Gulaga Creation Dreaming: Uncle Max Dulumunmun Harrison
Max Harrison is an Aboriginal Elder of the Yuin People who lived throughout the south coast of New South Wales.
He shared his cultural knowledge and on this weekend organised by The Sutherland Shire Citizens for Native Title Reconciliation. I was very fortunate to be introduced to Gulaga and the Creation Dreaming sacred site by Uncle Max and members of his family at Narooma, New South Wales. Read the rest of this entry »
Earlier I decided that the term ‘transformation’ no longer worked for me. It feels completely overdone. Something like the term ‘enlightenment’. A catch all term that gets dragged out whenever someone wants to make any kind of bland contemporary spiritual statement.
I waited until I had a better term and it arrived through the studies I am currently involved in and specifically looking at the work of Heraclitus, a great pre-socratic philosopher. It was explained to me, by Dr Geldard, that Heraclitus, is usually identified with becoming, with flux and infinite change.
The photo is Brokeoff Mountain, Lassen National Park. Mount Shasta is behind. This was my biggest summit hike so far.
For more about Heraclitus, I think the most insightful book you could ever read on his fragments is from Dr Richard Geldard, http://rgbooks.com/
I need to flag that the term transformation does not sit well with me any longer. When applied to personal or spiritual endeavors it feels like self-congratulation. Oooo look at me, I changed.
I can feel the beginnings of a different understanding of personal development, spiritual or otherwise, but I don’t think I can articulate yet, and maybe never. I will wait and see. So for now this section has no place to go.
The lovely rock flower is from Mount Shasta on the South Gate Meadows Trail. I was informed that it is a rock flow anenome. Very beautiful spaces from these curious flowers. They seemed to come from deep within the mountain.
This post marks the beginning of a new phase. It has been some time between posts. The phase that is passing has been one where I have had no idea what is coming next or even what I want to come next. At times exciting and at times unsettling.
I am about to leave the USA after a 3 month stay in Northern California. Throughout this period I have been participating in a lot of practices with the school of meditation that I love, where the sense of the Divine possibility is never far away. Of course it is a process of deconstruction that has plenty of ouch along the way but its so much better than not doing it.
My sanity breaks during my time in the USA were solo camping at Mount Lassen Volcanic Park and Mount Shasta. Magnificent land energies at both locations which will be the subject of future posts. Solo camping, for me, is akin to solo meditation. Better than the rest.
What next for me is the subject of much speculation and I prefer to allow that to unfold with time. More to come soon.
The idea for this slide show came while I was walking the spaces of Apollo. These spaces were often, but not always, very tangible. At times I would be immersed in them and find myself wondering how could I possibly pass the experience. Truth is I can’t because sometimes you just have to be there. But I can hopefully offer a glimpse of what it might be like to follow the spaces of Apollo today in Turkey and Greece.
I have used mostly my own images. Images that were not mine were of Asclepius, the son of Apollo.
The format I chose was to firstly introduce the god Apollo, then other gods related in some way, usually also children of Zeus, and Zeus himself. Then to end I return to arguably the greatest of all Apollo temples that can be visited today, the temple at Didyma, Turkey. The spaces of the Didymaion are thick with the presence of the oracular functions and devotional practices.
What is especially good about all the ancient temples in Turkey is that you can walk through them. You can sit, stand, and wonder at the glory of the temple construction, and its remains. Greece is very different. All the temples I visited on mainlaind Greece were fenced off and you could only wander around them. It’s just not the same experience. Still wonderful, but everything is much more tangible in Turkey.
There were other ancient sites that I left out because the spaces were harder to capture from images and this slide show is already quite long – at almost 20 minutes.
Why Apollo? Because the space that I came to recognize as ancient devotion to this particular god just kept showing up. And it became unmistakable. This was a very enjoyable approach to mapping spaces of consciousness and fortunately I am trained to do just that from my many years of studies with the Clairvision School. (1)
Apollo’s twin sister Artemis is also always discernible at these ancient sites. My experience was that wherever there was a temple to Apollo, there was also a sanctuary to Artemis. And wherever there was a temple to Artemis, there was a sanctuary to Apollo.
The spaces overlap and at times become the same and at times they are different. It is a mystery to me. There is much written about Artemis temples and devotion to the goddess as being pre Greek.
It seems that often, but not always, the temples of the Artemis were located on the site of earlier temples to a Mother Goddess, from Phrygian (as at Ephesus) and also from Minoan temples. Of course that makes me wonder what gods the original the sites of Apollo temples had been devoted to, as the ancient layers of devotional spaces at particular sites were often apparent.
The slide show should speak for itself. To help with the experience, I have brought Apollo back into the end of each section about other gods, using images from the most beautiful statue I saw of the god, located at the Istanbul Archeology Museum. I was stunned by this statue and sat with it for probably 30 minutes.
The head of Zeus was also among the most beautiful statues I came across. I always see Elvis with a beard when I look at it. This statue was located at the Ephesus Museum. Sadly the most famous Zeus temple perhaps anywhere was ancient Pergamun at Bergama. I have not used images from the Zeus sanctuary and altar at Pergamun because it has been almost completely stripped and removed to the Berlin Museum of Pergamun. Sadly there is nothing much there now to meditate on.
I could not resist putting in a few slides about the evangelism of St Paul at Ephesus. It was unmissable in the space. St Paul challenged the Ephesians to leave their devotion to their Lady of Ephesus, the goddess Artemis, and they rose up loudly against him, and put him jail for the winter to cool him off. He must have been a brave man to go up against those Ephesians and their devotion to Artemis.
I hope you enjoy this slide show. After many views of it while preparing it, I still get butterflies each time I tune into these spaces.
(1) Clairvision School of Meditation www.clairvision.org
The immediate response to this position that comes from many of my professional colleagues is – how can an organization be vulnerable?
My view is that organizations can only survive if the people making decisions are prepared to be vulnerable when necessary. One excellent example of this would be the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. My reading of BP’s behavior in this crisis has been to duck responsibility. It is very likely that the public perception of BP would be much better than it currently is, if the company had expressed their shame and grief over the horrible mess they caused. Instead I assume they took the safe legal route whenever responsibility came up and the public perception is one of cover up. I for one, avoid purchasing anything from BP since this disaster. (1)
I continue to confront my vulnerability from more directions than I would have believed possible. At times I think I have developed an endless number of strategies to avoid vulnerability.
Many of us that could be described high achievers, are especially good at blocking vulnerability. People with lots of will are typically way too busy for all the messy stuff. Too much to do. And we like it that way.
Brene Brown in a TED Talk linked below, talks about her personal journey to vulnerability and she fits well into the category of a person with will. Someone who knows how to achieve what she wants. Her journey toward understanding vulnerability took some 6 years with professional help. I would add that once realized, the vulnerable journey is ongoing. The more vulnerable we are, the more challenges to our vulnerability that we find. The journey becomes our path to growth. In the spiritual sense, this what the Sufi’s call journey to the Face of God, or to become the Perfect Man (who can then see the Face of God).
The vulnerable path, is by definition, a path of service to others, not a path to self gratification.
Brown described the realization of the importance of vulnerability as a breakdown and her therapist described it as a spiritual awakening. Of course, I prefer the latter view.
Without deliberate exploration of the self, and some kind of support system to help keep us honest, it is very easy to delude ourselves that we are doing everything that we possibly can to be good members of our community, a good family member, a good partner in our relationship, and so on.
Speaking from experience, it is very easy to opt for the numb path. We go out and have a few drinks and some fun and forget about what is bothering us.
It is very easy to opt for the blame path. If only XXX would understand what to do, how to follow instructions, how to help me, and so on – then our lives would be better.
Combine these two major distractions from ourselves, and we loose touch with what is really going on. We no longer understand reality because we have created our own reality. And the idea that something is very wrong with our world will never completely go away.
Which path to choose depends on our own ability to resonate with a particular path. Religious or non religious views will influence choices.
Arriving at a particular path may require some shopping around, some experimentation.
Begin somewhere and stay focused on the wanting for more than numbing and blaming.
Have the courage to confront the worst of our fears and keep moving because – as the great teacher Rumi has said “There are many excellent spiritual Teachers but there are not many good students”.
It is not hard to find the right teacher, or teaching method. It is much harder to make their teachings work.
Here is a wonderful talk from Brene Brown to wet the appetite for change.
The Sufi stories of remembrance are among the most profound I have encountered. (1)
We search and we search and then maybe one day we will not need to search further.
Driven by our own inner knowledge that somewhere we will find God, we walk in the dust and heat of the road, we are the source of humor by many.
Our search leads us to the place of desperation, the abyss, and finally our heart breaks open to the emptiness where God has always been present.
The Sufi’s say this is the timeless moment in which we are bonded together with God. We find Unity. We search to find what was always inside us because then we discover our own true nature.
This is my favorite story of fishes who made the great journey in order to find out what water is. The story says much about our great search.
There was a lake and in this lake there lived many fish. It was a beautiful lake. There was enough to eat, there were many trees around the lake. The sun shone almost every day because it was in the south. The water was not too cold and the fish were very, very happy. But one day after a heavy rain in the hills, the river swelled and carried into the lake a trout.
“Ha,” said the trout, “this is a lake and bigger than the river. But this lake is really a boring place.”
So the trout swam around and looked at everything, and said, “Water is not flowing here. There is nothing that interests me to eat here. I want flies and there are no flies here. There are just a lot of silly little fish.” And the trout jumped into the air and said, “I bet they don’t even know what water is,” and he swam back into the river.
The fish looked at each other and said, “What did he say? We don’t know what water is? I wonder what he can mean!” And so they founded a university and had workshops and seminars and intellectual exercises, and invited wise fish. However, nobody was able to tell them what water is.
So little by little they became depressed, and had conflicts and needed psycho-logical healing. But none of it helped. Then one day someone remembered that far, far away, at the end of the seventh lake, there was a very wise fish. He was hundreds of years old. He was so mighty and wonderful that he was all silver. So they decided to swim there and ask him what water is.
They swam through the first lake, where some were caught by eagles and others by fishermen. In the second lake more were caught, and others became too tired to go on while still others found tasty morsels and were diverted from the journey.
So it went on until out of the hundreds who had started only thirty or forty arrived in the seventh lake. At the end of that lake there was a cave, and in that cave there was a very big, silver fish. It was enormous and almost blind, and it was in samadhi. The little fishes all made a circle around him and waited.
Eventually the wise old fish opened his eyes, which twinkled, looked around him and said, “Brothers, why have you come here? What do you want?”
“Sir,” one of them timidly said, “we came to ask you a question.” “What is the question?” asked the wise old fish. “Sir, we want to know what is water.”
The wise old fish did not answer, but he closed his eyes and went back into samadhi.
The little fish stayed there, patiently but with pumping hearts. After a long while he opened his eyes, and said, “My friends, I do not know what water is. But I can tell you what water is not. Water is not the sky, water is not the clouds, it is not the grass, it is not the stones, it is not the trees.” And he talked for a very long time telling them what water is not. Then he closed his eyes and went back into samadhi.
So the fish looked at each other and said, “He told us what water is not. Ah! Maybe water is where we are!”
And they became very happy, and swam away back to their little lake and lived happily ever after.
(1) Llewllyn Vaughan-Lee. “In The Company of Friends”. The Golden Sufi Center, 1994