Author Archives: gentlemanmystic

What If I’m Wrong?

This question can elicit from deep within us a terror of the worst sort, for it requires a forthright examination of our suppositions and suspicions and shines a light on dark places that we would much rather remain shadowed.

What if the ideas and hopes, the positions and assertions we hold dear are shown to be flawed or otherwise unreliable? What if those things in which we have invested our Energy, that we have defended and even promoted, turn out to be a house of cards? What, then, do we have? What, then, do we do?…

It is certain that we hesitate to question our beliefs because our culture preferentially rewards the “right” answer or the “right” action and summarily castigates and sanctions those which are “wrong” or “unacceptable.” It is this inculcated aversion to incongruity that can lead us to avoid the difficult work that may well reveal that which we would prefer to not acknowledge concerning our most cherished convictions. To put it bluntly, we find it embarrassing to be wrong. Embarrassment, however, is insufficient reason to cling doggedly to our inherited cultural mythologies or the mythologies we have painstakingly formulated and collected about ourSelves.

Then there is the doubt.

Should we discover a breach in the ramparts of our certainty, it is then that we may find our confidence is shaken and the poison of doubt has started to seep into the crevices of our Self-esteem. Doubt can be the most caustic and debilitating of adversaries.

The antidote to doubt is the recognition and acceptance of the verity that, so long as we are willing to be proven wrong, we can find peace (and even excitement!) in the knowledge that there is always more to see, always more to feel, always more to experience, always more to learn. “Wrong” does not have to be forever. Being wrong or mistaken or misguided is not an irreversible condition.

To ask “what if I am wrong” is a daunting question. It is a question, however, that the Self in search of integrity and a Life grounded in mindfulness of the Real must be bold and courageous enough to ask, over and over and over again.

©Billy Red Horse

What New Age?

As I related in my most recent post entitled CHOICE, I have no aversion to controversy, so I see little reason to waste your valuable Time today with preface or needless prevarication.  Though it might make those who consider themselves to be at the cutting edge of the New Age Movement uncomfortable, I have come to an inescapable conclusion: the New Age is no longer new and no longer relevant.  (Feel free to draw and quarter the messenger if you must, but this will in no way alter the veracity of his message.)  What began as a heartfelt and determined desire to cast off the manacles of institutionalized religion and reclaim a mystical connection to Divinity (and humanity’s corresponding Divine Nature) has over Time metamorphosed into a confused mishmash of conflicting and efficaciously questionable practices often characterized by cults of personality.  Given some of the things many practitioners of New Age spirituality often are willing to believe or do or pay outrageous sums of money for, is it any wonder that mainstream conformist society tends to consider such practitioners to be, at best, humorously misguided eccentrics or, at the worst, dangerously delusional psychotics?

Defending the “no longer new” aspect of my statement is done quite easily and in short order.  Though there was never a fountainhead, several names consistently come to mind when considering the emergence of the Aquarian New Age Movement.  Bailey, Blavatsky, Cayce, Crowley, and Fillmore were Occidentals who paved the way for the introduction to the West of many Eastern teachers and mystics, with but two examples being Paramahansa Yogananda and D.T. Suzuki.  The people mentioned above lived and worked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  No matter how you look at it, there ain’t a thing new about an Age that has been extant for (give or take) well over 100 years.  ‘Nuff said.

As for the admittedly provocative “no longer relevant” comment, I base my position on a dispassionate assessment of an observable lack of results.  For every person that achieves a genuine awakening or personal healing experience within some branch of the New Age paradigm, there are hundreds, even thousands, who do not.  As a result some give up, others return to more orthodox religion or medicine, while many continue to graze at the spiritual buffet in an effort to find even a morsel that will satisfy their hunger.  It can be argued that the fault lies with less than dedicated students, not the teacher or the discipline.  While this position has situational merit the question should be “what degree of practical and consistent efficacy does a given teaching and approach possess?”  All around I see people who have spent hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars on workshops and various otherworldly accoutrement for the stated goal of improving their lives, yet nothing (other than being lighter in the pocketbook) has changed.  They are just as bereft/ill/miserable now as they were the day their search began.  This is the crux of my contention.

I will now speak the unspeakable:  It is not without good reason that the New Age movement has long carried the stench of snake oil.  For every method or teacher capable of delivering what is promised there are innumerable incompetents and outright frauds that can’t.  New Age franchises tend to attract the intrigued and the gullible, and it is those who are the most easily hornswoggled.  The innocent, the desperate, and the lazy are usually the most susceptible to the charms of the quack or the crook.  Though the charlatans have done much to damage the integrity of a movement that began with such noble intentions, the blame for its persistent dubious credibility can be spread evenly between the mountebanks and the dilettantes who enable them.

My goal here is not criticism for its own sake and I will not presume to tell anyone what qualifies as a fraudulent discipline; that is for you to decide.  (I will, however, submit that it is never a bad idea to keep the phrase caveat emptor in mind.)  Neither am I challenging the purveyors of any method to prove to little-ol’-me that their approach is effective.  My challenge is to you, the genuine seeker, to not be blinded by the feel-good nonsense that is so readily available in the spiritual marketplace.  Any practice that demands nothing of a seeker beyond great quantities of cash and (sometimes) adoration of the teacher is, in the view of this heretical mystic, suspect.

Pumped up power-of-positive-thinking drones that, though thinking positively, take no ACTION to change their state are deserving of the limited results their feeble efforts bring.  And you can have all the psychic readings and chakra cleansings that money can buy but, if you don’t make changes to the way you live your life as a result of the knowledge you gained from those readings and capitalize on the benefits of those purifications, you are wasting your money and your Time.  Nothing will ever replace the Time-honored and provable approach of sound theoretical knowledge combined with diligent and persistent work.

Instead of continuing to call an esoteric or mystical approach to spirituality by the outdated and meaningless handle New Age, maybe it would be better to call it Objective Mysticism or Practical Spirituality.  Unless, that is, the objective and/or the practical is not what you seek.  Unless, that is, the status quo is good enough for you.

©Billy Red Horse

Choice

“Far more than our abilities, it is our choices that show what we truly are.”
– Albus Dumbledore

To be called a heretic is an experience I have long savored and over the years I have had many opportunities to indulge my perverse enjoyment of being thus maligned.  No matter what spiritual discipline I have learned and taught, there has always been someone close by to wag a finger in my general direction and tell me just how wrong I am, how I am corrupting the teachings. It must be said that, when the textbook definition of the word heretic is considered, I truly am one!  A heretic is a person who holds controversial opinions, especially ones that publicly challenge officially accepted dogma.  That’s me all over!  It should therefore come as no surprise that I identify strongly with the Greek root of the word heretic.  That root is hairetikos, which means “able to choose.”

In the final analysis, everything comes down to choice.  The great motivational speakers all state that the quantity and severity of challenges we experience in our lives is of little importance.  How we choose to perceive and respond to those challenges is what matters.  Where others might choose to be victims of circumstance, it is the Spiritual Warrior who responds with life affirming choices (and actions) rather than reacting as though everything is beyond her control.  It is the simple choice between being at the cause or at the effect.

Most every choice we make is a point of departure that will lead to an inevitable destination.  The demand upon us to make choices is as incessant as it is unavoidable.  To quote a line from lyricist Neil Peart, “[Even] if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.”  To claim the power inherent in conscious choice is to simultaneously shoulder the burden of responsibility for the consequences of those choices.  It is this burden of responsibility that so frightens the average person and the reason so many prefer to let others make their choices for them.

We do not live alone in this world and no matter how considered one might be with regards to choices made, it is certain that those choices can and will be effected by the choices of others, those we know and those we don’t.  Is it not fair to ask that those who, as associates, friends, and coworkers, have the greatest access to (and, therefore, influence upon) us be at least as concerned with making conscious choices as are we?  This should give a person all the more reason to be selective about the company one keeps.

It may seem that in trying to consider the myriad of possible outcomes each choice could bring one could be easily overwhelmed, even to the point of mental and/or physical apoplexy.  This doesn’t have to be the case.  Gentle persistence is generally the best course when learning a new skill.  Learning how to make wise choices is no different.  Be aware of your choices and don’t be afraid to follow your instincts.

All humans are possessed of a dual nature that is equally adept at expressing the utmost love or manifesting lurid villainy.  What separates the killing fields from Elysian Fields is choice.  Whether we determine to Love or to Fear, to act or react, create or destroy is a function of how we use Energy.  It is our choices that send us down the infernal path and it is our choices that can redeem and Awaken us.

The meaning of Life is really quite simple:  Life is about choice.  Nothing has more influence on our lives and our happiness than the choices we make.  We are here because we choose to be.  Our life has the meaning we choose to give it.  Whether we live in the awareness of our elemental nature as a part of the world we inhabit and our spiritual nature as the offspring of Creation, or as victims of circumstance who are out of balance and out of control can only be decided by the individual.  Creation gives us sovereignty.  It is we alone who abdicate that sovereignty.  The Choice is ours.

There is so much darkness in the world, so very much pain that it often overshadows the Joy.  This does not have to be.  We are not condemned to the mire.  Beauty is but a choice away.

©Billy Red Horse

Darkness

Several years ago yours truly was engaged in a short email exchange with a friendly acquaintance.  For several years I had been an on again/off again counselor and confidant to this particular young lady and the exchange in question was precipitated by an earlier face-to-face encounter where I mentioned to her that she appeared to be down.  Below you will find our resulting electronic conversation:

—–Original Message—–
From: Doe, Jane 

I am in a dark mood today and it is spilling out.  I am sorry.  I will be better. 

———-
From: Mystic, The 

I enjoy my dark places.  In them I find elements of my Self that move me, that inform me, that steel me.  I freely admit that my greatness is forged in Darkness but is invigorated and given life when I shine forth my Light.  Do you embrace the Darkness?

———-
From: Doe, Jane 

No. 

———-
From: Mystic, The

Then you should know, my dear, that this rejection is the source of your misery.  In this you deny your Self.

Like most, my acquaintance rejected the darkness in her Being as inherently unpleasant and base, viewing it as something to be (at the very least) ignored or (if at all possible) conquered.

That evil is ascribed to darkness is an almost universal phenomenon, one that cuts across cultural lines and religious traditions.  We are indoctrinated from childhood to believe that in the darkness we will find only pain and suffering and all manner of sinister things.  We are given night lights to ward off the monsters that dwell under our beds and in our closets.  We are taught to fear darkness, explicitly and by example, not only in the physical realm, but the darkness that resides within our own Beings.

Should the truth be told, it is not darkness per se that people resist; it is the force of evil which is believed (rightly or wrongly) to inhabit the gloom that hobbles so many.  It has been my experience that, when observed and considered objectively, darkness and evil are not necessarily mutually inclusive.  More often than not, it is the unquestioned acceptance of darkness as the province of the wicked that perpetuates and promulgates the myth and continues to give it odious life in this so-called age of enlightened thought.  The benefits to be gained in the acceptance and integration of those valuable elements which abide in darkness far surpass (in this Mystic’s opinion, at least) the unreasonable cautions borne of an uninformed historical prejudice.

In my tradition the western energetic on an Earth Gate (Medicine Wheel) is viewed as the location of darkness and is identified by the color black.  Represented by the element of Earth, it is the looks-within place of introspection and intuition, is the realm of the human body, is considered negative/receptive, and is the matrix of feminine energy.  It should, therefore, not be surprising that most of the traits which were just mentioned are in whole or in part looked down upon or viewed in a disparaging light by a wide assortment of religions and philosophies and the people who subscribe to them.  To the partisans of superstition and ignorance nothing of value is to be culled in the shadows and the loss, quite deservedly, is their own.  At great peril they reject a valuable aspect of Reality in deference to their preferred brand of intolerance and bias.  Perhaps there truly IS a legitimate reason for these individuals to shun the darkness, as there is no night light which can ever shine brightly enough to protect such misguided souls from the inner demons wrought of their own creation.

For the traveler committed to a fuller understanding and experience of Life, it is vital that the darkness be explored and mapped in studied detail.  There is much to be learned there and even more to be gained if we can set aside our fears and acknowledge That-Which-Is.  It is when we deny and suppress the darkness that we engender strife, for in our denial we tend to feed and antagonize the beast most wish to remain quiet and hidden safely away in its cage.

Now, I no more suggest a wholesale cleaving to darkness at the exclusion of light than I espouse the rejection of darkness for the fanciful delusion of light as some manifestation of romantic mythical perfection.  Extremes are tinder for the fires of that most palpable of evils, fanaticism.

Seek balance and, through it all, don’t be afraid of the dark.

©Billy Red Horse

Good At What I do

I have a dear friend who is equal parts muse and sparring partner. For as long as I have known him, Thomas has been on the cutting edge of personal refinement and Self-development.  In his more than 20 years of practice as both a healer, teacher and entrepreneur he has had the opportunity of interacting with literally thousands of people. One of the skills he wields so expertly is the ability to draw information out of individuals through his masterful use of insight-inducing questions.  He recently told me that such a question he routinely asks of clients and students is “what makes you good at what you do?”  I found his query to be intriguing and worthy of a well considered response; below is mine –

1. I make me good at what I do.  I have to; no one else can do it for me.

2. My Life experience makes me good at what I do.

3. I am not always good at what I do.  It is beneficial (and Real) to admit one’s shortcomings, failures and weaknesses.  This Self-honesty helps to make me good at what I do.

4. My failures have helped to make me good at what I do.

5. The physical world around me helps to make me good at what I do.  Natural Law is my ally.

6. I am curious.

7. I try to stick to fundamentals.  Far too many people seek the fancy and are fascinated by the complicated.  Showy filigree, however, is always suspect without a solid elemental foundation.  Basics, basics, basics.

8. I value my Time.

9. I strive always to define my priorities and use wisely my power of Choice.

10. I recognize that there is always more.

+ + + + +

So, dear reader, what is it that makes YOU good at what you do?

©Billy Red Horse

A Single Sentence

I very often procure new reading materials from the fine folks at amazon.com.  When researching a title I am interested in, but don’t already know a great deal about, it is my custom to consider any attendant reviews of the book that are posted there.  As a rule I tend to immediately eliminate from consideration the 5 star (highest) and 1 star (lowest) ratings and focus on the remaining 2 through 4 star appraisals.  (The 5 star ratings often tend toward giddy hyperbole in the positive while the 1 star reviews, should they be even remotely germane, skew regularly toward a cynical hyperbolic opposite.  I find neither suitable to the making of an informed purchasing decision.)  Depending on the genre and topic of the title in question I weigh, among other things, the relative merits discussed regarding the author’s grasp of the subject matter and ability to elucidate their understanding, readability and writing style, and the reviewer’s overall impression and comments on the book.  While I might over the years have deprived myself of some otherwise satisfying reads by rejecting them on the basis of a generally unfavorable aggregative assessment, I cannot recall ever being particularly disappointed in a book chosen intuitively and with the aid of an assemblage of lucid favorable critiques.

I have noticed of late a tendency in many lower-rated reviews to include the seemingly disparaging assertion that the message of the book under consideration could be distilled down to a single sentence (or two) and that the book is, therefore, not worth the price of purchase or even the time required to read it.  Though the intent of the reviewer might be to sound a warning, such a pronouncement engenders a likely unintended response in yours truly; rather than serve as an automatic disqualifier, a book that can be accurately described as reducible to a mere sentence or two appeals greatly to my sense of appreciation for fundamentals.

In my own work I take great pains to stress the basics in all that I do.  While they may not be sexy or glamorous, experience has shown me time and time again that core practices and fundamental principles are nothing if not efficacious.  A book that can have its central theme stated clearly and with brevity is a book that I can relate to and usually learn a great deal from.

Our contemporary Western culture seems to confer undue merit upon the notion of complexity.  The more involved and Gordian (or so the thinking goes), the more significance and intrinsic value an object or thought holds.  Is this always true?  Time and experience would suggest otherwise.  Sophistication does not demand complexity.  In fact, true sophistication often dwells in the realm of the subtle.  Simplicity and sophistication are not mutually exclusive.

Returning to the succinctly-themed discourse under consideration: how well does the author elaborate and explain their theme?  Is the explanatory meat on the bones of concision lean in constitution and plentiful in amount, or is the greater portion fat, the likes of which truly does do very little to warrant purchase or consumption?  Rather than whether the work is elaborately realized or not, it is these concerns that truly matter.

All things are composed of constituent elements.  The elemental is the foundation upon which all movement, intricacy, and complexity is built.  To find a comfort in and with the elemental is to better position oneself to witness magic.

©Billy Red Horse

Tend Your Garden

There is but one Element that constitutes the entirety of all existence in the Manifest Universe, and that Element is Energy.  Energy is everything and everything is Energy.  Even with a never-ending supply of this omnipresent stuff of Creation to be had, there are those that still somehow manage to dilute it, to weaken its situational efficacy, to squander both opportunity and promise.

Consider a certain aspiring gardener.  Our novice wishes to be the warden of a small but thriving garden box of miniature roses  He prepares the box with the finest soil appropriate for what it is he wishes to grow and then fixes within its confines several of the most healthy bare root bushes he can find.  The box is then set in a place of prominence where the Sun will fall on it in just the right amount.  Pure water and plant food are added as needed and then Nature is trusted to work Her magic.

For the first week or two, the incipient roses are tended daily.  Any invading weeds are winnowed and, being a forward-thinking and conscientious chap, our gardener lavishes all this attention from a place of Love.

Then something happens.  After a few weeks, the daily tending becomes every other day, then every three days.  The more Time that passes, the less attention the box of roses receives.

Finally, one day the gardener is taken aback by the sad state his once thriving box of roses has achieved.  “Why has this happened?” he asks.  “What can I do to remedy this situation?”  After careful consideration, he settles on a plan.

Rather than redouble his efforts to nurture the now neglected roses by tending more diligently to this first box, he acquires a new box and populates it with . . . tomato plants.

Again, Time passes.  Tomato plants follow roses, then bonsai trees follow tomatoes; and so the proceedings go, box after box, on and on, one after another after another.

And what of those like our gardener?  Are they lazy?  Hardly!  Their inattentiveness cannot be ascribed correctly to laziness; the very fact that so much effort is, Time and Time again, expended in creation of an ever-lengthening chain of enterprise is irrefutable evidence to the contrary.  Lethargy is not the culprit; a lack of focus, the absence of diligence, and a dearth of patience is.

So many are like a butterfly flitting from one flower to the next, chasing thoughts or undertakings or dreams, constantly in motion but seldom given to abiding long enough for an agreeable denouement to be experienced.  Sometimes, the thought process is “this didn’t work right away so I’ll try something else” or “this sort of worked, but I think I’ll try something else” or “this worked really well but it could have worked even better, so I think I’ll go try something else.”  Distraction and boredom are the enemies of focus and follow-through.  Knowing when (or if) something should be dispensed with is one thing; effectively aborting a still-viable potential is something else entirely.

To see a thought through takes Time.  It takes more Time still for complex things or endeavors to bloom in their fullness and to grow into the totality of their Beauty.  It is nothing short of foolish to give something less attention than it requires only to then express subsequent frustration or bewilderment that this something is now found wanting.

Tend your garden.  Nurture.  Persevere.  Acknowledge.  Respect.  Focus.  Repeat.  Then plant something new.

©Billy Red Horse

The Sixth Sense: A Radical Theory

Have you ever had a gut feeling?  Of course you have.  And it is very probable that, more often than not, any time you chose to “follow your gut” in a given manner, things likely worked out very well for you.  And how many times have you opted to ignore your gut, only to find yourself in a predicament, one where, after all was said and done, you berated yourself for failing to listen to that inner voice saying, “I knew it, I knew, I knew it!…”?

Intuition.  Perception through extrasensory means.  The sixth sense.  Whatever one chooses to call this faculty, it is one we all possess.  The line of demarcation is in how attuned we are to information of this nature when it is presented, how accurately we interpret its meaning, and how consistently and efficaciously we apply it in our lives.

It is highly unlikely that the means of intuitive insight are the result of any sort of supernatural or otherwise inexplicable origin.  Just as the five commonly acknowledged senses are all based in the physical, so too must this heightened perceptual ability be grounded in the corporeal.

One hypothesis (and, perhaps, the most mundane) is that intuition is simply the result of an unconscious awareness on our part through the observation of common everyday environmental signals or patterns that, because they are so common, tend to go unnoticed by the conscious eye and mind.  When intuiting and interacting with other people specifically, it is posited that we perceive and respond instinctually to the myriad of all but undetectable facial behavioral tells known as microexpressions.  Moving along this avenue of supposition, what you see, even if you don’t know that you see it, is what you get.

Another and, to my way of thinking at least, more intriguing possibility is the gut itself.  Dr. Michael D. Gershon relates in his book THE SECOND BRAIN that the neural pathways in the human intestinal tract are so numerous and complex that the enteric nervous system (ENS) is capable of functioning independent of the central nervous system (CNS).  Dr. Deepak Chopra has opined that a gut feeling originating in the ENS is quite simply every cell in the human body making a decision.  Though there is currently no hard and fast evidence to support an unqualified declaration that the ENS is endowed with a consciousness that is in any way comparable to that operative in the “first brain,” is it possible that this “second brain” which we all possess is capable of a form of autonomous “thinking” that, in tandem with the CNS and the Human brain, contributes to a fuller perception and sensate awareness of things seen and unseen?

There is yet another possibility.  Perhaps our thoughts are not our own.

The Human Microbiome Project, a multi-disciplinary medical research program initiated in 2008, has compiled some rather startling (and some would say disturbing) findings regarding the makeup of the human body and the microorganisms that are present in the very fiber and filament of our earthly transits, not the least of which is the fact that, for every Human cell a body contains, it is outnumbered by a factor of no less than 10 to 1 by microbes of various make and model.  Percentage wise, we are 10% human and 90% microbe.  The greatest portion of this microbial mass is bacterial in origin; the average Human body contains between two and six POUNDS of bacteria and other microorganisms in and on its surface, with the majority of this bacteria contained in the digestive system.  We are not just Human beings; we are veritable ambulatory self-contained ecosystems.

Before proceeding further, let me put any overwrought minds at ease – these bacteria are absolutely critical for the function and maintenance of the Human body.  Without them, we would die, plain and simple.  The synthesis of needed vitamins, reducing our susceptibility to infectious disease, and the growth stimulation of needed critical lymphatic tissues are just a few of the necessary functions these tiny friends perform in the continuance of our species.

The full extent of our relationship to and dependence upon bacteria for our survival has yet to be explored but continues to expand with each scientific discovery.  For instance, we have always been admonished to get outside more often and be in nature for the benefit of our health.  But are you aware that exposure to certain bacteria (Mycobacterium vaccae) found in the great outdoors may well make you smarter?

Another very interesting recent discovery about this unseen world within each of us is the fact that bacteria have the ability to communicate, not only with members of their own “tribe” but with bacterial species other than their own.  Bacteria are aware of their surroundings and aware of their neighbors, cognizant of changes in their environment and responsive as a group to those changes.  What I wonder is this: can these organisms, which are undeniably as much a part of us as our bones and our brains, communicate with us?  Can the intuition and insight which our very language positions as being in our gut have as their point of origin a collective life form with billions of years of history on this planet?  Can we understand and in turn communicate with them through hormonal and enzymatic secretions resulting from our emotional and mental states at any given moment?  Are they us and are we them?

All language is symbolic, whether it be written, auditory, or otherwise; chemical language is no different.  The language of chemistry communicates to our bodies how to move, to heal, to reproduce, to digest, to adapt.  It is not inconceivable that we are equipped and adept at eavesdropping on the group mind that resides on us and deep within our viscera as it/they respond in kind to chemical thoughts and questions we unknowingly present to them.

Do I think the microbiome exerts a conscious influence over our actions?  No.  Their goal is survival and continuity, and they have billions of years of precedent to vouch for their success in the achievement this goal.  Any actions they take will be solely to that end.  Do I believe the microbiome to be the singular locus of Human intuition?  No, in fact, I think it more likely that the intuitive sixth sense is a combination of all three of the previously discussed options: unconscious awareness, the enteric nervous system, and the microbiome, all three performing in concert with the aware conscious mind to achieve apparently improbable results.

A fifth ingredient yet to be added to the stew is that of spatial energy.  What do I mean by this?  Spatial energy (for want of a better term) is that spatial/temporal displacement/non-displacement that exists between even the smallest subatomic particles that may well be the informing and energetic potential that is the binding and enlivening force of creation.  Spatial energy must surely contain information and/or itself be a conduit for such information.  Again, nothing supernatural is suggested here, just a function of physics as yet to be understood.  But that is another topic for another day.

I am certain that many a doctoral thesis could be researched and authored on the role of the microbiome and its cognitive interaction and function in the Human arena.  Perhaps, one day, I’ll have the opportunity to read such a thesis and find my intuition on the matter validated.

So, there you have it.  How did I arrive at this most unusual theory?  A little bacterium told me…

©Billy Red Horse

Hell On Earth

I am here today to convey a warning that, alas, only the wise shall heed: Hell is VERY real.  I know for I have been there.  I have experienced first hand the misery of the place, smelled the stench of the ovens and the countless bodies that have passed through the gates, and heard with my own ears the cacophony of the tortured souls contained therein.  How I found myself, an unwilling guest, there among the damned, I do not know; obfuscation and confusion are allies of the tormentors and the scourge of the tormented.  I recognize my good fortune in that I somehow managed to escape, by what means I cannot say.  I know only that my gratitude at being free of that wretched realm is without bounds.  I now feel it my duty to sound the alarm, to alert the unknowing, the unwitting, and the unbelieving, for the portals of damnation are often close and perilously easy to enter.

Through subtle plea or determined summons, the unsuspecting are enticed into the maw of the abyss, as if guided by the hand of an innocent little child.  The curious and the obliging make such easy prey.  Once through the gates the assault on body, mind, and senses begins.  The false promises of fun and games give way swiftly to a stunned awareness that condemnation is at hand.

Hell is a place of darkness, yet it is filled with lights of dazzling color and variety, oscillating madly and blinding in their intensity.  From every shadowy corner they shine on the assembled throngs, oppressive and unrelenting.  There is no solace to be found, for should one light begin to dim, another will take its place, more offensive and more odious than the one it superseded.

Detritus litters the ground, piled high and scattered all about, decomposing where it sits.  Cries and shouts like thunder assault the ears as demonic orchestras grind out their tortured melodies.  As for respite, there is none to be had, only discomfort and mayhem and distress.

The last thought there is of hunger, but the minions of blackness foist their potions and poisons on the gathered denizens, so-called “food” prepared and served that at once offends the nostrils and turns the stomach, a mockery of the real needs of the cursed.

In this land all is frenzied and kinetic; demons run to and fro, laughing as they torture the masses and even one another.  The den of suffering is populated by creatures difficult to describe, with no comparison to be found in nature.  Vile Myomorpha the size of full-grown men, taunting and teasing, beasts that sing high praise and dance with glee at the folly of the damned.  Lurking in mazes or trapped in cages, it is often difficult to discern the prisoners from the ungrudging sentinels of Beelzebub.

No more, no more, I can speak of my travail no more!  Should, by hapless circumstance, my shadow ever again darken the kingdom of torment, I fear I would not be so lucky as to elude for a second time the fiends abiding there which delight in the agonies of another.  I confess the very thought brings a sweat to my brow and the trembles to my knees.

Hades, Tartarus, Sheol, Gehenna, and Tophet, all ancient names for the Land of the Lost.  But be warned and be wary for there is yet another name for Perdition’s abode.  Be vigilant and permit no one to lure you there and dare not even to utter its infernal name:

Chuck E. Cheese’s.

©Billy Red Horse

Burn Notice

The HISTORICAL DICTIONARY OF INTERNATIONAL INTELLIGENCE by Nigel West offers the following definition for the term Burn Notice– “When a Central Intelligence Agency source has proved unreliable, a warning known as a Burn Notice is distributed, alerting personnel with responsibility for the recruitment or running of sources not to have any further contact with that individual.”  As the opening monologue of the old USA Network TV show BURN NOTICE related, “When you’re burned, you’ve got nothing: no cash, no credit, no job history.  You’re stuck in whatever city they decide to dump you in…(y)ou rely on anyone who’s still talking to you…(b)ottom line: As long as you’re burned, you’re not going anywhere.”

Join me in a piquant thought experiment:  Though you are most likely not a spy, intelligence informant, or even a breaker of law beyond that of an occasional moving violation, what would you do if you were to be the recipient of your own Burn Notice? What if you suddenly found yourSelf without credit, no access to your savings accounts, no record with any governmental, banking or business entity that you have ever existed?  People that once knew you deny they have ever even met you, let alone admit to having any sort of relationship to or with you.  Those hard copies you have of your birth certificate, your mortgage, your divorce decree?  Well, as there is no official record of these documents anywhere, then they must be clever forgeries.  If this happened to you, how would you respond?  Would you exert all possible energies to convince people of who you were and to reclaim what you feel is rightfully yours?  Would you, like the protagonist in the TV show, seek out the person or entity behind your burning? What would you do if, despite your best attempts, you were unable to reclaim that which was once yours?  Would you flounder? Would you spend the remainder of your days sulking and bemoaning your situation?  Would you start over?

Technology can fail.  In today’s modern digital society, it is not so far from the realm of possibility that you might, indeed, find yourSelf on the receiving end of your own version of a Burn Notice.  Though it might not be orchestrated by an unspecified shady governmental cabal or the result of some criminal enterprise out to purloin the identities of the unsuspecting, and though it might not be as total as that experienced by a burned spy, you still may one day find yourSelf in the position of having to prove who you are and exist without access to your digitally stored virtual resources until the matter can be resolved.  Could you do this?  Do you have sufficient liquid resources spread around and available should you require them?  Do you have multiple copies of relevant important documents stored in various secure locations?  Most importantly, in a worst case scenario, do have the fortitude to start over from scratch if you needed to?

Don’t get burned against your will.  Against your will?  An interesting concept which sets us off in an entirely new and intriguing direction.  Look at your Life.  Look at your tendencies. Look at the way you habitually respond to situations and circumstances.  Look at the good.  Look at the bad.  What if…what if you were to issue your own Burn Notice…to yourSelf?

How would your Life be different if you were to burn those traits that no longer served you?  What if you erased the behaviors that held you back or, worse, harmed you?  While it is not possible to avoid the consequences of our prior choices, decisions, and actions by “burning” them, it IS possible to create a “new identity” for ourselves, to move toward becoming the person we want to be.  Change your mind, change your approach, and you will most certainly change your Life.

Perhaps a Burn Notice is not such a scary thing after all.

©Billy Red Horse