Thursday, August 26, 2010

Change the Gestalt. Make the Paradigm shift.

originally posted November 11, 2009

"Change the Gestalt. Make the Paradigm shift."
"You are a SOUL which has a body, not a body which has a soul."

In response to a request for clarification on this quote, I’ve attempted here to explain my interpretation of it and warmly welcome feedback and discussion. :)

This means like, the way we look at something. In any given situation, there are many, many details, some of which we will choose to focus on in trying to understand the situation. Given our limited perception, there will always be more information available than we can actually perceive at one time. The resulting interpretation we come up with is then by definition incomplete, subjective and related to the particular Gestalt we have chosen. [Gestalt demystified]

This Gestalt concept is nicely illustrated in optical illusions... Depending on which part of an image (or situation) we focus on, we will perceive the whole story differently. Sometimes this is discussed as the play between Foreground & Background, or Figure & Ground. Check out this link for examples...

This means basically, the Gestalt which we have collectively agreed to use. A paradigm refers to what "we" consider to be "true", as based on socially accepted norms. Often the term is used in a scientific context. Depending on the paradigm from which an experimenter is working, the experiment will look very different and will lead to very different types of results.

A famous example of this is the statement that, "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now." This was said before Einstein came up with his Theory of Relativity, which has literally changed the world. Einstein stepped outside of the socially accepted Gestalt and made a Paradigm shift. ;) In other words, he tried an experiment of asking, what if the Gestalt we are using -- our current Paradigm -- is incomplete? Well, of course it’s incomplete. Then what?

Funny thing is, there is never one "best" Gestalt, as it means simply looking at different *pieces* of the same whole, looking at the same picture from different angles. There is actually an infinite number of Gestalts which we could choose to "use" in our perception of life... The Gestalt we "choose" determines the Paradigm from which we will work. So it is up to us which Paradigm we choose to work from. Then why not experiment? We can be Experimenters in our own lives. If we feel "stuck", what if we try a new Gestalt? If something feels impossible, what happens when we just shift into a different Paradigm? How to do this? Well, as with the optical illusions... we simply shift our focus to a different part of the same picture. Get it?

So back to the quotes...

"Change the Gestalt. Make the Paradigm shift." 
"You are a SOUL which has a body, not a body which has a soul."

I believe this is telling us to refocus our perception of this life experience. Let's experiment with the radical idea that we can actually *choose* to identify ourselves with the immortal Soul, rather than with this body, which will disease, decay and die. The fear of physical death is a huge drive for many people in our modern age -- aging is considered negative, and the appearance of aging, even more so negative. And yet, this body is bound to age. The over-identification with our physical bodies as our True Selves means that we are basing our happiness on something very temporary, which will die. What happens to our experience of this life if we shift to identify our Self with the Soul?

The Paradigm-shifting which we are currently experiencing as a planet is related to this re-identification with the Soul. It is high time that we align ourselves to this shift. We must unlearn the story we've been told that we ARE this body, that Life is over when this body dies. What will happen when we change the Gestalt and shiftthe Paradigm to Realize our Self as immortal Soul? Hmm... :)

So how to shift this particular Paradigm?
How to facilitate this re-identification of Self from body to Soul? ...

Two answers:
1) BE in the presence of a living Master. TRUE living Masters have a Soul presence which transforms us effortlessly.
2) PRACTICE meditation. Whatever speaks to you and will support you in your soul's eternal quest to Know the Truth of your Self as Soul.

Happy SELFing!

Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Beyond Sense-Making

I recently came across the term "meaning junkie" via a facebook post by one of these many Very-Intellectual friends whose discovery of this term had recently shook up her world.

... could we be addicted to assigning meaning?

I've been reflecting on this possibility over the past few weeks. I've been catching myself in moments where I might be acting from a space of putting in a lot of effort to extract meaning from something which perhaps could be left alone.

There was a time when I'd written up little reminders for myself on multicolored 3x5 cards and taped them up in places I'd be seeing constantly. My favorite was yellow and contained these three quotes:

The journey itself is going to change you, so you don't have to worry about memorizing the route we took to accomplish that change. - Ishmael, Daniel Quinn

Memory's images, once they are fixed in words, are erased, Polo said. Perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once, if I speak of it. Or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little. - Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino

Wisdom tells me I am nothing. Love tells me I am everything. And between the two my life flows. - Nisagardatta

Today I realized that all three of these quotes are about checking the addiction to making sense of everything. Why? Because when we are caught up in the perspective many of us live in, that it is our task and responsibility to create order, then we tend to lose sight of the beauties which may not fit into our order, and we may limit our appreciation of What-Is by creating a lot of "what should be"...

My *work* is effectively about making sense where there was none previously. I actually study finding sense in seeming chaos, am writing my PhD dissertation on such things, derive great joy from related challenges... At the same time, when I'm not *working*, I do believe that I am better-served when I can *choose* the times I want to engage in sense-making and when not. I have heard this described as the freedom to use the mind as a tool, rather than to be controlled by the mind.

How to do this? How to quiet the mind? Meditation.

. . .

Meditation to break the addiction to sense-making.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

(my) Survival (sedona)

Cathedral Rock from Oak Creek Sedona, Arizona will always have a very special place in my heart, because eight years and two months ago, I was hiking at Cathedral Rock when I fell and broke both ankles. It was an experience that completely turned my life around, and for which I am heartfully grateful. At the time of this accident, I was 20 years old and in my first year of grad school. Academic life was full of hope, yet the feeling was recurring that what I really needed was to get out on my own and experience more of Real Life... I kept finding excuses to stick with the status quo, and then on a solo spring break trip in Taos, New Mexico, a series of blessed synchronicities led me to Sedona's otherworldy landscapes and the fate that awaited me there. If you've ever experienced or read about the vortex energies that people claim exist in the Verde Valley area of northern Arizona, then you have an idea of what I'll say next; otherwise, it's worth looking into. One of Sedona's major vortex points is at the base of Cathedral Rock, in an area next to Oak Creek, in Red Rock State Park. All I knew back then is that this spot may be especially beneficial for me, as it specializes in the strengthening of positive female energy.

I was very very "lucky"... It turns out that mine was the first bike rescue in the valley, part of a newly implemented program. At least seven rescue paramedics appeared -- my saviors on mountain bikes -- after an emergency phone call I'd made from a cell phone which died while I was frantically describing where I might be on the rock. I remember seeing a helicopter circling overhead after the call got cut off, and when it flew away, I cried, thinking that they had given up on rescuing me. Well, I was found, warmly reassured, medicated, strapped onto a stretcher and carried by four guys down the rock, while the other guys carried the extra bikes. On future trips back to Cathedral Rock, I look up and wonder how in the world I ever could have thought it was a good idea to hike up where I did... My fall was about 15-20 feet, a drop which can kill a person. Meanwhile, all that was injured on me was my two ankles -- I had fallen directly onto my feet, where my thighs seem to have absorbed most of the shock, and then I fell onto my butt and gently back onto the ground, padded by my backpack. I remember the way my body performed an automatic status check right after the fall, and I knew I was ok, until I looked down and saw my ankles and reached for my phone.

It took me about four months to be able to walk again at all. Most of the first six weeks was spent in bed or in a wheelchair. This is where I learned that I was actually capable of staying still -- something that comes in very handy for meditations today! Slowly but surely I graduated to a walker and then to crutches, and finally I could move around again! My mother had been able to take off the rest of her school year to care for me, and needless to say, I was living at home again -- this time gave us the spectacular opportunity to renew our relationship into the beautiful mother-daughter bond that we enjoy today. My lifestyle had changed so dramatically, and so immediately, that I could suddenly entertain ideas of doing something new! ... A good friend was moving to San Francisco, and so as soon as I could walk again with some confidence (five months after the fall!), I packed my car and moved there, too!

On the way out west, I stopped again at Sedona and hobbled out with my crutches to the spot at Oak Creek where I had crossed over and headed up Cathedral Rock. I remember smearing my feet with the cool red mud typical of the valley, and just staring over at the rock that had already changed my life so much.

I like to tell the story that moving to SF, I had $1500 in the bank, rent of $750 a month, and no job prospects. :) After a week, and realizing that I couldn't take the kind of foot-intensive job I'd originally wanted (barista!), I applied at a temp agency and within 24 hours was being sent to an office to replace another Sara who was going on maternity leave. Well, this turned out to be the office where I would meet many of the people who are among my best friends today -- including the love of my life, who I recognized as soon as I was introduced to him on my first day. :) Within months, I had started to practice regular meditation and then met a teacher who I studied with, until just in time meeting my current beautiful teacher, who, as becomes increasingly less surprising, has been with me all along.

Now, eight years, two months, and many adventures later, I am again in Arizona, and with Yaniv. We are on our way back west, moving to Los Angeles -- where I had been headed all that time ago, after some random travelers had sat with me around a map in a Taos hostel in 2002. And we visited the Grand Canyon today, which was my first visit -- auspicious, considering that it had been my Arizona destination on the mapped route to LA back then, when a freak snowstorm rerouted me to Sedona instead...

A few days ago we went back to Cathedral Rock. I had been commenting that I don't really feel the need to ever climb the rock again, really -- I feel more than satisfied just sitting on the bank of Oak Creek, in the red mud. We'd planned to hike around a bit, on level ground, and soak in the atmosphere. Only on the drive there, reading about the Sedona vortexes, did I realize that the vortex at Cathedral Rock is not on the rock at all -- it is exactly in the spot I'd continually felt so drawn to! -- right there next to the river. :) It was a visit full of blessings, and peaceful, loving messages through time and space. I felt the healing and rejuvenating power of however you call God and Guru. I know that our lives will continue to be full of blessings and love and peace, and I am so grateful to be able to share that, to any extent.

Thank you all for being a part of this life, of our lives.

Tomorrow we drive into Los Angeles, city of angels...
    to start a new adventure.
Let's see what dreams may come. :)

Om Namah Shivaya

Sara at Cathedral Rock, 2010