Tag Archives: Joy

Tempering Passion with Joy

For those of us who see through the illusions and injustices of the world, it is easy to get riled up over them. Speaking for myself, if left unchecked, my passion for truth can quickly turn into aggression. But aggression is aggression, whether it’s coming from egotistical oppressors or impassioned activists, whether its intention is to overpower or to reveal truth.
Passion is a key emotion that can lead to great positive change, but in the hands of those who do not understand its inherent trappings, it can lead to tragedy.

Here’s what truth-seekers and change-makers need to know about the passion for reform: We can only make life-generating contributions by maintaining healthy, life-generating passion, not falling into the trap of aggression. This is not an easy task because passion is inherently active, boisterous, lively, expressive—all excitable qualities that resist being governed.

But to get carried away by our passions is to let them own us instead of using them as tools to reach our goals. In my case, my deepest desire has been to recognize the illusions that stand between me and a life-generating experience—personally, communally, and globally—and then to apply these insights to create life-generating results.

Aggression and depression are two common traps of passion. They are the negative polarities to which the pendulum of passion can swing when left unchecked. When passion turns into aggression or depression, it becomes dangerous and gains momentum toward life-deteriorating results. In this way, even the best intentions can turn ugly.

The best life-generating results come from clarity. Passion can be clear or cloudy, depending on how we exercise it. When we let passion veer off toward aggression or depression, we lose our place and spin away from our goal. And like any trap, this one is not always obvious.

The trap of misdirected passion is rage on the one hand and impotence to effect change on the other. It is understandable that we sometimes fall into the trap of feeling inconsolable, depressed, or furious at the state of the world and the powers that be. But if we do slip into such traps, we must not dwell there for long, lest they render us impotent.

Nobody wins—neither you nor I, nor our evolution—by getting stuck in clouded, negative passion. Furthermore, there’s just no time for it. We, our communities, and our planet are already terribly sick, and getting more so by the minute.

So how do we open our eyes and the eyes of others to the realities of our world, and how do we watch the slow motion of the wheels of justice without becoming impatient and aggressive—or so furious as to become apoplectic, or so depressed as to become suicidal? I have spent a lot of time chewing on this question because it has been part of my personal journey.

If our passion for truth can swing toward the extreme of blind aggression and anger (e.g., hatred, shouting, fighting, violence, dogma, etc.) and toward the related extreme of depression (apathy, impotence, surrender, self-numbing, substance abuse, addiction, suicide, etc.), we must ask ourselves, “What will bring the passion back to a healthy range?”

The answer is joy. According to the great modern mystic, Almine, joy is “the desire to live.” Almine also coined the concept that joy is the emotional mate to passion. That is to say that passion, like any emotion that falls out of balance, must be “checked” by its partner emotion, joy, in order to remain in the sweet spot. Joy can bring us back to equilibrated, life-generating passion.

For example, when I catch myself leaning toward imbalanced states of passion, I immediately remind myself what all this work is about—I envision a world that works for humans and for all life. I hold close the vision of a world that embodies joy, like Anastasia’s, like life-generating native communities that work in inter-dependant harmony. I focus on what makes our inner and outer worlds brim with natural life. The desire to live guides me back to a passionate approach that serves my purpose rather than diluting it.

This approach lifts me out of aggression and into that sweet place where passion and joy pulse together. It brings my warrior out of imbalanced fight mode and into productive protection of all that is good, magical, beautiful, and harmonious.

To give you a visual illustration, think of desire as the key that turns on the ignition, passion as the accelerator, and joy as the wheel. Passion gives us the energy to create that which we desire to manifest. The desire is the reason we choose to pursue a vision. Joy keeps us on the life-generating road.

Notice there is nothing remotely passive about pulling passion out of aggression. Passion in its equilibrated state is actually more powerful and effective than aggression. It actively works to build a new reality, rather than strengthening its opposition with knee-jerk resistance and ineffective battles that only spill vital energy and fan hatred.

Remember, we always run the risk of strengthening that which we oppose. Instead of fighting against big business and insane cultural paradigms with just another brand of brute force and insanity, we should use our energy creatively. We can do more good by healing those aspects of ourselves that reflect the destructiveness of the world. In reforming ourselves, we can liberate ourselves, and thus empower ourselves to help others heal as well.

We must lead by example. By creating alternative ways of life that actually work, we can create a whole new template for others to try when they, too, are worn thin by the old ways.

So many people talk the talk. They want you to know they eat a raw diet and practice consciousness, and so on and so forth. They desperately want to be seen in this light because they do not yet own it. They want to be whole but they are not yet whole, so they fly in a holding pattern around the life they want, never quite landing on it because growing and changing are so hard to do. This kind of change requires a leap over a chasm, which requires an enormous amount of energy.

The energy must come to the individual in the form of desire, passion, and will. Typically, this potent blend of desire, passion, and will comes to a person only after hitting the intolerable lows of a life that doesn’t work. Sometimes people unconsciously create horrible events in their lives in order to effect change for the better. More often, though, people get stuck in life-deteriorating patterns because their will is inactive.

We all have those aspects of ourselves that stand in the way of personal growth that we tend to shove under the bed rather than face. But this is the first obstacle to change, on any scale. We have to address the need for change within ourselves, not just point fingers at the world. For everything we want the world to overcome, we should overcome something within ourselves.

We have to lead life-generating lives and practice—day by day, moment by moment—what we feel is true, not just talk about it, not just keep on wrestling the same old demons. At a certain point, it’s time to move beyond them, beyond indulgent self-reflection, and take action.

What must you change in your personal life? What dragons must you slay for you to be able to live your truth? Identify the steps you must take, and take them. Don’t be afraid of making a mistake, for there is no greater mistake than inaction in the face of suffering. This is the only way to find your equilibrium and create a way of life that sustains that equilibrium. Be vigilant moment to moment, so you don’t fall into those old traps that would corrupt your passion and leach your joy. If you do get pulled one way or the other, toward aggression or depression, work to reclaim your sweet spot as soon as you can. Keep practicing until you can hold that space longer and longer—until it comes naturally to you.

I know this is a major task. But this is your chance to have a real life, to be free of your demons and dragons (call them what you will), to live and to lead by example. Everyone wants to be free of the old traps, but who is going to show them that it’s possible if not you? If you merely wallow in your issues for too long, you will miss this amazing opportunity to live, truly live, in all the wonder and beauty of the human form. This is your chance to bust out of your cage, to lead a life of exhilarating growth and ever-greater levels of freedom.

People usually enter this work wanting to change their bodies and improve their health. What I hope most people come to realize is that correcting misguided eating patterns is just one obvious part of becoming whole again. It is an essential step to regaining our clarity and equilibrium—breaking free of the cages that hold us, the illusions that paralyze us with fear, the clouds that loom overhead and dictate our future—not just to look good and stay out of the doctor’s office. We do this work to increase our joy, to embrace life and to give life with every fiber of our beings.

So when I find my inner warrior falling out of balance and lashing out in rage against authority figures, I remember that this is my passion succumbing to imbalanced aggression. I remember the vision of life that I am working for and hold that vision until I am clear about my real mission. Then, if that assertive part of myself still wants to express itself, I can allow it to do so from a place of awareness. I give it some room and watch it act out its part, and then I put it neatly away, like an actor might remove his or her costume and makeup after a performance. This way, I can maintain balance even while letting my inner warrior express itself. Of course, I am not always so perfectly aware, but the more I witness myself in this manner, the more I am able to remain centered and empowered with clarity of purpose.

My personal quest has always been one of equilibrium (it also happens that I am a Libra, the symbol of the scales, or balance). Finding equilibrium is like finding the Holy Grail—or the alchemical recipe for transforming our lower (base) self into our higher (rarified) self. It is an experience that comes with great clarity.

People tend to equate equilibrium and balance with moderation. I think this is a mistake. The common saying, “Take everything in moderation,” is a pet peeve of mine. When I hear it, I always chime back, “Especially moderation!” Moderation and balance have become intertwined concepts, defined by our culture as having a little bit of everything. The problem is, if you have a little bit of everything in our culture, you’ll be sick and very mentally and emotionally imbalanced.

The Buddhist tradition speaks of the middle way, but this is not moderation as our culture knows it. The Buddhist middle way is the place where the body and mind are extremely clear, only after being purified by asceticism. It is the middle way because it is the place where life can flow, where the stream is fresh in the center of the flowing river. It is the place where you are so abundantly filled with life force and inner peace that you are not lured into states of extreme happiness or sadness by outside events. Rather, you are whole because your inner life is whole. You are aware of what is truly life-generating, and you are able to hold yourself in that place consistently.

The modern individual cannot achieve this by partaking of his or her unnatural world “just in moderation.” A cup of coffee, a single donut, a nine-to-five job, a turkey sandwich, a bag of chips, a coke, a cigarette, an hour of television, a single beer, a small burger, a couple of medications, a bit of Metamucil, a touch of milk of magnesia, twenty minutes of exercise three times a week, and a prayer before bed—here is a life of modern moderation. Here is something utterly out of balance.

Equilibrium is the sweet spot in all things. It is the place to look when you are healing aspects of yourself that seem impossible to overcome. Ask yourself in each case, “What is disrupting my equilibrium here?” Then apply what you learn, and remember to employ joy to keep your passions as a truth-seeker and change-maker positive and fruitful.

Shiver and Shake! Part 2

Many of you are noticing that, in my writings, I seem to be coloring further and further outside the lines. Some of you welcome this, while others of you find it unsettling. I can understand both reactions.

As I was walking through the snow-laden paths of Central Park at daybreak this morning, I thought about what has helped me through this transition—from seeing our world through the eyes of a typical girl raised in L.A. to someone who has started to see through its illusions. Let me start by emphasizing that it has not been easy for me; it has taken me more than ten years of rigorous focus, and of feeling my way through the dark.

Having encountered countless teachings and teachers along the way, I can count on only one hand the ones that have been truly useful. One thing they all said in common, in recognition of my busy city life, is that this work is hard to do “in the world.” They emphasized that it is advisable for people who undertake this work to go into isolation for several weeks, months even. As for most of you, that wasn’t an option for me. With a family, my projects, and my husband’s work, I would to have to be creative enough to go through this process in a Midtown Manhattan apartment.

Shifting your perspective this dramatically is a shock to the system. It requires a deep desire to grow—a desire beyond anything else in your life. If it’s not your deepest passion, it’s not going to happen for you. To put it another way, your desire to live has to be so strong it moves the mountains in your way. It also requires a daily dedication to growth. This is not like homework; it’s not merely a matter of forcing yourself to sit down for twenty minutes a day to complete a page of boring exercises. Not at all. This work should be a deep source of joy, something that helps get you out of bed in the morning. It’s that part of your day when you follow whatever lead is working best for you at the time—such as something you’re reading, like the Anastasia, Daniel Quinn, or Derrick Jensen books, or an audio recording that takes you deeper, like the Almine meditations, or simply sitting in contemplation. Devote that time to whatever you respond to best, whatever contributes most effectively to your growth.

If you miss a day, no biggie. If you spend a whole day on it, great. Do what works. No one is watching or judging you. Again, this is not homework! It’s the call of your heart, your blossoming.

Sometimes it won’t feel like you’re blossoming. Sometimes it will feel like you’re confused and stuck. That’s par for the course. You will open up again. Take a break. Read something else. Go clubbing. Whatever. Don’t worry about getting stuck. Trust your heart to lead you toward truth, and you’ll get there sooner or later.

This work is processed in cycles. There are times when you’ll take in new information and process it, and you’ll feel it very intensely. This is the time to cocoon yourself, to try to stay out of the fray. Stay home, keep warm, do those things that keep you feeling cared for. Limit your exposure to stores, crowds, and social events. Then, once you’ve absorbed what you’re capable of absorbing from that cycle and you feel energized by it, you’ll discover that you own the knowledge and no longer feel imbalanced by it. You’ll incorporate it into your worldview and lifestyle and start to really benefit from it. Then, when it’s time to take in more, you’ll go through the learning and processing cycle once again. Recognizing the differences between successive cycles and honoring what they require is essential to a smooth progression.

I used the word “shock” earlier. Shock and trauma are important to understand. They are a disturbance to both the emotional and physical body. We hold our shocks and traumas in the body, and when they are awakened they can make us shake (emotionally and physically) because they ring an incoherent energy pattern through the system, which needs to keep moving through in order to exit. If they don’t find an exit, they become a chronic disturbance.

Ours is a culture of fear—everyone is so afraid. Our fears are primal, and date back from our childhoods. We fear punishment from authorities. We fear stepping out of line, rejection from the community, looking different, being ridiculed, being alone. We fear other people’s anger, and our own. Challenging our culture means challenging the power that holds us under its thumb and wants to keep us there. We are programmed to be very afraid of this shadowy dictator, though we don’t normally think of it as such. Consider how hard it is for people to stand up to their own family members just to be able to eat vegetables instead of burgers and bread. Dietary views are the stuff of kindergarten compared to worldviews. This is why we have to take great care to work through the shifts in our worldviews at a pace we can manage. We must also anticipate the shaking that comes when the fear wells up in us.

As fears well up within us, so will the repressed traumas of the past. It’s the same awaken/release process that we go through when we physically detoxify. Expect to shake—a lot. It will pass, bit by bit. The more you shake, the more that incoherent energy pattern of fear and trauma will leave you, and the more powerful you will become. You will begin to see the world much more clearly. You will become more yourself, an effective and peaceful warrior.

When an animal in the wild has a traumatic experience—say, for example, narrowly escaping the jaws of a predator—that animal will immediately rush to a safe place and shake. It will shake until the energy connected with the trauma has been fully released. Instinctively, it knows to release it. Why? If the incoherent energy is not released, it will cling to the animal’s physical and emotional systems, acidifying its blood, organs, and cells. The animal will be compromised.

Animals that are traumatized in captivity cannot retain the internal communications that would keep its instincts intact in nature. Humans are similarly compromised in a culture that delivers too many blows to our emotional and physical bodies and blocks their means of release. They ring through the body, wrecking its integrity.

How many people have you seen whose repressed internal traumas are evident in their gaits, in the positions of their head and shoulders, in their mannerisms? If you’re at a loss, just hop on the number 6 subway train that runs through the main artery of Manhattan and you’ll see what I’m talking about. But, of course, it’s everywhere, throughout rural and urban communities alike. We should all move like happy, relaxed children—easy in our skins, light and limber. But the traumas of the world cause all living beings to morph into the shapes of our pains.

Along the way, I’ve sometimes questioned myself. I’ve wondered, am I the one that’s crazy? Is there something wrong with me to see this world as a mad place, when everyone else seems to think this is how life ought to be? As crazy as I might sound to the uninitiated, I have finally concluded, no, I am indeed seeing very, very clearly. There is nothing wrong with my vision. I stand in my peace and clarity and see the madness all around me. And I invite you to do the same every time you start to question the sanity of your heart’s deepest desire to find a better way of life.

I’m not trying to scare you with doomsday talk about the conditions of our world, our produce, and our progeny. I’m simply describing the way the natural world is responding to the trauma that our civilization is continually inflicting upon it. Personally, I find the doomsday entertainment and “end of times” dramatizations put forth by some groups and religions reviling. To me, they betray an insensitivity, a mentality of people who have fallen into the cultural trap of perceiving life as cheap and disposable.

By contrast, my purpose is to show you what is really going on—so the problems are neither vague nor overly dramatized. By understanding how the life cycles work in nature, you can see the future all by yourself. In describing the degeneration of seed, soil, and DNA, I am not trying to make you afraid, but to empower you with new vision, to make you ultimately unafraid. I want each one of us to face the truth, not sugar-coat it, so that we can begin to do the necessary work of cultivating life, of reversing the destruction of our bodies and our world before it’s entirely too late.

I realize that I do not always deliver this information in the softest, most palatable way. I hope to become better at this over time. But for now, please know that I offer it in the spirit of love. I want us all to grow together, to help each other grow in knowledge, perception, strength, beauty, and vitality. It is not an easy process, but it is ultimately as deeply joyful and fulfilling as it can sometimes be painful and shocking to the system. I am here to help you through the inevitable shivering and shaking along the way, to help guide you through the dark forest to the great clearing that awaits you.


Mainstream Modernity vs. The Trajectory of Truth

Dear Love-lights,

My family and I have just returned from five days on a private island in the Bahamas called Little Whale Cay. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips—the gift of our very dear friends whose extravagance and generosity know no bounds. We were eight adults with our children and a small staff whose sole purpose was to meet our every need, poolside, beachside and tableside. We were all alone without any form of modern stimulation. There was the sun overhead, sand underfoot, and curious island plant and animal life to entertain us—nothing more.

The children roamed the island with pure delight, playing with hermit crabs, spying on lizards, and just strolling peacefully, chatting together for hours at a time. The adults, to our credit, didn’t crack a cell phone or laptop or even check for email on our handheld devices. Instead, we all blissed-out on unrushed conversations and languid thoughts about…well, for example, nautilus shells and the curvature of the horizon. What made this trip so special was the lack of any modern stimulation. Without even realizing it, we became what I’ve come to refer to as “stimulation virgins.”

Residing in pure, unadulterated peace became so normal for us, that upon arriving at Nassau airport we experienced a most unwelcome assault to the senses. Suddenly, there were countless shops, fast food odors, advertisements clamoring for our attention, travelers bickering over places in line, brusque security officers, parents openly popping Xanax while feeding their gameboy-entranced children another bag of candy, and media screens flashing everywhere. In that moment, my husband and I shared a look of complete understanding of all the problems of the modern world.

We’d been sheltered from the discordant, modern life for only five days, but in that relatively short period gained precious perspective. The modern world never looked so obviously pained to me as it did just then and in the subsequent few days before my energy readjusted and I began to check emails, watch the presidential debates, enter shops and hail cabs again. I did not want to lose the clarity I had in that moment as a “stimulation virgin,” which reminded me of what’s truly important in life.

When we allow ourselves to merge with the discordant vibes of the modern world, we compromise our perspective and distort our choices. We are necessarily swayed by exposure to media, conditioned thinking, and conventionally minded people, which can make this cleansing lifestyle challenging in the city. These influences can throw even the most enlightened practitioners off the trajectory of truth.

Let’s stay with this concept of “trajectory” for a moment. We don’t need to be prophetic to see where we are headed. The best way to predict the future is to consider the trajectory we are on and the direction in which it is taking us. If we veer off the trajectory of love, clean living, clean food, clean water and air, we will arrive at a place of relative emotional and physical suffering (on the individual, communal, as well as global levels). If we take our guidance from those who are way off the trajectory of truth, we cannot possibly expect to find healing solutions (kind of reminiscent of the old biblical concepts of the “straight and narrow path” and the exodus “out of bondage,” isn’t it?).

This is why pharmaceutical drugs and modern psychology will never resolve our suffering (or carry us “out of bondage”)—they are as misguided as the environment from which they have sprung, offering temporary band-aid solutions at best. We won’t find real healing from such sources. It’s a classic case of the blind leading the blind!

So when we hear seemingly educated people insisting they have the answers for health care in this country, or the results of some new study, or know what drug will relieve the latest ailment or prevent aging, yada yada yada…we will know better. Our job is not to enter their misguided worlds and debate them on their level, but to hop on the one true trajectory and ride it without compromise—like following a rainbow to its glorious source of sunlight and rain!

The only way to remedy our physical, emotional and communal ills is to transition back to a condition that is rooted in the pure truth. This requires us to be diligent enough to sustain the vision long enough to bring it to fruition. Every little step we take toward truth—living from the heart (rather than the head), nourishing the body with nature’s most perfect foods, and striving for harmony in all that we do—will reduce suffering and increase joy.

What is sad and downright frightening is that most people don’t even recognize their own suffering because it blends in with the common suffering of everyone else around them, and therefore passes for normal. However, this false trajectory is anything but normal for human life. Consider where our modern ways are taking us, my newly prophetic friends. Follow the course of that trajectory several miles out and see where it goes.

Ask yourself: “Does the choice before me align with life-generating perspectives from the trajectory of truth, or is it thwarted by a world that I’ve unwittingly merged with my consciousness?” Follow it several miles out. Where does it lead? There you will be able to see at once your past, present and future.

Here’s to riding together on the trajectory of truth—miles and miles out!

From the heart,