April 2, 2012
The Health Care Games
Those of you, millions of Americans who, in paying your rent and feeding your families, haven't been able to afford the high cost of health insurance (that actually covers your medical expenses), lend an ear to Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, who exposed the underbelly of our country's stance on health care for its citizens with his own particular euphemism. Recently he compared your plight to simply poor game playing in which you just haven't done your best.
While interviewing Romney about his presidential health care intentions during The Tonight Show, Tuesday evening, March 27, Jay Leno asked Romney about his health care intentions for his fellow U.S. citizens and voters.
"It seems to me like children and people with preexisting conditions should be covered." said Leno.
But Romney countered: "People with pre-existing conditions, as long as they've been insured before, they're going to continue to have insurance."
"Suppose they were never insured?" asked Leno.
Romney responded, "Well if they're forty-five years old and they show up and they say I want insurance because I have a heart disease, it's like, 'Hey guys we can't play the game like that. You've got to get insurance while your well and if you get ill, then you'll be covered.'"
I was living in Canada during the time when President Obama was elected and this current health care policy discussion took shape, so I'm not overwhelmed by the weight and confusion of all the seemingly infinite rhetoric that has been bantered about health care policy in this country.
In Canada, I was received as a U.S. citizen on a work permit and within three months I had my OHIP, Ontario Health Insurance Plan card. For three years in the Greater Toronto Area, I never paid a cent for my health care treatments, including much more comprehensive physical exams than I had ever received in the United States, probably due to the excess cost that insurance was unwilling or I unable to pay.
The time from scheduling an appointment to seeing a doctor was short--my last physical being scheduled two days after I asked for it--and the care was as good if not better than any I have received. Yes, taxes on goods and services to pay for it were higher than in the U.S., but it was worth it. I paid no health insurance premiums, no co-payments, no additional lab or doctor fees, only moderate prices on some prescriptions.
During my residency I also experienced my best friend dying of terminal cancer during more than a year of quality health care in hospitals, doctor's offices, his home and hospice. Cancer took him, but not his dignity, nor the investment plans that he had made to care for his young daughter after his death. His last year was spent in saying goodbye to his family and friends, not worrying about the financial burden that he might be leaving them.
In Canada, the media eagerly educates the PUBLIC on how to access and use THEIR health care system, informing residents that they can go immediately with any health concern to a mall clinic, a doctor's office or the emergency room of any hospital. Treatment is readily available. No money is required. The country cares about its people's health.
Most all Canadiens I spoke to were shocked or dumbfounded by my simple explanations of how the health care system works in the U.S. and how so many Americans have to choose whether or not they can afford to be healthy (or even stay alive), having to decide whether or not they can afford medical procedures that could heal them, let alone affording the costs of preventive care. And how many die of breast and colon cancer alone, over lack of funds to pay for regular exams that could eliminate the disease with early detection?
Those same Canadiens, who have lived within the secure knowledge that their nation believes good, available health care is essential, responded to my description of the U.S. health care system almost singularly. "What, how could you ever live that way?"
Indeed, after being back in the states the past year and a half I am asking that question more so around the many people I meet. An elderly, homeless man in Whittier, California who walks the streets with cancerous death spreading rapidly across his face, a single woman in Florida who has lived for years with the pressure of fibroid tumors growing inside her, a father in Montana who suffers in silence for fear that his treatment would cost his family their dreams and provision. So many people in need of the treatment and care that this country has, abundantly.
The glaring question that stands out so blatantly is why, supposedly the greatest nation on earth is wrestling with the issue of who deserves health insurance instead of the one that really matters--how do we deliver existing health care to our citizens who need it?
But then again, maybe we really aren't a nation at all, just a gathering of selfish interests battling for power and supremacy at the acceptable cost of whatever happens to those who don't play the game as well as we do.
In Charles Dickens' classic, A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge declares to a gentleman seeking help for the poor, that prisons, workhouses, etc. are the best places to deal with the poor. The man of compassion responds, "Many can't go there and would rather die."
Scrooge replies: "If they would rather die, they had better do it and decrease the surplus population."
And to all those who haven't played the health insurance game very well & do we dare say it? Well why not? We're saying everything else but what we really mean, which is, "If they can't afford to be well, then they don't deserve to. So why don't they just go away and die so we don't have to deal with them?"
Our government leaders, the media and the politicians of both parties have reduced life and death and the misery of the poor, physical well being of many of our citizens and neighbors to little more than political strategies, while we as their constituents either buy into their fractured treatises or just ignore the clear callousness of these schemes to reduce human compassion to plausible denial. Never in my life have I felt so ashamed of being an American.
And if I've disturbed anyone, good, because this health care game that we are playing is very disturbing.
To our political candidates and leaders, members of the media, the Supreme Court and all Americans who are so certain that you will always have the will for and access to whatever you need to make happen what you want or need--lose all your resources, your support, your hope and your dreams and lose your way too--it happens. Then look at your neighbor and see if you can still find it in yourself to judge another for failing the game we make of life. God forbid that you could do this, because that would be the loneliest hell of all and no one deserves to be without a compassionate, understanding hand reaching out to them. It's why we're alive.
February 24, 2012
To Explore New Worlds ... To Boldly Go ...
"Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment." ... Rumi
Can you be so certain that the situation you're facing really means what you think it means? Wise souls for centuries have said in their own words, that what a person believes is what they see. In other words, if you don't believe in unicorns, peace of mind, or enough resources to do whatever your heart requires, then you can rest assured, you won't be experiencing any of these soon. The meaning you give to whatever you're prepared to experience, is actually what frames and forms how you will perceive it. In other words, nothing showing up presently has any actual form or status. What you're seeing is the script that your mind is directing, along with the supporting characters (mostly unbeknownst to them) necessary props and scenery required to WILLfully present your little drama.
I recently watched an infomercial on the development of virtual reality video games in which a software developer remarked on the faster emerging technologies that would soon take virtual gamesmanship to its ultimate destination--the Holodeck. I had to laugh.
For you non-Sci-Fi-Star-Trekies, the Holodeck was a platform on the Starship Enterprise that could be programmed to create any virtual reality desired with the ability to interface with all its virtual citizenry and scenery. If you wanted to meet Shakespeare or Sherlock Holmes or whomever, just dial in the coordinates and there you were, experiencing and interacting with the imagined world.
Why the laughter? Because we already have a realm that equals and far supersedes the idea of a Holodeck. We live in an unlimited field of energy where whatever our minds conceive and believe is perceived. And we don't need outside power sources, software or hardware devices to manifest it. All we need is to release the code of our beliefs and we can see and experience whatever our minds will. We've been using it since the birth of reflective thought, just with old belief patterns that form the world which we become comfortable though not very satisfied within. And the resolution isn't just virtual, it's perfect.
One of the major differences between the would-be Holodeck and this Living One though, is control. In the Holodeck idea, we hold to the thought of controlling our experience because we think we know what we want (and tell me, honestly, how well has that been working for you). In Nature's Perfected Version (Jesus called it Heaven and the Wachowskis fashioned it as The Matrix) we have to release control so that Whole Ideas, Universal Forms and Collective Experiences can literally flow through us, our minds incapable of containing such Unlimited Realities that come to and through willing, childlike-entertaining channels of expression. This Awareness not only addresses what we shallowly call our individual desires and needs, It lifts us up to see our Oneness with all Creation and how this Infinite Magnification of Collective Desire is already fulfilled and perfectly expressed. We, the Instruments simply watch Love play through us.
So here's the option every moment of your life.
Think from your certainty that allows you to discount utter bewilderment, believing instead, that you understand what you are presently facing, that the story you have in your mind about what this situation or someone's part in it or how it impacts you--is, was, could be or shouldn't be--is not just one of your old retread stories but actual reality facing you. Thereby you can justify turning your attention away from simply noticing the NEW MIRACLE that the present moment is trying to present you, HERE & NOW, obeying instead the unexamined compulsion to wage war with the past over a better future, triggered by what you've made up about the present, none of which having any basis in reality.
You might just want to take a seat and simply watch until something other than that nagging voice inside you actually invites you to do something.
One of these paths actually makes a difference. Can you guess which?
"The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them." ... Albert Einstein
February 19, 2012
Whitney Elizabeth Houston (August 9, 1963 - February 11, 2012)
Listening to an anthology of Whitney Houston's songs on the radio today, I was filled with a deep joy and sorrow. Public people can play such a heavy role for all of us, playing out our fantasies of how rich and fulfilling lives might be. We can see them as sacred characters living outside the pressures and confusion of everyday life. Now her form is gone and we grieve how such beauty could be lost, yet isn't it the undeniable story of life--the innocence of youth and beauty transitioning into the seeming loss of it? Such a horribly sad story for everyone of us who have both denied and unexamined the tremendous cost we pay for believing it. My teacher said, "How I marvel at how this wealth has found itself in such poverty." And yet, how could it not be for us, gifted and cursed by the ability to imagine a world that we naturally limit ourselves to, feeling so lost and trapped in the reasoning we craft it with.
In releasing Whitney and those persons, situations and relationships that we cling to in our lives, it would be wise for us to remind ourselves at how repeatedly consistent this drama plays out. To quote an old Dave Mason song, "... there aint no good guy, there aint no bad guy, there's only you and me and we just disagree." The stories about what could, should or would have been serve only to distance ourselves from vulnerably experiencing what actually did happen. Hindsight has no bearing unless it is applied in the moment with a presence that's willing to make a difference. Bobby Brown didn't cause Whitney's death, nor did society or any specific person or policy. Whitney left because, like all of us, she lived her life within her understanding of the world she believed herself confined within. We all do, no matter how it appears or how many sign on in supporting roles.
For me, there is great sorrow and joy, knowing that this drama of isolation and self-responsibility that we play is the real cause of life's suffering, loneliness and desperation as well as the immediate possibility for life's joy, loving union and freedom when we come off the stage together. Billions of souls for thousands of years have acted out the flaws in this earthly passion play of insufficient compassion, unconsciously knowing that together by doing so, we can find our way home, out from the madness of separation into the sanity of how deeply and unconditionally we all care.
Thank you Whitney for doing your part so well. Thank you for sharing with us your beautiful voice, but most of all thank you for living out so courageously the part you accepted to play. You and every one of us have spent our lives modeling how the flawed premise of overcoming life necessitates ongoing troubles and tragedies to face them with. Yes, it's hard to give up the stage alone, when most everyone else is still in character, but your life has helped me see more clearly that until I, along with at least one of you, take that step (if only to share our weariness), the same curtain on this sorry tale, will just keep on rising, day after day after day. You deserve more, my sweet sister. And so do I. So do we all.
Welcome home Baby.
February 16, 2012
The Problem with Problems Is Having to Solve Them
There is a story told of a mother whose son would not come home from playing until late in the evening. She became so fearful and frustrated with his disobedience, that she decided to trick him into behaving.
She told him that there were monsters outside that only came out after dark. This seemed to do the trick as his fear kept him from ever testing the night again. As he grew older though, he became more and more afraid and eventually housebound. This troubled his mother. So she told him another lie about a magic medal she found that would protect him from monsters. He put the medal around his neck, never removing it and once again was able to leave the house and rejoin the world.
Willa Cather in her novel, O Pioneers, wrote, "There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before."
Why repeat? Because even our most creative thinking is generated within a limited context of familiar experiences, beliefs and expectations. Our base understanding of the story--our recognition and validation of what we are seeing, its possibilities, probabilities and even the tolerable degree of mystery we're able to entertain--keeps us from seeing beyond or through the box of the story itself.
"Your reasoning is excellent--It's only your basic assumptions that are wrong." ... Ashleigh Brilliant
In the mother's story, her son needs to be protected from her projected fears. In the son's story there are no such fears, so the mother sees that she needs to enlist her son in her fear. Without this, there seems no solution. She tells him a white lie. Since he can't believe in her nameless fears, she will name one for him--monsters in the night. And now her story works until she realizes that her lie is creating another problem--more fear in her son than she intended. SO INSTEAD OF INQUIRING INTO THE VALIDITY OF THE WHOLE STORY, she adapts to the story's needs. Imaginary magic that keeps away imaginary monsters. Can you begin to see the movements of politics, religion and relationships here?
This is the story of my ego, that is, who I am pretending to be. I am the Observer of how Full, Universal Wholeness appears fragmently expressed through my perception of the thoughts I have chosen to identify as and therefore project my existence as. By so doing, me, my world and my life can be minimized, rationalized and managed upon a small stage that I hope to understand and control.
I play all the roles--the mother, the son, the monsters and the magic--but to keep playing and working through all the problems, I have to stay on script, otherwise I and those playing with me, might find ourselves off stage, in the audience, or even out of the theater into spontaneously, irrepressible reality.
Believing me to be my mind or ego, I cling to this small platform of life, world and identity that I compulsively attempt to manage, control and be self-responsible for. I block out the whole, unlimited, Universe so that I can narrowly focus on what my mentally-formed psyche needs to support itself.
In this psychic fishbowl, my intention is linearly, I want what I want when I want it. MY STORIES GIVE ME AND MY LIFE ITS MEANING. They serve as my reality and drive my busyness. In this fishbowl (which BTW, is affirmed and shared by a world community doing the same), I motivate by frightening myself into doing or not doing something, with thoughts about what I want or don't want to happen to me. So driven, I will either simply act on what seems obviously familiar or attempt a surface inquire with reasoning or creative thinking that taps THE SAME RESTRICTED THOUGHT POSSIBILITIES THAT SUPPORT MY PRIME DIRECTIVE: STABILIZING THE FISHBOWL WITHIN WHICH I CAN REMAIN SAFELY SMALL. Nothing new, outside of the box comes from within the box.
So does this story turn out well? Of course it does, because even the most horrific story has no power to change the harmonious nature of the Universe it is told within.
Yes, innocently caught within the power of my mind to bring dramas to seeming life, I identified with the story of who I think I should be, deceiving myself into betraying myself. Yes, I unconsciously gave myself false information so as to make love look like fear so that I could continue to play the part I imagined best followed the story line. Yes, I had to, because the story seemed real and believing it real, I like everyone who visits this existence, gave it my best shot at playing it.
And yes, now I begin to see the flaws in the story and my efforts to conceal this from myself. I see now that irrational fear has no bounds, because it is held to no accountability through sane inquiry. The magic I gave myself to protect myself from nothing that exists, only sustains the increase of my irrational, baseless fear of that boogeyman.
"Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment." ... Rumi
Now is our time for asking the questions that we don't have the answers for, the ones that can allow our stories to be the adventures that the simplest wisdom of children imagine them as. Instead of asking what will calm or adjust me to my fears? Or what is the right or wrong thing to do? Or how can I make up for this?
Try these questions, no matter what is happening and especially when what is happening seems to really matter. You needn't concern yourself with the answers, they aren't necessary. Just ask the questions. The fact that your ego resists your asking these questions without reasonable expectation for an answer, might give you pause to wonder how powerful these questions are. Lies don't need to have a truth applied to them to free you. Just seeing them clearly is enough to release you from their threat.
Q. Do I know that my magic or medication I'm treating situations with, is even working anymore?
Q. Can I be certain that there really are any monsters or anything wrong with my way at all?
Q. Do I know that what I think needs to happen, needs to happen or that what you or I need to do needs to be done?
Q. Is it possible I might be right as rain just as I am now? And maybe you too?
Q. Can I be certain that it's not possible or even probable, that the drama I have been living, is simply my ego's last, grand performance, a virtuoso characterization of who I pretended to be within the mystery of my awakening in gratitude to the Love I Have Always Been and now am able to see and feel.
Bravo as the Universe thunders in standing ovation.
April 15, 2011
Over the Edge of Madness
Like it or not, human consciousness is now rapidly evolving, free from the space/time matrix that the human mind has compulsively attempted to limit and control it within. As our Collective Consciousness coalesces into the Collective Realization of our Oneness, our Collective illusions unravel, revealing their insubstantial, impotent nature as they dissolve back into the Nothingness from which we have painfully and compulsively tried to craft and hold their forms.
There is no restoring of this unconsciousness possible, neither as perceived individuals or collectively banded, this insanity is out of the box and there is no putting it back.
If you haven't noticed, please do. The amount of energy it is taking to keep ourselves distracted from seeing this is immense and like all addictions, more eventually proves to apply to the multiplication of frustration and emptiness in place of hoped for thrills and fulfillment.
Technology is exploding all around us and wireless communication and entertainment has become one of the most evident and cutting edge metaphors for our attempt to mediate the rapidly widening gulf between our unconsciously deep desire for authenticity and our compulsively driven denial to mask this with ever more complex sensory overloads of colorful lights, digital tricks and other stimuli.
Is this wrong? Of course not. How could it be? It has evolved and simply is what it is. Everything that happens serves what appears as the evolution of Reality or Oneness. Nothing can lie outside the limitless Spirit that has always been and is now expressing the Immediacy within our Awakening.
The late Jesuit priest and paleontologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin pointed the way back in the 1950s in his masterwork, The Phenomenon of Man. That is, similar to how human thought was born as an evolution of consciousness from within the simple, animalistic observation of Cro-Magnon man or his equivalent, a creature who even now could physically pass as human, save for the one indispensable element that defines humanity--our reflective awareness that allows us to know, say, and realize that “I am”.
Teilhard further envisioned our Collective Awakening, an evolution of consciousness where together all awareness coalesced into a single, unified reflection of the Whole of Consciousness upon Itself. In other words, a collective realization of not, “We are”, but “I am”. He recognized it as the fulfillment of life upon the earth.
And throughout all evolution on this seeming finite sphere, life as forms of consciousness emerges from supersaturated oceans into forming overcrowded land masses, eventually congesting the very ethers with compulsive thought waves. Teilhard saw this consciousness evolving to force such changes from molecules to cells, gills to lungs, and objective brains to reflective thought, as an escape valve from the pressure of norms massing, releasing into higher, freer, more communal creativity.
He saw the emergence of a Collective Realization issuing from the massing of pressure upon the individuals, who though experiencing greater intensification of physical, mental and emotional commonalities, would still resolutely cling to their more familiar sense of isolation. Think about this pressure. Millions of individuals, living within an increasing, conscious sense of the core affinity they share, yet increasingly continuing to feel more and more compelled and culturally supported in denying this through ever more complex ways of avoiding authenticity, i.e. real communication through eye contact, empathic listening, physical touch and the sharing of vulnerable emotion, the very qualities that support our being fully human, alive, connected.
People's longing hearts, their feelings nearly exposed on their sleeves to one another, text each other while in the same room together, preferring a growing loneliness of common distraction to the unknown plunge into vulnerability. It's no wonder we look at the floor numbers or play with our cell phones when in the close confines of an elevator. We unconsciously suspect that unless each of us is extremely vigilant within the short time frame of our ride together, we might slip and experience the truth of our shared fragility and the whole charade of our guarded isolation would unravel before us into a spontaneous, uncontrollable expression of all the love, compassion and repressed commonality that we have been compulsively denying together.
And yet, this is perfect, for it is within the cauldron of this growing evolutionary pressure, not only in technology but throughout all our earthly formations that the erosion of all the baseless foundations for our shared illusions is NOW taking place. Our psychic ground of false identity and shallow sense of individual purpose is dissolving away. What follows is a freefall collapse into the Perfect Safety, Love and Order of our experiencing Shared Reality: our Collective Realization of the Joy, Peace and Freedom of our Integral Oneness.
This is not an act of will, individual or collective. It is the Realization, scary at times though, it might seem, that the One Perfect Love we were formed within has always been and will always be and that our elaborately, creative and valid layaway plan for putting off our experience of it has come to an end. We are all in this, making the final payment NOW. It is time for us to pick up and utilize the treasure that has always been our birthright, through our Full, Whole, Collective Name and Nature. And this is not a matter for individual discussion or free will. It is our Divine Imperative.
More to follow. Such as: how we can now cooperate in accepting the gifts of our new freedom together, what other collective belief forms are dissolving away and what we are discovering in their absence, how freewill and choice fit in with accepting the path of fulfillment that requires neither, and of course, how the despair of collapsing individuality and isolation leads to expanding joy in community.
Please feel free to join in and ask questions, especially if you are holding on by a thread. It's one powerful way into a new joy and release from what appears as hopelessness and despair. It's exactly what I am doing for me and it feels so good when we do it together.