Friday, August 13, 2010

Q and A: (or a key to giving freely, or better yet, insightful and happy)

In a comment to my last post, Anonymous asked "your interpretation begs the question, how is it possible to "give" freely, and if it is not possible, how to get as close to it as you can"? Also a Comment from "Catspajamas" that sort of kiddingly referred to the challenge of being insightful and happy. I know of quite a few happy insightful people, I also know a few miserable idiots.

This is a question that I don't have an easy answer to, simple yes, easy no, It's been asked of far far more learned people for millenea and there are some very different answers. The one thing in most of those answers that seems to work for most people is of the same essence.

By "work for" I dont mean you get a smug little credo that takes care of that, but rather an answer that helps us go on working on the question more constructively and comfortably.

It's one of those things that seems terribly simple (because it is) but it's not altogether easy (because it's not).
The answer is to drop the self opinion, the egoic drive and to begin to see development of what most would call humility.The word comes from the Latin "Humus" and it's not what you get from the deli,. humus means "of the earth". It is in the word humor. I think all three mean to be of the earth,  be a work of creation and remember that the creating aint done yet and have a sense of humor about ourselves.

Some of us are quite proud of our (percieved) humility, I'm sure that there are designer hair shirts out there. I've heard people say that humility is thinking less of self and more of others, but the very character trait of the last post is the sort of martyrdom that can creep in with that. "Living for others" can be a kind of tyranny. So how do we get "good" at it?

I'll point out that the question contains an insight. Getting good at something, having it down pat, "no flies on me" is as much an egoic desire, however altruistically it is intended. Is it impossible then? I'd say yes. So do we just give up? Yes (well we surrender) and of course not we keep on.The Dalai Lama says the key to enlightenment is to have an undefended heart, He has great insight, has known great loss and is also a happy person.

You'll find this answer in everything from the Upanishads to Brer Rabbit (remember the tar baby?). It's no secret (but people love to think it's very mysterious and therefore elusive and exclusive and worthy of Oprah's couch). I also need to learn things many ways, over and over and then realize it was there all along.

From a Christian perspective (ooh I can hear the shrieks, here's this card reader talking about a Christian perspective, oh well) but I Don't mean MY perspective, but rather a man whose writings have helped me a lot; C.S. Lewis. I have mentioned him before and any friend of J. R. R. Tolkien's is a friend of mine. Lewis was a person of great intelligence and insight and yes, he knew grief, but he also was "Surprised By Joy".
The following is from "The Screwtape Letters":

(God) wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the, fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another. (God) wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbour's talents—or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall. He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognise all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things". -There's more, which I went back and trimmed, there is an e-text of the book online but it really is one that deserves to be read in a comfy armchair, there is also an audio book version read by John Cleese (who is perfect for the narration).

This is also what Eckhart Tolle is reffering to in "A New Earth" and "The Power Of Now", recognizing the voice of the ego. Much as Tolle claims to have vanquished his ego completely (I'm not sure I'd like that entirely), he went through some grief to get there. Much as what he says is certainly not new (he says so himself) there is a lot of value in how he writes about simply recognizing that self opinion is there. That in itself is important. Sometimes I have to just see that what I'm usually struggling with is my big fat idea of me and drop it, then carry on anyway (the alternative is pouting and that isn't fun). So we keep on keeping on. Integrity is how we play, win or lose.

It also means being present, (Yes Tolle says this too, in a regurgitation of what's been said a zillion times over, but maybe we need a Tolle right now to tell it, there have I appeased the Tolle fans?). It means in our doing with others we don't presume to know whats best for others so much, maybe we have to ask, to check. To be kind and gentle, not ham fisted. There is a great value in being a little unsure. A very good rule is sharing more than giving and letting others share back. "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats forever" but you cant teach a starving person much, so maybe do both.

I really should go back and read Tolle again. Lewis is a lot more fun though. Either that or "The Myth Of Freedom" by Chogyam Trungpa (which is so good every time I start to read it I have to go back to the beginning, so I have never finished it, I'll shut up about it till I have). 
Another good book I REALLY love (and have mentioned before) is by Pema Chodrun and it's called, quite appropriately; "Start where You Are".

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Further Thoughts On Reversals of Elements - Reversed Queen Of Cups (when nurture goes awry)

Anyone who has ever remotely worked on a committee or in a group effort, often will see certain human traits that surface in themselves and others. Archetypes that show up again and again and human frailties and booby traps we can all fall into.

There is the very self sacrificing person who perpetually saves the day, does too much and is often teetering on the brink of burnout. They often hear "we don't know how we'd get by without you", but the flip side (which can be detrimental) is the organization then is one person away from falling apart.

Martyrs aren't great role models. It is a great truth that healthy compassion is not about needlessly suffering along with others, but rather being in a place of well being and caring from there. This is not easy (at least it hasn't been for me, I don't know, but if it's been a walk in the park for you from the get go then I'd love to read YOUR blog, send me the link). 

I often remember a quote from Dorothy Parker -one of my favorite authors (see left), -she was very ironic and a lightning wit.

Someone once commented that Claire Booth Luce (see right) - who Dorothy didn't like - just "lived for others", to which Dorothy replied "Yup and you can tell the "others" by their hunted look".

In another instance, someone said "Claire is so kind to her inferiors" and Dorothy responded "wherever does she find them?"

I'd probably put Dot's take on Claire as Queen of Cups reversed. Important to note though that Dorothy was at times a suicidally romantic alcoholic, (rather Queen of Cups reversed-ish herself). Maybe that's why Claire rankled her so, there is an ancient saying; "who smelt it dealt it".

Righting The Reversal

Personally I've had to go through bumps and discomforts (and no doubt still will from time to time) before I've seen my own patterns and baggage and been able to find release from them. I sometimes have cycles where I find I'm doing way too much in some areas and am off track in others. 

I have found that whenever I am living under the threat of an "or else", that in some way I am already in it. The first times I had to recognize this were the hardest. Many of the people who were around playing into that pattern DID leave, they found another person to play into that pattern with, some got fed up and moved on in their growth. The crisis of letting go of that addictive behavior of rescuing was frightening but moving through that "or else" turned out to be one of the most positive things I could do. I had a lot of help (we usually do when we are honestly trying to move beyond this).

I listened to what some good people had been trying to tell me all along. I spent time alone and found it wasn't bad, as a matter of fact it was nourishing. I sought (and still seek) the counsel of others with experience. I know I haven't seen the last of these lessons, in truth I think we always are moving through them in some way. I can tell you it does get easier, and the neat thing is, it's very very ok. We can see it more readily and move through it more gently. When the poop hits the fan and that "or else" plays out, there's a lot more that comes into view, a lot of it very good possibilities and potentials that are hard to see when you're busy turning yourself into a pretzel. It's usually been there all along waiting to be discovered.

After a while, we start to see too, that the universe never gave us a gift by mistake. It didn't get the name tags mixed up on the presents. If we have been abusing gifts, they sustain damage, but the human spirit is very resilient. When we recognize that we're in that trap, when we release the "or else", there's an opportunity to come back and work with our gifts. They come into more graceful use, they evolve. We are given the chance to see something more than acceptance. Acceptance is important but there is something greater, recognition is seeing the genuine potential that has always been there and the use of the gift starts coming from that place instead. We start being kind for kindness sake (instead of a gritted teeth kind of NICE), we can give more freely with less of a drain or a price tag. People find us more comfortable to be with as we are more on a level playing field. Reciprocation goes on and we start to experience the intimacy of sharing ourselves and being shared with.

On that perky note -I have a good friend who closes most of his messages with "LIFD": Life Is Fabulous Dahling!

Reversals Of Fortune, Or When Your Gift Owns You

One of the things that Tarot can help us identify is where our strengths are working, where they may be blocked or, often with the best intentions, are being misused. This is often shown in the reversal of an element. I should stress from the start that I am not necessarily just referring to a card being upside down. Reversals of cards are not as simple as the opposite meaning of it right way up. I should also mention that I don't always pay attention to a physical reversal, it can sometimes be more the muting of the card's potential (a little like the two pedals on a piano, sustain and mute). This is where the "reading" of the cards is different from simply memorizing what a book says they mean. The messages of a card have a consistency but the inflection changes everything. Sometimes a reversal may be indicating a potential not yet realized or working on a more unconscious level. This can be a warning depending on what is present in the bigger picture.

When other people are described in a reading (through the court cards), I try to remember that it is not an absolute definition of the person. It is the aspects of that person in relation to the person being read. We might have a difficult conflict with someone who may or may not have those difficulties with others. This is where I always have to remember that a reading is subjective and also that the main focus has to be in identifying what the client can work with. If the other signals (both the cards as well as what I am receiving intuitively) indicate problems resting with someone else, we can only go so far in terms of identifying that other person's stuff. We cant drink medicine and make someone else get well. A very big part of what a reading SHOULD do is show us where our own elements are on track and where they are not.



It is also often, (but not always), the case that when a quality in someone else rankles us, it can be a good opportunity to look at something in our own character that is being triggered. When someone sticks their big oar in our plans, when someone has the audacity to ask "just who do you think you are", these are opportunities to see where our gifts or strengths might be getting the better of us. Same goes with those times when we find ourselves saying " I try and try and I keep getting the same result". These are the moments where we can wake up and recognize we are sometimes in that reversal ourselves. Usually something our ego thinks is terribly necessary needs to be let go of. We need to pause and see where we may be running up the down escalator.


One of the very big signs that an element is reversed is the lack of satisfaction. There is never enough. Classic examples of this are when our compassion becomes tragic martyrdom, constructiveness becomes negative competitiveness, protection becomes domineering tyranny and our values become manipulative greed. However people are rarely as simple as comic characters. What we often view as heroes or villains are usually people with mixed qualities (and motives). There are truly very few absolute "good guys" and "bad guys" out there.

Most recently the situation of Conrad Black could be easily described as King Of Pentacles reversed. This is someone who obviously has had an enormous amount of talent and charisma to have accomplished so much, but there aren't many who have sympathy for this guy right now.

In the instances of dealing with other people's reversals, we can learn from their mistakes, not play into their game and sometimes ask the question; "what is it I need to recognize and learn from this"? We can't always choose what life puts on our path, but a reading can show us what kind of place we are giving these things in our consciousness, what we are giving up our own worth to and where we often have the choice to engage or detach  and move on.