Nothing and No One Stands Alone

Jun 29 2022

 

All children should be given the opportunity to improve themselves with higher education in the safety of violence free environments and it is the proliferation of guns in US society that is at the cause of a deeply disturbing rise in trauma inducing fear amongst the young. Without hope for the future and an inner sense of feeling safe, a tone is developed within the nervous system that predisposes states of hypervigilance. Being on constant alert and oriented to possible threat arouses internal psychophysiological states of hypertension that the brain mediates unconsciously as recursive patterns aimed at defense against danger. It’s not just our children that are affected. Guns, the threat of violence and the gamut of unrest with our society has aroused a collective state of ever-increasing fear that has now overshadowed any hope for the virtues of lovingness that make us truly human. While we remain caught up in the throes of constant threat, on automatic pilot, consciousness is preempted by deeply engrained personal and cultural patterns that make the possibility of change impossible.

Change is defined as an interruption in deeply engrained patterns of unconsciously mediated behavior, individual and culturally, that results in a new paradigm that raises the level of both energy and consciousness. While a few rare ones raise red flags warning of societal decay, the mass of divisively preoccupied believers in a deeply flawed political system continue to add to the sad dysfunction that will ultimately secure the once powerful bastions of democracy a place in the fallen empires of history. It’s been this way since the beginning and until consciousness is awakened within a critical mass of humanity, and regardless of military dominance that may sustain for a time, the power of nationalism, irrespective of its various ideological forms, all societal structures are doomed to fail. As overused as it may be, the phrase “united we stand and divided we fall” remains a powerful truism. Not in the historical sense, however, but rather in what must become a newly forged notion of “making a difference through common interest”. All political systems based in the proliferation of separate interests and special relationships aimed at individual benefit without regard for the effect on the health of the whole, will necessarily reach a peak and then begin to crumble, simply because they are based in the striving for power fortified through fear that engenders divisive behavior. A just society and a new earth cannot be built on a foundation of fear. We are running out of time.

Yet, we have bloated billionaires whose wealth is protected by self-serving politically divisive politicians who do nothing to facilitate fairness in taxation and public programs aimed at improving society. It seems that those entering the political arena are like scum rising to the top of a mix of oil and water. We have so called leaders who have never been more divisive and unwilling to work for the common interest of the whole. The answer does not lie in hope for an outside entity that will somehow save us from self-destruction.  The answer is in individual self-enquiry that adds to the spiritual benefit of the whole. As I change and improve my own wellbeing from the inside out, I heal others as well by osmosis. Nothing and no one stand alone in universal consciousness.

Living in the Past

Jun 15 2022

CHAPTER 1 – A NEW BEGINNING

“A victim of delusion,
Of what really never was,
Living higher than he should of,
Bowing without applause,

Living in the past,
Watching life go by so fast,
Setting sails on a broken mast,
There’s no future,
Living in the past.”

~from the Juno nominated jazz album, “Words” by Amanda Tosoff

Living in the Past

Everyone has a story and facing the truth of what has happened in the past can reveal an escape route that leads out of suffering. Ending the story by completing the unfinished business locked away inside the mind and weighing heavily on the body, releases the emotional debris attached to the endless parade of negative events that have shaped our lives. Even if we are oblivious to past traumatic memories, the hidden relics play on in a continuous background loop, affecting our state of mind and wellbeing. Self-enquiry can bring these buried memories and the emotional baggage attached to them into the light of consciousness where we can let them go. Recounting the flow of our past can free us and clear the accumulation of psychic debris that follows us like the cloud of dirt that constantly surrounds and follows the character “Pig Pen,” from Charles Schulz’ cartoon, Charlie Brown.

Some spiritual teachers would argue that sifting through the past is a waste of time because it is in the now, within a present moment of Grace where healing occurs. Perhaps they are correct, and that the quantum of healing is in the affirmation that we are already safe, healed, and whole within our deepest essence. Most mortals, however, cannot immerse themselves into the presence of pure being that holds the power to vanquish the strongholds of fear locked away in the body mind. Therefore, they are not likely to experience such miraculous healing within the realm where, as Eckhart Tolle once said, “nothing survives the truth”. For them, the only way out is through the wall of fear that stands between suffering and liberation. Sorting through what is valueless and what is worth keeping is the spiritual practice of those in search of consciousness.

Over the past 40 years I have been an unwilling and resistant follower of the truth. My genetic predisposition obeyed the strong pull of gravity that kept me earthbound, while at the same time, in possession of a deeply spiritual connection that imbued an awareness beyond the limits of my capricious ego. As life unfolded, I felt like a bundle of fear and anxiety incapsulated within the protective membrane of a Divine source. No matter what happened to me, I always took in the lesson that came to me for my spiritual growth.

Over my life span I have practiced yoga, meditation and pursued the study of many eastern spiritual writings. In 1992 after an awakening of sorts, I became a student of “A Course in Miracles” (ACIM), said to have been scribed and compiled by Helen Schuman and William Thetford, Professors of Medical Psychology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. The pair were anything but spiritual, both atheistic conservatives whose professional relationship was often strained. It was a spontaneous occurrence, subsequent to a crescendo in their conflict, that Schuman suddenly began to have highly symbolic dreams and to eventually receive direction from a voice that seemingly possessed a profound level of spiritual knowledge. It simply said, “This is a Course in Miracles,” that began Schuman’s writing as dictated to her over a period of several years. Thetford compiled the writings into what eventually became a 669-page text and 365 daily lessons to be practiced as a means of training the mind to escape from a world conditioned by fear. Whatever its source, its content, in both theory and practice is inspiring and life altering. It helped me to consolidate my own gift of spiritual knowledge and to reduce the disturbance of my own peace of mind. Notably, the work of Maryanne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle and many other spiritual figures have roots in the universal teachings of ACIM.

I have also done the work of self-enquiry in several modalities of therapy with great success and benefit to myself and my family. I must attest to the value of looking at how we come to be the way we are, notwithstanding that the experience of spontaneous miraculous healing of mind and body can and does occur.

Peeling away the layers of the artichoke so to speak, gives us clarity and an opportunity to forgive each metaphoric bract in the process of getting to the heart of what imbues us with the enigmatic essence of life itself. Looking back down the road that has led from the past can reveal buried feelings that have remained locked away within the body, that perhaps for decades have longed for release. The body bears the burden of all unexpressed emotions and will find ways to compensate through stress and even disease.

I often think about people and events from my past, mostly with fondness but sometimes with a mix of anguish and regret. While it is anecdotally interesting to reminisce from time to time, getting stuck in the past without release can attach us to a narrative that averts our attention from what is actually going on in our lives, right now. Some spiritual teachers invite followers to end allegiance to the activities of the mind through the practice of living in what they refer to as the eternal presence of being—the now! Easy to say, but only the exceptionally rare ones really know what it means to be fully immersed in the background of eternal presence. Most of us are so caught up in the endless flow of mind states to know how to escape and how live in what can only be described as the non-state of pure undifferentiated being. Such is the condition of being human on this short journey of life.

The same goes for choice. Having real choice can only occur once we have become conscious of what needs changing and doing so requires curiosity as well as looking inside where the past resides in the storehouse of the unconscious mind. If you have suffered a bullet wound, it is better to remove the bullet rather than simply letting the wound heal over. Old wounds may be out of mind, but they are not healed until the cause of the wound is removed, often without conscious volition as a consequence of honest self-enquiry. Once we become clear that we are in a squirrel cage of self-repeating behaviors, we can then stop the endless story within our heads. It is there where the end of suffering begins. The emotional fallout from what happened in the distant past, can repeat like a skipping recording, gripping us in a programmed obsession to the many forms of anguish that play out in an old narrative.

The story of my own past is shared openly in the following personal account, told with candor as the preamble to the central message in this book. That message is that the truth is always revealed within the dynamics of our interpersonal relationships. “A Dance of Light and Shadow” unfolds over three parts, using real life examples, metaphors as well as academic grounding in science. I hope to demonstrate how our life experiences shape us and often impedes our capacity to feel secure and deeply connected to the life we have been blessed with. Making sense of life by reflecting on the many twists and turns it has taken, allows us to recall key events that can reorganize the brain and help to shift perception into seeing things differently. It can also bring to light some epiphanies that trigger, and release buried emotions. My hope is that you, the reader, will experience some spontaneous recall by relating to my story in your own way. It is in the dance through light and shadow that we all inevitably move through as part of our life’s journey, where we begin to make sense of the past and experience a deeper and more present fulfillment of purpose.

The Obscurity of Hidden Torment

Jun 14 2022

 

“No one comes here,

With a yearning for pain,

Or to journey through darkness,

In torment arcane. “

Walk the pavement in any urban center throughout the world and all around we find the sick and homeless, the helpless and the meek as they sleep wrapped up cardboard along alleyways and city streets. Some are relatively healthy, perhaps capable of working, others are destitute, compromised and suffering from physical and mental illnesses that preclude the capacity for self-care. The vast majority of us walk on by, either oblivious to, or in judgment of these poor souls. Heartlessly assigning condemnation for the pathetic outcome of their lives, we walk on by, hardly offering a cursory glance, or God forbid, stopping to toss a coin or two into their beggar’s cup. Whether they use the money for a fix or to buy a pittance of food is not the point. You don’t make an offering of any kind of support—a coin or two, a kind glance, a few warm words or whatever—for those in need, you do it for the expansion of your own heart center. Empathy and compassion is for the giver because in the moment of offering, we receive what it is that we give others.  It adds to the sorely lacking field of compassion and love to perform any act of kindness. Anyone of us could have ended up like them, save for the good graces of luck and opportunity. No one seeks suffering and to live in the obscurity of hidden torment. No matter how a life story may have unfolded in the countless unexpected and tragic circumstances that can befall a human being, everyone is innocent and worthy of a moment of love and understanding.

It is not just the marginalized who suffer. It seems to be ubiquitous to the human condition because there is a common thread running through the entire human race, that of trauma. There are those who experience childhood trauma, whether defined in the form of physical and mental abuse or any other lack of love, whose genetic predisposition will trigger a trajectory of behavioral issues or a long list of psychopathological outcomes. What follows us into adulthood and shapes our life story is a complex unfolding of emotional experience starting at birth that results in a plethora of mostly unpredictable outcomes.

We live in a world defined by conflict, suffering and disease, some more profound in their pain than others. The lucky ones live in developing countries with access to the latest developments in life saving medical science, but the vast majority of humanity is caught up in the throes of abject survival.  Even in the most modern countries, the incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancers, infections, mental disorders, diabetes and kidney diseases, respiratory diseases and a long list of disorders are at an all time high. Depression and psychopathology have an effect, in one way or another, on almost all of us. Drug and alcohol addictions are rampant across a wide range of age groups with the opioid epidemic in recent years resulting in the death of many young people.

One thing is certain; to be born and to grow into adulthood on planet earth is necessarily a passage through the struggle of learning hard, how to be human. For some it may be relatively seamless, for others there is great physical and mental turmoil, but all things considered, life is not easy for anyone. The search for meaning and fulfillment is universal to human existence and is a rite of passage on the journey between birth and death.

Down on Rocky Port Road               Word and Music by Lloyd Tosoff

 

Verse 1

He was standing by the highway

Where the traffic comes to a red light

10 degrees or colder

I’m talkin’ Fahrenheit

He held the sign up higher

It said winter’s comin’ on

His face was worn and leathered

Ragged clothes haggard and drawn

 

Chorus 2

He’s somebody’s brother

Not just some wayward soul

A victim of misfortune

Nobody wants to know

Just another casualty

Who preys upon society

An outcast left out in the cold

Down on Rocky Port Road

 

Verse 2

I watched from a distance

Kept my business to myself

Threadbare he pled his case

I watched him shiver cold as hell

He held that sign up higher

Like somebody gave a damn

When the light turned green

He stood tall like it was his last stand

 

Bridge

Pulled up a tattered blanket just as the snow began

How did we become so heartless here in the Promise Land

All around the sick and homeless helpless and the meek

Sleep wrapped up cardboard along these city streets

 

Verse

It was almost dark as the snow came down on that road into Nolensville

Where the crime is low and it’s a good life where the lucky ones get their fill

A nice warm bed and a little money and people that you       love

Here in the land of life and liberty some never have enough

So have a little heart and show a little love, try to understand

Roll down your window, reach out your hand

©Lloyd Tosoff

Are the Good Times Gone?

Jun 1 2022

 

It has been the ego’s dark curtain of fear that has manifested all manner of hateful acts perpetrated by men driven at the domination of others. Since the end of WW2 and the defeat of Nazi tyranny, however, there was newfound hope as we have traversed a path that promised a future paved in peace and prosperity. It was a respite from eons of human conflict after what was seemingly a righteous war between the forces of good and evil at the cost of millions of lives.

There was even greater hope towards lasting peace when in November of 1989 the fall of the Berlin Wall symbolized a new paradigm of global common interest and further economic prosperity. 70 years later, we now face an uncertain world led by men of low character, bent on power who are leading us into a dystopian future where our freedom and the hard-fought rights of democracy are at risk of being extinguished.

It is clear that the societal norms that once defended the rights and freedoms of the people are under attack, as is evidenced by the US Supreme Court’s position, tainted by the religious beliefs of judges whose medieval perspectives are bent at returning us to the dark ages. The recent leak of a draft opinion on the Roe v. Wade abortion issue was, albeit illegal, a necessary act intended on bringing light to the court’s politically driven attempt to undermine women’s rights. Unfortunately, the courageous soul who leaked the draft is now sought after by an outrageous investigation that includes the confiscation of the personal cell phone records of the court’s law clerks. This invasive act by a court that has outlived its independent role as a fair-minded judiciary, is evidence that freedom is no longer free and that we are indeed headed for the future shock of a brave new world run by artificial intelligence and leaders lacking in human values. The implications are frightening, and we should fear for the wellbeing of our future generations.

The absence of social connection and basic respect for all people is the cause of a profound lack of human values and virtues, not the least of which is trust. Without honesty, trust, tolerance, civility and empathy for our fellow humans, fear proliferates and gives rise to conflict, misunderstanding and divisive separate interests. There has been an ever-widening gap between those who strive for power and those who are, perhaps by a conflation of a deeply flawed system and by their own hand, willing to sacrifice their God given power of choice and voice for change. Sadly, it is but we who allow the Donald Trumps and Putins of the world to spread their hateful, bigoted lies and poison.

Guns and endless violence now define our world here in North America. Government leaders in the US conveniently attribute the epidemic proliferation of mass murders, occurring at an unprecedented rate, to mental illness in the mostly young male shooters who perpetrate these unthinkable acts. Politically motivated and blind to the reality of a paranoid society that has been brainwashed to lust after weapons more than they are committed to life and liberty and to protect their innocent children, these so-called leaders of the free world do nothing but watch as thousands of their citizens are slaughtered. According to the CDC, tens of thousands of children have met their deaths by guns in recent times.

The insanity is not in misguided teenagers, but within the incompetent minds of so-called leaders that cannot comprehend that assault weapons are for military use and have no place in the hands of the general populace no matter the age group. No other developing country on the planet, not even oppressive regimes like China and Russia, see an endless slaughter of its people, by its people, like the United States of America. If the right to defend against your neighbor with deadly force is so fundamental to a constitution born of freedom and the pursuit of happiness, then it begs the question, who is the real enemy “scorching the earth in the land of the free?”

There is an enemy within the mindset of the American way of life and it is undermining the very constitutional idea that made America great in the first place. Guns kill because they are readily available to a societal culture wracked by fear, paranoia, and hate, where pointing a gun and pulling a trigger on a weapon designed to fire up to 10 rounds per second makes mindless retribution or cruel and perverted joy killing an easy outing. Many people in other countries are now unwilling to travel in the USA because they are afraid of being in the wrong place at the wrong time in a country that can no longer be trusted to ensure the innate freedoms promised by democracy. Such a sad outcome for what once was the greatest country on earth that like so many dynasties over history is coming undone from the inside out. “We are divided, once liberty’s children,” is a profound truth.

On a world scale, however, the same fear, paranoia and hate spawns warring cultures that have been with us since the beginning of time. The ultimate mass killing machine of nuclear weaponization is locked and loaded waiting for an opportunity to launch between multiple adversaries and now threatens our very existence. The time has come for each of us to look at our own inability to nurture relationships in the spirit of common interest and to self-enquire into the cause of our violent existence. Changing before we have to has never been more crucial than it is at this juncture in history. Once a critical mass of us is ready to do the work and willing move beyond the perverse instinct to kill, motivated by unhealed thwarted anger held in the deep recesses of the archetypical unconscious mind, there is the hope for a dramatic shift in the trajectory of what appears to be a dismal future. It may be too late.

Although the human condition has always been one wanting peace, it was during the golden years of democracy in the 50s where there was a new sense of togetherness, innocence, and the enjoyment of the good life for one and all. Sadly, it was short lived, and times have changed.

  Are the Good Times Gone?

Nothing means much of anything anymore,

Like it did in the golden years after the war,

When the brave paid for freedom at the cost of their lives,

And the lucky ones came home having barely survived.

In the great post war boom they built cities and towns,

Farmland and factories with enough to go round,

Leave it to Beaver and the middle-class dream,

Got buried in mire will it ever come clean?

Now we are divided,

Once liberty’s children,

Victims of a meaningless world,

Watching as an uncertain future unfolds,

In silence we witness the lies we are told,

Seems nothing means anything,

Everything’s gone,

Now anything goes,

Are the good times gone?

We’ve got children with handguns twisted by fear,

With a penchant to kill with assault weapon gear,

Now question yourself, who’s the worst enemy?

Scorching the earth in the land of the free!

It’s a virtual realm where no one is real,

Where fraudulent lies are the art of the deal,

Put your best fake news forward with your head in the clouds,

Put it up on Tik Tok, and you’re the life of the crowd.

Around and around this old karmic wheel goes,

Where it all ends nobody knows,

It’s a dance through the light and the shadows of doubt,

Keep shopping online till it’s time to check out.

©Lloyd Tosoff

A Medieval Time Warp

May 28 2022

 

It has been a topsy turvy world of economic rollercoaster rides, market crashes, world wars, endless détente, geopolitical standoffs, and nonstop wars since the turn of the 20th Century. The second decade of the new millennium has seen the world finally turned upside down, no longer recognizable or making any sense. A growing rift of global divisiveness and a widening wealth gap has spawned opposing factions in the US and Canada, with the Proud Boys on the right, Antifa on the left, and a growing movement of right-wing nationalism and radical extremism in western countries. Fanaticism is rousing fear and hate into demonstrations of unrestrained public violence around the world.

Any aware and thinking person must see the parallels to prewar Germany with Nazism returning in ways that should open our eyes to the risk of diminishing rights, freedom, and civility that has long been the foundation of western society. In the seventy-five years since the end of World War II, despite enjoying unprecedented economic abundance, only the top segment of society—the 1%—has prospered. Despite a surge in the standard of living during post war years, wages for working people have not kept up with rising inflation. The growing disparity between the elite and the vast majority who are disenfranchised, has resulted in the middle class feeling as if they are stuck in a no man’s land between big government and big business. The term no man’s land was originally used to define a contested territory or a dumping ground for refuse between fiefdoms. The notion of those who have and those who do not is apropos and speaks to the feeling among the marginalized that they are defeated, without hope and forced to eat shit by the system. It is the issue of opportunity that is at the center of inequity and racial discrimination in many developing countries. If the underprivileged were simply given support and a chance to improve their life situations through education alone, there would be a transformation in North American society. Yet, the first thing Donald Trump did when elected president was to reduce taxation of the elite and wealthy, leaving behind the populist movement who were dupped into believing they had found a political savior. Some in extreme left believe such elitist bias will never change until a revolutionary overhaul of the political system in the west is realized. In part, it is this deficit that is giving life to an authoritarian emergence.

Democracy itself is under attack, threatened by a growing movement determined to dismantle the system they feel has left them behind. We are approaching a critical mass with explosive and revolutionary implications that could end freedom loving democracies founded on free enterprise and capitalism around the world. The voice of the marginalized is growing louder and can no longer be ignored, otherwise we, no matter whether elite or the downtrodden, are destined to join the ranks of the oppressed under authoritarian rule.

We have never before in history, at least in western countries, to a large extent, been better educated, better informed and as a whole healthier, thanks to technological advances and discoveries in medical science over the span of the last 100 years. Yet, nothing in the realm of human values has really changed. If anything, the incidence of violent crime, preventable diseases, social decay, especially within out inner cities, grows with each passing year. The surge of massacres in schools and shopping centers in the US is an undeniable symptom of the underlying dysfunction and anger underlying a society riddled with malignancy.

Most of the world’s population live in a state of abject survival in third world countries, barely having food and living in ramshackle shelters. Objective knowledge has neither enlightened nor empowered us to change a troubled world. For all intents and purposes, we remain a society with a penchant for violence seemingly imprisoned in a Medieval time warp. The brave new world of a dystopian society envisioned by author Aldous Huxley under the absolute control of a single individual is now a growing reality in the face of Artificial Intelligence that is fast consuming the absence of human values and virtues. As the song lyric in the Author’s Note says, “seems nothing means anything, everything’s gone, now anything goes.”  While the world is a marvel of technological wizardry, it is at the same tine a wasteland of emotional and moral backwardness orchestrated by the super-rich and political villains whose feudal mentality and sordid ambitions, military or otherwise would have us return to the dark ages. Yet we watch as an uncertain future unfolds and in silence we witness the lies we are told.

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