"February 18, 2015," by Flickr user David Gabriel Fischer. www.thezendiary.com
“February 18, 2015,” by Flickr user David Gabriel Fischer. www.thezendiary.com

When I look in the mirror these days I’m shocked that the old and withered face I see doesn’t reflect the way I think or feel. The image makes me acutely aware of how differently I’m viewed by people with whom I come into contact. Strangers see me as an old and irrelevant man – three steps from the nursing home. My friends know differently. And I feel more vital than I ever have in the non-physical dimensions of my life.

It strikes me that we can’t put a lot of weight in how others may view us, and we may want to question how well we observe ourselves. I’m less interested about the gap between my self image and the external view of who I am, than I am concerned about the inaccuracy and incompleteness of my own view – of myself and others.

In Totality and Infinity, Emmanuel Levinas suggests that each of us is far more than others observe or that we observe in ourselves. He implores us to fully attend to each other and to appreciate the wholeness and possibility in every person.

In Hunyuan Whole Entity Qigong Theory, Dr. Pang Ming adds substance to Levinas’s point of view from an Eastern perspective. Dr. Ming reveals how each of our organs has specific functions and can do far more than we realize through familiar ways of thinking and being. He refers to shen, jing, and qi (spirit, body, and energy) as the three essential components of our life, and the fascinating possibilities they have when playing harmoniously with each other. A “non-familiar” intelligence is required to optimize the impact of shen and qi (spirit and energy) on our bodily functioning. The trick is to awake qi, energize jing, and welcome the mastery of shen (spirit) in our lives. The challenge is to be able to observe all three.

Ming goes on to discuss consciousness and morality as they relate to these three essences of our being. For highly evolved people, consciousness can become material and can exert a healing force internally and externally. I’m sure the scientific reductionists will smirk at this notion, but it certainly takes the limits off our potential and encourages perceiving ourselves and others not only in totality but also with infinite possibility.

Ken Wilber, author of Integral Spirituality describes consciousness as the Witness. The Witness is at both the center and the expanse of awareness – creatively detached from mind, body, emotions, thoughts, and feelings. It is the transcendent self. The Witness does not chase experiences; it simply observes each moment in its fullness and emptiness.

As I observe the emotional, spiritual, and intellectual dimensions of my life, I notice they are taking on more importance because they offer the chance and choice to grow continually until time takes its final toll. Even though I take terrific care and make great effort to stay in shape physically, I know that’s a losing battle. Whereas I used to run a mile in less than 5 minutes, it now takes me at least 14 minutes of walking to cover the same distance. I also know that my memory continues to grow fuzzier and fades with each passing year. I can no longer recall quickly, precisely, and sharply the specific events and people that have shaped my life. On the other hand, I keep getting feedback that my writing continues to improve in prose and power and I keep feeding my neurons with lots of reading.

Overall, I accept the physical losses and mental lapses, and I feel grateful for the richness of my emotional and spiritual lives. The connections with my friends and family continue to deepen, and I experience more compassion for people in every walk of life. (Yes, I admit to being less than tolerant and welcoming in my earlier days.) Now, I find it easier to forgive myself and others for differences as well as imperfections.

Spiritually, my meditation and qi gong practices have helped me to reduce the negative emotions in my life (with the exception of election madness) as well the over-heated imagination I have always carried related to being special or particularly significant. I accept the fact that I will be just another bug on the windshield of history. I’m just hoping to avoid being splatted on a careless car before that time comes. I have fewer desires and less greed – what a relief that is.

I recently got a new set of glasses with a prescription that enables me to see sharply and clearly in all conditions and for all requirements (reading, driving, walking in the sunshine). Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could get a prescription for the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual dimensions of our lives that would help us to see clearly in all conditions and for all requirements? Fortunately, those prescriptions actually exist and more and more people are open to trying them.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, Calm Clarity is available if you want to think straight and create in a peaceful state (www.calmclarity.org). Qi Gong is widely available if you want to connect with formless and nameless forces and sources and live in harmony with nature (www.chilelqigong.com). If you want to be a “BettterU” by improving your ability to focus, relax, and connect, check out this link. Opportunities abound for enriching and elevating our lives. Sadly, some still prefer Adderall, alcohol, and hundreds of other highly promoted drugs that numb our ability to see clearly.

Observation skills can be learned and mastered. We can acquire and apply skills to tune into and read feelings, energy levels, relationships and values. We can notice when our kids our sad or happy. We can see the playfulness and pleasure in each others’ hearts. We can read energy levels. We can appreciate the thoughtfulness of our friends’ attempt to discern what’s going on in the world. We just need to look. We just need to see. We just need to be open up to each others’ totality and infinity.

Observation cuts both ways. We need to turn toward and observe ourselves when we close down or get defensive about our comfortable, old ways, so that we are able to open up to new ways we hadn’t imagined. We need to observe what we are carrying and let it go before we can free ourselves from the baggage or conditioning that holds us back. We need to take a close look at our hostility, fear, or insecurity in order to make space for magic in our lives. We need to observe whatever trauma we have experienced or tension we are currently experiencing. Accept it. Forgive it. Witness it. Be compassionate. Let it go. Make room for harmony instead.

Let me take a risk here. I currently finished ready Pussy: A Reclamation by Regena Thomashauer – better known as Mama Gena. And, no, it’s not about finding a lost cat. In addition to being an outrageously provocative challenge to the way to think about pleasure, sensuality, and sexuality, it’s also an incredibly compelling story of a woman who risked everything to establish a multi-million dollar business teaching women how to embrace their divine feminine and expand their radiance. Hey, it took a lot more courage for her to say and do what she did than it takes for me to admit I read it and heartily recommend it.

Independent of your reaction to her philosophy, her point of view, or her pursuit of pleasure, the book will give you plenty to witness about yourself. It is truly a treasure trove of observational opportunity – freeing and expanding for men and women. If nothing else, observe your reactions as you read it. Notice when you are feeling radiant or repressed. Observe how luminous your radiance can be when you are fully turned on to life.

When I look in the mirror these days, I observe the wrinkles and sags, but look beyond them to see what’s still unfolding. It’s definitely a journey.

Given the recent discussions in the news about objectifying language and predatory behavior, it seems to me we could all benefit from a refreshing and revolutionary shift in the culture. Perhaps, as a society, we could take a close look in the mirror to see more clearly how we regard each other in limiting ways. Hopefully, as a result, we will all become more conscious of looking beyond physical appearance and seeing the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual possibilities in each other.

I hope we will all begin to observe our demons as well as our divinity and smile on both. Stay focused on what’s important. Let go of what’s not.  And open up to being radiant.

Also published on Medium.

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Ricky: you continue to amaze! Thank you once again for reminding me (us) to open our minds to new behaviors and to be our better angels. I love you my brother! RonnyDonny


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