Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"LOOKING FOR THE RIGHT ANSWER IN ALL THE WRONG QUESTIONS"

HOW TO GET THE ANSWER TO YOUR BURNING QUESTION?


Don't assume you know the right question to ask. Like this cow. She's asking, "Will you take that annoying green thing off my ear? " I don't know how to do that. But if she is asking, "Will you take my picture?" She's asking the right guy the right question. That I can do.

Too often we don't ask the right question and as a result become frustrated because the answer we're seeking isn't forthcoming.

But, according to the most reliable universe sources, the answer you want will appear when you ask the right question. The most effective question you will ever ask, according to A Course in Miracles is, "What's the question?"



Now the question you're probably asking at this point is "Why is that the question?" That's close enough. Let's start with that.



Simply stated, from ACIM point of view…the answer that you seek already IS, because you are not separate from it, or anything else, for that matter. The answer is just waiting for you to ask the "right" question…the question that will release the best answer to your current level of awareness and for your best use.



The universe is very obliging with its answers. Like the answer to the question, "How do you stay together as a unity and not just fly off into the universal smithereens…answer: Gravity & Suns (as in Smith & Sons)

EXAMPLES OF RIGHT AND WRONG QUESTIONS TO ASK:

I took a series of science courses at San Francisco City College "for the fun of it',just to learn the subjects…Physics, Genetics, Geology, Physiology, etc. and I was planning on taking a course in what most likely would be way over my head, Organic Chemistry.

So I decided to bone up on some algebra…I got an algebra book and started working problems. After I finished one problem, I went to the back of the book to find the answer and compare it with the answer I came up with. The book's answer was different than mine. My gut reaction question, "What did I do wrong?" As it turns out…that was the wrong question. When I compared my answer with the "correct" answer, I realized I hadn't done anything wrong. I simply had not taken the answer the next couple steps needed to be the definitive and irreducible answer. All my steps were correct. I just hadn't taken the problem far enough.



Could it be that some of our answers may not be wrong, just incomplete? We just don't take them far enough…all the way out, or in, as the case may be, to the ultimate answer. For ultimately, the answer to life exists in…the Ultimate.



So, back to the question, "Why is 'What's the question?' the question?" If your head is spinning, keep in mind that everything is spinning…you're right on track.



When confronted by some of life's more resistive conundrums…we might start asking our conditioned default questions like: "What should I do?" "How long will this take?" "Will it hurt?" "When will it stop hurting? "What will this cost?" "Can we afford this?" "Will we be late?" or one of our most popular questions, "What's the matter with me/him/her or it?"

Or the unspoken questions…next layer down:



"Will he like me?" "Am I doing this right?" "Will they see how embarrassed I am?" "Will this lie I'm telling keep the pain away?" "Why can't they see the rightness of my point of view?" "When will he/she stop talking?" "Will I hurt their feelings?" "What if they say no…will I be crushed…like I was all those other times?" etc. etc…all the many expressed and un-expressed questions that surge to the forefront of our minds when confronted by dilemma, contradiction or puzzlement.

My spouse, Rochelle, was trying to watch a video on my computer. She was having trouble seeing the picture on the screen because it appeared too dark. The question she asked was, "Why is the picture so dark?" Wrong question. As it turns out the screen appeared dark because she was sitting at an angle below the screen which made it look dark. All she had to do was either tilt the screen or sit higher. Which is why "Why is the screen so dark?" not the right question. It wasn't dark. Right question… "What position do I need assume to be in relationship with the screen so that I can see it correctly?"

What's a questioner to do?

How do we get from wrong question to right question? Again, don't assume you know the right question. Instead, take a minute to notice the series of assumptions that have led you to what is, if not the "wrong" question, then the question that won't actually give you the answer you requested.

See if you can apply this example to areas of your life that may look like a dark screen and lead you to assume that they are dark, when in fact, it may be a matter of changing your relationship to the screen through which you see life—changing your perspective.
Another example. It was 1973, I was performing my first one-man theatrical show and I was presenting it at a church in Burlingame, CA. just south of San Francisco where I was living at the time. The directions I was given were to take Hwy. 101 to Broadway, take a right, go over to Camino Real, and go South to the church in Burlingame.
After the performance I was on my way back going North on Camino Real looking for Broadway to get me to 101 and then up to the city. I went up and down Camino Real but could not find Broadway. Finally, after enough frustration, I pulled into a gas station to ask the attendant, "Where is Broadway?" He didn't know. Hmm...wrong question. So then I asked, "How do I get back to San Fransicso?" at which point he said, "Oh, just take a right at the corner. That street will take you to the highway. You'll see the on ramp North 101, just take it."


In this case I was looking for the "means" to the end, rather than focusing on what I truly wanted and asking, if not the "right" question, then perhaps the "best" question. "How do I get to San Francisco?" That lesson has served me well.



So what becomes apparent is that our knee-jerk-reaction questions are conditioned by our perspectives and assumptions. In order to change your perspective so that you can tee up the best possible question, it's helpful to realize that the perspective that launched the question in the first place thought seemingly correct, is, in fact, only a perspective, and will eventually give way to, what is hopefuyly, a broader and deeper point of view..



Well, you may justifiably ask, "In order to function, don't we need to operate from certain assumptions?" Of course, as long as we continue to challenge and refine those assumptions…just as I needed to refine my "answer' in the algebra problem, my question to the gas station attendant, and Rochelle's question to the computer.

So operating on assumptions and habitual perspectives to guide us in our choices are certainly, though relatively, useful…Newtonian Mechanics helps us solve certain problem, but we kind of have to leave those principles behind as we get closer to the speed of light, and even more so, to the speed of LOVE, which probably transcends the concept of speed and any and all time space questions…and just IS... but that's another essay.
So from a Benevolent Universe perspective, are we not already plugged into the answer?…which is why the it is always available to us and why we need to pose the "correct" question in order to gain access to that timid answer.
Then again, maybe the right question was articulated by my mother-in-law, Esther, several years ago when my spouse and I were visiting her in Brooklyn and we went for a ride with her in her car. At one point she pulled into a service station and asked the guy (yeah, this is when they still had 'the guy" who came over to your car) "Would you look under the hood…and see what's doing?"


What if we looked under the "hood" of human perceptions and asked, "What's doing?" We might be surprised to discover deep in the entrails of all those assumptioins, the right question, and even more astonished to discover just underneath that…the best answer.

"It's your carburetor, lady. And no, I don't know how to get that damn blue thing off the cow's ear?"

Think on't.

Check out our radio show live Sunday Nights 7 PM PT
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Errol Strider
(415) 459-4512
http://striderinnertainment.com/
estrider@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

RELAXING THE WANT/SHOULD SPASM, Part 2

LEARNING TO TRUST!

In order to relax, you have to believe that the ground that supports you will continue to support you…no matter how creative a step you may take.


And why would you trust that? Well, you trust it all the time. Every time you take a step, you're actually falling and meeting the ground which predictably and even comfortably breaks your fall and gives you the impulse to take the next step.


And you know how you discovered that incredible level of trust…well, here we have to take you back to when you were a little younger…when you were just learning to walk. Remember that? ("Expletive of your own choosing"), it was probably one of, if not, the most important things that you will ever consciously learn, and you don't even remember learning it? What's with that!
Think about what you must have done to learn that "trust." After all, you didn't just learn how to walk, you learned how to trust.


My dance teacher in college, Harriett Ann Grey, would often say, "All dance is just falling and recovering."

And how did you learn to walk? Guess what? You fell down a bunch…a whole big bunch of times…and you got up…you recovered.

It was your destiny.


So, if learning to trust/walk required hundreds, if not thousands, of times of falling down and getting back up again, how many times will you have to practice the trust walk of faith before you can walk through life assured…certain that your every step will be met by the firm grasp of…not only material gravity, but spiritual gravity which also provides the spring in your step to keep you moving.


Yes, indeed, now The Cosmic Choreographer wants to teach you that you can not only trust the steps of your life to the "Ground of Being," but you can trust the dance of your life to your always dependable inner dance partner, who will lift you up and gracefully bring you back down so that you can ever rise again.

It's your destiny.

Think on't.


Errol Strider
(415) 459-4512
http://striderinnertainment.com/
estrider@gmail.com

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Caught between "Want to" and "Should do??

Escaping from the Want/Should jail cell of your own making…your "Get Out of Jail Free Card, Part I

Many of us spend a great deal of our life caught in the want/should jail. It's a simple cell…on one side beckoning to you is what you want to do. Your expectation: you'll feel relieved or happy or pleasured.

On the other side of your cell there's what you think you should do, or even more demanding and hateful, is what you believe you have to do. "If I don't do that, then I will experience the opposite of being relieved, happy or pleasured. I will be visited by pain or loss…and quite possibly…piss someone off. (That angry some one or some thing will likely let you know it in a way that won't be fun, to remind you that you can't just do what you want. You may even take on the role of that pissed off someone…it's called "guilt.")


Examples: the things you don't want to do to make money, to survive, to not get caught. The things you do for others that you don't want to do to mollify them, keep the peace, hurt them, avoid rejection, etc.


You may spend much of our life trying to negotiate this antagonism…Sometimes you do what you want and pay the consequences, Ow!...while other times you do what you believe you're supposed to do to avoid the pain and loss and hopefully achieve at least some degree of relief, pleasure, or comfort while paying the price of the pain of self-betrayal. Ouch!


Inevitably life demands some of this negotiation, but too often it reaches a point where your Will feels imprisoned. You have just entered the want/should jail cell...or your own making. This being pulled from one side of your cell to another can escalate to such a speed that it upgrades to…spasm. (Indeed…why Thomas Merton calls the ego a "spasm.) So there you are, caught somewhere in between, madly screaming inside yourself, "Is there a way out? "Who am I in this mess?! "Am I this spasm?!"


You feel compelled to resist the spasm. "This is awful! What can I do? How do I get relief?" So you may either seek respite through escaping addictions, which never work, or you will try to resist the spasm, which just adds to the pain of the spasm. Ow! Ouch!

If you've reached the point that living in your want/should cell is intolerable and are looking to get out of this jail, here's a get-out-of-jail strategy.


Step one…Give yourself permission to relax…

Now, if something is in spasm, what does it need? Certainly not to pursue the futility of escape or to be resisted. You need to find a way to relax.

Of course, it's one thing to give yourself the message, "It's okay to relax," but it's quite several other things to get your spasmodic self to stop long enough to even hear the message, let alone practice it…and it will take practice.

A simple place to start: Take three of the deepest and longest breaths possible for you to take. (Not to worry…they're still free…but hurry)

Or if that is even too aggressive a treatment, next time you take any kind of a break… go to the bathroom, go from one place to another, lie down, sit down, wait at a stop light, etc.…take these three deep vital breaths. That will stop you long enough to go to step two of this process:

Imagine yourself picking up the message that someone just put in your cell in an envelope with your name on it…Open it and read these lines… "It's okay to relax…at least for..." (and then you pick an amount of time that you're willing to give yourself permission to relax. Two seconds, maybe four...if you're adventurous, you can try six seconds or more. You do this as often as you can for as long as you can, and that becomes your beginning practice. You keep doing this more and more often and for longer periods of time every day until…you actually…relax. Guess what? You cannot be in spasm and be relaxed at the same time.

People might actually come up to you and ask, to your surprise, "How do you stay so relaxed? When were you released?" And that will even feel better than if they asked you, "How do you stay so thin? Or so young? Or so beautiful?" Imagine!

Think on't.

Next Blog: Part II: Avoiding recidivism. What you need to know to say out of the want/should jail and start having some chronic fun.



--
Errol Strider
(415) 459-4512
http://striderinnertainment.com/
estrider@gmail.com

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"YEAH...BUT..."

Once you start off on a spiritual journey, you will be assigned several companions. One of them is "Yeah, but..." Every time you attempt to step more fully into self-realization and spiritual intent, especially in the early stages, you can pretty well count on "Yeah, but..." to show up at your door.

As expected, "Yeah, but…" came by to see me today. I was attempting to hang out with another companion, "Why Worry? God's got you covered."


Now"Yeah, but..." always brings an entourage. You've heard of "Yes men." Well, "Yeah, but..." brings along a lot of ""Yeah, but... men"--Lobbyists, witnesses and experts to prove its case and justify its position. ("You won't have enough money." "Nobody cares for you." "People are undependable. "Get what you can while you can." "You can't trust men... or women." "Life on this planet is doomed unless we get with the program and we're too far gone in apathy and denial to do that." "God is irrelevant to your daily life" "Life sucks!" etc.)


Now, "Yeah, but…" usually doesn't tell me what action I actually need to take to address these annoying issues. That's not its job. Its job is just to incite worry, assuming that if it stokes up enough anxiety and reinforces it with adequate justifications, proofs and corroborations happily supplied by its "Yeah, but... men," I will forsake "Don't worry, God's got you covered." and "Get real." (One of "Yeah, but's favorite injunctions.)


You see, from "Yeah, but's…" point of view "Don't worry, God's got you covered." is not only preposterous, but actually illegal… according to its laws. Anyone guilty of promoting this point of view deserves punishment and annihilation, even better, crucifixion, if they still allowed it. At the very least, mounted on the rack of ridicule.


When I tried to explain to "Yeah, but..." that the reason I need not worry is that I am realizing that I'm enfolded in the embrace of an all loving, all supportive Presence that has my best interests at heart.


"Oh, that," "Yeah, but..." says disparagingly, insisting that IT has my best interests at heart, while attempting to persuade me that "Don't worry, God's got you covered." is stupid, useless, irresponsible, fucked up, or any other adjective that can describe the utter insanity of allowing this perspective into my mind and why I need to do something about it…before…(and here it resorts to some projected time in the future that "Yeah, but…" predicts, with great conviction and the exhaustive research supplied by its expert witnesses)... calamity occurs…if I don't change my ways, get busy worrying and take control.


Now part of why "Yeah, but…" is so convincing is that it can point to an almost infinite number of instances in which people who don't respond to it's highly trained and credible experts get their asses kicked and lose shit.


"Yeah, but..." can easily demonstrate through history that there is no "god" to cover my ass in troubling circumstances, let alone break my fall or pay my bills..


What "Yeah, but..." fails to mention, by cleverly hiding this reality, is that all this worry doesn't actually prevent life from kicking my ass or taking away my shit.


Nevertheless, I implore "Why worry? God's got you covered," "what do you have to say to that."


"Why worry, God's got you covered," humbly but authoritatively asks, "Do you do anything to beat your heart? Bring your self into existence? Breathe your lungs? Run your metabolism? Send messages throughout your nervous system? Continually feed and cleanse every cell in your body? Keep gravity operating? And does any amount of worry cause those things to happen?"

I turn to "Yeah, but…" who very deftly changes it's first name to "Well" and starts,
"Well, but…"'

"Oh, now you're "Well, but…" are you? "Well…but"…does it?"

"Well…no…"

"So if none of this angst makes the most essential processes of your life happen without you even being conscious of them, let alone worrying about them, then do you think agonizing will help our host solve any of the problems that confront him?

But "Yeah, but..." makes one more attempt to validate its position by bringing in its tag team partner, "No, but…" who trots out its list of very compelling "or else's." ("You better get real about all of this or..."You'll be homeless." "You won't have electricity." "You'll be rejected." "You can't pay your bills." You'll be downsized." "You'll be old, decrepit, alone, homeless and helpless, etc.)

"But doesn't all that worry just sap your energy and keep you from creatively engaging your problems?" "Don't worry. God's got you covered" retorts.
"Yeah, but..."


"So, isn't worry absolutely ridiculous and totally counterproductive…and that's why you, "Yeah, but…" are nothing but a worry wart and all your "or else's" are totally bogus?



"Well…yeah…


but…"

(Think on't...)
Errol Strider
(415) 459-4512
http://striderinnertainment.com/
estrider@gmail.com

Thursday, December 3, 2009

IS GOD MOODY, TOO?


"Hmm...what do I feel like doing today?" wonders God.


Let me guess. God is in the mood for…love--to experience life in his/her universe loving through and as us?


Possibly, but, as it turns out, she can only do that consistent with her nature.



That's where you come in.



"But…what is her nature? Isn't it love?" you may ask.



Yes, but it also depends on her mood.



God is very moody.



For instance, if God is what's behind everything, animating existence, infinitized… clearly God can be moody if not out right… fractious...


Between perfect stillness and the Big Bang…well…there's a lot of mood swings going on. Most any mood you could ever be in…not to mention, all that's followed the Big Bang. Talk about moody!



So that brings it back to us. How does God experience his/her universe as us and stay consistent with her nature?



Or more to the point…what are you in the mood for?



When you're in the mood for pancakes…or veal ptarmigan… great sex… a ride on the bay...or for a good movie, a day at the beach, a good conversation… or chocolate even? Is that God wanting to take the wrapper off? Is that God in the mood for those things, too?


When you're in the mood for a little self-indulgence, do you invite God to indulge herself with you? As you?



And what about mood swings? Will you allow God to swing along with you when your mood swings? Does God swing? Does God go both ways. In and out? Back and forth? Yin and yang? Is that fractitious?



Or, is God up for a threesome? Is God, in fact, a happy threesome? Did God, invent the ultimate threesome? Self beholding self emerging new self out of all that beholding?



Could it be that when you're "in the mood" for something, that that is the Prime Desire...desiring…actually triggering that mood.



Could it be that it's God that is in the mood for Frank Sinatra…a game of ping pong, a night at the opera, sitting down with a good book, playing a cross word puzzle or pulling your hat over your eyes?



On the other hand, are you ever "in the mood" for inflicting pain, receiving pain? Is that really a mood swing or is it just a desperate attempt to compensate for mood opportunities missed when you felt abused, abandoned, unseen or defiled? Stuff that may have put you in a...bad mood?


Check it out: Here's where God's nature reveals itself. When you have the luxury of being able to ask, "What am I in the mood for?" Are you not relaxed, available, with the energy, resources and maybe even the opportunity to satisfy that mood?



Could that be God's nature? Not only instigating the mood, but also providing that which will satisfy the mood?


Clever God. The giver and the receiver. And isn't that where we come in? Ever relaxed and ready to "swing". To go both ways…from giver to receiver endlessly…Perched on the pinnacle of eternity, eager to jump off?



Does God really swing both ways…from stillness to colossal undertakings? Is that who you are? A colossal undertaking emerging out of stillness, responding not just to God's mood for a little sensual treat in time and space, but to his whims, his larks…Does God often have a whim for a little unending creativity? My God, is God always in the mood for a lark?


And what about God's whims...If his moods are unpredictable, what about his whims? They must be positively capricious. And when God goes on a lark, how much is that going to cost!?



Hey, does God always give vent to his whims? Were you created on a whim? Or a lark?



"Today, just for a lark…" says God, "I think I'll evolve a new species, I'll give birth to…you, and I'll make you as moody as I am, just on a lark, mind you."



So, if you're following God's nature, I suspect, you're always in the mood for... a good mood... whether it's the sight of a baby, the feel of your lover's fingers gently stoking the inside of your wrist, the intensity of a roller coaster ride or the sound of waves lapping at your boat.



So, go ahead and whistle your mantra… "I'm in the mood for love." And while you're whistling, if you listen closely, you may hear God's infinite overtones—his moods whistling right along with you in perfect harmony.



So, how 'bout it, God...are you in the mood?
"I'm always in the mood." says the Deity. "But what about you?"


"Well, I am in the mood for a little snuggle, but wait, let me put on something more comfortable."


"Good idea," saith the Lady,


So, you put on your relaxed self, ready for action, and ever abiding in the trust, that, no matter what it may feel like, you can be assured that God is always in a Good Mood.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

STARTING DOWN THE TRACKS OF HUMANITY'S RESTITUTION


Since the two impediments to peace and love are fear and ignorance, we can safely say that, "It's the Fear, Stupid."

What we need to recognize to get started on the journey to global recovery.


My friend, James, stopped by the coffee house today (my office away from home-office--Peet's cafĂ© in San Anselmo, CA) and confirmed what I had suspected are the biggest impediments to a successful and healthy society…


I had shared with him this passage from Bill Bradley's' book, The New American Story where Bill says, "The only things that can stop us are fear, ignorance, self-centeredness, and greed." James' top two picks of the week for the main villains dragging humanity around in the mire of disease, destruction and suffering were fear and ignorance.


So how does one or how do we, as a collective, diffuse the fear and educate the ignorant, especially when the ignorant are too frightened to be educated or to ignorant to know that they are run by fear?


This is not to take anything away from all our best efforts to actually solve the problems that are the result of fear, ignorance, self-centeredness, and greed. But let's face it, until we find ways to reduce the toxicity contained in these human attitudes, (not to mention our addiction to them) we will always be putting out the fires they've initiated.


Now these fires have their upside, to be sure…they keep us on our creative toes, adaptive, and compassionate, but really, how much fear, ignorance, self-interest and greed do we really need to develop these valuable traits that empower us to succesfully engage to life's challenges? I could do with less, couldn't you?


Now, of course it isn't "they" (these attitudes), but "us" (these humans) that are at both cause and effect here, but it is these un-examined impulses operating through us that are wreaking havoc on the human/bio/atmospheric systems. So, if we really want to arrest the forces that are responsible for dis-equality, environmental degradation, war, alienation, obscene deficits, disease, people who are late, insensitive, lazy, irresponsible… "stupid and ignorant", etc. (fill in the blank), then we must find a way to address the raw phenomena of fear and ignorance…and their first cousins, greed and self-centeredness.


Now, the last time we checked, we found humanity hanging on the precipice of some serious global shit. How can we, members of the human race, interface with humanity to "head it off at the 'past"? How can we, the hero, if not save the day, at least save some of the future days so that posterity won't have to deal with the troublesome and smelly legacy of our fear and ignorance.


Let's start by addressing and attending to the fear that drives...well...me…and to become willing to admit, at least as a starting point, that 'I don't know all there is to know," and…whoa!...apparently, I'm on my way (Watch out transformation, here I come…buckle up, Errol). Yes, until each of us recognizes the degree that we operate out of fear and that what we "know" is miniscule in the face of what we don't know, we won't initiate the degree and quality of change the systems requires to "right itself."


For better or worse, it is calamity that drives most of us to that recognition. Do we need to wait for the onslaught of pain and degradation to engage the process or can we roll up our sleeves, divest ourselves of pretentions, and get to work being ruthlessly honest with ourselves and face our ignorance and fear and apply ourselves to their respective diminish-ment?


So how about we begin the journey by dis-ignorant-ing ourselves of the tacit assumption that we are not driven by fear? That fear will drive us into the mistaken notion that something of the finite, which we have made an absolute in our own minds, will save us. (It can be money, or Allah, or Jesus, or winning people's approval or the right lover, the cheapest price, anything really…some "idol" that we were warned should not be put before the All-Oneness of Infinity, some addiction that we perpetuate to hold on to our dear delimited life…so that we can feel safe and alive. We attempt to make something finite fulfill the role of the absolute. Talk about ignorant…no wonder we're so scared.


Indeed, many of us, much of the time, grasp on to some tightly held perspective to ward off the dangers of the unknown (just beyond our self-definition) which is eager to gobble us up and leave no clue of our negligible existence behind. And thus we remain frightened, ignorant and dominated by self-interest and greed.


So there you have it…next blog…what to do? Or more precisely, how can we relate to ourselves and each other in such a way as to liberate and act upon our highest wisdom and deepest levels of compassion so that fear and ignorance don't so effectively dominate our minds, hearts and wills?


"To fear or not to fear"…that seems to be…if not the question… the issue.

Check out the doable response to this quagmire in my next blogs.


Think on't!