Oct. 2015 – The 80/20 Transition: Five Ways to Avoid Spiritual Stagnation

The 80/20 Transition – Five Ways to Avoid Spiritual Stagnation
By Tom Russell http://www.stressfreewisdom.com

A poet once described how she wrote poems. “I see it coming on the horizon – a swirl of energy. It sees me with my mind open and pencil ready. It hovers over me. I write it down. The swirl of energy then moves on.”

Moving out of familiar mechanical loops and slightly forward in our perception places us on the edge of the Creative Land, where original sparkles manifest prior to their formulation in books, poems, musical compositions, paintings, talks, etc. Vernon Howard said once that Truth rains down on this earth, taking many different forms, sometimes (he added) it expresses itself in books — “many that I did not write.”  Read More

Truth in Surprising Places #1

1. Tom Russell speaks live:

* Sparkling Truth in a Surprising Place — a Musical Museum!
* The Three Spheres of Music and the Connection to Spiritual Vitality
* The Power of Mindfulness
* The Big Trap of Authority and How It Leads to Rigidity

This talk begins with Tom setting the scene with his recent trip to Italy, and moves quickly to the Musical Museum.

Click to Listen Now

2. Insights on Simplicity in Surprising Places

“People who pride themselves on their “complexity” and deride others for being “simplistic” should realize that the truth is often not very complicated. What gets complex is evading the truth.”
― Thomas Sowell (Political Observer and Writer)

“It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.”
― Bruce Lee (Martial Arts Legend)

“If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke (Letters to a Young Poet)

3. Truth Surprises in Venice

We arrive at our room for our three day stay in Venice, Italy. Our friendly host gives us an introduction to Venice, and how to make the most of our stay. Alex says, “The best way to enjoy Venice is to just go and get lost. Put the map in your pocket to refer to from time to time, but just let Venice surprise you.” We followed his advice and had a wonderful time, stumbling on inspiring works of architecture and history. At the start, the thought we were lost disturbed us some, but we just kept moving. Soon we entered the spirit of discovery and enjoyment.

In our inner life quest, fixation on the map greatly diminishes our power of discovery. The map (a spiritual teaching, for example) is useful, and perhaps at the start we study it before setting off. But a constant checking with the map can become an obsession. Our sense of adventure can atrophy — a terrible contradiction on the spiritual path. We wonder, “Am I doing this right?” We look for authority, or God help us, (senior) students, to tell us it’s all okay and we’re safe — that we’re not lost. Map worshippers crave followers – someone to advise.

Stumble into books. Stumble on to new insights. Relax more and see what turns up. Refer to the map from time to time if you like, but the map is a map. You’re in Venice!

4. A little girl asks a very wise question.

We’re on the tram to the airport. A little girl of three or four years old asks her mother, “What does that have to do with anything?” What a marvelous question. So much nonsense flies around in our modern world. So many companies and people fighting for our attention and money. It’s a cacophony of idiocy. I enjoyed employing that question for awhile. “What does this have to do with anything?”

5. Truth in Fiction and Mystery Stories:

Some fiction and mystery writers possess an ability to express nuggets of wisdom that surpass in power and clarity what we normally think of as “spiritual” writing.  A good story entertains us, bringing the mind to a relaxed and receptive state. Fiction can teach in ways, and at levels, that direct spiritual writing cannot touch.

Lisa Unger is one such young mystery writer. While telling one of her tales, she writes:

ONE: “There was a flash of something on his face — delight. As though he’s discovered something about me, a weakness, and would squirrel away the knowledge for his future use. That’s what they do, psychopaths. They figure out your language, your currency, your needs, your dreams and fears. Then they figure out how to use those things to get what they want from you.  Most of us wear it all on our faces. We telegraph our inner lives with what we choose to eat, how we eat it, what we wear, how we carry ourselves, the words we use and don’t use. We tell about ourselves in a million small and large ways. And most people don’t notice, because they’re so busy telling about themselves. listening to the symphony of their own inner lives. But the psychopath doesn’t have an inner life — no attachments, no feelings, no self-doubt, no regrets. Psychopaths just have their own desires, and a single-minded focus to achieve those desires — whatever they happen to be. So they have a lot of attention to direct at their chosen quarry, figuring, testing, planning, exploiting. But that wasn’t Luke, was it? It couldn’t be.”

TWO: “I think we draw people into our lives. It’s as though we broadcast our deepest needs, and certain people hear the signal somewhere in their own subconscious and heed the call. For better or worse, we attract our teachers, our allies, and sometimes even our own nightmares. Some of us have louder signals. Some of us have more sensitive receptors.”

THREE: “He gets so bored; he needs constant stimulation. He can’t handle the monotony of normal day-to-day school life. So he creates chaos just to entertain himself. That’s really the only reason, hard as it is to accept.”

Tom writes — Psychopaths have many tricks up their sleeves. One is to throw you off balance. They’ll be nice to you. Then cruel to you. Then nice to you, then cruel to you. Then seek sympathy from you. Then be cruel to you. With a psychopath, you never know where you stand. That’s the plan. Modern psychological research reveals that as many as 1 in 20 people in the United States are clinical sociopaths/psychopaths.

When we grow up out of our elementary convictions that Truth is contained most purely in a religious or spiritual teaching, we find ourselves nourished in surprising and healthy ways. Such new insight never diminishes the value of a good inner life book, but opens us to new frontiers of learning and emotional delight.

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