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silence_by_donjuki-5523It has been a very centered kind of week for me. I seem in balance. It’s hard to tell exactly from whence it comes, but I am grateful nonetheless. A seemingly endless series of messages seem to arrive at my door step. Much more than usual, in fact some days, weeks, months, appear dry.

It leads me to conclude that it is the relative openness that determines how many I receive, rather than the number offered. I am not at all sure  where or what the switch is however, and that doesn’t offer much help to me or anyone else does it?

In any event, I am serene, a word I do love. Serene seems to me a state that is delightful. I am not exuberant, but joyful, not a manic hummingbird, but something more than a turtle surely. Serene is at peace with the world, seeing it anew with fresh eyes that appreciate more nuances.

I recently finished Albert Camus’ The Stranger. Not a book that raises one’s spirits certainly, but one that forces you to examine the concept of meaninglessness. Camus referred to life as absurd. I disagree completely, but I would still very much like to have met and conversed with Camus since his eye of the human psyche is deeply rich.

A study just completed and reported in PNAS, suggests that our health improves not be “being happy” so much as balancing that with a healthy dose of “feeling that life is meaningful”. Equal parts make us the most healthy. Falling to one side or the other or neither, not so much. Our body it seems produces antibodies in readiness for bacterial infections or viral infections. Being one or the other predominately gives us only half the protection. So it’s not good to be happy but feel life is meaningless, nor to feel its meaningful and be unhappy.

I think it’s obvious don’t you? As one commenter remarked:

“In every one of us, there are two ruling and directing principles, whose guidance we follow wherever they may lead; the one being an innate desire of pleasure; the other, an acquired judgement which aspires after excellence.” –Phaedrus

The old philosophers knew this a long time ago. It’s always the hedonists versus the “being good” debate. It seems being equally both works best.

I’ve just barely started a new program of mediation and self-actualization. It’s called the Self-Realization Fellowship, and is based on the teachings of Yogi Paramahansa Yogananda. He came to the US in the early 20’s and spent the rest of his life blending Western Christianity with Hindu practices of Kriya Yoga.

I’ve meditated off and on for many years. One is told again and again that there is no “goal” to meditation, but of course try telling that to my brain. The issue of “silencing the mind” becomes the acute problem. I’ve never solved it and I’ve tried a bundle of different techniques from mantras to Gregorian chants, to Eastern three-tonal music to ear plugs.

I read an amazingly thoughtful essay on our battle with silence here. I’ve read it twice already and think it bears repeating. There is much to contemplate there.

The writer, Tim Parks, quotes D.H. Lawrence for this gem:

a character who can’t still her thoughts was ‘destroyed into perfect consciousness’,

You see what I mean? Gifts of messages coming at me from every direction.

I read this the other day, referring to Jesus speaking:

Become what you behold

This can be applied to almost anything. If you behold a beautiful flower, become it, or at least the virtues you perceive in it. You see his point?

I was at the food pantry on Wednesday. I do my small part. I was breaking up large bags of day old bakery bread into smaller packages. I have a “weak” back. I’m standing on cement. After about thirty minutes, my back starts to ache. As I think of, “oh Lord, I’m going to have to rearrange this stuff so I can sit and do it,” unbidden to my mind, pops this:

God thank you for bringing me to this place to do thy will.

Messages. Just messages everywhere.

It seems a good place to place them. Here that is. Where I can find them again.

Some people write affirmations and sayings upon pieces of paper and tack them to boards near their desks. Do they read them after that first time? Or do they become part of the decor? Is the act itself affirming? A thousand possibilities.

Aren’t we humans just grand? So much going on inside our heads. So much to offer, so much to learn.

I think I prefer to believe that God sends up back endless times to perfect ourselves. I like the idea of education without end. This lifetime is surely not enough to even scratch the surface.

I am sorry for atheists and agnostics who don’t feel this faith in nonendingness. It gives us serenity. They are no doubt sorry for me being “deluded”. But do I not have the better part at Jesus said, if I enjoy the benefits of my faith?

Be Happy, but also find Meaning.