My Blog

Courage to Push the Button

There are many things that make me feel alone, but even in my aloneness, I often find a person or a community that shares that certain something with me. It could even be the fact that I often feel alone. Meeting someone who feels that way at times, makes me feel less alone. I suspect you have had the same experience at one time or another.

I will share here what makes me feel alone currently. In the summer of 2019, I was reading books by David Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D. Hawkins found a way to measure the level of consciousness in people as well as communities. I won’t go into how he did this. It seems a bit weird to me. But once I got past his method, his chart on the stages of consciousness was more than intriguing. It led me to read 6 of his books as I tried to grasp this idea of levels of consciousness.

When I was younger, I was introduced to levels of intellectual, spiritual, and emotional maturity. In each case, I judged myself to be high up there on whatever scale was offered. It made me feel good about myself, though I suspect my ego was running the show. But placing myself on Hawkin’s scale was different. I happened to be reading his books at a time when I was concerned for a dear friend who was struggling internally with a problem that she couldn’t seem to shake. She could see causes and solutions, but she couldn’t move forward. it baffled me. Hawkins helped me to understand that what she needed was courage. The fact that I could see what she couldn’t meant that I was further along on the path than she was. All I could do was listen and share whatever insights I had, knowing full well I didn’t have any power. I learned from Hawkins that this, too, is a factor in higher consciousness – powerlessness. Hawkins suggested that people who have themselves overcome a block, such as an addiction, often move from a lower to a higher consciousness. I qualified, again.

What am I getting at? I started out talking about what it feels like to be alone. One reason for aloneness might be the feeling that one feels different from others. The problems is that suggesting one has a higher level of consciousness is a pretty vulnerable thing to do. I may think twice before I publish this post. But if I don’t, I will stay where I have been that last 18 months.

When Hawkins talks about those of the highest levels of consciousness, he suggests that aloneness is common. It is a contradiction to say this, but he also points to a sense of unity that one feels with the world. This unity relates to something above, something a person may be aware of but unable to articulate. It is a oneness with all persons and things, all of creation. Oneness and aloneness? Crazy, huh!

I don’t know where to go with this. I will hit the publish button. Hawkins suggests that the move from a lower consciousness where a person drains energy from the world and a higher one where a person gives energy to the world is courage. Courage for me always means risk or it wouldn’t be courage. There has to be an unknown, a possible consequence that might be unpleasant. We shall see.

Getting My Life Under Control

Whenever I feel lost, I grab for my calendar. I look at the days ahead and ponder empty time spaces to fill with things I feel I need to do: write, organize, call people. make appointments. It always helps me feel for a while that things are under control. If I can add to that an exercise plan and an eating menu, Wow!

There it is, all on paper, my organized life. It gives me hope. It makes me feel that all will be well.

On the day I die, will a family member pick up my plan of attack and and see that I have 3 birthday cards to mail…and mail them? That I had intended to call two friends…and call them? That I was in the middle of organizing the medicine cabinet…go there and finish the job? Will they appreciate that I had, at least, had the good intention to weed the garden and to make soup out of the steak bones in the freezer? Will they see the last dish towel I’d started to embroider and decide to pass on it half done? Will they read my last entry in my journal to see how I was feeling that day, what was on my mind. Was there a nugget of wisdom there that might be shared at my funeral?

As I attempt to get my life under control I have to remember that it is just an illusion – my life will never be so. All I ever have is good intentions and the gift of the last step forward.

From the journal of Judy Jeub, May 7, 2014

A Reason for Hope

With all that has happened in our country it feels good to read something hopeful. I had the opportunity to meet Jan Phillips a few years ago when my daughter Heidi invited her to offer a retreat for artists. I was lucky enough to be the transportation to her next gig. It allowed me to get to know her in a more intimate way, I should say, it allowed her to get to me in a more intimate way. I think she is a bit of a no nonsense, no excuses person when in the role of prodding artists to make their marks in the world.

The Art of Original Thinking by Phillips is the new selection for my book club. It is a wordy piece. I can only take a few pages at a time. What I find so encouraging is that Phillips lists multiple organizations and businesses that have taken on a new way of acting in the world by putting service and care for the environment before profit. Compassion, rather than competition, is what inspires their workers to do their best. Meanwhile, their ultraism is paying off in their profits and in the enthusiasm of their workforce. I would call this changing the world from the bottom up, grass roots activism, a step forward in the consciousness of the world.

I would like to spread a bit of her optimism and hope by sharing some of the quotes she uses in her text. I hope it brightens your days ahead.

“You can’t have a world where 50 percent of the people are dieting and 50 percent of the people are starving if you want stability.” John Shelby Spong

“By reinventing capitalism and injecting our own souls into the machine, you and I can raise the bar of human possibility.” Howard Bloom

“Whoever saves on life, saves world entire.” The Talmud.

“Almost everything we do is religious act, from the time we get up to the time we go to sleep.” Hopi elder.

“Those who do original work in any field do so because they mine themselves deeply and bring up what is personal.” Ralph Steiner

“The physics of one era is the metaphysics of the next…The belief that there is only one truth and that oneself is in possession of it seems to me the deepest root of all the evil that is in the world.” Max Born

“Perhaps the ultimate enterprise of the twenty-first century will be the establishment of a tranquility base, not on the moon, but within mankind.” Kenneth R. Pelletier

It is my hope that there is reason for Phillips optimism. We need a tipping point, where good beings to win over evil, love silences hate, and justice becomes the norm.

 

Conspiracy Theories

I am reading a book by Brene’ Brown, Rising Strong, and this morning, she addresses why people believe conspiracy stories. Quoting Johnathan Gottschall, she observes that conspiratorial thinking “is not limited to the stupid, the ignorant, or the crazy. It is a reflex of the storytelling mind’s compulsive need for meaningful experience.” He says that conspiracy theories are used to explain why bad things happen. “To the conspiratorial mind, shit never just happens, and the complexities of human life are reduced to produce theories that “are always consoling in their simplicity.”

This makes a lot of sense to me. How difficult it is to realize that the causes of a particular problem, like violence in one’s neighborhood, is due to a whole list of coexisting problems, from racial attitudes, too many guns among the populace, violence in the media, too few police officers, joblessness, alcohol and drug abuse…the list goes on. The problem with realizing the complexity of problems is that it makes one feel helpless, vulnerable and even hopeless. If one can reduce causes to one explanation then the solution seems manageable – just get the bad guys and all will be well.

There seems to be no solution to the above reflection. Understanding why people are quick to latch on to conspiracy theories helps me not to judge and prods me to try to calm a person’s fears. “All will be well,” I want to say. Yet I am not sure I myself believe that all will be well. I do know that for me, realizing that problems are complex and have many contributing causes is actually empowering. I can look at the list and simply pick one to work on. Violence in the media, for example. As a parent I can control the media my children partake in. Raising kids not prone to violence is one step, one small piece to solving a much large problem.

As for the bigger problem, helping those who are deeply afraid because of conspiracy theories, I do not know. Nor do I know what to do about those who deliberately spread such theories in order to achieve sinister ends. I just try to trust that my small contributions effect the whole and eventually conspiracy theories will lose their power

 

 

 

Finding Hope at Three in the Morning

I had hoped that after the election, my mind and heart would rest, but alas, there is still a trembling in me. Awake about 2, I am up at 3, the first time in a while since my sleep was so disturbed.

I had hoped that after the election, the news would be less frightening, but alas, it is more so. I had hoped that the hateful, divisive rhetoric would fade. But it seems that the former president doesn’t have a corner on hate and divisiveness. We are hearing it from the top of the heap, from those who crave to lead rather than to serve.

I had hoped my fear that there could be a civil war would prove to be silly nonsense, overreaction, naïve, but alas, each day I see and hear things that support the possibility. Those who would choose to fight such a war are well armed. Those of us whom they would want to defeat tend not to be.

I had hoped that my government could return to the path of “forming a more perfect union”, but alas, it is disunity that becomes glaring. It seems almost like some get a high on hate and disunity. Having an enemy makes one feel stronger. I have not doubt that to some, I would be the enemy.

Where is hope? My heroes are those who treasure life, who speak of a language of non-violence, of listening and cooperation. Some of these are Jesus of Nazareth, Mahatma Gandhi, Peace Pilgrim, Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King. There are heroes among us today. I have found some of them and I eat their words like honey on warm toast. Comfort food for my soul.

I thought to share a favorite passage from the sacred scriptures as I seek hope on this early winter morning. May it stir hope in you today:

I may be able to speak the languages of men and even of angels,
but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell.
I may have the gift of inspired preaching:

I may have all knowledge and understanding all secrets:
I may have all the faith needed to move mountains-
but if I have no love, I am nothing.
I may give away everything I have,
and even give up my body to be burned-
but if I have no love, this does me no good.

Love is patient and kind;
it is not jealous or conceited or proud;
love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable;
love does not keep a record of wrongs;
love is not happy with evil, 
but is happy with the truth.
Love never gives up: and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.

Love is eternal.
There are inspired messages, 

but they are temporary:
there are gifts of speaking in strange languages,
but these will cease;
there is knowledge, but it will pass.
For our gifts of knowledge and of inspired messages are only partial;
but when what is perfect comes, 
then what is partial will disappear.

When I was a child,
my speech, feelings and thinking were all those of a child;
now that I am a man, 
I have no more use for childish ways.
What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror;
then we shall see face-to-face.
What I know now is only partial:
then it will be complete-
as complete as God’s knowledge of me.

Meanwhile, these three remain:
faith, hope and love;
and the greatest of these is love.

I Corinthians 13

 

Laughing Jesus

Reading my journal of 2012, I came across my comments about a book I was reading at the time, The Laughing Jesus. Apparently, the book is divided into two parts – the first, it seems, bashing the three religions of the book (Judaism, Christianity, and Muslim). It seems even to question whether the historic Jesus really walked physically on the earth, (which I have never doubted). The second part was about Gnosticism. The quotes, as I read them today, are so amazing. When I first recorded them in I felt that this category Gnostic fit me. Here are my thoughts this morning as I reflect again on Gnostic belief:

I (we) live in 2 worlds, the physical world of separation where I feel alone, different, unconnected, misunderstood, unseen, ignored, forgotten; the other, the spiritual world of Oneness, unity, “that of God”, whole, belonging, connected, known appreciated, re-membered. Gnosticism is living in the consciousness of the latter.

This life right now, where Covid threatens to rob any of us of quality of life or to pull us from the earthly life at any time…this life in which we are all living. Here people are fearful, poor, hungry, confused. But all this earthly life is passing like a movie we are watching. In it we are all actors in a massive play. We are only actors. Like a play, we live in tragedy, comedy, suspense and resolution. But, again,  we are each only actors, higher beings, souls come to visit, to play our part.

Consciousness is knowing (gnosis) that the roles we play are just roles. We forget sometimes that the play isn’t real – until someone forgets their lines and laughs or comes out onto the stage with a piece of toilet paper hanging from his belt.

No wonder the book is called Laughing Jesus.

Dark Places

I am in a dark place, a lonely place, familiar. I know there is a path out…I just can’t seem to find the energy to get my feet onto it. I am not even sure the old path is the one I need to find right now.

In 2018, I was reading books on consciousness. I think of consciousness as a place of being or seeing from another place. Rather, from two places, one from the perspective of one’s ego, the other within one’s true self. We are, after all, here on this planet. I am here, yet not…kind of hard to explain. I think of it as Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom of God. I think of his admonition to open one’s eyes to see and one’s ears to hear. I also think of gnosis, inner knowing.

Whatever the explanation, I am not in that place right now. My optimistic heart says that I will wake up one day and I will see something I failed to see before. It will be clear to me whatever the hell my problem was that kept me from seeing the obvious.

When I have been in dark places before, eventually I would begin to see light, or at least the effect of light. It was often in my readings that this light would begin to manifest. Peace Pilgrim is one of my heroes and I came across in my old journals some thoughts of hers:

“A Pilgrim’s job is to rouse people from apathy and make them think.”

“A Pilgrim is a wanderer with a purpose.”

“A Pilgrim is one who promotes peace by helping others to find inner peace.”

“Whenever conscious of a choice to choose good over evil, or love over selfishness, choose good, choose love, in attitude and in action.”

(I think she is suggesting that one should get out of self-centered thinking.)

And this morning I read the closing words of Elizabeth Lesser in her book, Cassandra Speaks. She shares a story shared by Joan Chittister:

“A student asked an old monastic, ‘Teacher, what’s the difference between knowledge and enlightenment?’ And the teacher replied, ‘When you have knowledge, you light a torch to find the way. When you have enlightenment, you become a torch to show the way.’ ”

If you understand this, you are of a higher consciousness than I.