Thursday, May 17, 2007

Luke Skywalker, the universal hero's monomyth, and me

Grouchogandhi was right. I couldn't hold out a week without writing a blog article. He told me introducing myself as an ex-blogger wouldn't impress the ladies.

I've had a hard time working up any anger this week. That's a good thing. It's been very peaceful.

I walked and played with my dog. He's a big almost-a-year-old mixed breed German shepherd/husky and/or malamute and/or rottweiler and/or your guess is as good as mine with floppy ears I got from a shelter in January. He's figured out how to escape from his wire crate when I'm gone without opening the door. Like Krypto the Superdog, he bends the bars and pushes his way through.

I went to the Indian burial ground near here for a few minutes of meditation. Very peaceful.

On Tuesday I went to Atlanta for a surprise 40th birthday dinner party for a long-time friend. Most of the people there work in the healing arts. It was a very laid-back and peaceful group, even with the beer and wine flowing.

On Wednesday, I had coffee with a friend who is an artist and Reiki master. Again, very peaceful.

I had dinner last night with a Mason (Bro. FA in Small Town Freemasonry Part 4) and his wife. We rehashed the lodge events of 2005 that led to the creation of this blog, but I didn't work up any negative emotions about it. It's over.

I posted photos from the Indian powwow held back on May 5-6. The final picture in the slideshow shows an older gentleman and a child. That's Bro. TW from Small Town Freemasonry Part 4 and my son.

I looked through some of the drafts of articles for the Taper I'd begun but never finished, including one that was set to explore the roots of my anti-religion feelings. I'll probably never finish that one, as I'm no longer angry at the adulterers who shot each other, the sex pervs, the drug addicts, the alcoholics, the crooked cops and the two pastors with their hands in the till who were my "leaders" when I was growing up in my Southern Baptist mega-church.

This morning Grouchogandhi pointed out to me that an awesome collection of paintings and sculptures from the Louvre is on display in Atlanta through September, including Nicolas Poussin's Et in Arcadia Ego, the painting shown in my previous article. A trip to the museum will be a fun field trip sometime this year, maybe as a counterpoint to a visit with the crazy Klingons at DragonCon.

I've received many emails of friendship and support this week. I'm glad the Burning Taper is a part of your regular blog-reading day. And I appreciate all your public comments, too.

One commenter said I should seek professional help. He might be right. Maybe we can get a group rate.

One emailer psychoanalyzed me and philosophized that my loss of anger last weekend was caused by chemical changes in my bloodstream and brain, brought on by sympathy from being around sad and mourning people. He may be right about the effect, but he misdiagnosed the cause.

Another emailer said he was glad to see my heart finally prevailed over my head. He (Bro. JW in Small Town Freemasonry Part 4) is one of the few Masons from my lodge that I sincerely respect. He's been reading the Taper since its inception, but until now hasn't communicated with me. He's been through a lot in the last year and a half, and I didn't even know. I'm sorry we didn't stay in touch. I would have liked to have been there for him.

I especially liked Masonic Traveler's comment suggesting I had delusions of grandeur of being a Jedi. While I certainly don't think of myself as a swashbuckling Luke Skywalker, the Star Wars story is a superb re-telling of the Grail legend, or more specifically, it's a prime example of Joseph Campbell's universal hero monomyth.

In my personal version of the universal hero's monomyth, ostensibly to save the princess (Freemasonry), I've traveled to the Death Star of my soul, and found myself staring back at me. It's no coincidence, I think, that I introduced the movie Star Wars to my eight-year old son less than two weeks ago.

Dismiss this as psychobabble if you will — that's what this is, my psyche babbling — but I answered the Call to Adventure, went down into the Belly of the Whale, traveled the Road of Trials, had the Meeting with the Goddess (, made the Atonement with the Father (see Sun of God), experienced the Apotheosis (the lifting of the anger on my drive home from Bro. Bozeman's Masonic graveside service — compare Saul on the road to Tarsus), and now have arrived at the Freedom to Live.

I think the change within me is due to the fact I've returned to living in the present, and not the past (or future). When I started looking for peaceful things and peaceful people instead of angry things and angry people, peaceful things and peaceful people immediately came back into my life.

To complete my monomyth, I guess I should bring back a "Boon for Mankind" from my Abyss. It's simply this, best I can tell: Live in the moment; it's all we have. We can't change the past, but only our attitudes towards it. Let go of the anger or frustration you might have towards the dismal state of Freemasonry in so many locales. Let go of the anger or frustration or resentment you have toward any aspect of your life. I'm not saying don't work towards bettering things. And I'm certainly not saying you have to "work within the system" (of Masonry or of any system) to fix it. I am saying, though, that if you look for the problems, you're going to find them. And if you focus on solutions, you'll find them.

In his book The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle teaches this (and "coincidentally," the book fell open to the exact passage I was looking for):
What is the power of Now?

None other than the power of your presence, your consciousness liberated from thought forms.

So deal with the past on the level of the present. The more attention you give to the past, the more you energize it, and the more likely you are to make a "self" out of it. Don't misunderstand: Attention is essential, but not to the past as past. Give attention to the present; give attention to your behavior, to your reactions, moods, thoughts, emotions, fears, and desires as they occur in the present. There's the past in you. If you can be present enough to watch all those things, not critically or analytically but nonjudgmentally, then you are dealing with the past and dissolving it through the power of your presence. You cannot find yourself by going into the past. You find yourself by coming into the present. (page 75)
On how to deal with problems in your life:
Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences. No excuses. No negativity. No psychic pollution. Keep your inner space clear.

...If there is truly nothing that you can do to change your here and now, and you can't remove yourself from the situation, then accept your here and now totally by dropping all inner resistance. The false, unhappy self that loves feeling miserable, resentful, or sorry for itself can then no longer survive. This is called surrender. Surrender is not weakness. There is great strength in it. Only a surrendered person has spiritual power. Through surrender, you will be free internally of the situation. You may then find that the situation changes without any effort on your part. In any case, you are free. (page 68-69)
It's amazing how many times I've read those passages in the past several years, and then forgot them, letting my consciousness drift back to the past, or to the future, instead of living in the Now.

But you can always return in the blink of an eye. The Force is with you, always.

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  1. Brother,
    I am very glad to see you posting again. Your blog is one of my "must reads" and I was very saddened to hear that you were putting it on hold for a while. I had a feeling you wouldn't be too long away from the keyboard, but I'm glad you came back sooner rather than later.

    I really appreciate your superb efforts that you put forth and I'm sure I am not the only one who feels that way.

    Bro Ken

  2. I think the change within me is due to the fact I've returned to living in the present, and not the past (or future). When I started looking for peaceful things and peaceful people instead of angry things and angry people, peaceful things and peaceful people immediately came back into my life.

    "Our minds naturally perceive the beauty of things on account of their beautifulness; so they also have a feeling of disgust for their ugliness on account of their ugliness. It is the same with goodness and badness. Everything in the world is mutually opposing and revealing itself.

    "So existence and non-existence are mutually related; the difficult and the easy are always in combination; the long and the short always qualify each other; the high and the low are always in opposition; the loud and the soft are loud and soft only in contrast with each other; the before and the behind are contrasted but always keep company.

    "Therefore the perfect Sage in avoiding the limitations of relativity resorts to no compulsion, nor does he make invidious comparisons in teaching his people. Whatever he does is done in harmony with the principle of TAO. Whatever he produces is not kept in his own possession; whatever he does is not exhibited with pride; whatever he accomplishes is not dwelt upon with self-conceit. Because he avoids possession, and pride and self-conceit, his accomplishments are kept in lasting memory." Tao Te Ching

  3. Okay, those of you who have read my posts know I'm not one for explicatives but: WHERE THE HELL IS MY CHAMPAGNE?!

    Widow's Son, I have to say you're on my "must read" list as well. I'm glad you're posting again, the Masonic Blogosphere wouldn't be the same without you.

    Be Well

  4. I'm glad GG was right, it wouldn't be the same around here without you...


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