Sentences from the Chapter on Pain

It seems odd to me that I wrote a chapter on pain for a meditation book. I wrote the chapter 3 years ago. I am no longer in pain. I mean emotional pain. Physical pain has never been my thing. Pain is worth meditating on, even if modern society doesn’t think you should have it. Don’t medicate it, feel it. Here are my thoughts:

Heart pain, soul pain mental pain, emotional pain. What human is not in pain?

The screaming need is pain. Pain and addiction go together. Your addiction is an attempt to bury the pain. “…short of death or long-term sobriety there is no way to quell the screaming need between exposures” (Never Enough, Judith Grisel, page 5). Self-love cures the pain.

But inside, I’m tortured. I haven’t grasped the truth of my holiness at all.

Your beliefs are your pain. Life without the soul is painful. Pain by itself is a deep reality. The painful reality is my own creation. Pain is relieved when you allow life to flow. The journey is inward to your primordial existential self, and then together finding a new basis for life. You are worth consistent effort.

The pain goes away and hope arises when you accept and consciously become your existential self. Your existential self is not in pain, but merely waiting for you to know who it is. Real happiness comes from the inside, from joining that inner existential self.

A step towards healing is to transform the pain into longing, that universal longing of human consciousness for something more. To get better, to move forward a little, bring the words “human dignity” out of your inner soul and into consciousness. I mean, don’t get them from outside people but from inside your heart. They come now with a feeling of worth, and a field of dignity springs up.

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Essay on Existential Truth

It is a joy when I write a sentence which is my own and which I love. Here are some: The truth of every human being is a focal point greater than drug induced euphoria. Wanting your truth is a new way of being. Consideration of your truth is a step to being plugged in to who you really are. I always wanted to be more than a pile of crap. It turns out that I am, just never heard that from my parents. But now, I can come to believe it of myself. Yes, it takes some practice and some focus and some intent, but it is really my reality. If I think it, it will be. My truth is my spiritual awakening.

“Spiritual awakening is no more and no less than a human being claiming his or her full humanity” (Hungry Ghosts, Gabor Mate, page 421). The core, the root, of a spiritual awakening is your truth as the human that you are. The truth of who you really are is integral to developing and sustaining a new life .

Are you an addict? You are an addict if you are human. Dopamine is your drug of choice. This neurotransmitter will drive your every decision and activity, at least until you become aware and become driven by spiritual forces instead. Your truth, who you really are, is the spiritual life force. Your brain/mind has an unconscious life of which you are not aware. Thoughts are had and decisions made without your awareness. Who is the someone who gets up and goes to work even if they don’t want to? Or does chores? Or doesn’t steal, even returns lost valuables? This person was not learned in Boy Scouts or church. This person is who was born. This person is an abstract truth, the beginning of a human, a divine perfection. This truth lives on and exists now. Be it. Remember it. Truth is who you are. Think it. Feel it. Be it.

As a self seeking human, or someone who wants more out of life than a good paying job, “…see with the Soul’s sight, move in the realm of Truth…” (Plotinus’ Enneads, McKenna translation, page 69). Contemplate for yourself: your soul; your soul’s sight; the realm of truth; moving in the realm of Truth. Feel your consciousness expand beyond any drug induced trip. This bigger consciousness can be sustained by you, for life. This bigger consciousness will sustain you, for life.

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Race Report — Get Your Butt Kicked on Route 66

It is summer and it is hot. There aren’t many races during the summer, but even still, covid has killed some of them. I like to go in races. Sometimes I win age group awards. Sometimes I get awesome bling; yeah, I like bling. Sometimes I get in the Zone and impress the hell out of myself. So I enter races and then see what happens.

Summer, a night race sounds good: Get Your Butt Kicked @ Route 66. The race was put on by a Saint Louis ultra runner club, so there were a number of amazing runners there. The race was a 6 hour event from 6 pm to midnight. The idea is to run as many miles as you want in 6 hours. The race was held in a small state park on a totally flat course of about 2.5 miles, in trees. It turns out that it was a very informal affair, more like a fun run than a race. They gave us our medals when they gave us our bibs. No pressure. No goal. Have a nice run.

Conundrum. What was I doing there? I drove over 200 miles. I had a hotel room. Maybe I was there to complete 26 miles in 6 hours; an obvious goal. Look, I ran a marathon. But the informality of the event plus the lack of awards for completing something left me with no goal. Like, now I was there just to run as long as I felt like it. No dopamine rewards from this effort. Pride of self could somehow not be obtained. I need the constraints, like you don’t get your medal until after you run the 26 miles.

But the race was a jovial and friendly event. We were saying hi and chatting it up with perfect strangers. I parked next to a young man named Nate. Neither one of us had been there before. I put my cooler with bottles of Gatorade and my chair along the course. Nate said he would bunk next to me, as he put down his own water bottles. That was cute. The result of all these personal aid stations was an area lined with chairs and non-runners sitting around, music and a party atmosphere.

For Missouri in July, you could say it was a cool evening. But 85F with humidity feels pretty warm when you are running. About 100 runners became very sweaty as soon as we started running. I started drinking my Gatorade sooner than I usually do. I added in walk breaks sooner than I usually do. Around 9 pm, I needed to start using my head lamp. This is when I began the hard decision making about how long I would stay out there. With a bright light on forehead, many flying insects were attracted to me. I was still sweating. My Gatorade was running out and I’d have to switch to water. No extra bling for 26 miles. I wasn’t motivated to stay at the race for 6 hours or 26 miles. My head was not in the game. So, how do I decide when to quit when there is basically nothing wrong with my feet or legs? My problem is that I just don’t feel like keeping going. Hummm. Finally I thought, well go for longer than you would if this was a training run by yourself. Go until after 10 pm. Go for at least 20 miles.

So that is what happened. No glory in this activity. No Instagram worthy moments. Nothing to brag about. I got to hear a large number of bugs and bull frogs making noises in the swamp. I got to experience my self as I struggle with myself. Not great fun but a common mental state for me. I am what I am.

Video of the starting area is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uV798kRbfag

Wearing lucky bib #8888

The Value of Incline

During the past two and a half months, I’ve been doing virtual races. Hence, I’ve been focused on doing as many miles as possible every day. Most of the miles were slow, even walking a lot, in order to keep from injuries. I’ve not been doing any cross training. Having finished a race on Sunday, I got on my elliptical machine today. I found that the usual settings which I was using last winter were hard. I became winded. I suddenly realized that the elliptical had been a valuable tool in maintaining cardio vascular fitness for a runner who gets slower over time. Even though I was winded, I took short breather breaks and got my hour of exercise in. Now, I’m glad the virtual races are over and I can again focus on cross training. Also, my running should speed up as I do less miles. Once again, I was astonished to see how winded I became on the elliptical. After only two months break from using it. Wow! Use it or lose it. I need to get back to weight workout also.

The Seventh Day

On July 9, a virtual race began. It was a 10 day virtual race. That is, do as many miles as you can in ten days. Get a belt buckle if you get 100 miles. That was my goal, the belt buckle. I mapped out a schedule of how many miles to do each day, considering work days, in order to achieve 100 miles by the end of day nine. I had a real race, an in person non-virtual race, on day 9 from 6 pm to midnight. It would be great to polish off the 100 miles by running 26 of them at a real race. That is the set up.

Day 1 went real well. I got 19.8 miles which was 4.8 miles over schedule. On Day 2, I got 23.4 miles which was 8.4 miles over schedule. On day 3, I worked half the day and went for a walk in the afternoon and got 6.9 miles, which was 1.9 miles over schedule. That is 50 miles in 3 days. At which point, I made the mistake of checking the competition. I saw that I was in first place. Now, a different part of my brain kicked in. My goal shifted from the belt buckle to beating the other people in the race. Now really. It is a virtual race. What the other people are doing has nothing to do with me. By definition, you can’t win a virtual race. My brain seemed not to know the difference between virtual and real. Trying to beat others was stronger in my energy than trying to get to 100.

Day 4, 22.1 miles, 7.1 miles over schedule, intentionally wanting to stay ahead. Now I faced a dilemma. I was supposed to work day 5 and 6. That meant that I couldn’t throw another 20 miles on the board those days. So I got someone to take my shift on day 5 and I put up another 21.1 miles, 16.1 miles over schedule. This got me to 93.3 miles. The 100 mile goal is now a given. Belt buckle yay!

The night of day 5, I slept almost not at all. Then I got up a 3:30 am to go to my job. I was exhausted after work. I didn’t feel at all like going for a walk to get some miles to keep ahead in my virtual race. Day 6, working on feet but no running.

In the mean time, the weather for the actual race on Saturday night, day 9, looks superb. That is, not very hot with a slight chance of showers. It came to my mind that with perfect race conditions, I could do really well at the real race. But to do well, I’d need to recover from the virtual race. So, no miles got done on day 6. The 93 miles I got in 5 days had actually drained me and broke me.

Now it is day 7. I slept incredibly long and hard last night. I didn’t wake up until 8:30 am, That is really late. Today is rainy outside and I have absolutely no energy to go out and run, let alone run 20 miles in order to beat a virtual person. I haven’t checked the leader board for the virtual race since day 5. I no longer care if I am winning. My brain has somehow shifted it’s focus. I want to do well in the real race.

On the seventh day, God rested. So am I. No work and no running. I am now in recovery and preparing for the real race 3 days from now. How exciting.

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A Reflection 4.2 – Consciousness

            In the book “The Untethered Soul,” the author Michael Singer says, “Consciousness is the highest word you will ever utter” (page 28). Why?

            I turn now to my own self. What do I think about this which comes from within me? What do I contemplate, without going to Mr. Singer’s book and reading the answer? I want to know what my thoughts are because it must be what my consciousness has to say to me.

            Oh, shoot. The first thing that came to mind was from an article on consciousness found in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. I read there a few months ago on panpsychism: that consciousness is a fundamental and ubiquitous feature of reality that exists throughout reality. I rather liked the idea that consciousness is, and nothing more needs to be said. In my own words, I would say that consciousness is the fabric of existence.

            Mr. Singer said that consciousness is the highest word. Others would say that the name of Jesus is highest. Why does the height of the word matter to me? What happens to me when I utter the word consciousness or think it? Does how I feel change? Well yes. In my case, thinking the word consciousness is a prayer of calling. That tells me that I think consciousness is more like a being with whom I can communicate. I think that the consciousness feature of the universe is also relational. From that point of view, then those who say Jesus or Spirit, are communicating with the same feature of the universe that I am.

            I think that my consciousness and my soul are the same. I also think that my consciousness was somehow in a non-physical state before I was born. But I can’t prove this and it surely comes partly from the study of other spiritual writers and from my own intuitive thoughts. Consciousness has not yet been measured. We don’t know when it arrives in any physical body or where it goes under anesthesia. Consciousness is not DNA but it probably utilized epigenetics and brain circuitry, and in fact, helps build these from the ground up in a new human apparatus. Some neuroscientists believe that consciousness is just brain circuits arranged in a particular way as a result of experience and predictive simulation. “A mind is something that emerges from a transaction between your brain and your body while they are surrounded by other brain-in-bodies that are immersed in a physical world and constructing a social world” (7½ Lessons About the Brain. Lisa Feldman Barrett, page 100). I think that there is more than just a brain. So I am a philosophical duelist, not a physicalist. Unconscious parts of my brain are still part of my consciousness. The only meaning that human life has is consciousness. There is a difference between consciousness and conscience. My conscience directs me. My consciousness listens to my conscience. But in many ways, my conscience is as mysterious as my consciousness and similar to my consciousness.

            I’m not sure that there is a difference between consciousness and love. And so I will have to stop this reflection. Love is ineffable to me.