Category Archives: experience

Expectations

Expectations can be problematic.  Because of the challenges inherent in expectations, there are those who label them as “bad” or “undesirable” and suggest that, as such, they should be jettisoned in their entirety.  The fact is that expectations (in their purest expression) are neutral and have have no ethical component or character, one way or the other.  The difficulty with expectations comes when we are attached to the way in which these expectations must be realized or fulfilled.  “Any deviation from the way I expect things to be is painful and unacceptable.”  Indeed, this perspective truly is fraught with peril.  Another point of impingement is when we impose our expectations on others without their knowledge or consent.  This, too, is a sticky wicket.

A meritorious and efficacious expression of expectations is to consider them to be not unlike routes.  Think of it this way: you have a destination in mind.  You have a good idea of where this destination is in relation to your current position and, in order to move toward this destination, you plot a course that will take you there.  This course may be the most direct, it may be the most scenic, it may be the most leisurely or any of a number of possible permutations.  This course is your expectations.  The problem arises when it is thought that there is only one “right” way for the route to be followed, only one way to reach your destination.  If there is flexibility in your expectations (your course), then you have options and are not attached to outcomes.  Flexibility leads to discovery.

There is usually more than one way.  Expect it…

©Billy Red Horse

A Matter Of Convenience

I grew up in a time and place when telephones were quite common.  TELEPHONES, not cell phones and certainly not smart phones.  The telephones I speak of were dependable and utilitarian.  In the 1960s of my youth, almost every house had a telephone, ONE telephone, that is, a single phone for the entire household.  This telephone had a rotary dialer (anyone under the age of 35 will likely need to Google the term) and a handset that was permanently attached to the base of the phone by a thick and curly cord, a base that was itself permanently tethered by wire to a wall or baseboard, lacking even the more “modern” feature of being wired with 4-prong phone jack which could allow a phone to be unplugged from a wall outlet in one room and moved to another room.  There were no answering machines, either.  If you missed a call, well, tough.  They’d just have to call back if it was that important.  And this was enough.

Now our new wireless handsets put us at the beck and call (pun intended) of, potentially, the entire world.  How many times have you been engaged in a face-to-face conversation with someone, only to have their cell phone ring and interrupt?  “I’m sorry but I really need to take this call.  It’ll only take a minute.”  Or the times that a serenade of cute/vile/witty/obnoxious/ad infinitum notifications announce the arrival of a text or an email or a social media status update?  How invasive.  How rude.  And how unnecessary.

I will admit with no hesitation that my own smart phone is customarily within easy reach (though almost never on my person) in a location where I can quickly retrieve it should I need it.  And, as often as not, the phone is on airplane mode, whether day or night.  Therein lies the point of this entire dispatch – my phone is for MY convenience, not for the immediate access to me by anyone else with the technology required to do so.  The instantaneous incursion of the rest of the world into my space is something I no longer tolerate or allow.  “But what happens if you miss something important?” people will ask.  My very comfortable response is a smile and a gentle reminder that, if it’s that important they’ll leave a voice mail or call back.  It is the artificial urgency technology permits that engenders so much stress in our bodies and our minds.  FOMO – fear of missing out – is a menace that is both insidious and destructive.  This is a stress that is completely within my power to reduce greatly if not eliminate entirely.  All that is required is the flip of a virtual switch.

Lest there be any confusion as to my intentions and ultimate goals, I am not a Luddite.  I don’t think technology is inherently dangerous or a threat to all that is good and right with the world.  It is my aim, however, to not be swayed by the priorities or narratives of a culture that does not have my best interests at heart.  To put it bluntly, my phone is for my convenience and no one else.

Those old telephones (with their features as well as their limitations) were a convenience that served me well for decades.  Using new tech in an old way serves me quite well now.  It is, for me, enough.

©Billy Red Horse

Zen Is

Lurk about any establishment where Zen is rumored to occur and you’re likely find a bunch of uncommonly quiet (and, usually, very pleasant) folk struggling diligently with everything from reducing their levels of daily stress to the admittedly ambitious search for universal personal enlightenment.  For a spiritual discipline that is perceived to be, at its very core, a minimalist endeavor, Zen is possessed of quite a number of ways and means to pursue the practitioner’s goals, whatever those might be.

Koans, sutra studies, techniques and approaches are all valuable and have their place in a vibrant Zen practice.  That being said, each of these systemic cogs is, regardless of how much importance the zensu might choose to attribute to them individually or as a constituent, very often something our practice could just as easily do without.  All you really “need” is yourself and a place to sit quietly and do nothing.  Fancy zafu and zabuton cushions are all the rage (and quite nice), but a simple folded blanket will do in a pinch to support one’s backside during seated meditation.  For that matter, a piece of ground to sit on and a tree to lean against will often yield more results if the practitioner is willing to focus on the practice rather than divertissements.   Can you still your mind?  Will you still your mind?

Through the years I have often encountered those I classify as “Runner’s World” Zen students.  Who are they?  Think of the runner that has the latest in high-tech foot wear, a drawer full of moisture-wicking attire, a pair of $180 Julbo Ultra sunglasses with photochromic lens, a digital heart monitor and, of course, a subscription to Runner’s World magazine.  The problem, though, is that  they never run.  Forget the bells and whistles – just run.  Or, in our case, just sit.

Zen asks nothing of us but our focus and our intent.  Zen is greater than the sum of its parts.  Walk through the woods.  Listen to the song of a bird.  Sit quietly.  Do nothing.  Don’t fret that you can’t remember the second of the Four Noble Truths.  They’re written down.  You can read the Noble Truths anytime your heart desires.  What do you mean you can’t focus because your mind is too scattered?  Let it be scattered!  Sit anyway.  Or stand.  Or recline.  Or chase your tail.  Sooner or later you will tire and maybe then you will focus on the moment.  Zen is.

©Billy Red Horse

An American Woman

 

A guest essay by The Lady Mystic
(Originally published on July 4, 2014) –

I am an American Woman … and I am free.

I own a home because I live in a country where I have property rights, and can have as much stuff as my check book and credit score enable me to have.

I dress in the manner I choose because I live in a country that does not dictate I must cover my legs, arms or face or suffer consequences … or death. But if I choose to dress in this manner, I am equally as free to do so.

I work for a woman who owns her own business, and makes more money than most men I know, because I live in a country where opportunities ABOUND for anyone who will take advantage of them, regardless of their gender.

I live in a country where I am an Ordained Minister, ordained by another female Minister. And while there are a few men in this country who may have a problem with that, I live in a country where my God does not.

I am in a relationship with a man who I am not married to, yet I live in a country where I can engage in sex with him without worrying that the local sheriff or religious “leader” will arrest me or brand me a “harlot” or “adulteress.”

I also live in a country where if I want to ditch my man, and find a woman with whom to have a relationship with I can. And I live in a country where slowly but surely, the beauty of that relationship is as accepted as the one I would have with any man.

I live in a country where it is not unusual or out of the ordinary for me to have an education, use my mind, excel in my chosen field, or be whatever I desire to be. And in this country, if no one encourages me toward those endeavors, then I am free to encourage and motivate myself.

In this country, I am not forced to have unprotected sex unless I choose that route. The choices for me to control the reproductive cycles of my body are endless and as close as my neighborhood pharmacy or doctor.

I also live in a country where forced sex is not condoned by law, and I can seek justice and redress in a court of law against anyone who violates that most sacred space in me.

And in this country, I am not forced to have a baby I do not want to have, and am free to debate the moral and ethical issues of this with legislators, neighbors, doctors, clergy or strangers.

I live in a country that produced the amazing mother and grandmothers who raised me, who taught me how to cook, sew, clean and maintain a home; not because those things were “expected” of me as a girl, but so I could survive, and live a happy and productive life. (By the way, my brother was also taught these things.)

In this country, my father taught his “little girl” to fend for herself by showing her how to change a tire, unclog a drain, use duct tape, recognize dangerous situations, and how to use a .32 Smith and Wesson properly so I shot the bad guy and not myself. (And yes, my brother was also taught these things because they served him as well as they served me.)

I live in a country that is not perfect, founded by men who had revolutionary ideas about freedom and liberty, and did what no one thought they could; they defeated a world power in order to have the opportunity to live in freedom and liberty.

But I also live in a country founded by men with flaws; men who had life-affirming ideas about personal liberties, but whose social consciousness had not risen to the height where they could extend those liberties to all peoples. Yet, I recognize that my country, more than any country during the same time frame, has fought, and struggled, and at times ripped itself apart, in order to extend that same liberty to everyone … and continues to do so.

In my country there is equality of opportunity; and while some may disagree with that statement, I live in a country where I am free to say that, and you are free to prove me wrong.

Yet, I live in a country where many of my Sisters say they are not free, feel they are not “equal” to their male counterparts, feel they are “trodden” upon, or that they have no power or influence.

In this country, the most beautiful symbol of her majesty and nobleness is the Statue of Liberty … a Woman, the Sacred and Divine Feminine. Not a man, not a warrior … a Woman.

I am, and all women who live in all countries, ARE the embodiment of Liberty and Freedom. We are the bearers of Life, the vessel through which all human Life must travel. We embrace this freedom not as something to be ashamed or disgraced by, but as the most Holy of Holies. We are Life.

Through us is the wisdom of Life, the illumination of Life, the forward motion of Life. We can stand in the midst of great vastness, and stand confidently and proudly. We birth children, ideas, wisdom, beauty and humanity. We stand in this space with total control and freedom over our bodies, our minds, our hearts … and our destinies

Yes, in this country many a man has tried through force and law to “put us in our place,” defeat us, regulate us, control us, or humiliate us. Yet, like that great Lady in the harbor, we have never stopped shining, never stopped keeping a watch out for humankind, and – while temporary stifled – have NEVER LOST OUR POWER.

So, on this Independence Day, I am in gratitude for the women of this country who met oppression, domination, and inequality head on. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Rosa Parks, Florence Nightingale, Betty Friedan, Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart – and multiple thousands of other women whose names have escaped the notoriety of history – those women who faced discrimination, and laws or social structures that limited their opportunities, I honor today.

These pioneers lived in a world with little opportunities for women, in order to create the country I live in today, a place where the opportunities for me are LIMITLESS.

Today, I declare MY Independence, in a country where it is only MYSELF that holds me back or keeps me down.

Today, I declare there is no “war” against me, save the one I battle against myself.

Today, I declare there is no “discrimination” against me, save the discrimination I bring to myself because I discriminate against others.

Today, I declare ownership of my own body, and I alone decide who touches it. I, and I alone, have responsibility over my body.

Today, I deny the cultural norms that dictate I must have a particular body size or shape in order to be desirable, and declare that I have the “perfect” body type, as do my Sisters, as do all Women.

Today, I declare that I am smart, intellectual and capable, and it is not necessary for me to hide my intelligence, for it threatens no one and only serves to empower the world.

Today, I make the commitment to know my own mind, my own heart, my own desires, as well as my own challenges, and embrace all of these as the greater nature of who I am.

Today, I acknowledge Prince Charming never existed … and only I can save myself.

Today, I honor my Sisters … the young Women, the mature Mothers, and the Grandmother Crones from whom all Life flows through. I support them in their journey, and am grateful for the full measure of Beauty and Wisdom that is inherent in all of them. May we work together for each other’s good, and not create division among us.

Today, I honor the men in my Life, for without them Life would be less than.

Today, I honor Life and all that she is.

Today … I am an American Woman. And I AM FREE.

© Robbie Dancing Sun Cat Hunt

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

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