Tuesday 29 April 2014

Focusing on, from, through your living

Once again I've learnt about a preposition. Through. I claim to teach folk about focusing, I have had to learn some more.  Focusing on I'm still confident about. You pick on a nicely labelled something, and away you go, looking at definitions, factors, specifics, perspectives, arguments, persuasions...language is the tool for the mind, and what a useful tool it is. You can actually get somewhere, and feel you have got somewhere. Academic research is good at this.

Then, focusing from your living. A little more abstruse, but you still have the tool of language: your beliefs, your attitudes, your values, your core, your platform, your family, your spiritual context, your genealogy, your freedom, your peace, your activistic inclinations.

Now, focusing through your living.

That's difficult, and let me expalin why. You go into an experience, maybe out of choice, maybe out of circumstance, and you lose control of the outcome. Yes, you lose control, because you are truly not in charge.

I am a realist. I cant' be a gambler, becaue I only bet on dead certs, which isn't a bet at all.

This year a close friend of mine died, and all my certainties were overthrown.

I can't work out why, it's purely emotional, and the tool of language failed. It didn't help at all. I came to a subjective place of despair, with no help to move forward.

I was reminded of how I fell in love for the first time, which was also about death: a friend's brother died, and I suddenly knew with all my heart I didn't want her to suffer this. People die all the time, so why the connection? I don't know. At any rate, she didn't fall back in love with me, so that was that. But I remember turning to my long-standing friend who died this year, for comfort, and help. He wasn't really aware, I think, but he was there for me, and gave a a whiskey or two, which helped.

When you focus through your living, you'll soon come to a very real place of intellectual failure, emotional intensity, and requirement of commitment.

I went through a rigour of testing my commitments. I discovered that I am totally in love with my wife, that I value family, that I seek community, that my awareness of God, which I won't discuss here is paramount, and that when my spirit is broken, my language is also broken, and that I have to re-learn how to use it.

In short, I have been through an impassably narrow place, am still coming through, will always be coming through, because living and dying are incomplete in each other for the time being, (thanks Brian Weiss) but are summed up, (thank you Jesus, who is not the Jesus of organised religion) in a trustworthy way.

I think that most people are doing the through focus, but keep a distance, because it's severe. They distract themselves, and become a market for whatever distracts attractively, even if short-lived.

There isn't a short-cut or cure for "through". I don't love "through" but I wouldn't evade it, because then you haven't lived. I have learned to look for the Presence that guides you through. You're lost without this.

So, with a greater grasp of focusing through your living, you may be the lens through which a real light shines. It's not fun. Crucifixtion is at the core, so is resuurection. Jesus has taken the brunt, but you won't escape, entirely. All deaths are mine, yours, all resurrections, too. The whole planet, solar system, stellar constellation and beyond will no longer be there, some time way ahead, when time no longer matters.

Squeezing through an impassable place puts pressure on the language-speaking soul.


The time for truth is way overdue. 

Friday 4 April 2014

Focusing and seeking

They're not exactly the same, but related. When you're regarding what's in front of you, and trying to get clarity, moving from a blur to something you can grasp, that's more like focusing. When you're moving around erratically, trying to find a point of contact, something on which to focus, that's more like seeking.

There are those people who are ardent seekers. I used to be. I gave up. I came to my boundaries when my  friend of forty plus years died, and all the stabilities of my life were challenged. I found that nothing stable was left. I realized that all of myself is a collection of emotional and cognitive habits, all challengeable, all a matter of self-response based on nothing more that the moment's need. I was amazed at the trigger: both my parents had died, and I had not experienced this, I had gone through divorce, for which I had never been primed, not my register at all, and had not experienced this. 

Quite abruptly, I was utterly humbled by the terminality of my life.

I claim to be able to teach people how to focus, but the fact that I had not yet found what I sought made me re-think.

For me, it now works like this: if you have a question, you have words, if it's a quest, it's an evocative and emotional reaching out.

If you seek, you may have found something, and are still seeking, but why?

If you have sought, and have declared a choice, a finding, a finality, no doubt your experience holds, although your words may be premature, as is the case when you allow formal religion to word your deepest experiences for you.

When you seek, your attention moves perpetually, maybe erratically, maybe looking for something in particular to recognise.

When you focus, your seeking comes to rest, and you move towards clarity in respect of something in particular.

A spiritual coach may be able to help with seeking, a life coach more with focusing.

The more intense your seeking is, the less likely are you to able to focus on daily practicalia.

Intense seekers are likely to be emotionally distraught people who have been dislodged from stable experience.

They can often be helped through narratives that have appeal, and resonate with their sense of reality. They need to find a personal myth. The story and meaning of Jesus Christ goes all the way to the uttermost limits of human emotions: few grasp the freedom rather than the lessons that are learnt along the way. Eatern approaches use story less, depending more on the koan of enlightenment.

However, truth is humilty, and focusing on ultimate truth in contrast to daily truth is daunting. I have stopped. Ultimate truth is shattering. Humans aren't designed to grasp, fully. Daily truth is about responsiveness, competence, communicativeness, carefulness and cheerfulness.

Scott Fitzgerald's story about Gatsby had for many years been a sort of Bible to me: an immensity of a dream that you sought, without finding, it eluded, most enigmatically and poignantly. I felt it deeply.

Today I am on the threshold (time is short) of the real dream, and I am keen to translate it into a curious mixture of money and meaning. I am confused by the fact that some offer meaning, but want money for it, and others, more viciously honest, demand money without meaning.

My view is this:

You will always find yourself travelling on rough terrain.

You have to move towards your destination. You have to survey and negotiate the ground you traverse.

The combination of these is the curious mixture of focusing and seeking. You have to choose the appropriate balance between focusing on what you seek, and how to get there.

My friend's death has helped me to get to this balance. The most baffling experience of my life has also been the sense of the keen wind that offers the no small comfort of daily direction. God is not only the biggest picture, but also the the crucial details, as subtle as they can possibly be.