jbram2002

I don't know what I don't know

183 posts in this topic

This journal is to help organize some of my thoughts about myself and the people around me. I encourage, no, request that anyone with insight jump in. I appreciate constructive criticism and feedback, and I know that simply talking to myself will not get me where I need to go. I know this because that's what I've done for the past ten years.

Some background: Ten years ago, I went on a spiritual journey of sorts. It wasn't as deep as many of those here, but it was a start. I took a hard look at myself, my beliefs, my thoughts, my knowledge and threw it all away. I learned an important lesson during that journey:

Quote

The first step in a spiritual journey is realizing that all you thought you knew could be false. The final step is the same.

From there, I've tried to build my belief system from the ground up, accepting truths from many sources. I've spent a lot of time in my head as I've delved into a myriad of topics on a theoretical level, from Tarot to BDSM to public speaking and leadership roles to politics. I've tried to keep an open mind about all the things I've come across, although I can't say I've accepted everything I've heard as truth. That would be crazy.

The problem is that I've had a lot of theory and almost no practice. I've never meditated, as I have a hard time shutting my mind down. I've attempted to several times in the past few weeks, but I never really felt like I had achieved it. I have a hard time accepting nonduality as a final state when duality is so useful in describing non-spiritual matters. I have a massive ego based around the knowledge I've gathered as I wish to be right more often than wrong. And I hate talking about myself, instead focusing on helping others. 

So this journal is going to be tough for me. I've never kept any sort of journal before, so I doubt I'll be able to write here daily unless I'm replying to people. To that end, I would appreciate any tips on how to start. Is there something that has spoken to you recently that you feel might help me to focus on? Are there any truths you wish to share? Feel free to post them and hold me accountable.

I realize I am close-minded still about some things. This forum may not even be a great fit for me as I disagree with Leo's methods in many ways. But it's a start, and we all must start somewhere.

I am willing to learn. Please teach me.


The first step on a spiritual journey is to realize that everything you know to be true could be false.
The final step is the same.

-=+=-

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My wife recently bought a deck of Tarot cards. When they arrived, she was surprised that I had spent some time studying Tarot. I'm by no means a master of it, but at the time, I knew more about Tarot than she did. I took the box that the cards came in and opened them, and with her permission, gave the cards their first shuffle, all the time thinking of her.

The Empress card seemed to show up over and over. Each time, I showed it to my wife because it stood out to me. I wasn't drawing cards, just shuffling, but it seemed that I would either cut the deck at the Empress, or she would show up at the bottom when I shuffled. I believe I saw the Empress six times in that short period of shuffling. 

For those who don't know Tarot, the Empress represents the mother. This link is a decent description of all of her details, but the short version is that she represents mothering, abundance, experiencing your senses, and nature. My wife is, whether she believes it or not, a perfect picture of the Empress. She spends a lot of effort in being a fantastic mother, and she is in tune with her senses and nature, far more than I ever have been. She works hard, helping our family welcome the abundance we are fortunate to experience.

She asked me what my favorite card was, and I responded with The Hanged Man. He represents taking a moment to let go of things, and in so doing, he can help control both himself and his destiny. The oxymoron of control through letting go has stuck with me for a long time, and I feel that's something I have done quite a bit in my own life.

Over time, she has drawn several readings for herself and me. When she does, I seem to come up as Strength, the ability to show compassion or being patient. She drew this card for me on the day we had our last big fight. I'm starting to wonder if that day it was drawn in reverse. I don't know what it means: is it something I should work on more, or a quality in me that she should focus on? Perhaps it's both, or perhaps it means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

After all, Tarot is only as powerful as you let it be.


The first step on a spiritual journey is to realize that everything you know to be true could be false.
The final step is the same.

-=+=-

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I love the quote ❤️

The most important thing that I've learned is that it's not about learning, it's about unlearning what we have learned.

I find one big obstacle with males starting the spiritual work is not wanting to give up the thinking mind.

And that's quite understandable, because the thinking mind has a great value to our survival.

While women on the other hand, think with their hearts (as cliché as it might sound).

The mind and the heart are metaphors, the truth is that there just is a thinking process that happens to be more rational (based more on logic and evidence) in males, and more emotional (based more on perceptions and stories) in females.

From males perspective, emotions seem cheesy and ridiculous.

From females perspective, rationality seems cold and boring.

So which one is right?

I think that both can be understood, but at the same time, both are partial.

The best approach I find is integration of both, although a male will still be highly rational, but he'll get to become more understanding of how females think, and how to connect with them, and also how to connect with himself and with life in general.

The same applies for females, by integrating rationality, they can become more independent and successful, and more realistic and pragmatic, that'll make them connect easily with the mind of males as well.

One book that helped me in understanding women was: "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus".

Are you familiar with Spiral Dynamics? I think it's a great model for understanding the self and the partner, and other people and societies in general.

It takes time and practice to integrate our feminine side as males, but it's worth it.

Sometimes even if you understand all that, it's still hard to understand women, because ironically, they themselves don't understand themselves!

But they'll appreciate that you even tried.

I kind of used your journal as mine because I don't have one, please forgive me for that.

❤️

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@Truth Addict Thanks for the reply! I'm always fine with you using my journal for your own insight. Anything I can do to help others will help me, after all.

I understand that I have a fairly logical and thinking mind, but unlike a lot of men, I think I'm also in tune with my emotions. However, I'm not an erratic emotional person where everyone can see what emotions are on my sleeve. I internalize a lot of my emotions because I need to be able to be there for my family. If the wife is acting emotional, then the kids and she need me to be calm. I've gotten probably too good at internalizing emotions over the years, but I still feel them.

I don't see emotions as cheesy or ridiculous. Love is, in my opinion, the most powerful force in the world. Hate isn't far behind, although many would say they're the same thing. Fear, Happiness, Depression all have their place in our lives. The problem is that I have a hard time knowing what causes another's emotions without it being explained, and when one is angry, explanations are kinda not on the table. I often tend to say or do the wrong thing when I think I'm doing the right thing, and it makes me feel like I shouldn't have even tried to begin with because then she'd just be annoyed at me not being present instead of yelling at me for saying the wrong thing. The former is easier to deal with, but it's not healthy to be distant all the time. When it happens a lot tho... you tend to want to give up.

I think I have heard of Spiral Dynamics, but I don't know anything beyond the name. Do you have the quick version of it, or perhaps some resource I could look into?


The first step on a spiritual journey is to realize that everything you know to be true could be false.
The final step is the same.

-=+=-

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I'm planning to watch Brene Brown: The Call to Courage tonight. I would post a link, but it's on Netflix. I'm not sure if this aids in enlightenment, but at the very least, it should aid in understanding myself.


The first step on a spiritual journey is to realize that everything you know to be true could be false.
The final step is the same.

-=+=-

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Posted (edited)

There is a specific video for each stage (the most important ones).

Edited by Truth Addict

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3 hours ago, jbram2002 said:

I'm planning to watch Brene Brown: The Call to Courage tonight. I would post a link, but it's on Netflix. I'm not sure if this aids in enlightenment, but at the very least, it should aid in understanding myself.

So, this video wasn't quite what I expected when I heard about it, but I'm remaining open to it. I think she has plenty of things that she can teach me. Keep in mind that a lot of this talk is about being vulnerable, putting yourself out there, and not just risking failure but knowing you will fail and dealing with that failure. Some parts that stood out to me:

===

"The deal is that you have to be very specific about people whose opinions of you matter.... [R]eally solicit feedback from the people that do give you good feedback. And you know who makes that list? ... People who love you, not despite your imperfection and vulnerability, but because of your imperfection and vulnerability."

---

She talked about a vacation she was on with her husband. They were both professional swim coaches, and they were on this long vacation at a lake. As they swam across the lake, she told her husband that she felt so connected with him. What was his response? "Yeah, water's good." She was mad because he didn't say he shared the same connection, so she planned to talk to him when they got back. He'd ask her what's for breakfast, and she would say, "Oh right, because while we're on vacation, I'm in charge of breakfast, and lunch, dinner, packing, unpacking, bug spray...." But instead, she asks him when they get to the dock why he wasn't connecting, and he said "I don't want to do this with you."

"It's just the story I'm telling myself" - What some of the most resilient people say. Seems to be in common with nearly everyone she has researched.

The story she was telling herself at that moment was that either he was disappointed she couldn't keep up with him after 25 years of desk work, or he thought she looked ugly in the swimsuit after 20 years and two kids. His response? "I don't know what you were saying to me in the water. I was trying to not panic [in the deep water] and just counting strokes."

When looking at what women are most ashamed of, it's often body image. When looking at men are most ashamed of, it's often being perceived as weak.

"You show me a guy who can sit with a woman who is in a state of fear and vulnerability and not fix anything but just listen... I'll show you a guy who's done his work and doesn't derive his power and status from being the fixer of all things." 

"We usually reserve using someone's vulnerability against them for the people we love the most. Why? Because we're scared when we see vulnerability in other people."

---

There's a difference between "fitting in" and "belonging." Fitting in is just doing what's expected of you: saying the right things, doing what others expect, wearing the right cloths. Belonging is being true to yourself first and never betraying yourself for other people. True belonging doesn't require you to change who you are. It requires you to be who you are, and that's vulnerable.

---

When we lose our capacity for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding. It becomes scary to let ourselves feel it. The people who really practice joy without thinking about the negative possibilities all practice one thing: gratitude. But gratitude is also vulnerable. Is it dangerous to say I'm grateful for something? Because then someone (God?) might be listening who can say "Ooh, I can take that away." She gave an example about someone deciding to not share pictures of their children with someone who had lost a child. The latter sees this refusal and says not only are you not sharing your stories of your child, but me talking about mine is obviously not on the table either. Our gratitude can be healing to others, and we rarely think about it that way.

---

"I get so busy sometimes chasing the extraordinary moments that I don't pay attention to the ordinary moments."

---

Sometimes you should just do the joyful thing for the hell of it. Don't worry about a return on your investment. Spend time without purpose.

---

"No vulnerability = no creativity. No tolerance for failure = no innovation. It's that simple: If you're not willing to fail, you can't innovate. If you're not willing to build a vulnerable culture, you can't create."

---

"You're going to learn about blind spots that you didn't even know you had. And then you're going to be grateful for that moment, and take learning it into your own hands, not make other people responsible for teaching it, and that's how you move forward."

---

Vulnerability is not weakness. We were raised to believe that courage is a positive goal, but there is no courage without risk. We were raised to believe that being vulnerable makes us weak. We should be brave, but never put ourselves out there for failure. How does that even work?

===

I think I needed to watch this video even though it wasn't what I expected. I'm not extremely uncomfortable with vulnerability, but I'm also not generally willing to put myself out there either. There were a lot of truths she shared. I'm not sure if all of them fit on this forum or not, but I certainly needed to hear some of these things. If anyone has Netflix, I recommend you search her video and listen. It's a little over an hour long, but Leo puts out longer videos than that. Shouldn't be too hard to watch, right? ^_^ 

Honestly, I'm sitting here wondering if I should post this. But wouldn't it be hypocritical if I didn't? Thank you if you read the whole thing.


The first step on a spiritual journey is to realize that everything you know to be true could be false.
The final step is the same.

-=+=-

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Posted (edited)

12 hours ago, Truth Addict said:

There is a specific video for each stage (the most important ones).

I ran out of free time past night and wasn't able to get to this. I will try to watch it tonight. <3 

Edited by jbram2002
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The first step on a spiritual journey is to realize that everything you know to be true could be false.
The final step is the same.

-=+=-

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14 hours ago, jbram2002 said:

Fear, Happiness, Depression all have their place in our lives. The problem is that I have a hard time knowing what causes another's emotions without it being explained, and when one is angry, explanations are kinda not on the table.

From not knowing who we truly are, thinking builds a false set of beliefs about the self, in the spirit of protection. This limits our emotional connectivity to our source. 

As we go through life with this limited connection, misunderstandings compile. 

When someone or a situation brings this to light, the protective mechanisms are deployed - but unconsciously (we actually aren’t aware of what we’re doing and why). 

As we continue in the ignorance of who we really are, we practice (unconsciously) ignore-ance of the very emotions which are not actually suppressable. 

In misunderstanding our own emotions, and avoiding & suppressing them, we create what is referred to as, fear. 

This is actually not an easy task to keep up, so we thinking weaves in the past to justify the avoidance and we call this sensation anxiety.

Thinking also weaves in the future to justify this veil, and we call this sensation depression. 

Neither fear nor depression are actual. They are misunderstanding we actually create ourselves. (The sensations are actual. What thinking says about it is not actual. Or, not pain, but rather, suffering)

 

 

 


  Nonduality & Meditations         

Empty your head, fulfill your heart       

 

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Posted (edited)

9 hours ago, jbram2002 said:

You show me a guy who can sit with a woman who is in a state of fear and vulnerability and not fix anything but just listen... I'll show you a guy who's done his work and doesn't derive his power and status from being the fixer of all things." 

This is the part that is stuck with me the most. This is how I show love: by helping people fix their problems. Sometimes I forget that it's unwanted at times. So I'm starting a new Journey now: I'm going to try to avoid offering my wife advice without her asking for it.

To me, this feels unloving and borderline hateful. It makes me feel like my main method of connecting with her will be gone. You could say it makes me feel vulnerable. But it's what she needs, and I would do anything to help her.

Update: I'm so bad at this but I have already failed about five times in as many minutes this morning.

Edited by jbram2002

The first step on a spiritual journey is to realize that everything you know to be true could be false.
The final step is the same.

-=+=-

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Posted (edited)

@Nahm I feel that it's a little bit difficult for me to dedicate the time that I need to really absorb some of this in a timely manner. On the other hand, I have the rest of my life. I will try to spend some time tonight looking through that paper and giving your words some thought.

Edited by jbram2002

The first step on a spiritual journey is to realize that everything you know to be true could be false.
The final step is the same.

-=+=-

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Posted (edited)

10 hours ago, jbram2002 said:

"You show me a guy who can sit with a woman who is in a state of fear and vulnerability and not fix anything but just listen... I'll show you a guy who's done his work and doesn't derive his power and status from being the fixer of all things."

By all means, sit and listen to a woman that is afraid and vulnerable... if you're a kind stranger.
If, however, she's afraid of your shared future - this advice is suicidal.
I wonder how many girlfriends can listen to their own faults as they are perceived by a vulnerable woman in a state of fear.

Edited by tsuki

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What is man?

Some would say a miserable pile of secrets. Some would tell you what he is not: an island. Is he an artist? Is he a monster?

Is he not simply who he is?

Why is that hard to accept?


The first step on a spiritual journey is to realize that everything you know to be true could be false.
The final step is the same.

-=+=-

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We can never appreciate who others are if we don't know who we are. And they are the only ones who can show us the light. 

:x

 

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And without seeing the Shadows, it's hard to appreciate the Light.

I need to identify my own Shadows and deal with them, either by accepting them or by making sure they don't overtake what makes me me. I need to dig beneath my Persona and see what lies under the mask. 

I tried watching the spiral dynamics video last night, but it was too late and I was struggling to not fall asleep. I know I've heard the basics, but I have a hard time memorizing what each stage color stands for. I will try again when I can dedicate more focus. 


The first step on a spiritual journey is to realize that everything you know to be true could be false.
The final step is the same.

-=+=-

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I was talking about the elements with my wife yesterday as we sat by a river swollen with ice melt. I've spent far too long deconstructing the classical elements, creating connections and drawing lines where they shouldn't be drawn. Take all of this with a grain of salt, as it probably spits in the face of the classical understanding of the elements. I also understand that some of this is spoken from a dualistic mindset. Please bear with the dualistic terms and apply them in a nondualistic way in your mind.

One thing I've known for far longer than even the start of my spiritual journey is that I identify with the Water element. I am a Cancer sign (although I don't currently put much stock in astrology). I spent all my formative years on the ocean's shore. I work in view of the same ocean, and it calms me. My first foray into meditation involved staring at moving water, either a babbling brook or the waves on the shore. Water flows. It's loving, life-giving, and predictable. However, it's also harsh when needed, being able to weather down the toughest Earth. Water flows through all living things, yet is simultaneously one of the most dangerous chemicals known to man. It dissolves more minerals than any other liquid that I know of, including harsh acids. Its density with respect to temperature is a crazy curve where it actually expands as it freezes. And somehow, it's one of the few molecules that is naturally abundant in all three states of matter: solid (ice), liquid, and gas (vapor). Water is often seen as a feminine element due to its life-giving properties, but men can harness this power too.

There are generally four classical elements in the wheel: Air, Water, Earth, and Fire (some models have Wood or Metal added in as a fifth element). When the four classical elements are unified, they represent Aether (sometimes called Spirit). Aether has been called many things throughout history: void, magic, mana, the Force are all representations of Aether in one way or another. Aether can also be considered responsible for things like paranormal activity, ESP, etc. It's the element that binds all things in the universe together.

The four classical elements have been broken down by many others. I'm no expert. But I feel like something is missing. Nearly everyone has a dominant element in their lives, in my opinion. There may also be a secondary or opposing element that contests with the dominant one, but most people in tune with themselves should be able to say which of the four elements they represent with some clarity. What happens when two elements work together?

colored-classical-four-elements-colored-

I apologize if the above image is hard to read. Many people have combined the elements together in this way to explain how things "feel." Wet is Water + Air, while Water + Earth is cold. Fire + Earth is dry, and Fire + Air is hot. This... somewhat makes sense, but to me, it's a bit boring and doesn't really dig into how things interact. What if you're a Water personality, and you're dating or married to an Earth personality? What does this mean? Does it mean your relationship is cold? I don't believe so. I came up with a different elemental wheel.

Fire + Air = Lightning
Fire + Earth = Metal
Water + Air = Ice
Water + Earth = Wood

If a Water (emotional, life-giving) personality combines with Earth (solid, foundation), you get a nurturing relationship like Mother Nature. If a Fire (Impulsive, expressive) personality combines with Air (Intellectual but fickle), sparks tend to fly. This is a good picture for neighboring elements, but what about opposing elements?

I haven't seen much material about how Fire and Water personalities interact (I'm sure it's out there) or Air and Earth personalities. I think a lot of people simply believe opposing elements are incompatible. If you mix fire with water, the water turns to steam and the fire is smothered. Air and Earth are as different as Night and Day. But when you push past these boundaries, I feel like you can tap into something far greater and deeper:

Air + Earth: Holy 
Fire + Water: Arcane 

Holy and Arcane, two elements we see used all the time in video game or television media, but are never truly explored in our own lives. We tend to see these elements as "magic" or otherwise unobtainable, but each of us has Good and Evil within them. Nonduality tells us that Good and Evil are all the same, but in this example, Good aligns with Holy, and Evil aligns with Arcane. I'm not saying Fire and Water is a demonic combination that only brings out the worst in people. Instead, it can be a combination that allows people to examine their Shadows, fully realize the deeper and darker parts of themselves, and utilize that knowledge. When used carefully, knowledge of evil can be utilized for great Good in the world.

However, this goes even deeper. Once someone has truly tapped into their potentials for examining their Arcane and Holy side, they then can begin to explore the Aether. Some people achieve this by opening their chakras, others through meditation and enlightenment. The Arcane and Holy could be looked at as Shadows (Id) and Personas (Ego), the repressed and visible aspects of our psyche. But we need to fully understand and deconstruct those things before we can reach the next step.

I am Water. My wife is Fire. Without Shadows, we can never see the Light. How far can this go?


The first step on a spiritual journey is to realize that everything you know to be true could be false.
The final step is the same.

-=+=-

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A sincere question: what is the goal of meditation?

I was always told that you had to empty your mind and let the thoughts float past without grasping at them. It's definitely a calming practice, and I use deep breathing if my emotions are taking over to great effect. But I've also heard that they can provide great insight. How does one obtain insight if their mind isn't allowed to grasp the thoughts that surface? Is there a point where one should stop meditating and begin pondering? If you don't ponder a passing thought, how do you write it into your memory? 

Or is there a form of meditation that actually requires deep thought? Are you supposed to spend the time searching within your mind to determine the truth? Or is this just an egoic fallacy?


The first step on a spiritual journey is to realize that everything you know to be true could be false.
The final step is the same.

-=+=-

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The answer to your questions is, as always: it depends.

I treat meditation techniques as lessons. They give me a nugget of truth that I can embody in my everyday way of being.
There is a form of meditation that is dependent on thought, deep thinking, but it is destructive in nature.
You use thoughts to deconstruct your mind, to understand the lens through which you perceive the world.
The point is to discard those lenses and see more clearly.

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@jbram2002 Remember that night we had to clear all the stuff out of the house so they could renovate the upstairs? Remember all the fighting in the rain? xD Demolition and construction can't take place until you take all the shit out. 

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