else in the background. It is the same as naming a feature or characteristic. It allows us to recognize it and distinguish from the other things.

Metaphorically, you can understand Two as God who establishes a companion for His higher feelings when he discriminates into the Loving Father and the beloved Son. Or you may consider Two as the Universe which becomes both Matter and Spirit. Or, perhaps you experience Two as being a child born to the World.

As such, Two is experienced when an opening is created or a difference is to be emphasized. It does not provide an interesting diversity as such. Although the task of Two is to notice the differences, their integration is difficult as it requires an extra step.

It is the movement between the polarities that gives the basic structure to our existence. You can think of it as of the swing between the opposites or,  you can perceive it as a threshold experience when you move from one polarity to another. Duality through action gives birth to Three.

The concept of Three is Active Diversity

You can also say Creativity.

It is both the action and the expression of a state between the polarities.

Metaphorically, you may consider Three as God who becomes Trinity. Holy Spirit is now introduced as the Active Person expressing Love between the Father and the Son. You may also consider Three as an Intent and/or Active Consciousness to move between levels from the Material to Spiritual Worlds. Or, you experience Three as a child interacting and playing in the outside world.

Three is an interesting phenomenon. Two expresses duality, polarity or difference. It is often passive. Three comes into existence through the act of interaction between the Two.

Three is something that is being created when the Two opposites become involved and act.

Three describes Stability

Three is a powerful concept. Three reflects not only diversity, but also stability and support.

A triangle is created by three sides and is the most basic geometric figure.
A three-legged chair is going to work well, while a stable two legged chair is impossible.
Three dimensions support the existence of life and complex systems.

The meeting point

Three is an expression of diversity. Three is an expression of novelty and creativity. Three is a direction.

Birth, life and death.
Past, present and future.
Beginning, middle and end.
Positive, neutral and negative.

Three allows us to introduce a meeting point, or a place in between. It can be the moment of Now being experienced between past and future. It can be the flow between beginning and end. Or it can be intuition arising as a creative act between emotions and rational thought.

Three simply allows us to experience the middle or in-between.

Three is completeness

Once you start paying attention, you will find triads or triplets cropping up everywhere – in language, in myths, in fairy tales, in Scripture, in culture and in society.

Three people are seen as suitable to make decisions, because they will have enough diversity to cover different points of views and when necessary to apply the majority vote. Three people are enough to form boards, commissions or crowds. Even statistics likes to see “three” as a container for “many”.

Not surprisingly, many laws, rules or ideas come in triads. Just to mention three laws of thermodynamics, the motto of France: liberty, equality, fraternity or the motto of Poland: God, honor and fatherland, or three virtues: faith, hope and love.

Many things in writing or storytelling are structured in threes. There are sayings or curses that have to be repeated 3 times before they become active. There are three trials to achieve a certain goal. There are three wishes to be granted. There also also three days or nights for an event or transformation to take place.

Examples of triads in stories include Three Wise Monkeys, Three Little Pigs, Three Musketeers, or Three Bears. In fairy tales there are usually three brothers, sons of a peasant or three daughters of a king. Two are often either stupid (boys) or ugly (girls), while one is smart / beautiful. And it is the third one that makes a difference: he will endure many tests to have finally become a new king or she will go through trials to be finally married by a Lovely Prince.

Summary

Three can be perceived in multiple ways. It can be a threshold experience between the Two polarities, a meeting point, or a new creation by the interaction of Two. Such a creation bears characteristics different than its ingredients, similarly as water is something completely novel in comparison to both oxygen and hydrogen.

Three offers a high-level synthesis, not by summing the Two components but by creatively designing something new. Three doesn’t negate polarity. Rather it accepts duality and represents a new element arising from the action between the opposites. And in this way, Three enables us to transcend duality.

Three is an experience of consciousness.

***

Photo credit CLeopold73 available under Creative Commons on Flickr.

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Other posts on consciousness:

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