Great Power is a Great Responsibility

by Christine Ford

When was the last time someone asked you for your phone number?  Do you remember stuttering and stammering while paging through your brain for an elusive number that you should, and actually used to know, instantaneously?  God forbid they ask you to retrieve the phone number of your husband or wife, children or friends from the power of your memory.  Does it seem fair to say that our use of memory is being high jacked by technology?  Does it seem as if your capacity to recall is being replaced by a 3” x 6” piece of plastic and metal that you can hold in your hand and access just about any fact, person or direction with the push of a few buttons?

If you are in the 50-70 year age range, you have probably felt at least a twinge of this, even if you are a techy; if you aren’t a techy, the whole digital onset can be downright overwhelming.  If you are in the 25-50 year range, you most likely haven’t given it much thought, as the computer revolution was simply a part of your growing up process.  Most sadly to my way of thinking, however, if you are in the 3-25 year range, you have known nothing else and are totally dependent upon digital memory, the ease of instant communication and having a world of information at your fingertips.

In looking at the scope of this from my vantage point as an educator of many, many years, I ask you to think back.  In elementary school, what was it you first memorized, along with your ABCs and 123s? Give up?  If that was too long ago, I will remind you!  You learned to write and recite your name, address and phone number, smoothly and precisely, from memory.  Why?  I am sure most readers remember some wise teacher telling them along the way “In case you get lost.  How will the police know how to find your family and get you home?”

When I taught Kindergarten through 4th grade Mentally Handicapped kids back in Florida 25 years ago, that was deemed a necessary life skill; knowing your name, address and phone number.  Now I find myself teaching much less challenged 7th and 8th grade students with Specific Learning Disabilities, and am constantly both amazed and appalled that when asked they do not know their phone number or address; they must access it on their phone.  Maybe I am old fashioned; perhaps my standards are too high, but for the love of all that is right, shouldn’t a kid know their phone number and the street address of the place they live?

Total reliance on technology for memory is only one aspect of my ponderings.  In my previous article in the September 2015 Edition of SCN, Prelude to Stupidity, one of my pet peeves was the focus; the dependence upon technology by encouraging children to gather facts and information and reassemble it into an attractive presentation while labeling it as personal knowledge. Then there is the infernal onslaught of video games which hold beautiful minds hostage for countless hours, not only of children, but of adults as well, sweeping them away into a virtual fantasy world of violence and power where time is lost in the blink of an eye, addictively squandering precious ability and brain power that could be spent learning, playing, reading, interacting, and exploring the world.  Add to this the feeding of the ever increasing need for stimulation, visual as well as auditory, that is created by the fast paced bombardment of the senses, and you have part of what has added to the psychotic triumph of Trump in the Republican Party; but that is for another article.  Finally, the Social Media aspect of the Internet can be the cause of pain, grief and harassment far beyond anything we experienced in the good old days when words were exchanged verbally or perhaps written on a secretive note passed student to student and hopefully not caught by that eagle-eyed teacher who never missed anything!

My concerns about technology, as wonderful and time saving as I have found it to be, truly haunt me.  I shift from the one extreme of fearing that we are being taken over by an alien mechanized intelligence that will strip every ounce of humanity and beauty from us as a species to the other, beating myself up about being stubbornly out of step and allowing this advancement in modern society to take place around me while I wear blinders and attempt to ignore it.  As Dr. Strickler has taught me ever since I took a deep breath and bravely stepped up to meet him in Naples Florida in 1992, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and it is my role as an Occultist and Adept, to sort it out and come to equilibration within my own Self as to the resolution of these opposing thoughts.  Exploring the depths and complexities of one’s own biases can be both challenging and illuminating, painful and insightful, humiliating and inspiring, but it is rarely an exercise in futility; at the very least, it affords one a view that is malleable and flexible, rather than rigid and one sided.

With this article I intend to explore just a small part of the vast Social Media network, and the effects that this growing occupation of time and energy is having upon society as a whole.  Before any such technology existed, it would take a conscious commitment of both time and energy to call someone or write a letter and actually put it in the mailbox.  If the person lived a distance from you, those “long distance” phone charges per minute could really add up; phone time was a precious commodity; no such thing as “unlimited data”.  Sometimes you had to call a person several times to even connect, as back in the day there was no voice mail; you just let the phone ring many, many times until you were sure no one was home and tried again later!  And those calls couldn’t be made as you ran through the grocery store or waited to pick your kids up from school; you had to be tied to a landline or a payphone to reach them.

There is no denying that the convenience of mobile phones and the internet for quick communication is a positive advancement.  I can call my 92 year old mom every day as I drive to school and have a leisurely chat with her; precious moments that will soon end.  If someone needs something from the grocery store, a quick text assures it will be picked up on the way home.  The need for speed of communication is definitely a plus when it comes to the use of cell phones, as well as the internet to connect with others, manage bank accounts, pay bills, do online shopping and research topics of interest, just to name a few.  Time is saved, trips are eliminated, thoughts and love are exchanged, bills are managed, gifts and necessities are selected and paid for from the comfort of your home; what a wonder of modern convenience.  Yes, there absolutely is an upside to this!  But what about the 24/7 work expectations, the hacking of accounts, and especially the ease with which Social Media can be misused and misinterpreted to create a nightmare of an experience when individuals abuse the power.

An article caught my eye while scanning the news, of course, on the Internet.  Yes, absolutely, for communication of information the Internet is invaluable, as long as one reads with a critical eye as hopefully any information is read.  Written in The Washington Post, And Everyone Saw It, is an easy to read article that I hope you will take a minute to scan before going any further.  In short, it is the story of a 13-year-old, kind of out of step girl who was talked into sending a semi-nude (bra and panties, face hidden) camera pic to a somewhat more experienced boy, who was a friend of the family, who flattered her and whom she trusted to show no one. Her picture, along with pictures of other girls who fell into the trap, were then displayed on a large screen at a party as part of a “Guessing Game.”

An age old story, yes, but with a new twist of visual evidence, deceptiveness, shame and a trail of virtual memory that nearly destroyed not only her life, but that of the boy and several other girls who fell into his trap.  This is only one story; I am sure this has happened repeatedly, as a complication of Social Media.  What distresses me most, however, isn’t just the story, as it has been reenacted time after time, no matter what the state of media we have or don’t have, but the comments that follow it and the impact that the misuse of Social Media has had on our society as a whole.

To sum up what I read, there was the expected male viewpoint of it was the girl’s fault for being so naïve and trusting, she should have known better; the female take of the boy being a seducer and liar, he was the culprit; and many comments about the responsibility of parents to monitor use of electronic devices.  In regards to the parental monitoring comments, all I can say from experience being a recess monitor for 7th graders is that a picture or video can be taken in the blink of an eye and go viral within seconds, no matter how closely the kids are watched.  The thread of this being a timeless story, since Adam and Eve, male vs female and who was to “blame”, was often presented, and being the true Libra I am, I can see some validity in all of these comments, though taken separately, not one offers a solution to what is becoming the pandemic of electronic memory used to perpetuate shame, guilt, and remorse amongst not only children, but adults as well.  These responses simply point fingers and place blame; they do not offer a remedy to the problem.

Looking at the rash of email and texting scandals involved with the political scene as well as celebrities, from Clinton to Powell, the infamous Anthony Weiner pictures, Trump’s most recent trumpeting and early morning tweeting about his disrespect for women, and many others, no one is immune.  Hackers can find whatever they set out to find.  If no one is immune, then what steps can we take to alleviate the anguish and chaos that so often accompanies full disclosure of written messages and digitally captured photos that were intended to be seen only by the recipient, not the entire world?  The enormity of the negative uses of this powerful method of communication appears to be overwhelming!

As I pondered the casualties of Social Media, ranging from Middle Schoolers in a small town to Presidential Candidates on the stage of the World, I kept coming back to a phrase that Dr. Strickler has repeatedly spoken to me, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  The Internet, Social Media, texting, the Worldwide Web…  all are powerful, permanent and instantaneous means of communication. I believe the correct question to ask is “Where does the responsibility for the use of that power reside? “

The answer is stunningly simple.  Within our hands we, each one of us, holds that power of choice, and with it comes exercising the discernment, decision, and yes, the great responsibility to use that power in a constructive manner.  When shirking this responsibility, we use that great power in a destructive way. There is no “fault”, no fingers to be pointed.  Unless responsibility is taken, we all are guilty of the blatant mismanagement of power.   If only the young girl had truly considered the possible consequences of her actions, she may have used her power responsibly to not to snap that picture.  The young man, being overcome by ego, made the choice, the conscious decision, to share that picture with his friends, breaking a promise and irresponsibly using his power.  The boys at the party continued in a frenzy to corrupt the responsibility they had to make the correct choice in use of power and instead opted for misuse.  And so it goes…

Take a giant leap with me and apply this story to that of our current Presidential Election.  Trump, the bully, the bringer of “Making America Great Again”, willing to say any words, make any promises and compromises that will put the power in his hands.  Trump, the young man in the story; a smooth talking deceiver who makes empty promises in exchange for power.  The weary, doubting, distrustful of the status quo citizenry, those opposing Clinton and hanging on to every word of General Trump, are symbolized by the gullible, naïve, trusting girl.  They believe him when he says he will make it all right again; they entrust him with something of far more importance than a nude picture.  They entrust him with their freedom, support, and eventually, if they get their way, the highest office in the Free World.   In this mundane plane, I cannot think of any power higher than that of President of the United States.  And I shudder to think of what the repercussions of placing a man so incapable of taking responsibility for wielding that power might be.

“With great power comes great responsibility.”  Think about those words again please.  Close your eyes and repeat them, let them sink into your heart and mind.  In how many areas of your life, not only with Social Media or the Internet, have you witnessed the misuse of power?  Have you been the victim, on the receiving end, of someone else’s irresponsible use of power?  Have you misused power for your own personal gains?  Have you accepted the responsibility for the use of power in your own life?  Have you spoken to your children about the responsibility that comes with power?

There are always areas to improve, to better use the power that is yours, and to use it with increased responsibility towards the greater good.  In order to make this plane a saner, civil, more compassionate place in which to live, we, as a people need to take into consideration and hold in higher regard the great responsibility with which we have been entrusted by The One Power, both in mundane and spiritual realms, and wield that power in a manner which is in alignment with the Greater Will to Good.

Will we, as this great nation, on November 8, 2016, take the  deep destructive dive into relinquishing our power to the self aggrandizing bully named Donald Trump? Will we, a the people of the land of the free and the home of the brave, trustingly send that photo that will forever change the course of the United States of America?  I can only hope and pray that some semblance of sanity will awaken within the hearts and minds of those blindly following Trump before that day.

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Think.  Choose wisely.  Act responsibly.

Christine Ford

Copyright © 2016 by Institute of Spiritual Climate LLC

 

you know you want to do it:

Respect – fully Yours

by Christine Ford

Respect!  R-E-S-P-E-C-T!  To quote,  “Most likely one of the catchiest, over repeated lines in all of music.” Written by Otis Redding and sung by Aretha Franklin, the line that follows is what caught my attention as I was mulling over my thoughts prior to writing this article.  R-E-S-P-E-C-T  “Find out what it means to me”  is a tricky concept to ponder.

Respect; what does it mean to you?  Do you show respect to yourself, to those around you, to the One Power that gave you life and sustains your existence through every second of  the time you have been given to co-create and expand your awareness as you make your way through this life?  How do you personally show respect?  And in turn, do you feel you are afforded respect from your family, your friends, your colleagues, your significant other?

Regard for Respect

In searching for a definition of the word respect, the one I found which came closest to my understanding of the use of the word respect. The reason it grabbed my attention was due to the use of the word “regard” in the definition.  During the twenty four years that I have been a student of Dr. Strickler, throughout his some 35,000 hours of teachings which continue to not only open new awareness but at times are absolutely amazing, he has instilled in me a particular bias that I would like to, as a side note, pass on to our readers for consideration.  Actually, this could be an article in and of itself, but I will keep it short!

Dr. Strickler emphasizes the use of the word “regard” in preference to the bastardized use of “value” as a key to the tone and discernment the writer or speaker is using.  The meaning of the word value has been twisted and contorted by politics and society to have more of a greed factor, indicating a definition of materialism and monetary wealth.  Regard, by comparison, carries a vibration of esteem and genuine worth.  Upon sharing that gem with you, please keep that in mind as you read the following definition of respect.

As a Verb

  1. To feel or show deferential regard for; esteem or admire
  2. To avoid interfering with or intruding upon
  3. To relate or refer to; concern

As a Noun

  1. A feeling of appreciative, often deferential, regard; esteem
  2. The state of being regarded with honor or esteem
  3.  Due regard for something considered important or authoritative

Evaporation of Respect

The impetus to write about the topic of respect actually came from my job as a teacher in an Elementary school.  I have been assigned the task of monitoring 130 7th grade students twenty minutes each day for recess for the past three years.  One of my greatest sighs of relief when school ended for Summer Break was that I had a hiatus from this.  At first I thought it was just the heat and sun that bothered me; standing outside for twenty minutes in one hundred plus temperatures can be brutal, but upon examining my reaction, I realized it was more than that.  A major contributing factor was that I was truly weary of the verbal battles and disrespect coming from the students that I kept trying to find ways to equilibrate with humor and understanding, without giving away my authority!

Respect is evident within my classroom; with the students I work with each day, special needs students in 7th and 8th grade, I strive to build an environment of trust and mutual respect.  Even the toughest of them eventually responds to patience and understanding.  They get the idea that I truly do care about them, whatever problems or joys they may be experiencing, and am there to help them learn, advance and grow.  It is when I go out among the masses I am horrified by the lack of respect and regard for others that is so evident in actions and words among our young people. In my weaker moments I have found myself beginning to wonder when I became the old coot who looks upon the younger generation in despair, shaking my head while declaring that there is no hope.

Deep down inside I know there is hope.  There are many young adults who are respectful; take my beautiful granddaughter for example.  She is polite, considerate and kind.  She can interact with adults and peers, friends and family, those familiar to her and those she has just met.  She has the skill and grace of knowing how to present herself, how to share her ideas and thoughts in an articulate, socially acceptable way, without being combative, abrasive or vulgar.  I am sure she has her moments, as all teenagers do, when she is less than respectful at home with her parents, but that is part of the course of moving into the independence she needs to establish to be an adult.  Am I prejudiced because she is mine? Well, maybe just a little bit, but I have met students at school who are just as respectful not only of adults, but of peers as well; unfortunately the number of kids who are seemingly rude, offensive, entitled and obnoxious has come to far outweigh the more civilized members of our young society, as seen through the lens of my perception.

Sadly, this lack of respect appears to permeate not only our youth, but all aspects of our society, from rudeness in the grocery store, to road rage, to Donald Trump standing on stage making his disrespectful comments and being cheered for as a result!  When did we, as a nation, become so angry and inconsiderate of our fellow man?  When did holding in regard with honor and esteem ourselves, others around us, and the Lord of Life itself become an out dated relic to be disregarded?

For some time, I have done some serious self-evaluation and questioned whether my expectations and standards are too lofty.  I was raised by parents who expected me to be respectful and considerate of others, but I lived in a culture where that was the norm; I raised my children the same way.  Consistent expectations and traits of behavior were instilled in my granddaughter by her parents; she was born in 2000.  Being a teacher and in touch with youth, I began to notice a glitch in the matrix along about 2000, the year I took a hiatus from public education.   Somewhere over the progression, or perhaps, regression, of the past twenty or so years, there has been a lowering of the bar in general within our society of what is considered polite, acceptable and respectful treatment of others.  In a nutshell, the expectation of common courtesy and respect for those around us appears to have gone down the tubes!

When there is such a dramatic change in the foundation of expected behavior, there must be a cause.  Articles have been written regarding the lack of respect not only within schools, but within society in general.    Lack of empathy among students and diminished respect for authority has been studied.  Research does agree that there is an increasing lack of respect and compassion shown towards others; though there are differing thoughts as to the cause.  The phenomenon is recognized by educators and the social sciences as well, not only within the schools, but within our society as a whole.

Though I have not done any formal research, I am able to speak from the microcosm of what I experience with my students during that twenty minutes each school day, and to be brutally honest, there are times when the enormity of it overwhelms me!    I would venture to suggest the theory that the weakening of the family unit as a result of parents having to hold two jobs in order to make ends meet, kids coming home to nothing but reality shows and video games, the time for sharing family experiences and teaching the courtesy and respect by example has diminished drastically.

The students I work with are struggling to not only discover their identity and truth, to exert their autonomy and authority, but to somehow make their way through what is increasingly becoming a maze of elevated expectations and ever changing norms.  They feel the need to fit in, yet at the same time strive to be unique and independent.  They share the need to be understood, accepted and held in high regard for that which they are and that which they are becoming, and they need to learn how to give that respect back to those around them!

Hmmm … Pause … now ponder a minute!  Those kids’ needs are not so very different from what we, as adults, are going through within every interaction we have whether it be at home, at work, at the grocery store, or online, are they? My students are a microcosmic reflection of the macrocosmic cycle of rampant disrespect, anger and intolerance we see within our country,  whether it be based on race, religion, sex,  authority or ethnicity.    The abuse and demise of respect is what has lead to the fiasco of the idiocy of Donald Trump becoming the Republican choice for the High Office of this incredible concept of the United States of America.

We, however, are the adults, and should know better!  My students are lacking the experiences and life lessons upon which to base their choices and that is the difference. We, as the adults: parents, mentors, teachers, have the power and the responsibility to demonstrate through our actions or our non-actions the decisions that need to be made, the actions that need to be taken, in order for our society to once again make respect for ourselves and those around us the foundation upon which human interaction is based.  We, as the co-creators of the future of this world, need to ask ourselves what respect does mean to each and every one of us, and we must instill respect for self, for other and for the All That Is within the confused and frustrated youth seeking to find themselves.

We, the people.  We, the people,  need to regain that respect we had as a nation, as a proud sovereign nation, with rights guaranteed by the Constitution.  We, the people, need to show respect for ourselves and others, demonstrating the proud ideals upon which our Nation was based.  We, the people, need to acknowledge that we did not give birth to ourselves, that the One Power that created this dimension be held in highest regard, as we demonstrate by holding ourselves and fellow man in highest regard.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T  “Find out what it means to me”  What does respect mean to you?  Contemplate, search your heart, discover  what it means to you, and then share that with everyone you have the chance to meet.  You never know how far those small ripples travel, or how many souls will be influenced by your words and actions derived from respect.

Respectfully yours

(and bite me SEO, get a brain)

Christine J. Ford

Copyright © 2016 by Institute of Spiritual Climate LLC

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you know you want to do it:

Both Sides Now

By Christine Ford

Warning!  Proceed with caution!  Right now, my mindset is not in a very positive, integrative, nor even close to an equilibrated state.  Trying to think of a topic to write an article on for this Edition of Spiritual Climate was exhausting! As I pondered and questioned which way to go, random lyrics from an old song (Both Sides Now) kept spinning around in the mix; you know how that works?  A few words here, snippets there;  it wasn’t until I had completed the article that enough of the song surfaced in my conscious awareness to recognize it as Both Sides, Now by Joni Mitchell from way back in the late 60’s.  The lyrics, the words, to Both Sides, Now defined that which I was experiencing in a way that only old memories, brought to the surface by a determined Subconsciousness, can provide.  Even more astounding to me was that Dr. Strickler had chosen the most outstandingly appropriate picture to go with my article before I named it!  Thankfully, I will never cease to be amazed by these experiences!

Confronted by attempting to select a topic for my article was not, however, the only process that I have recently found to be exhausting.  Getting up and going to work each day is exhausting.  Dealing with disrespectful students and sometimes peers is exhausting.  Keeping up with the overwhelming demands of documentation that my position requires is exhausting. Going grocery shopping and having to deal with the insanity/ignorance of the general public, be it shoppers, clerks or cashiers, is exhausting. Just getting my shit together, making an appointment and going to get my taxes done is exhausting!  Simply reading and hearing about the craziness of the milieu, the stupidity of the general public as Trump skyrockets and the Republican Party hints at blaming President Obama for their collapse is not only exhausting, but disgusting! And speaking of disgusting, I have an enormous list of those, but for now, let’s not get too complicated and just stick to the aforementioned “exhaustings”. I think you get the idea; the simple fact is that I am reacting to my experience of events and people outside of the sanctity of our home as exhausting and that I have made the choice to give it that kind of control is rather confusing, as well as distressing to me.

In checking out the definition of exhausting, as that just seems to be the word to sum it all up, according to Dictionary.com the definitions are right there in line with what my Ego, personality and body are currently experiencing.

Exhausting [ig-zaw-sting]: adjective, producing or tending to produce fatigue, weariness, or the like: an exhausting day; an exhausting child.

Exhaust [ig-zawst]: verb (used with object) to drain of strength or energy, wear out, or fatigue greatly, as a person: I have exhausted myself working.  2) to use up or consume completely; expend the whole of: He exhausted a fortune in stock-market speculation.  3) to draw out all that is essential in (a subject, topic, etc.); treat or study thoroughly.  4) to empty by drawing out the contents: to exhaust a tank of fuel oil.  5) to create a vacuum in.  6) to draw out or drain off completely.  7) to deprive wholly of useful or essential properties, possessions, resources, etc.

Yes! There it is in black and white! The experience I am having is one of feeling fatigued, weary, drained of strength and energy, used up, and consumed. I find myself arguing with myself in regards to experiencing so many events and people as exhausting; I remember a time when I could take such events and persons in stride and concoct a bright side of situations, no matter how bleak they appeared to be. I could easily plod along with a smile plastered on my face and a song in my heart, knowing that this too would pass, and the calm would come again; the veil would lift and for at least an indeterminable amount of time, I would have the desire and strength to meet the demands of the outside world and carry on. I could ignore the bad and the ugly, and concentrate on the good! I was only looking at half the picture, but what the Hell? It worked! Sure, daily demands and situations may have been trying and draining, but never was the feeling of exhaustion so overwhelmingly the emotion that I felt.

Ah-ha! Perhaps there is part of my answer! As my self-talk reveals to myself that I am not referring exclusively to physical exhaustion, as one might surmise with the given age of my body, but more in the line of emotional exhaustion as well! Perhaps therein lies a subtle difference and a clue to this dilemma! Yes, physical fatigue is a part of my experience; admittedly, these old bones aren’t as young as they used to be. Dealing with the aches and pains of a body that just ain’t in its prime comes into play, but not exclusively for this article. Instead, as has just been my discovery, this process that so disturbs me at the present time also has a predominant emotional aspect to it.

I am, I know and am certain, on a Spiritual Path. Being an Adept, I should be better than this; I should be able to rise above it, look around, and just accept the state of affairs as what is.  In searching for an answer as to why I allow myself to be made so weary by the mainstream chaos that seems to surround me when I move out into the “real world” (tongue in cheek and chuckle totally intended), I need to ask why am I so thrown out of kilter, why do I seemingly lack the balance and stamina that I see exhibited by those around me who think the Great Work is a job that pays over $100,000 a year? What the Hell do I think I am doing?

As I read again the definitions above, I find I have missed a clue to what might also be at work here. When I begin to look further down the definition of exhausted as all that is essential has been drawn out, empty; as if a vacuum has been created there is a sudden stirring within that part of me that I have come to recognize as the real Me, the part that is eternal, wise and strong, exhaustlessly limitless!   My True Self perks up and starts clapping its hands, remembering what Dr. Strickler has pointed out is the significance of an empty space, a vacuum. There is a need for that space to be filled; the question to always hold in highest regard, however, is being discriminating to the utmost degree as to what you make the choice to fill that empty space with.

All of life, whether one is on the Path of Return or the Path to being the very best asshole he/she can be, is composed of ebbs and flows, cycles, ups and downs, highs and lows. The secret is to find the point of equilibrium, the point of centeredness, where there is just the right mix of exhaustion and exhilaration. My error, in looking back over the discovery process that has been shared is pretty much summed up in my thinking in the erroneous statement that I made previously; “Being an Adept, I should be better than this; I should be able to rise above it, look around, and just accept the state of affairs as what is.” How arrogant, how ignorant and egotistical is that statement? Do I think I am God? Can I really do anything to change the experiences and events I must participate in if I am living in this negative plane of existence? Hell no! Can I totally ignore them and pretend they just aren’t there? Hell no to that as well. Either of those is a form of lying to myself and an extreme, out of balance statement.

What I can and will do is choose to make a conscious choice to fill that emptiness; my choice is to do the best I can as an Adept and a human being to help when I can, to make comments when they seem appropriate, to ask questions, to be mindful of experiences and events around me, but to let go of whatever control I falsely surmised I had over the resulting outcomes when other is involved.

The only world I can save is my own. I have said these words before, shared them with others, actually, repeated them ad nauseum, but now they have truly taken on a new meaning for me. I am not God, I am not all powerful; but I am able to look at both sides now.  I will make choices for myself, and use that power of choice to fill that empty space with a renewed understanding and dedication to fulfilling the desires and direction of my Soul’s purpose.

Statement 4 of the wisdom of The Pattern on the Trestleboard reminds me that the Truth about the Self is that the Limitless Substance from which I draw all things, both spiritual and material is exhaustless; it is not my Soul and Spirit that suffers from the “exhausting” experiences, but the personality, ego and body through which I function and express in this physical plane.   I did not come to this discovery on my own, but through dialogue and table-talk with Dr. Strickler and the members of our group that I have had the chance to walk with thus far.  Though this process may be uncomfortable, always, in the final analysis, it is worth the tears, confusion, embarrassment, and sometimes shame felt as one becomes brave enough to speak the words needed to uncover the truth of the matter at hand.

May you find the desire and strength to look at both sides as you explore the idiot areas of your psyche and the ability to be honest with yourself and those around you.

Blessings,

Christine Ford
Editor, Spiritual Climate Newsletter

Copyright © 2016 by Institute of Spiritual Climate LLC

 

— the End of April 2016 Spiritual Climate Newsletter —


 

you know you want to do it:

Roses Abound

by Christine Ford

Symbols … The way the Lord of Life speaks to us through the interface of our exchanges and comings and goings.  Do we pause, be still and hear the promptings and whisperings of the One as It beckons within the busy day to day treadmill we call “life” through the symbols around us?  If we do hear the smallest whisper, or even a shout, do we listen and heed the prompt?  Do we see the unfolding of events, the inter-mesh of patterns weaving the days, years and decades of our lives as we tread blindly through the maze of the Minotaur, making the motions of living, while just merely repeating the patterns which have been ingrained into our belief system from infancy by well-meaning parents and replicated by ourselves in how we perceive the experiences that built the foundation of our reality?

Sadly, while living immersed within and pursuing the dream, we rarely take the time to attempt to dissect the process by which we arrived at the erroneous state which we have come to believe is our reality.  With the ear plugs and blinders firmly in place, we put one foot in front of the other, trudging along as the Sun rises and sets, as the Moon waxes and wanes, as the Solstices and Equinoxes come and go ignoring the symbols we are given as goads to make change while repeating the old worn out habits.

Symbols speak from a deep layer of our consciousness which does not need words to convey a message; most recently a symbol that has haunted my life since early childhood has been brought to the forefront of my awareness.  By listening to the promptings of the Lord of Life to explore the meaning of this symbol in combination of the co-mingling of knowledge from classes with Dr. Stickler, pulling out and dusting off past experiences, dialoging with my fellow travelers, and looking at the symbol with fresh eyes, I have had an epiphany, solved a mystery that has shed light into the biases and prejudices upon which I have built a good portion of my so-called “life.”  Please note that I do not use the word “epiphany” lightly; I can actively feel the discovery of this experience unraveling and moving into a multitude of layers of my being, changing the way in which I perceive the world.

The Winter Solstice and the season of Christmas hold a mystical significance for those who choose to look inward, be still, and listen; it is a time of deep personal contemplation infused with energies for discovery that only are available during this time of year.  It is my hope that I am able to convey even a brief instant of insight into my new awareness as I am limited to speaking in words, not symbols; but it is a symbol of which I speak.  I would like to share my understanding as a gift to our readers at this mysterious and glorious time of year, to hopefully spark a similar experience for them.

Let me begin at the beginning, with a trip down memory lane!  One of my earliest childhood memories is gardening with my mom, who just celebrated her 92nd birthday.  She was an avid gardener and lover of flowers especially; together we grew Cosmos that reached the roof of the house, snapdragons and petunias flourished and transformed into shrubbery under her care.  Knowing Mom’s love of flowers, I would wake up early on sunny summer mornings and sneak off into the woods alone to commune with the fairies and sprites, and to gather bouquets of wild Trillium, sometimes finding a rare red or pink one.  Silently I would sneak back into the house to arrange them in a vase on the kitchen table; then I would jump into bed and pretend to be asleep, anxiously awaiting Mom’s exclamations of joy at the gift from a “secret admirer”.  We never talked about where the flowers came from, but she always made sure to rave about their beauty and give thanks to the anonymous donor.

For a years we played this game; I truly believed I had her fooled and that she thought they just magically appeared there as a gift to her for sharing her love of nature and beauty with the world!  Somewhere in the process I realized she knew where they came from, but continued to play along.  A small part of my recent “epiphany” is that I have come to understand where my lifelong pattern of doing things for people in secret while delighting in avoiding the recognition came from; where the seed was planted in my early childhood that became a belief deeply ingrained in my personal reality; hearing her happiness was enough; I did not need personal acknowledgment or thanks.  Can you see how this process works?  The true revelation that I am sharing, however, came through the symbol of the Rose.

Mom had a special affinity for roses; we would gather them carefully, knocking off spiders along the way, putting them into giant (or so it seemed to me as a child) baskets to give to the neighbors.  Once we had collected them, we would sit on the back porch and painstakingly, literally, break off each and every thorn on the rose stem before giving them as gifts, because, as my mom in her wisdom stated over and over, and I, as a child, soaked right up and made my own, “The beauty of the rose should not be tarnished by the pain of the thorn.”

Dun dun dun!!!!!  Can you see where this is going?  Unknowingly, built right into my belief system through the symbol of the rose at a very early age was the idea that beauty was to be nurtured, sought, shared and given freely, but pain could not be a part of the process; according to my patterning, and repeating of the pattern to myself, the thorns had to be completely removed in order to experience and share the agape of the beauty of the rose, to protect the person being gifted from pain.  Whew!  Talk about heavy with implications and insight as to how I built my belief structure and patterned my personality to respond to pain or negativity!  Just break it off, throw it away, ignore it and pretend it was never there in the first place… Thanks, Mom!  At the ripe old age of 67, with lots of work and years of experiencing the pain of hiding the pain, the breaking off of the thorns to try to spare myself and others the “pain”, hiding away and denying any kind of negativity, I have come to know where it started!  And in all fairness, thanks me, for continuing as an adult to blindly accept that and weave it into the patterns I chose to reflect; all this from the symbol of the Rose.

Steeped in religious and spiritual meaning, the Rose is symbolic of a myriad of ideas and concepts. 1 The Rose has come to symbolize the many layered unfoldment of spiritual awakening, as it opens from a tight bud into full bloom, in all its five petaled (five senses) glory. The symbolism of the Rose is explored in the Tarot of BOTA, with the red rose denoting desire, and the white rose depicting purity.  The Golden Dawn uses the symbolism of the Rosy Cross from the Rosicrucian Order, a white rose in the middle of a cross and the ritual of the Rosy Cross affords one protection.  The scent of the Rose has been associated with the presence of God, Angels, Saints, Miracles and the Soul.  The Virgin Mary has been called the Mystic Rose, a Rose without thorns, and it has been said that in the Garden of Eden, Roses existed without thorns.  The Rosary of the Catholic Church, which means “Crown of Roses”, involves offering a group of prayers to Mary like a spiritual bouquet.  The thorns were there in the end, however, placed upon the head of the Great Rabbi before he was crucified, to signify the sin and pain of this physical world.  The relationship of the Virgin Mary symbolized as a thornless Rose, and the significance of the Crown of Thorns placed upon the head of Yaheshuah is a mystery in and of itself, far too complex to be explored in this writing, as well as the complex symbolism of the Rose summed up in this brief paragraph.  Suffice it to say; the Rose carries with it an ancient history and profound, significant symbolism; although the Rose spoken directly to me for years, the message had fallen on blind eyes and deaf ears.

The Rose came in and out of my life in ways too numerous to mention, but in hindsight, I can see that I felt stirrings and heard whispers from this powerful symbol of the heart, but never responded.  To mention a few, my favorite flower was always the Rose, most specifically the yellow rose, after having been described in a poem as “The blinding gold of sunlight, the warm saffron of fields and flowers, the glowing amber of living love is her color”.  Ah, the romantic…and always, ever, without thorns.  The only flower I ever gave as a gift was the Rose, always with the thorns removed.  In high school choir I couldn’t make it through the Christmas hymn “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” without dissolving into tears.  The first home my new husband and I purchased was the house next door to my mom and dad, and the man who owned it was a prize-winning rose grower.  Before he died, he taught me how to nurture his roses, which I plucked, removed the thorns, and shared with my neighbors as my mom had taught me.  My dad’s last words to me were “Always, always, remember to stop and smell the roses.”  Most recently this sentiment was repeated to me during class by Dr. Strickler, a strange comment coming from him, for those of us who know him well!

Blithely I went through the moments and years of my life repeating what I had learned and woven into my beliefs; denying the pain, removing the thorns, smiling and laughing, outwardly painting the picture of loving the world and everyone in it, while silently screaming out inside for what I knew had to be more.  I raised children and passed a similar belief on to them I am sure, though I have yet to discover exactly how and what the implications are for them as they move along their paths.  And the most astounding aspect of this now to me is that I was unaware that this bias was even there, totally oblivious to the seeds of how this pattern even started; until the symbolism of the Rose recently began repeating its presence to me, in dreams as well as fleeting experiences, conversations, memories and promptings that cumulatively I could no longer ignore, and I wisely, for once in my life, stopped to listen to and began to see.  Way back in February of 1992, I first began to awaken to what is “natural”; after meeting Dr. Strickler in Naples, FL.  It was through him and his class lectures in exploration of the Tarot that I came to begin to hear and see a new belief; that this plane is comprised of both positive and negative, that a “natural” part of the beauty of the rose is its thorns, that one must always consider the “A and not A” of a situation.  The doublets of the Tarot Keys representing the chakras reflected a positive and negative energy; Life and Death, Peace and Strife, Wisdom and Folly, Wealth and Poverty, Sin and Grace, Fertility and Sterility, Dominion and Slavery.  The Sephiroth on the Tree of Life contained both positive and negative energies.  The words “Lord of the Light, and Lord of the Darkness” became a part of the daily ritual I performed.  I learned, repeated and memorized, but did I weave this into my belief system?  Did I accept this as truth?  Did I change my patterns of behavior?

Hell no!  I ran from this Truth because it did not fit into my learned belief that the thorns had to be removed from the rose!  For years I hid from it, denied it, argued it, raged against it, pretended to believe it; there were times when I totally blocked out any part of Dr. Strickler’s teachings and slipped back into the comfort zone of the artificial beauty of the rose without thorns, even though I was convinced that I believed his teachings.  This “epiphany” I speak of is not one that happened overnight as a flash of insight, but rather one that has been prompting, prodding, poking, growing, and speaking to me through the symbol of the Rose for some time, and has taken some twenty three long years to discover, to acknowledge, and to bring out into the light of awareness.

This world is not perfect, and no one can wish it so or make it so.  No amount of protecting, giving, hoping, loving, or praying can take away the thorns of the rose; and what would be the purpose of that anyway?  Life and living is a balance of beauty and pain, of good and evil, of joy and sorrow.  Pretending that the thorns don’t exist does not make them go away; breaking them off the stem of the rose so they are not experienced creates only half the experience of the beauty and grace represented by the symbol of the Rose.  Eventually, no matter how fast you run, how hard you try to break them off and throw them away, or how deeply you hide the Truth, the thorns must be acknowledged, handled, perhaps with care, perhaps with abandon, but accepted as a part of this plane.  They are natural; they symbolize their own special kind of beauty and must be accepted as a part of the polarity of life, as part of the symbolism of the Rose.

My roses now have thorns.  They still smell as sweet and look as beautiful, and I handle them carefully, with respect and awe, because the combination of energies, the co-mingling of the bitter with the sweet, is the natural product of this plane, and is symbolic of a Truth that I have spent much of my life actively denying.  I cannot save the world; I can only save my world by experiencing and embracing the polarity of the symbolism of the Rose.  Without the darkness we would not recognize the light.

So at this magical time of year, let me leave you with some of the words to a song that has always been among my favorites, though I didn’t understand why until I so recently began listening to my own story of the Rose.  As you read it, listen for the positives and negatives that are used and note the use of the word “afraid”; fear, fear of the pain, fear of the unknown, fear of taking a risk…fear of the thorns on the Rose.

The Rose
…It’s the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance.
It’s the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance.
It’s the one who won’t be taken,
Who cannot seem to give,
And the soul afraid of dying
That never learns to live…

Look inward with joy, truth and clarity this Christmas Season to find your own personal Rose, significant only to you, symbolizing the roots of the patterns of the biases and prejudices upon which you have built your life, bearing thorns of risk and change.

Christine Ford
Spiritual Climate Newsletter, Editor

2016 Christmas-NewYear


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Prelude to Stupidity

Thanksgiving Regoosed

PRELUDE TO STUPIDITY
by Christine Ford

Working with young minds, even young minds that are somewhat compromised by various forms of Learning Disabilities, Autism, and Emotional Disabilities, can be a genuine challenge. The children of today just, plain and simple, think differently than we of the pre-internet-in-every-home-era think. Their minds have been tuned by society, schools, and the web to research, to find bits and pieces of data, and to reconstruct those facts into a finished product. Gone into ancient history are the days of curling up surrounded by books, loose-leaf notebook paper, highlighters, pens and pencils and searching for those bits of information that would be pulled out, reworded and reworked, and used to create the end product of a gem of knowledge. Now all you have to do is type a word in Search, and voile! Instantly, all the places to find everything you ever wanted to know about…. Anything! Choose a topic; the internet is a source and resource for boundless information. Incredible, in so vastly many ways, I agree. The world of information is at our fingertips, but what about the world of knowledge?

Hmm, information vs knowledge; a study in words. What would a good teacher’s article be without a couple definitions to bore the readers? I have printed only the meat and potatoes of “knowledge” and “information” to keep you from falling asleep, but they are key to the argument I am presenting! According to Oxford Dictionaries-© Oxford University Press:

Knowledge:
1. facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject
2. awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation

Information:
1. facts provided or learned about something or someone
2. what is conveyed or represented by a particular arrangement or sequence of things

Some may think the parsing out of the difference between those two words is nit-picking; if that is your reaction, then please, I beg you, continue to read, because you have already fallen under the spell that I am referring to. I promise I will do my very best not to turn this article into a rant, but will simply point a finger in the direction of a trend that I, as an educator with some thirty five years of experience under my belt, have watched in horror expand and increase, and see as the furthering of the devolution of the joy of learning, the agape of discovery, and the acquisition of true knowledge in exchange for the shallow mere gathering and compiling of information.

Let me introduce you to one aspect of this growing knowledge vs information dilemma that I have experienced first-hand. My special needs students are able to develop slide presentations in Google Docs at lightning speed, cruising around the world-wide-web, clipping and importing, twisting and turning images and words, print as well as audio, to compile into a finished product. On a positive note, this does help level the playing field for my challenged kids. They are actually helping me become familiar with some technology that was prior Greek to me and they love it; what a boost to their self-confidence. The students in the General Education classroom are even more adept at weaving astounding presentations from facts, pictures and audio blips that they gather and assimilate, cut and paste, into a finished product that looks professional, can be extremely informative, and is visually pleasing as well as auditorily stimulating. Wow, that is incredible, you might say and I agree! Look at how they are utilizing technology to learn!

But wait; is that truly learning? Take those very same students. Give them paper and a pencil, a dictionary and even a paragraph or sentence starter. (For those of you who are not educators, that is a prompt of several words on the topic to get them started) Ask them to write, in their own words, what they have just “created” with the aid of technology, to write a narrative, an essay, even a single paragraph about that which they have just learned, and what do you suppose you get? I can give you an answer from experience. You get, for the most part, nothing, and I don’t mean nothing as in the “No-thing” of the Occult world. You get zilch, nada, squat!

They have collected the information, arranged it in pretty patterns, and perhaps even set it to music, (Please refer back to definition 2 of information) but very little has been processed as knowledge, made their own, stored in their memory, or kept to strengthen the foundation upon which new awareness and knowing are built. The final step in learning is totally missing: the experience of turning that gathered information into knowledge, the practical understanding of a subject, the awareness gained by experience of a fact. (knowledge, definitions 1 and 2) The knowledge just doesn’t quite make the leap to their own personal stash of knowing; it remains locked in the information stage on the electronic memory of the computer.

The growing delusion that they are truly acquiring knowledge in this way and are embarking upon the path of discovery and agape of learning; that taking parts and pieces of “other’s” works and combining them into a collage of color and sound, as beautiful as the end product might be, and stopping with simply the gathering of information absolutely terrifies me. Back in the good old days, this was called plagiarism. By today’s standards, it is creativity, learning, and yes, innovation, to tie into Dr. Stickler’s current article in Spiritual Climate. This shift deeply saddens me, especially as I project into the future the complications of the dumbing down humanity by turning education into a process of information gathering rather than one of acquiring knowledge.

Alarmingly, this trend is not only happening in the lower levels of education, as I can state again from personal experience. I teach with a brilliant young lady who is a genuine educator. She has the heart of a true teacher, the ability to impart knowledge to her students, as is evidenced by the growth and excitement in her classroom; she too teaches special needs children. She is not a “hot house” teacher, but spent four solid years in a face to face university setting, learning and practicing the techniques being taught, acquiring a profound base of knowledge as to the how’s and why’s a student learns. Recently she was bitten by the bug of furthering her education and signed up for Graduate School to get her Master’s Degree in Administration; an admirable endeavor. A school and its teachers can only be as strong as the administrative support behind them; knowing that gifted teachers with a true understanding and knowledge of teaching techniques and pedagogy are not leaving the profession, but are dedicated to staying and expanding their knowledge, is a bright spot for me in an otherwise dismal environment.

Having experienced a solid education in the knowledge of teaching while obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree, my friend was eager to be back in the setting of exchanging ideas, paging through books and highlighting important words, having challenging discussions and exploring face to face with like minds the philosophy of administration. Her first indication of the impersonality and use of technology that would make her graduate experience so different from that of her undergraduate experience, one of information gathering vs acquisition of knowledge, was upon being accepted and attempting to enroll.

Phone calls were not even an option; she was unable to get through to a live person. Everything was done online, with no personal contact at all; a video tutorial was sent to her by the university online as to the process of enrolling online; she created her account and was warmly welcomed electronically. She was invited to a Forum for discussion online, her welcome note came from her professor online as well as her twenty page Syllabus. She was astounded and dismayed, when attempting to order text books, that there were no hold in your hand, dog-ear and highlight, write notes in the margins text books available; only… you guessed it…. online digital copies. She meets with an in person group of twelve students one night a week for four hours; other than that, all work and communication are done online. A report is due each week relating to the subject discussed the previous week, but that report can be as simple as “discussed during class” and submitted online, as long as one attended. This goes on for five intense weeks, and then that Course is complete, and she is ready to move on to the next class. I mentioned “hothouse” previously; perhaps you have a bit more of an understanding of what I meant. Needless to say, my friend was disappointed by the lack of encounter and exchange in this new model and method of higher education, and we talked about where the experience (knowledge) comes in to the mix; I didn’t have much in the way of comfort to offer her, as I have watched this shift spreading and encompassing the entire arena of education for years.

The state of Arizona is in abysmal shape in education; 50th in about every category 1. In Arizona, We have Won the Race to the Bottom. Teachers are leaving the state at an alarming rate; vacancies are being filled by full time substitutes and teachers who are have obtained their teaching certification by the “hothouse” method described above; “Come on down, if you have a Bachelor’s degree in anything, combining that and your work experience, we can turn you into a bona fide, certified teacher in eighteen months, and you will be guaranteed job security, because we have chased all the true educators away.” Sorry if I sound a tiny bit jaded; I remember the days when being a teacher was a distinguished, respected, and earned career with at least four knowledge packed years in learning methods and techniques of reaching kids and long hours spent having the experience of applying them, seeing what worked and what didn’t, making the knowledge your own through experience. If you really believe the majority of the teachers turned out by this “hothouse” method of information swallowing and regurgitating have the knowledge and wisdom to be responsible for the education of your child or grandchild, give me a call; I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

Frank Zappa

There are more reasons than I care to go into right now for the death throes of education in the state of Arizona, as well as the sad state of education across the great country of ours in general; that is not the focus of this article. What I do know, in the depths of my heart and Soul, is that underlying it all, be it educating our elementary school children, or teaching our teachers to teach, the swing of that gigantic pendulum from regarding the acquisition of knowledge as the hallmark of education to the acceptance of the electronic compilation of information wrapped up in a sensorily attractive package is harkening the slide down that slippery slope into the devolved state of even more stupidity than is evident in society right now. True scholars are a dying breed, and I mourn the loss of the agape of knowledge being turned into the cheap sensorium of the information age. We, as a country, and as humanity, fashioned in the likeness and image of The One, are more grand, noble and inquisitive than that. We are selling ourselves, and the future of mankind, short in the name of information and innovation.

May you grow in your ability to make the information you gather your own and, like an Alchemist turning his personality from lead into gold, turn that base chunk of coal of information into the precious diamond of knowledge.

Blessings,
Christine Ford
Editor, Spiritual Climate Newsletter




Copyright © 2015 by Institute of Spiritual Climate LLC

 


 

Notes:

  1. start here: ‘Report: Arizona ranks among worst states in nation for public school education funding’ by Jessica Suerth, 2015 September 28, link here – http://ktar.com/story/668359/report-arizona-ranks-among-worst-states-in-nation-for-public-school-education-funding/
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