Friday, 11 March 2016

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED...

I have moved this blog to a new platform.  All posts have been migrated.

Please go to:  www.remainingzane.tumblr.com

Thanks :-)


Friday, 4 March 2016

Remaining Zane

I started this blog little over a year ago. The first post was a short piece titled “That which wants nothing”. This phrase also became the title of my blog and it’s URL. Not a particularly streamlined collection of words, but one that held great meaning for me because it sprung from the deepest and most authentic part of myself. It was a way of describing the great infinite, the deep stillness that lies at the core of all of existence, that I had never heard before and have never encountered since.

The exploration of spirituality and esoteric topics does not necessarily coincide with the deep inner journey that has been described by seekers throughout the ages. And even when it does, the reasons for embarking on this ancient adventure are as diverse as those who enter upon it. I suspect that most of the time we are not all that clear about what those reasons are, and perhaps only years later do we have enough clarity to understand our truest motivations.

I am beginning to understand that for me it was a combination of an inner readiness, a natural inclination toward seeking, and a desire to escape from the physical and psychological circumstances of my life. Part of what I was trying to seek shelter from was my extreme sensitivity. Though I am emotionally strong, my physical body and sensory system has always been acutely sensitive. Ironically, the deepening of my spirituality has only heightened this sensitivity. So no relief on that front, but in many other ways my journey within has helped me weather countless storms and always rise above.

Where the sky is blue, 
It is very blue.
Look up!

Like countless others before me, my inner journey led me to the edge of the void, that infinite unmanifested potential that was and was not before everything that is ever was. The great emptiness, the eternal stillness, the…. well if you’ve encountered it, which I can only assume you have since you’re reading this blog, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. Allow yourself to go over the edge and into the void and you’ll likely find the self-obliterating escape from everything that you thought you were looking for. Like a cleansing fire this great emptiness will burn away lifetimes of falsehood. Is this the end of the journey? Is this the final destination? Is this the big bang at the end of the great spiritual romp? Is this the elusive egoless no-self?

For a rare few perhaps it is, but most of us do not camp out in the void forever. At some point we return, and on our return we will discover how much of ourselves remains and how much was burned away. For me the beginning of 2016 marks the beginning of my return to that which remains. I have gone through such a tremendous shift in the last two months that I do not even recognise myself anymore. A large part of this shift is a desire to re-engage with the world and a revitalised curiosity to discover all the ways in which I can do this. I am willing to inhabit the life of Zane once more, more deeply and with greater openness than ever before. Each day I observe that more and more old judgements and negativity has fallen away. I am beginning to believe that the Zane who remains may at last be the one with whom I can fall in love. Please may it be so.

That which wants nothing will never be far away, but for now I am remaining Zane.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

FOMO

“Fear of Missing Out”


ˈfəʊməʊ/
noun
informal
  1. anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website. 

When I was a child it was commonplace for people of my parents' generation to have a showcase (vitrine) in their house in which souvenirs from travels and special occasions were displayed. Everything from miniatures of famous landmarks once visited to wedding cake toppers. I was mesmerised by these memories encased in glass. Each item marked an event special enough to be preserved and enshrined.

Though it took me longer than many to begin to explore what the world has to offer, when I finally did, I instinctively began collecting souvenirs. You may look at my collection of miniatures of some of the world’s greatest landmarks I’ve visited and think that I’m well travelled, but actually it has taken decades to accumulate. It was not a hungry accumulation. It was not a feverish consumption. It was slow and mindful and each step was carefully considered and deeply appreciated. Similarly I could list the various things I’ve done and achieved and it may sound to some like I am fairly accomplished. But again, each of these steps was taken slowly and mindfully and with careful consideration.

In between each of these souvenir moments were long periods of ordinariness and even banality. Before the rise of social media, the anxiety I felt to “get more out of my life” was mostly limited to things I’d see on tv or in magazines, or friends’ stories and photographs shared with me in person. To be sure, FOMO did exist back then, but it was more subtle. Even so I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that there is no rush and that one day I’d look back and know that I have done enough and that all along I was enough. I’d explain that taking slow, measured and mindful steps would not leave me feeling like I’d wasted precious time, and that memories do not have to be abundant to make one feel abundant.

I cannot help but notice that nowadays people seem to be scrambling around at high speed trying to cram as many activities and experiences into their lives as possible. One or two social engagements a week no longer seems to be enough. It seems to be necessary to stuff each year full of parties and travels and seminars etc. When someone professes, “I’ll rest when I’m dead”, I have to resist the urge to say, “Without rest this may be sooner than you think”.

It would be naive to believe that the rise of social media has not contributed to this rapidly growing anxiety. We are confronted daily with airbrushed glamour shots of our friends’ latest achievements, parties, holidays and gourmet dinners. It’s enough to start to believe that you have slipped into some frustrating parallel universe where everyone else seems to enjoy 72 hour days and 1095 day years, while you are still stuck with only 24 hour days and 365 day years, and where 8 hours sleep is still required each day. Fear of missing out seems to be driving us into frantic activity or making us feel anxious that we are not doing enough or not being enough. Don’t get me wrong, FOMO is not always a bad thing, sometimes it can motivate us to reach for something new at a time when we needed inspiration or motivation. But I think it more often generates a dangerous undercurrent of dissatisfaction.

This chronic not-enoughness seems to be consuming us and leaving us feeling small and insignificant and wasteful, when nothing can be further from the truth. We have forgotten how to be still and savour the moments of our lives, both the small daily moments and the grand souvenir moments.

I remember sitting at my grandmother’s feet and listening to her tell magnificent stories from her life. There were not thousands of stories, or even hundreds, but each story was told with such joy and such vivid detail that I was transfixed. I wonder if we’ll be able to give our grandchildren the same gift or if our life stories will be nothing more than a blur of feverish activity where we did not take the time to honour the truly special moments or breaks in between to absorb and appreciate them.

Perhaps this new year our resolutions should include more time to rest and more space for contemplation. Perhaps through this fear of missing out, what we are actually missing out on is the stillness within us where true abundance resides.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Generous Assumptions: A Doorway to Connection

In Brené Brown’s book “Rising Strong” she unfolds the anatomy of trust. Brown quotes Charles Feltman when she describes trust as “Choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions.” She breaks trust down into its key components, one of which is generosity. She explains how we are more likely to trust people who make generous assumptions about us and our intentions and how people are more likely to trust us if we do the same for them.

Though the anatomy of trust is a fascinating topic, it is the idea of generous assumptions that strikes the deepest chord with me.

Have you ever sent a text message to a friend and received no reply? Did you pay attention to your response to this situation? What were the thoughts that went through your head? Allow me to offer some possibilities: “She is deliberately ignoring me. What an asshole!”. This is not an example of a generous assumption about your friend. “She is obviously angry with me. I must have offended her in some way”. This is not a generous assumption about your friend, nor about yourself. It is disturbing how often we encounter responses either within ourselves or from others that are some version of the above examples. No doubt we have all encountered at one time or another people for whom this sort of victim position seems to be an almost default response to any words or actions that leave even the smallest room for misinterpretation. Their first assumption is that they are been deliberately attacked.

“I like when I don’t have to be careful about what I say. That’s when you know you’re with the right people” (This is a quote, I do not remember from whom, I recently saw on Facebook). It is almost impossible to establish or maintain a deep connection with someone when we find ourselves feeling anxious that our words and actions may be misinterpreted as an attack. Feeling like you have to walk on eggshells may be one of the most powerful obstacles to true connection.

A generous assumption would be more like “I know this is a busy time for my friend and I understand that I do not fall within her circle of close friends and family, and it is therefore okay that I do not receive an immediate response”.

I’m not suggestion that every such situation be dismissed with a generous assumption. Sometimes the words and actions of others are blatantly unkind, in which case it is appropriate to set boundaries and make those boundaries clear to others.

What I am suggesting is that a great deal of the time when we feel slighted by another, it was not intentional. Or even if it was intentional in that moment, it was just a lapse in judgement that occurred at a time of stress and not a true reflection of their feelings. It is also possible that In many cases what was said or done was benign in nature and the offence was entirely imagined.

My point is that when you are not sure, it is best to make a generous assumption. If you make this a habit it will bring a level of freedom and lightness and trust to your interactions with others that will open the doorway to deep and profound connection.

Making generous assumptions may begin as a practice, but in time it will become a way of being that more closely reflects who you really are, who you’ve always been. And the old wounds that stood between you and the gentle graciousness of your true nature will melt away.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

God's eyes

Against my better judgement I have chosen to use the word “God” in the title of this piece, because it sounds cool. I ask the reader to forget that I have used this word. Why? Because it is a heavy word loaded with centuries of connotations and misinterpretation. Humanity has used a plethora of words in a multitude of languages in an attempt to describe that for which words do not exist. In truth, every one of these words or phrases can at best only point toward an aspect or a small range of aspects of the all-that-is. And even then it’s mostly only the manifested aspects of the known physical universe. When it comes to finding words for the unmanifest, we are lost. The first verse of the Tao Te Ching ends, “If it can be named, it is not the Tao”. Yet it is precisely this void of unmanifested pure potential that I wish to explore here using words, so please bare with me.

It is possible to theorise that before the world came into being, there was no means by which the void could know itself, for it was nothing and there was nothing that it was not. The first thought ever to be thought may well have been, “Who am I?”. We could continue to hypothesize that for the all-that-is to know itself, it had to create the illusion of something that was not it. Some aspect of itself, that would graciously agree to forget who it was, and look back upon itself and say, “I see you”.

If this is true, then each one of us has agreed to forget who we truly are so that the all-that-is can look through our eyes at itself, and know itself. We are God’s eyes. We are the lens through which the universe focuses the knowing of itself. People have spent decades or even lifetimes seeking the doorway to awareness, without realising that they are the doorway. More than that, they are awareness.

I understand if this all starts to feel a bit esoteric. In fact, it can even start to feel a bit scary (See my earlier blog post “Embracing the Emptiness” for more on this). It can be shocking the first time you experience the feeling that the only thing you know for sure is that the void is looking through your eyes at itself. This idea may cause you to move through a wide range of emotions from pointlessness to feeling profoundly purposeful. It is a perspective on perspective that can change your entire way of seeing yourself and understanding the essential role you play in life.

Okay, so how does this help me in my everyday life? If I truly am a lens through which the universe focuses the knowing of itself, then I can stop chasing after awareness, for I am awareness. All that there is to be done is to keep my lens as clean and clear as possible, and to point it in the direction of love and light and joy and well-being, so that everything and everyone that is can know itself to be love and light and joy and well-being.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Freud can kiss my enlightened butt

Disclaimer: The following article contains nothing more than meandering thoughts, which are subject to change without notice. Any and all interpretation of the contents of this article as dogma is purely coincidental. Results may vary. Batteries not included. ”Enlightened Butt” is not a registered trademark.


Enlightenment or being awake is not a state that once achieved remains static and constant. It is a process, and like all processes it has stages. However, once the threshold from asleep to awake has been crossed, there is no going back. Being enlightened is a constantly unfolding experience that has no end point. There is always a new greater level to step into, or a deeper layer of delusion to strip away.

I don’t know enough about modern psychology to offer any kind of accurate commentary, but I seem to recall a great many people in the 1980’s signing up for psychoanalysis. By the 1990’s what was described as “Therapy” seemed to grow in popularity. From what I understand, the theories of Sigmund Freud and his contemporaries seemed to dominate these practices. Phrases such as “Daddy issues”, “Mommy issues”, “Sexual repression” and “Abandonment issues” started to filter into our vocabulary. I have no intention of diminishing the authenticity or validity of these labels nor the aspects of human psychology from which they have sprung. However, I am not convinced that exploring these topics from a purely mind and ego based perspective is the most useful approach.

And so it is that most people find themselves in adulthood carrying a mixed bag of “issues”. There are as many different ways in which these false thoughts and beliefs will show up as there are different people. For those who have awakened there is often an initial stage which I’ve heard described as “Transcendence”. As our awareness elevates, it can bypass the heavier and darker energies that are been carried in the mind and body. As greater spaciousness opens up within us, we have the option to dwell mostly in this new found space. We may not necessarily have dealt with our old issues, but we have risen above them. This can sometimes be mistaken for resolution, but during this stage it doesn’t matter because we feel good, and it feels good to feel good. We can experience this transcendent phase for weeks, months, years or even decades.

There is, however, a stage that lies beyond transcendence. It is a stage we tend to hear very little about. In this next phase we return to the body. Our awareness shifts from a space that feels a bit like floating above or outside of our body to a space that is deeply rooted and integrated into the body and mind of our current physical form. And on our return we may be disappointed to discover that our old issues have not been resolved after all, and are still sitting there waiting for us. But there is no need to despair, and there is no need to run back to the therapist’s office. Why? Because the spaciousness that has grown inside of us gives us the opportunity to view these old issues with far more objectivity and a lot more distance. We have all the resources of a deeper and more direct connection to our higher selves. We have answers to questions we did not even know existed before our awakening. We don’t have to bypass or transcend our issues, we can face them head-on with an open heart and wide open eyes. We can shine the light of awareness onto these old false beliefs and work through them from our new perspective. There is immense relief in no longer being controlled or terrorized by old issues. Freud can kiss our enlightened butts!

But there is a potential twist in this tale. And it is not a pleasant one. And it is certainly not one you will hear mentioned by new age gurus who are trying to sell you enlightenment. Along with the weakening of the ego that accompanies enlightenment, comes a new and profound disinterest in many of the objects, activities and interactions that used to engage, titillate, stimulate or otherwise feed our egos. What’s wrong with that?, you may ask. Well consider for a moment which aspects of your life are fully or partially based on fear, need, desire and attachment. Now imagine feeling almost complete apathy toward all of these aspects. Most of what you felt driven or inspired by your ego to pursue or engage in feels wholly uninteresting now. In some cases even repulsive. Climbing the career ladder, accumulating experiences or material possessions, impressing your friends, possibly even your interest in romantic relationships, having children, or travelling the world can fall away. As the world around you continues to feverishly pursue all it’s ego-based wants and needs, it will expect you to continue to engage with it on that same level. In fact it will more than expect it, it will demand it. You will still have bills to pay! However, for you anything less than love, connection, truth and awareness will begin to feel more and more uncomfortable and painful and exhausting. When this occurs at a stage in your journey where you thought you were heading toward less suffering, it can feel like a betrayal to experience a whole new wave of suffering. A new kind of suffering for which traditional psychology does not cater.

So on the one hand your inner world has expanded to the point where old trauma can be resolved with relative ease, but on the other hand the world outside is now so far misaligned with your inner world that this contrast can cause you immense pain and suffering. What inspired and motivated you before may now feel small and meaningless. Small irritations that were previously overlooked because of the ego-rewards that were won in spite of them, may now feel overwhelmingly frustrating. Add to this the heightened sensitivity that often accompanies a growth in consciousness, and it may all start to feel a bit too much.

I was thinking about giving this article the title “Enlightenment Sucks!”, but decided that such a strong statement would not be the best place to start. I thought it better to build up to the idea that enlightenment may not always feel like the “Rainbows and Unicorns” Utopia we thought it would. It is about time we admit this to ourselves and others. In that way we can share our experiences and offer advice and support to each other as we navigate this uncharted and often turbulent ocean. We do not choose or decide to awaken, when the fruit is ripe it will fall from the tree of delusion and into the ocean of awareness. This process is inevitable and unstoppable. But let’s stop sugarcoating the reality of this experience and work together to find new ways of coping with these new challenges. The old maps are no longer of any use, it is up to us to chart new maps.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Embracing the Emptiness

Whether or not you are someone who claims to be actively seeking enlightenment, or whatever it is you believe enlightenment to be, it is not uncommon that catching a glimpse of it may raise unexpected feelings of angst. I've heard the eternal space of “I am” within each of us described in many ways. Some descriptions make it sound very appealing, words such as “Stillness”, “Spaciousness”, “Peace”, “Oneness” and “Awareness”. There are, however, other words that are equally as accurate that not only sound far less appealing, but may even induce feelings of fear and repulsion, such as “Nothingness” and “Emptiness”.

Every human being perceives the world in a way that is a unique combination of their personality, the way they have been socialised and conditioned, their life experience, their body and brain chemistry, their genetics etc. There is also an aspect of every soul incarnate as a human being that carries a unique vibrational signature and possibly even imprints left by past lives. At some point all these elements will come together in such a way that we become consciously aware of the eternal stillness within us.

Now you would think that this rendezvous with our truest selves would feel exciting and inviting and we’d feel like diving right in. But this is not always the case. Sometimes this space feels less like joy and peace and more like emptiness. Our minds and egos often reel against anything that feels threatening to them. They have been in control for so long that they are unlikely to surrender to any experience in which they are not calling the shots. They will more than likely put up a fight. Their weapon of choice is one with which we are all familiar, fear.

In an attempt to find more accessible words to describe the still awareness within us I came up with the phrase (also the title of this blog), “That which wants nothing”. This is another element of surrendering to the emptiness that may result in feelings of discomfort. We have been conditioned to believe that what motivates us as human beings to keep moving onward and upward is desire. The societies in which we live seem to be driven by desire. Step one is to want something and step two is to figure out how to get it. We believe that this is the force that keeps us moving and propels us forward. Given our conditioned belief that wanting is a large motivating factor in our lives, it is not surprising that entering into a space that wants no thing would feel threatening. And yes, it is true that depending on your personality type, stepping into the emptiness may result in some initial passivity. As the mind and ego drop away so do many of their desire or fear based incentives for activity. However, what will rise up in their place is creativity. At some point you will find yourself less motivated by wanting and more motivated by the divine creative fire that burns at the heart of the source of all that is. You will no longer be motivated into action by fear, and instead will be moved into action by grace.

My point is this, the flowery language sometimes used to describe enlightenment may seduce you into pursuing it, but in reality the experience of entering into the space where enlightenment dwells may feel frightening to the mind and ego. It can at first feel like emptiness and the angst the mind and ego experiences when faced with this may cause you to turn away. Try to move beyond this initial fear and instead choose to lean into the emptiness and eventually embrace it. Allow your experience of it to simply be what it is, and what you will find is so much more than what you imagined.