Sunday, January 31, 2021

Leaving the Shallows

"They muddy the water, to make it seem deep." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Far too often, we find ourselves being led to the shallows these days.  And there is a difference between taking a break from the heavier lifting and dwelling in the shallows.  

Once you leave the shallows, it's actually quite difficult to return and ignore what more exists.  You've seen the deep and clear water.  It can't be unseen.  Clarity is like that.  It persists when you discover it.

 

 

 

 Reflections photo by Susan Larison Danz.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Saturday Night Music

"Rejoice, rejoice, we have no choice." ~ Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

It's been a busy Saturday.  My days flow one into another, generally, and I've worked at home long before the Covid era.  

I finally got around to my Saturday night music from the 60's and 70's (some from the 80's as well).

What did YouTube select for me, just now?

This.  



Friday, January 29, 2021

There is No Separation

 Love is the common thread which weaves the world together. ~ Susan Larison Danz

I know there is a compelling tendency right now to see separation everywhere.  So it is with the human condition.

If we choose to look at the world through a spiritual lens, a simple lens, a lens that is clarity, something deeper comes into focus.  There is no actual separation.  Separation is an illusion.   

We resist these reminders.  We're experiencing being human right now, and so we resist them. I get it.  Completely.  It happens to all of us.  I'm not immune.

I talk a lot about this notion of "being spiritual".  I know I repeat myself.  Spirituality is a gentle way of being.  We often fail at this gentleness, but that's what it is.  And yet, I can't think of anything more powerful.  

How can something be both gentle and powerful?  Love is exactly that.



Sparkling Waters photo by Susan Larison Danz.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Return to The Moldau

 "Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it." ~ Norman Maclean

Today I listened to The Moldau, again.  It came about spontaneously but with purpose.  I have written about this beautiful, graceful classical piece before.  When I spoke of Music Nights a couple days ago, it was not to neglect the Classical.  It's just that the Classical fills a different kind of niche in my life, and typically not late at night.  (Late at night, particularly on the weekend, when I feel so inclined, tends to be occupied by music of the 60's and 70's.)

Grace.  That does indeed describe it.  Today it felt more poignant, sublimely reflecting life.

I've revisited, again, what I wrote about The Moldau several years ago.  Some is worth repeating here, in more than a link:

At the beginning, the awakening flow is virtually imperceptible, distinct elements joining together in a dance of potential.  You can literally hear how the quietly growing stream flows easily over the discrete rocks in its way, finding its playful path.  It's wonderful to listen to the gentle voice of streams at this stage - I could literally do so for hours.

Then the stream begins to grow.  As it gains in maturity, there is more sophisticated interaction with its surroundings, including the people who begin to appreciate its beauty and the gifts it brings.  There is mystery too as night falls, yet it flows undeterred by the darkness, the moonlight lending even greater beauty.

Then the channel narrows.  I know many rivers at this stage.  This is perhaps the most challenging part of the flow, yet also its most powerful.  If the flow truly desires to be free, the more discrete limitations placed upon it, the more the existing landscape attempts to channel its energy, the stronger it becomes.  There can even be a sense of peril perceived by those with whom it interacts, yet the flow of its creative purpose yearns to break free.

The rapids pass.  Liberation.  Stillness.  Hidden depths take form.  At this point, I must admit I become wistful following the river, as in Smetena's world it enters into a city, and I find myself rather sadly pondering its playful beginnings.  Yet one wonders if the multiple dimensions of this flow can actually exist in parallel.

In the end, Smetana's now majestic river lends the power of its full creative contribution to the Greater Unity of another, and one can imagine the Ocean that awaits.  One could say our beautiful little stream disappears, but does it really?

I could say more, but I'll say less.  My ponderings today as I listened weren't quite as intricately poetic, spiritual or deep.  Today I was thinking about innocence, poignancy and life.  And that was enough.



Waters in the Woods photo by Susan Larison Danz.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Peace that Passeth Understanding

 "The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength." ~ Marcus Aurelius

If it's not one thing, it's another.  We are continually barraged with peace-disrupting information.  Does it ever really change?  I remember worrying about nuclear war in the 70's as a teen.  Life is filled with vast and scary things.  It is natural to feel it.  

But how can Spirituality help?

It isn't necessarily about breathing exercises, yoga or meditation - though every one of these things can assist those who feel called to learn them.

It goes even deeper.

It's not a 10 or 25 step program.   

I'm not talking about steps.

I'm not talking about a formula.

There is no "formula" for "the peace that passeth understanding".  It is a mystery.  It can seem entirely illogical.  Who can understand it?  And that's the point.

But I will say this.  It takes a single step, not 10.  And that step is to be sincerely open to it, even when you don't understand what it is you're asking for.  Mysteriously,  it arrives.  Can it change the world as well?  Everything is possible.



Breathe Deeply photo by Susan Larison Danz.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Childlike is not Childish

 "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." ~ Matthew 18:3

"...the kingdom of God is within you." ~ Luke 17:21

I found myself reflecting on the nature of "maturity" today - and that innate wisdom which helps us to navigate through challenging situations.  Although there are things in our lives which require intricacy and depth, maturity is actually a bit of a paradox - it contains a childlike component that is the very opposite of the childish. 

We can all regress to childishness at times, and we can no doubt observe far too many examples of people who never seem to emerge from it. 

But the more we surrender to a "childlike" state in life, that space of wonder, openness, innocence and mystery, the more wisdom we'll discover. 

 

 

Shadow Play photo by Susan Larison Danz.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Music Nights

"Everyone needs something to believe in..." ~ Kansas

Lately, I have taken to spontaneous "music nights" - and not typically Classical.  These nights are direct reminders of what it was like to live in the past.  And I mean this quite literally.  What I remember of the early 70's into the 80's is a living memory, occupied by music.

So occasionally I may share one of the songs.  I actually did this one summer some years ago in this blog, and I suppose a few of these may be repeated.  But that's exactly what it was like.  Repetition was a part of it.  Some songs would repeat on the radio, perhaps as much as hourly.  But what I'm really thinking about right now are those hidden songs on a record album you discovered yourself.  They never showed up on the radio, but it didn't really matter.  You couldn't stop listening.

The group Kansas, particularly in its earlier days, was a part of my Spiritual journey.  I was called to Kansas because it called to me.  It challenged me to go below the surface.  

I loved this song as the 70's transitioned into the 80's.  I still occasionally listen to it today.  It called to me as a writer, and as an explorer.



 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Spiritual Courage

"Courage is knowing what not to fear." ~ Plato


I admit it.  I'm not as brave as I'd like to be.  I'm talking about this thing I seem to have spontaneously labeled "Spiritual Courage".

What is it, exactly?  Can I meaningfully express it?

I could say it has to do with authenticity, and it does, but that's not quite it.  That's not what I'm getting at today.

What I'm getting at could have to do with spiritual experiences, but that's not how I'm using the term.  That is not to say exploring spirituality itself is generally a timid exercise - it's not.  But that's not what I'm talking about today.

We aren't bold enough, in the ways we need to be, and I'm talking about being bold about being a spiritual person.

I had an encounter with a neighbor yesterday, as I was getting my mail, and we were talking about Covid and isolation.  She commented on how (not quite recalling what word she used) "chipper" I am.  Yes, I think she used the word "chipper".  (She could tell, even under my mask.) I told her I'm not that way all of the time, but I do appreciate my simple life.  She spoke of how this isolation can get a person down sometimes.  And then I found a bit of courage, the kind of courage I'm talking about, but not in a "pushy" way.  This isn't about proselytizing - it's more about honesty.  I said that mindfulness really helps me.  First I used that gentle word.  And then I went a step farther and said that I'm a spiritual person, and I think I may have even said that I'm a very spiritual person (Did I really say "very"?), and then I realized afterwards there are about a gazillion ways that could be interpreted, with a gazillion labels.

I wasn't talking about labels.  What I was attempting to express is actually quite simple.  Spirituality is an integral part of my life.  And yet it takes courage to be honest about that, these days.  In some ways, if I look back honestly, it's always been important, or at least my curiosity about it.  But I'm not looking back right now.  I'm talking about Now.  In this moment Now, it's important.  It has made every bit of difference in my day to day life and gives me astonishing peace.  Am I always at peace?  Of course not.  But when I compare the peace of my life now to the more worrisome self I used to be (yes, I still do worry sometimes), it makes a huge difference.

And it's not only that.  We need to be more open about Spirituality.  I used to be able to do it in the discussion forums - I could write reams and reams and reams of Spiritual material in those days - under a pseudonym.  And I suppose I had my radio show (which, oddly, I almost forgot about), but it kind of got afield of what I had intended originally.  It was thought to be one of the best independent spiritual podcasts around, and it's not over yet.  But I found I tended to "agree" too much when I would have preferred a lively discussion.  Not always, but too often.  It was never intended to be an infomercial, yet sometimes it felt that way.

Spiritual courage expresses itself openly.  Perhaps I diminish it by suggesting it is necessarily dogmatic, that there would be anything to "agree" about at all, if we are talking about an experience of peace.  It's not just an experience of peace.  It's an experience of feeling very Loved.  Divine Love is like that.  Omnipresent Love is like that.  People often feel awkward talking about such things.  Heck, I used to call in on national radio and openly express these things.  Do I really feel I'm not courageous?

But I'm talking about this moment.  This moment.  Now.  You see, because people don't understand Spirituality, especially lately.  There is this tendency to suggest it is damaging, or label it as "contrary to science" (which it's not, not real science) or whatever.  It's taking more and more courage these days to speak up and say, boldly, that Spirituality is not a "threatening" concept.  It is absolutely the opposite.  It is more than "mindfulness", though that is how I gingerly stepped into the concept with my neighbor.  I wasn't attempting to convince her or even describe it - I was just stating a fact.  I'm not even sure the term "mindfulness" applies to me.  I do know "mindfulness" experts who could give you many steps.  That wouldn't be me.  

It's a way of life.

It's a way of BEING.

And I feel that it's IMPORTANT.

And you see, there's the courage part, as now I am appearing to say:  Not just for me.  (Of course not, but in this particular case, I'm talking about my own experience - many people have this experience, so let's be clear, I'm not saying they don't.)

We NEED more of it.  Not less.  And that is my concern.  Like it's somehow not "logical" to pursue (and I feel it's actually the opposite), or that it is even harmful (nothing could be farther from the truth).  I see it being boxed up and labeled and diminished and disparaged these days, by so-called "skeptics".  And it isn't quite what people tend to think, not at the center of it.  Oh yes, it can be many, many things, and perhaps I'll get into some of them at some point, but I'm not talking about that.

The Center.  What is it?

You FEEL it.  It HELPS.  We need MORE of this, not less.  That's what I'm saying.

And I suppose by saying it, I'm being just a little bit more courageous.  And I sense that is a very good thing.  If you want to know the truth, it is entirely logical, what this is.  So if you think that it isn't, that's a misunderstanding.  Oh yes, it's mysterious as well, in fact, entirely miraculous.  (Yet what is a "miracle"?)  I feel there will come a time when more and more of us will realize that there is much, much more to this world than meets the eye.  And when we look at it, we are even able to do so analytically.  It is not unintelligent.  It is not ignorant.  It is not denial of reality.  It is not any of these things.  It can even be provable.  If you want to know the truth, I will tell you what it is, whether you believe me, or not, because I've found my courage.  What it is...It is REAL.  To see it is to see.  But a person generally must be willing to look.

 

 

Blue Skies photo by Susan Larison Danz.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

No Box Can Contain Spirituality

 "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." ~ Albert Einstein

In parallel with yesterday's post regarding science defying boxes, Spirituality does exactly the same thing.  

It has to do with the nature of Reality - and an honest intent to uncover it.

Science and Spirituality meet at a place called Truth.



Reflection photo by Susan Larison Danz.

Friday, January 22, 2021

No Box Can Contain Science

 "If we knew what it was we were doing, it wouldn't be called research, would it?" ~ Albert Einstein

In these times when we often hear of scientific research and also the results, it seems we have a tendency to box in our expectations of what the research process actually is like.

Discovery is not rigid.  It is not contained in a box.  Sometimes it can lead to "dead ends", but even those are never really "dead" - it is more like a maze, and we simply take a new direction.

There is a tendency to label something as "science" and assume that it is rigid and not growing.  And yet by its very nature, as a continual search for truth, rigidity isn't even possible within the definition.

It is even possible to genuinely and methodically research "spiritual things".  That is not a contradiction or a foolish pursuit.  We may not always know how to go about it, as Albert Einstein has reminded us, but the key to searching for verification of various "truths" is simply that - we keep on searching.  How many times has a bold discoverer ventured into "foolish" territory?

Paradigms shift, as we gain ever deeper understandings of reality.  That's what science IS.  There is no box that can contain it, nor would we ever want to box it in.  So why do we try?



Expanding Light photo by Susan Larison Danz.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Learning to Float

"To have faith is to trust yourself to the water.  When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown.  Instead you relax, and float." ~ Alan W. Watts

It took me a very long time to learn how to float.  When I finally figured it out, it was one of my favorite, most relaxing things, though I haven't had much of a chance, lately.

The first time, I was around the age of 6.  I had a best friend when I was 6.  Her name was Maggie.  She lived a short city block away.  I met her around the time I was 4.  In those days, even when I was 5 years old, it was not unusual to walk by myself to her house.  These were different times.  One summer day, I accompanied Maggie's family to a little lake by the mountains.  I recall Maggie's mother telling me that this lake was salty, and this would help me to float.  Maggie's mother set me upon the water on my back on a hot August day (I seem to think it was August).  To my delight, after a couple of tries at relaxing, I was floating!  I recall not knowing how to stop floating, so I just kept floating, happily looking up at the sky.  Maggie's mother was not far away.  Eventually she helped me come out of the float.  The afternoon at the lake went really well.  Trust came to me easily.

The second time, it was a couple of years later.  Maggie had moved away by then and I was with other neighborhood kids.  We were dropped off by a parent at a "swimming and tennis club" nearby.  It was not fancy, just swimming and tennis, and this family belonged to the club, so I was able to be their guest.  The pool was very loud and crowded.  And I can't even quite remember who it was who set me up in a float - but it wasn't a parent or adult.  It worked, and I was floating on my back again.  I can't remember any adults very close, just lots of kids (surely a lifeguard as well, but not very near).  Even so, I was "kind of relaxed" (not like on the lake, which one would think would have been scarier, but it wasn't).  I floated for a short while, and then all of a sudden a splashing boy came wildly by and he intentionally "dunked me" (or so I thought).  It wasn't very deep, but deep enough for my height, and there were too many kids around.  I thought in that instant I might drown.  I didn't know how to get to the surface.  To this day, I don't recall how I did, but I did, coughing and sputtering, and then I somehow got myself out of the pool.  And didn't go in again.

That was the end of my trust in floating.  For years after that, I might get in a pool just to walk in shallow water, but I wouldn't even try to float.  Nor did I want to. 

I was somehow brave enough to be an assistant for the swim team at least part of high school, but I was mostly in the back room typing up results on a manual typewriter, and on carbon copies (where you couldn't make a mistake).  I rarely went close to the water, and nobody knew I couldn't float or swim.  I did become a good typist, however.

The years passed.  I was a young adult in my first job in my 20's, and I had heard of a swimming teacher who could teach anyone.  Sure enough, this teacher was wise - she was patient and nurturing.  She gave me things to hold onto and also kept me steady.  At some point, I was floating again, but she never left my side.

She used to hand me empty milk jugs to hold onto while floating.  They clearly (in retrospect) did no real good whatsoever, and I had enough education at the time to know this.  But this wasn't about "logic".  It was about trusting, and they gave me security.  Well, one day, I was holding on to a single milk jug, and she said to try to let go of it.  And I did.  She wasn't holding onto me or all that near.  I was floating!  It took all that time to learn how to trust the water again, but it was actually trust that led to trust. 

 

 

 

Lake photo by Susan Larison Danz 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Omnipresent Love

 We can never truly be apart from the Love that binds us all together. ~ Susan Larison Danz

On days like today, we are reminded.




Heart Walk photo by Susan Larison Danz.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Perspectives on Beauty

 "Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy." ~ Anne Frank

I can't imagine how I never noticed it.  Today while walking into my living room, I glanced to my left at a picture on the wall.  Reflected in it was an astonishing view of a mountain I can't always easily see.  

How many times per day do I walk that way?  The view straight out the window is pleasant as well, but not quite as dramatic.  

I had never noticed it.

Is it because I dusted off the picture the other day?  Should I put a mirror there instead?  (I decided that's not necessary.)  It wasn't THAT dusty.

I just hadn't looked that way.

Today I did.  A new perspective revealed it.

Beauty can surprise us.   

 

 

Reflection on the Trail photo by Susan Larison Danz 

Monday, January 18, 2021

What it Means to Build Bridges

 "People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they have not communicated with each other." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

If anything is plaguing our society today, it is our inability to truly understand these beautifully wise and heartfelt words.

It takes courage to communicate.

It takes commitment to communicate.

It takes maturity to communicate.

It takes wisdom to communicate.

And communication is not a "one way" endeavor.  It requires that very rare skill: actually listening.

When we listen, we may discover some things that surprise us.  We don't need to completely agree, and there will always be those things we just can't quite comprehend.  Even so, we'll come closer to truth instead of illusion.

We are in a world of hurt right now.  Some of us seem to be celebrating the conflict - instead of genuinely doing the difficult work of understanding how it is happening.  Derision runs rampant, instead of love and humility.  And in places one might not expect.  This is very dangerous because that's what leads to cruelty.  We cannot allow our society to go down this perilous path.  Sometimes, there's no return for a society when that happens.  Who will assist us if we falter?

A long time ago, I did a lot of writing under the pseudonym BridgeBuilder.  In those days, discussion forums were common, and we were even encouraged not to use our real names.  One might think this would lead to some really horrible things, that relative anonymity.  Sometimes, I suppose it could, but more "mature" forums were moderated.   What it actually led to was true discussion.  Hearts would shift.  We came to care about one another.  We didn't need to agree.  We lost something, all of us, when this remarkable experience a number of us participated in fell away.  

At the time, I wrote something, and I may be stating it imperfectly now.  It used to be a part of my "description" as a writer, as a person who shared sincerely from the heart.

To build a bridge...(I just tried to search for it, but it isn't on my current computer)....To build a bridge, one must not only have an understanding of both sides of the river, though that is a challenge indeed.  Only with the guidance of Love can one master the chasm in between.

This is what we need: more bridge building.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said something very powerful about this notion.  This is what he said.  It's being quoted all over creation today, but are we actually listening?

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here's another one, not quoted quite as often:

"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Perhaps he was in his own way translating "Love your enemies..." (Matthew 5:44)

I would tend to put the word "enemy" in quotes, as there can be no actual enemies within the space of Omnipresent Love.  That is an Earthly illusion.

We can't afford the immaturity of anything less.  We really can't.  The "grown-ups in the room" (and those like Martin Luther King, Jr., who sadly, prematurely left it) will guide us when we listen.  There is a reason why we call such people wayshowers.  It's really very simple:  They show us the way.  (And a true wayshower never actually leaves us, thankfully.  Do we have the courage to follow what they say?)

 

 

Bridge rails photo by Susan Larison Danz.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Consistency and Depth

 A writer is an artist who uses words to paint a soul. ~ Susan Larison Danz


I have been doing my best to post in this blog each and every day, generally in the evening.  Every night, I have a "deadline".  It has been a very busy day (night), and yet I aim to be consistent.

Can a person write with any depth in such a way?  That is ever the question for those of us who choose consistency on busy days.

The key is being present.  And that's what matters.

 

 

Raindrops photo by Susan Larison Danz.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Honesty and the Heart

"Keep your heart clear

And transparent, 

And you will never be bound." 

~ Ryokan Taigu


Honesty seems to be very "topical" these days.  Several days ago, I wrote here at length about The Elusive Art of Discernment.  

But here's the deal.

Truth has a way of feeling right with your heart.  It may be a process of discovery and thought, but once you settle on whatever it is, you feel a peace in your Spirit.  Truth may often be in some way uncomfortable or "inconvenient" within the seemingly finite space of this world, but you will still have that sense of inner peace.  The search eases.  You feel it.  And the peace expands, the deeper you go.  

In the course of our lives, we undoubtedly all have experienced at times that feeling of being entangled, that feeling that something we're thinking or attempting to believe is "amiss" - but the truth really does set us free.  Once we feel this, the gratitude from "knowing" and realizing we're finally finding clarity is a gift in itself.  When we feel free in our hearts, we are free.  Nothing can take that away, once it happens.

 



Heart on the Trail Photo by Susan Larison Danz

Friday, January 15, 2021

Love Controls the Dial

 Fear may speak volumes when amplified, but Love controls the dial. ~ Susan Larison Danz

  

Everywhere we turn right now, we hear the voice of Fear speaking.  Perhaps many of us cannot recall a time quite like this.  It's best to catch our breath and literally retrieve it.  Because we all need to breathe.

Hate may appear to be the opposite of Love, but many spiritual seekers have been led to realize it is actually Fear.  If we truly want to get a handle on the situation, Love is the only way.  ("I Am here" was literally echoing while I was writing, on the TV - which I really shouldn't have on right now, but it is difficult to resist - we all want to better understand what the situation is.)

"I Am here".  That's a synchronicity, and a good one!

Because what IS Love, truly, for those of us in the spiritual community?  Love is Divine, and there can be nothing that is stronger.  Several spiritual traditions share this foundation.

I'll place my faith in Love.  I'll place my trust in Love. 

Love controls the dial.  Because it's the Answer. 

 

 

Light in the Forest photo by Susan Larison Danz.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Giving it a Rest

 "Conflict cannot survive without your participation." ~ Wayne Dyer

I decided to give it a rest tonight, and so I turned on the Classical music.  It was exactly the right thing to do.  I had seen something really inspiring and uplifting and forward looking right before, and I wanted to hold onto it.

Much of my evening was very peaceful.

I assist a few people with social media, and after deciding to give it a rest, from this notion of "following the news/commentary", after actually finding a welcome space of trust, I couldn't help but see someone being nasty to someone else, on social media, and more than once. 

I didn't want to see it.  But I saw it.

About the same time, a piece came on the radio with notes that felt askew.

Sometimes such notes are OK, but not tonight.  I wanted to hear a simple melody, not dissonance.  And so I turned the radio off, and I finished my social media work, and I tried not to look at the various things people were being nasty about (not anyone I was assisting, just in the feed), but still it got inside my head.

And so I came in here to write.  And I feel better.




Light Emerging photo by Susan Larison Danz


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Balance

 "Extremes are easy.  Strive for balance." ~ Colin Wright

Balance.  

Why is it important?  

Because it's a Foundation.  

If we abandon it, whether personally, in a society, or on an entire planet, it may take a while to realize, but eventually, it will be obvious.

We do forget, sometimes, and that is human nature.  And sometimes we can't see it by ourselves.

Balance.  It has to do with, well, basically everything.  Eventually, we learn.

 

 

 

 

Balancing rock photo from Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Anger versus Spirituality (Hint: Spirituality Wins)

"Anger doesn't solve anything. It builds nothing, but it can destroy everything." ~ Lawrence Douglas Wilder

I realized a little bit ago that I just couldn't take in any more of the anger, the anger that is literally everywhere around us on a day like today.  It is palpable and roaring, like a runaway train.  Whatever the reason for it, whether "this side" or "that side", or somewhere in between, including those intensifying images from last week that are horrifically awful.  It suddenly felt like poison.  All of it.  

I couldn't take it in anymore.  I just couldn't take it in.  I shut the door.

I stared at the page here for a while, not quite sure what I could say.

I've been distressed and concerned about where all of this is heading.

But, somehow, something has happened tonight, and I have to believe it really is this astonishing thing called Spirituality.  It is mysterious, how it works.  I can't really explain it.  But I am thankful for it.  Spirituality works.

 

 

Eerie forest photo by Susan Larison Danz

Monday, January 11, 2021

Heart Bypass

 "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." ~ Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry

 

The Heart?  Now?  With so much going on? 

It's so very easy right now to bypass the Heart.  It's so very inconvenient at times like these.  Right?

Wrong.  And so many treasured Spiritual teachings have told us exactly this.

In all of our lives, this may very well be the time we will need our Hearts most of all, if we'd like to see things clearly.

It takes discipline and focus, and we won't get it right every moment.  

Consciously notice.  And listen.  We can never get lost when we let Love lead the way.  The "bypass" heads the wrong direction.

 

 

Heart encountered while walking by Susan Larison Danz.

 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Love is the Only Answer, Never Hate

 "Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule." ~ Buddha

While reflecting deeply upon how we need to truly move forward in the way we consciously choose to treat one another, this particular segment from West Side Story, which is highly poignant and direct, kept coming to mind.  This movie (and play, but mostly the movie) had a significant impact on me when I was young.  

 


Next, I'd like to share another powerful film clip that is masterful, from Romeo and Juliet, on which West Side Story was based.   


Stories such as these carry impact over time because the lessons they share are ever relevant.  Yet so often, we don't listen.  We need to listen.  Every one of us will suffer if we don't.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

After the Moment . . .

 "There is no illusion greater than fear." ~ Lao Tzu

This came to my attention some months ago, and tonight, I went looking for it.  It was of course created in another time, but if you overlook those anachronistic elements, you will discover just how relevant it is today.  We need this wisdom.  Now.


 

Friday, January 8, 2021

Do You Live in an Open Universe?

"One of the best gifts you can give to someone is a wider perspective.  It's also one of the best gifts you can receive." ~ C. JoyBell C.

There were often two paths to studying Computer Science as an undergraduate when the career was relatively young.  This was true where I went to school.  I took a rather meandering route to becoming a Computer Scientist, as I actually started out at another college altogether (where this wouldn't have been an option) studying Humanities.

I won't tell that entire story today since I got a late start on this blog tonight.  I had two choices.  I could be in the Engineering College and take the path through Electrical Engineering (a very stark route, I felt - even worse, you were very limited in the other courses you could take outside of engineering).  The second path was to get a degree in Mathematics, and then you would be in the College of Arts and Sciences, with total freedom.  The choice was obvious to me.

I had always liked astronomy, and I took a series of classes in Astrophysics because I enjoyed the topic so much.  Because I had free choices in the College of Arts and Sciences, this path was open to me.  One of the lessons I have often pondered had to do with whether the Universe was open or closed.  An open Universe keeps expanding.  A closed Universe expands and then collapses.  And there was even a model of a bouncing Universe which could go open up, collapse, then open up again, then collapse, then open up, continually.  I read recently this has become even more nuanced, what could happen, in a Multiversal model, and I can't quite recall now what that was well enough to explain it, but I sense I will revisit this topic again.

The point of this post is a question.  We always have a choice.   Open or closed? 

 

 

Waves photo by Susan Larison Danz. 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Stillness of Spirit

 "True stillness of Spirit is with you always, whether standing in a meadow or a maelstrom." ~ Susan Larison Danz

It may seem an ideal, and it is, to speak of it this way, this concept of always finding stillness of Spirit.  What is remarkable as we begin to discover this Stillness is how it grows.  It may not always be always, but it becomes more and more accessible.

Together, we are navigating through times that feel unprecedented to most of us.  At times like these, I am so very thankful for my Spirituality.  I didn't always have it so present in my life, but I surely am thankful it is now.  

I wish I could tell you it's as simple as some formula.  There are formulas out there to help, such as mindfulness and breathing.  Or walking in a quiet meadow.

But this is not quite that.  There is no formula.  It isn't well defined.  It can feel like some kind of a Miracle, how it arrives.  It's an undeniable presence of Spirituality, every day, in my life. 

In times like these, we need an open heart and a still Spirit, as much as we can find them.  Many Spiritual wayshowers in history have told us this as well.  Open hearts and still Spirits navigate far more effectively and honestly than closed and agitated minds.  

Thank goodness for Spirituality.  I can no longer imagine my life without it.



Meadow photo by Susan Larison Danz.


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Reflections on the Omnipresent Divine

"Namaste means that my soul acknowledges yours - not just your light, your wisdom, your goodness, but also your darkness, your suffering, your imperfections." ~ L.R. Knost

I intended yesterday to write about the concept of the Omnipresent Divine tonight, and I will not deviate.  There is no better time for this reminder.

Those who have lived through tumultuous, divided times, people such as Immaculee Ilibagiza, who have experienced this in the extreme, know how important this concept is.  I will not deviate from it, not under any circumstances.

The Divine is Omnipresent.  That is what many of us believe in this world.  It is shared by multiple belief systems.

Many of us also happen to believe that the Divine is Unconditional Love.

Others may express this concept as Namaste, recognizing that there is no human being on this planet who is separate from the Divine.

Many expand this concept to include Everyone and Everything in the entire Multiverse.

There is a reason for every dark passage.  This requires a very deep spiritual trust, even when we don't understand - in fact, especially so.

I wanted to write about the Omnipresent Divine after I wrote about the Golden Rule last night.  And it's exactly what is needed.

 

Light & Shadow Apollo photo at museum, where photography was permitted, by Susan Larison Danz.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The Golden Rule

 "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." ~ Luke 6:31

 

The Golden Rule, as often "commonly" stated.  It may seem so "foundational", it is hardly worth mentioning.  Right?  Isn't this one of those basic things we were supposed to learn in kindergarten?  True?  

And yet, there is a reason why it is so fundamental and simple to state.  It is easy to forget, to overlook, and without a doubt, universally, everybody gets it wrong, sometimes.  It is human to fail, but the key is to make the attempt to do better.

That's why foundational values like these are so very important to express.  There's a reason I consider it "foundational".  Remove this "brick" from your foundation, intentionally, and that's when things can topple.

I mentioned the Golden Rule last night, and I've been intending all day to write about it.  It couldn't be more important to understand at this pivotal time in our history (or any time in our history).  It carries every answer, really.  And it would be wise to pay attention.

I was going to list all of the ways The Golden Rule appears throughout the world.  It exists in an astounding number of cultures and spiritual systems.  This Wikipedia page does it far more justice than I can.  Sometimes, it is stated in the negative, advising what not to do.  But one way or another, it is foundational.

Values like these matter, even when we fail, because this is the bridge to a world based on empathy, freedom and mutual respect.  It's a world worth creating.

 

 

Summer flowers photo by Susan Larison Danz

Monday, January 4, 2021

The Elusive Art of Discernment

 “He realized suddenly that it was one thing to see the past occupying the present, but the true test of prescience was to see the past in the future. Things persisted in not being what they seemed.” ~ Frank Herbert, Dune


There is a tendency to believe, I sense, that in ages past, somehow more of us were more discerning than we are today - that in our modern technological and mass media world, there are so many varied ways to be told what to think, perhaps it was easier in the past.  And then you begin to recall actual history, even the most rudimentary pieces most people have heard, and you realize discernment has always been elusive - unless a society values it.  

How to deeply listen, consider and reflect is as vitally important today as it ever was.  If someone is a true communicator who has your best interests at heart, then that person must necessarily actually want you to be discerning, want you to be yourself, want you to reflect on things, freely.  There is also an assumption that a discerning person has already learned something about the most basic of values, starting with something as fundamental as The Golden Rule.

A communicator of information, whatever that information may be, must necessarily respect you as a person who is free to discern.  If someone doesn't want you to be discerning, that person doesn't respect who you are.  And that's of significant assistance in assessing whatever that person is telling you.

There are many beliefs in the world.  There are many obsessions.  There are intricate narratives that may or may not carry any actual truth (or a part of the truth).  There are many situations in which facts are intentionally omitted, as well.  There are those who actually fear discernment because they either know what they are communicating is false or they don't trust or respect you.

To truly progress as a society does not require 100% agreement.  That's an impossible goal.  But it does require the trust that is essentially a part of not only assisting one another in developing discernment, but also respecting and valuing that we are not all the same.  

Truth can and will appear.  It's not all belief.  It's not all opinion.  But to find it and to know it and to identify falsehood is an art we need to aim to practice every day.  Truth is rarely exactly what we think it is.  Truth can surprise us, even astonish us.  And yes, some things are indeed belief.  

The more a society values and encourages deep reflection and discernment, including spiritual discernment (and also respecting that some may choose to reflect upon spiritual things and others may not), the better.

 

Sparkling Waters photo by Susan Larison Danz.