© 2011, Ziana de Bethune, CWC, CRMT
Certified Life Coach, Certified Reiki Master Teacher
(From the book, Somewhere Between Monk and Madness,
A Modern Christian’s Guide To Zen Living, by Ziana de Bethune)
The very best of what we are is not so much the colors
and shapes that appear on the canvas that represents us,
but in the Ether between the Artist's Mind and His Creation .
In the Ether…the regions of space beyond the earth's atmosphere,
somewhere between the Heavens and the mystical beauty
upon which we dream on starry nights.
When I look back at my life through the telescopic lens of hindsight, I see how every meaningful experience I've had (good and bad) everything I have studied, every talent that I was blessed with, and every single person who had an effect on me, were really all the works of Divine Hands molding my clay into what I am now, to do just what I'm doing.
My journey continues while my Sculptor continues to refine me, so as to define what sort of legacy I will leave behind, and what Truths I will take with me when I move on. It's been through over fifty-five years of hits, misses and total failures that I've come to realize that if I can't take a thing with me when I go, then I shouldn't be willing to trade off any part of my soul to have it.
Isn't it something how the most important part of us is something we can't see? The placement of the soul has preoccupied the minds of Theologists and Philosophers for eons, and we still don't have a concrete answer. We someone says, “point to yourself,” we generally point to our hearts or for some, the solar plexus. But when someone says “point to your soul,” where do we point?
Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650), dubbed “The Father of Modern Philosophy,” believed that the Pineal Gland was the principal seat of the soul, and the place in which all our thoughts are formed. The Pineal Gland is often referred to the Epiphysis Cerebri, and is also known as "Third Eye.” It's tucked in a groove near the center of the brain between the left and right lobes.
Decartes may have been right. Perhaps the “Third Eye” is receptor for that which goes on in the spirit or metaphysical world. Sort of like a portal through which we can connect with that which is not in this concrete world of ours. When I think of where, exactly, my soul or spirit may be located, for some unknown reason I want to point firstly to the top of my head, but then as my hand drifts up there both of my arms instinctively want to spread out and reach for the Heavens.
Am I delusional? I don't know. Maybe I am. Then again, maybe I am onto something. In the Gnostic Text, the Gospel of Thomas (Doubting Thomas) is written:
“Jesus said, 'If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.' "
Did you get that part? “Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you.” Inside and outside.
Let's look at this text again. 'If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you.” Why would the birds of the sky precede you? Because the birds are of the sky and the sky belongs to the birds. It's their domain. “If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you.” Why? Because fish are of the sea and the sea is the domain of the fish. “Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father.” Why? Because what is inside of us is of the Father, and since our Father is the Creator of all that ever was, and all that will ever be, as “sons of the living Father,” we would inherit the whole works – all that is inside of us, by coming to know ourselves, and all that is outside of us, by inheritance.
Just saying', y'know? Everything we need to know is in the ancient texts, some of which were included in what has become our Holy Bible, and some from the Gnostic Texts, but sometimes we have to look at meanings within meanings, or at one single word which seems to have no great importance the first few hundred times we see it, until one day we look again and that one word jumps out at us, and changes the whole context of that which we had been reading.
Our spirits (souls) are not tangible things, and those of us who are believers know for sure that there is a spirit world beyond this one. Through the ages, many of us have put to sleep the part of us which is capable of understanding anything outside the physical realm. Perhaps it's because we have become so consumed by physicality that we've unknowingly tethered our own ankles to something solid, the way a falcon trainer tethers a bird to a post, so that we can't fly. But I think that if we're going to ever touch something real – much more real and everlasting than anything on this planet – we must be able to cut the chain that keeps us tethered to this concrete sub-reality, and free ourselves from bondage.
Let's use the Matrix (starring Keanu Reeves) as an example of why I call this a sub-reality. Before Neo was introduced to Morpheus and company, he questioned his “reality” sometimes. He had a feeling there was something amiss with the whole thing. Upon meeting Morpheus, he was awakened to the “real world,” which was really a ravaged wasteland where humanity had been captured by a race of machines that lived off of their body heat. Their real bodies were kept in “pods,” while their minds were imprisoned within an artificial reality.
Here are the likenesses: In this sub-reality in which we live, we're experiencing the same sort of brain-feeding, that has got many of us believing that this reality is the only thing there is. Most of us know that something is amiss, because we're just not happy. But we keep doing what we do because there seems to be no way to get off the treadmill. The race of machines feeding off our body heat are comparable to the governmental and commercial “agents” that keep on drilling into our heads that the lack of money is the cause of our problems, and that the management and acquisition of more of it is the solution, and more “things” are just what we need to help us feel safe and satisfied. They know where to target us: In the primal part of our awareness (Root Chakra, for those who know about chakras) that panics when it appears as if our basic physical wants and needs won't be met, and our safety is in jeopardy.
None of these “agents” could care a flying' bat's fart about your spirit, or mine, or anyone else's. Spirit is often reprogrammed right out of us. In fact, the mention of it has been pretty much banned in most work places and most educational facilities, and unless we're fortunate enough to work in an environment where there are a few believers, spirituality or religion is not something that is ever incorporated into the biggest chunk of our lives. I would dare to say that these days, if you do bring up your religious or spiritual beliefs, a great many will roll their eyes and tune you out, as if you're wasting your time believing in something that doesn't exist. 1/3 of each day, for about five days per week, we spend at work.
Nearly that much of a child's school day is spent in a non-spiritual environment (unless they attend separate schools.) And on top of that, in this city that I live in, if I wanted my daughter to attend a Catholic School, I would be dinged an extra $700 or more per year for that privilege. I won't pay it...and many, many parents just can't afford it.
Now...another 1/3 of each day is spent scrambling around getting things done, cooking, cleaning, taking care of our elderly parents, doing laundry, picking up or dropping off clothing at the dry cleaners, etc., and getting from one location to the other. It's a frantic race against time.
The last third is spent sleeping. IF we're lucky.
Where, in there, is there allowance for the spirit to unfold and flourish? We have been pretty well assimilated into the “Borg.” Strapped in, plugged in, turned on and set on Warp Speed. So, many of us run this frantic race until we retire, and then all of that insanity is suddenly ripped out of our hands. Some are relieved that they will finally have time to breathe again. To see the places they longed to see, and cross a few things off their “bucket list” before they go. The “bucket list,” by the way, are probably things that the spirit is screaming and begging to experience, to fulfill its real purpose.
Sadly, others have long since lost touch with everything that really matters. The kids have all grown up and flown the coop, their spouses or life partners have found their own lives separate from them because they just never spent any quality time together. Their bodies are broken from so many years of neglect, but mostly from the pressures of society and work. They can't do much anymore. So they piddle away what precious few days they have left, feeling as if nobody needs them anymore, with hearts full of regret while wondering where time went.
Others even less fortunate, will lose their spouses to death. It's about the same scenario as the last, except that this group may be thinking they would trade a whole lot of yesterdays for the chance to just walk one more time along the beach with the one they loved. All that is left for them is to sit in the back yard, gathering dust like the rest of the discarded junk, and wait to die. Regrettably...they have not even had the time to get to know themselves. How sad. How very sad.
Our spirits are terribly, terribly neglected. The only thing we take with us...is faded and worn out. If it's the only thing we will take with us, then shouldn't it matter much, much more than it does?
I've made it my mission in this lifetime, to get to know who I am. Who I really, really am, so that when I become “unplugged” from this artificial reality, I just might be taking something with me that has some sparkle to it. Or I might actually leave something behind that has added to the Greater Good, instead of just a whole mess of clothing and junk and personal items that will end up in a Salvation Army donation box, or on the selling block at an estate auction somewhere. I want my life to mean more than that. I want to leave this world in just a little better shape than it was when I got here.
Do you know? I want it to matter.
Referring back to Native-American Spirituality for a moment, the Elders still maintain that the Creator belongs everywhere, and that He needs to be incorporated into our workday as well as in our private time, and also, that to remove Him from that compromises the strength of a very important segment in the Sacred Circle. I fully realize that this tradition is all but dead except in traditional Native-American circles, and I sure wish we could get it back, but we can't. At least not right now. The world doesn't seem ready.
But what we can do is spend more time getting to know ourselves at a much deeper level. We can steal some time, if that's what it takes, to examine the deepest parts of our own selves – both the good and the bad – so that we can reach that place of knowing ourselves...and of knowing “The All.”
I believe that we need to allow our souls to fly up into the “Ether,”more often than we do, to wholeheartedly merge with Holy Spirit and invite Him to reveal to us, all that we were meant to be. We need to ask Him to open our stubborn eyes and crack the hard, resistant casing around our hearts so that we can come closer to understanding what it is that He wants from each of us, and so that we can fulfill our individual purposes here on this journey.
We humans are pretty tough crowd to please. Very often we choose to think of life lessons as injustices, and justify our actions when they're contrary to the good of our spiritual health, because we're hell-bent on getting our own way, or because we just don't want to see the truth for what it really is. Or because doing what is right may cramp our styles or deprive us of something we want. So we take our own spin on how things are supposed to be. Then we recruit the help of our trusted friends to hear our sides of any story in hopes that they will tell us what we want to hear, and they do, because after all, a friend always covers our backs.
So we end up with three truths: The one that we believe, the friend's version, which usually agrees with ours more or less...and the Real Truth. There is only one real truth to every situation. We don't have to go to outside sources to find it. All we need to do is turn of the noise and sit quietly...and listen to the voice of spirit. Listen to it, even if it's not what we want to hear. Listen to it...and in listening, you will find the real you. The “unplugged” version.
Also in the book…
· Lily On The Rocks (Introduction)
· Ancient Wisdom (Bits of Ancient Wisdom)
· In The “Ether” (Getting to know ourselves)
· Imprints On The Soul (How we affect the lives of others)
· Acknowledge, Atone, Abolish (The path to spiritual growth)
· Cuts Leave Scars (A guide to the art of forgiveness)
· Freedom In A Cell Block (continuation of forgiveness)
· The Five Principals (To lead a more balanced, peaceful life)
· The “Right Religion” (Is there one?)
· Humility (A better life without “Ego”)
· Brain Pollution (How the world we live in pollutes us spiritually)
· Your Mount of Olives (The necessity of YOU time)
· Beyond Self (Less ME, more WE)
· Fingerprints in Time (What goes around, comes around)
· The Sexual Revolution (Self value)
· Chakras (The Seven Main Chakras and their functions)