Who Do I Follow?

You are about to think I follow a philosopher, so I\’ll say upfront: this philosopher has helped me frame \”who I follow.\”

I have been reading the notebooks of Paul Brunton (google him to find these online). I am up to book 5, with 11 to go. This morning I read about 3 different types of consciousness: individual pseudo-consciouness (I call ego), society\’s collective will and true inner divine wisdom.

As a solitary, contemplative, mature athlete, vegetarian, non-religious, spiritualist much of my life goes against society\’s collective will. Hence it feels like sin. My quest to give up many of the things related to money and position cause my ego much angst. Hence they also feel like sin. However, these sins are not true sins. They are in fact life on a higher moral plane than the norm. Isn\’t that interesting. Attempts to rise above the group cause angst. What strength of will or reliance on the inner divine can enable this diversion from group norms?

I am taking a break from workouts for a day or two to rest up for my weekend at the Silverton 1000. I am using the time for reflection and additional meditation. I am resting an endocrine system and feeding it super nutrition. Symbolically, I put new batteries in the car\’s key fob and cleaned the toilet. Today, I will get a deep tissue massage.

Multi-day races are for the patiently enduring. The average age of the athlete rises into the 50\’s. Its point is the forward movement over time and the eventual mental and physical struggle; a microcosm of life and death and re-birth.

My bags are packed. 2 days of work. Thursday, I fly to Durango. Friday, the race starts.

Silence or Sloth?

Today I broke my record for Sunday sleeping in: 9 am. When I first got up, I was feeling a bit like the day was screwed because if it was too warm, there\’d be no long run.

So I sat down to do my usual morning spiritual reading and reflection. I have to ask myself: where is my mind at? See, I haven\’t been feeling driven by anything and I haven\’t been feeling strong negative emotions like I used to. I seem to no longer need to prove I am \”better than\” those who have the world\’s approval. I am more comfortable hanging out there on my own as a religion-less spiritual person.

The result of daily spiritual work should be inner peace. I am finally able to see that inner peace is quiet and with silence in the emotions. The ego loses its control and it is quieter inside. If the ego does speak up and attempt to take control back, I don\’t believe it as much.

I can ask myself about the possibilities and the changes in motivation. If I had inner peace and was spirit motivated, how would that feel? Would it be a more subtle emotional life? Or an emotional life not in the ego\’s world; hence not feeding the ego\’s addictions?

Somewhere in this musing, I had a vision of myself running down a long path, sweating. That was my urge for long slow distance. So, I decided to go running since today was not supposed to be warmer than 90F (haha, you know its been a long summer if 90F seems cool). I packed up my cooler and decided to drive about 23 miles east to where there is a long flat dirt bike path (I had scouted the area yesterday). I started my run at 10:45. This is amazing as just a couple of weeks ago, it would have already been 95F by that time. Today it was only 77F, and I don\’t think it ever got above 85F.

Driving to the trail, I had this revelation. Spirit motivated can be nothing more than in the moment.

I didn\’t find the northern most trail head yesterday. But today, armed with a map, I found the farthest north end and parked there. I can\’t really explain; but there was a little inner battle in deciding to find the north trail head. Then, running back towards the car after 17 miles of running, the trail head I found yesterday had a train parked in front of it. Had I parked there, my car would have been stuck. Since I had overcome my inner resistance, and decided to find the other place, my car was not stuck behind a train. After climbing over the train, and cleaning my hands with a Wet-One, it occurred to me that intuition had worked to push me to NOT park in the place I knew but find the right new place and park there. It seems small, but following these little urges is what being spirit driven is about. I said an inner thank-you.

I had a truly wonderful 18 mile/4 hour low-impact jog. It sure put the icing on the cake for Silverton.

Silverton? Yes, its this coming weekend: http://silvertonspecialevents.com/silverton_special_events_033.htm
I\’m signed up for a 72 hour race. Well, I don\’t plan on being on course more than 12 hours a day, but still….

There is this growing pile of stuff in my living room as I start packing:

Help

Driving home tonight, I was thinking about my decision to believe in a higher power; not just a benign higher power but one that helps me. That\’s when my break through occurred.

What help is it that I get? Not help in the material world, as in: pulling strings so I get what I want. I get help with my thoughts. I get help with ego renunciation and transcendence. That is, if I truly honestly want love based thinking, I get help. But still, I have to choose and decide to seriously take the help. I have to actually give up resenting that person and back stabbing them with my thoughts and words. Key word here is actual, ACTUAL.

Several times a day, I realize I\’m resenting someone. Right then, as soon as I realize it, I ask for the help and then accept the help and then ACTUALLY deny those thoughts and words.

I want my life to be about self transcendence. In that case, any bit of unfairness at work is a practice. What I want is not a great career but love based thinking. If a great career is a by-product of the spiritual work, so be it; but career success is not the goal.

Un-escapables
Non-negotiables
Persistent Practices
Sacred Ground

These are areas of my life, pieces of which I am made. I must work for a living. I\’m good at what I do and well paid. I must study spiritual books and practice inner listening. I must be an athlete because it exercises character traits I wouldn\’t otherwise have. I absolutely will not eat meat or drink alcohol for spiritual reasons.

I am made of endurance, perseverance, hope, love, care.

I want to do more with my life; but not kill myself. I have no career ambition other than making money. I\’ve reached the edge of running. I can\’t do any more. I\’m in a spiritual desert; beyond where emotions influence my belief in God. I don\’t at all want to join ordinary society. So I don\’t know what \”something more\” is. I can\’t plan it. I can only pray for it.

Not as the World Gives….

….do I give unto you.

Our company has a \”women\’s initiative\” asking for 30% of level 2 management be female by some date. Here in the plant, that\’s impossible since there are so few women who work here to begin with. But because of said initiative, I was invited to a focus group this week. And after work last night, I chatted with one of the other ladies involved with the focus group. This discussion added to the fact I didn\’t get promoted earlier this year because I\’m currently the only who can do what I do at this plant. And add in that I have applied for 2 more job transfers to other locations which would also be promotions.

Add these occurrences and I realize that I am mentally provoked. My brain keeps looking at the male corporate hierarchy and wondering how on earth certain individuals make it to the top. Or fuming about guys who have failed but continued to be employed and highly paid but shuffled to lower jobs; where I, outstanding performer, don\’t get that money.

They say around Missouri, \”the only fair is in Sedalia.\”

When I go home in the evening however, I remember spirituality. Spirituality, whether it is a false reliance on platitudes or not, does bring relief from mental haranguing. Remembering spirit, I seem to remember other values beside corporate power and salary competitions. And I find myself filled with peace and gratitude.

Yesterday eve, I put my ear plugs in my ears and worked my Nordic Track for an hour. I closed my eyes and found the Bible speaking to me: Not as the world gives do I give unto you, Be still and know, I am the bread of life, Into thy hands I commend my spirit.

The workout goes much faster when I go blind and deaf than when I have the radio on NPR. Listening to NPR is like listening to commercials for the poor and downtrodden. I find myself somewhat angry at the subtle guilt and anger producing presentations. Blind and deaf, I retreat into my inner world and leave the outer world. Right or wrong, this retreat brings peace and mental quiet.

When I got kicked out of the monastery, I felt strongly that it was to be a monk in the world. Since then, my ideas about God have undergone huge de-construction. I continue to struggle with vocation versus career. I find myself completely unable to communicate with others about spiritual topics or practices. I find myself judged for drinking coffee or putting salt on food or having a cookie. I continue to abhor alcohol and meat-eating as spiritual (or actual) poisons and spiritual death. I don\’t try to explain but get criticized for not joining work groups when they go out for drinks and dinner.

Additionally: we are so conditioned to think money and power are the best if not only rewards. What we are trained to think of a rewarding is usually material in nature. Seeking rewards from higher notions of character is not that easy.

I cannot prove there is a God, or that my relationship to a higher consciousness is true. It could just be brain chemistry. But I return to the spiritual practice since I\’d otherwise have to kill myself. Selah!

My Legacy

I always wanted to \”be somebody.\”

Steven Covey drilled it into my young mind: I should leave a legacy. We are trained to be achievers. Everyone aspires to be the boss.

The nuns get to be Sister Somebody, holy and validated. I really wanted to be a mystic and thought you had to be a monk. I got kicked out of the monastery and told to be a monk in the world. As such the struggles of the workplace have become part of my contemplation.

This is my problem. In my life right now, I am an athlete, an engineer and a solitary spiritualist. Which one of these things is going to be amazing?

This is specialness at it\’s finest: the one thing I want is to be special. Especially because it makes me better than everyone else.

I have no high powered theology or \”spin\” to make this all better. It is just as well I admit it once again: just be.

The pursuit of inner peace, mental quiet, as the goal of my life, the highest achievement available to me produces a painful agony and unendurable hopelessness in some portion of my emotional system. The goal of peace instigates irrational action and insidious subterfuge on the part of the one who wants to be great. This inner angst is the emotional system I face every day.

No wonder I spend half the time thinking I\’m a worthless piece of crap and the a moment later, I am nurtured in the mental quiet and at peace with my being. I have not found an escape route. I want to break the pattern of my thinking. That\’s the thing. In solitude, and if practiced intentionally, you see your thoughts. You become aware of what is going on in your head. The negativity is amazing. But I can choose. Its a matter of remembering not to believe the lies.

I wrote the above last evening. This morning, I found myself filled with the quiet determination to connect with my soul. See, when I get quiet and listen to the silent voice within, all is well.

God is Love

I went to sleep last night thinking my spiritual quest was in such a shambles. My structure has fallen apart. I don\’t believe anyone else\’s teachings. As a side note, my life is in limbo as I haven\’t heard back about a major variable.

Today, Sunday, I did my usual sleeping in and I got up with no idea what I\’m doing. I sat down with my coffee and wrote, \”Spirituality. Pittsburgh. KC=just show up and do your best.\”

Then I closed my eyes and remembered the nurturing presence I call love. I have faith in love. I trust this love. I surrender to love. (Somehow the thought of surrender put angst about Pittsburgh to bed).

God is love. But we never really know God. We know love; especially if we are willing to explore love in its abstract form. We don\’t know God. Even those who have had the big enlightenment don\’t know God. This is because the enlightenment is experienced through a biochemical reaction in the brain; which can be reproduced through various physical means. Love doesn\’t do this. It is illogical to identify love as anything more than pure is-ness.

God is love. Not just what Paul says in Corinthians (patient, kind etc.), but the underlying substrate of everything. I mean the substrate of the atom, nurturing the photon. I mean the substrate of the universe, nurturing the birth of suns and galaxies. As a substrate, love just is.

Love is. I can sit quietly and feel nurtured by love. This nurturing feeling is a return to the birth of my consciousness; the time when I came to be. That time is now. I am always now and never before or to be. Now is the meaning of love. My feelings are my faith. The truth is that this love just is. If love is a consciousness, it is a different consciousness than mine. Our relationship is carried out in the intangible such as surrender, trust and faith. Love is not graspable and this quality is what makes it truly God.

Today is a beautiful day outside. I am going to load up my hydro-pak and go for a suburban hike.

Brain Dogma

Yes, I find myself in rebellion. I find myself suddenly seeing something that is hinted at, pushed upon the unsuspecting seeker.

The right brain is the good wholistic side of the brain.The left side is the evil ego side which is ruining my life, the world and spirituality.

Its most definitely an ego response to be pissed about this. It is a good thing that I allow my ego to be pissed about years of deflation activities and teachings.

On the other hand, it is true that when my ego gets too big for its britches, some deflating event occurs. In this way, neither side ever gets permanent control. The sides remain in permanent conflict too. I guess this is what is hard about being conscious for me. I feel the conflict, but can only ride it out. Maybe some day a higher power will tip the scales and the good right brain will win. This has happened to others. For me? Just give the left some dopamine experiences. Just give the right some noradrenaline experiences. Then all is well.

This morning, I had a totally pleasant 5 hours of endorphins. I was in a very hilly park, but it was away from cars and almost totally trees.

The Most Difficult of Silences….

….is when events in my world are disturbing. A true hermit might not have to deal with the activities of other, just their own thoughts which can be very difficult. For me, it\’s when work is in turmoil that I most hear my ego yammering away. In some ways it is fascinating to watch. It some ways it is a good tool for self examination and practice of guard of the heart.

Did I say guard of the heart? Yes. It is a monastic practice. Meg Funk says, \”To resist, refrain, to guard against people, places and things that would disturb peace of heart. To give not easy entrance to feelings-emotions,thoughts, passions (even good ones) if they are not God’s way.\”

After I wrote the above, I went to lift weights. I almost immediately felt good. I dropped into the peace of my heart and the zen of iron. Then, I walked uphill for a short while on the treadmill. Tomorrow\’s weather looks great. I\’ll do some running but not overly much. 

Running in the Right Brain

I\’ve been reading books about brain function from a biochemistry point of view. And of course, I\’ve been doing my daily morning running. The past 3 days, I\’ve done the exact same run, but with varying times. Today I did it easy so as not to cause any aches or pains. That is, when I run slow, its low impact.

I always say that I don\’t train. What I mean is that I run each day however I feel like it. I have no preplanned schedule or any intentional speed work, tempo runs, intervals, etc. I just run. When ever I do aim a run at \”training for a race\” I end up pushing speed. My mind takes off in the direction of calculating how long the race will take and if I can win an age group award.

Training is left brain ego driven running. It leaves me unhappy, stressed and perhaps closer to injury.

Just running however is relaxing. My mind ponders the meaning of life or that inner driving force I call my true self. Maybe I notice a bird, or more likely the mornings first cheep. I come home in love with myself and happy to just be. I think this un-directed running employs my right brain: the less wordy side of my brain.

It is somewhat counter-cultural to \”just run\” because you enjoy it; that is not for exercise or for training. I let go. I allow myself to be free. I drop performance measurements and just exist in the moment.

Haha, the highlight of today\’s run: a sidewalk which has been torn up for nearly 2 years is finally back in place.