Feminism

The Enemy Of Feminism

A ChainLabels often lead to misunderstandings but right now I feel like putting this label out there for greater clarity.  I’m a feminist. I’m a feminist in a big, unapologetic way.

Feminism is a movement that says all human beings are equal, are of equal worth, and have the inherent right to live free from the shackles of prescribed gender roles and the institutions which were built around them.

The energy described as femininity has long been oppressed in both men and women, leaving both at a disadvantage.  This created a history where women, and the feminine energy in men, continually suffered marginalization and disenfranchisement.

As a feminist I am free to say that I accept your life choices, whether you are a man or woman, and honor your individual journey.  Feminism, like other movements aligned with the natural progression of the universe towards justice, love, and peace, is at its core one more pointer towards the inherent unity of life.

One of the great aspects of feminism that I admire in the women and men who act upon its principles is the ability to look again.  Feminism takes a look at what our minds have created and asks whether or not they are true and useful.  It asks, is the manner in which I am treating and perceiving a person and her choices based upon the lens of my own life experience?  It asks, can I gain new insights by looking at human beings that seem different from me, free from the story my mind has already created about them?

The enemy of feminism isn’t men and it isn’t women.  The enemy of feminism isn’t ignorant bloggers who have large audiences that are quick to agree with their unexamined inflammatory judgments.  The enemy of feminism is not women who behave this way or that way.

What is the enemy of a person attempting to look upon other human beings in a new way, regardless of their previous assumptions?  That, of course, is the ego itself.    The ego is created when who you are gets all wrapped up with the thoughts that you have.  Strong opinions, stories, assumptions, and an us-versus-them mentality is the birthplace and breeding ground for the ego.  This is also why, for all the ego’s hatred of the meaning of feminism, it loves the label, it loves the thought that it can then use as fuel for its pseudo-life. If feminism is more than just a bundle of thoughts in your mind that you do or do not identify with, then you are experiencing its meaning beyond ego.

So before you go judging women and men for sharing their unique life experiences from their perspectives, laugh at the voice in your head.  If you can do that, the voice in your mind hasn’t become the ego, and you can still enact the principles of feminism by seeing the true worth of every human being from freshly unveiled eyes.

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Peace

How To Deal With Other People

HopeWhat can you accept in other human beings?  If we look within, most of us will find that there is a certain level of “otherness” we are able to accept, beyond which tolerance dissolves.

This is more obviously the case when we examine our feelings towards people who are dangerous, break laws, or don’t adhere to societal norms of behavior.  On a more subtle level, I see it on the CTA during Chicago’s morning commute, when two people have a loud conversation instead of scrolling through their iPhones.   In that moment a humorously clear gulf is created between the quiet majority, and the atypical loud morning conversationalists.

What creates this separation between people?  It is born of thoughts and opinions in the mind that are completely bought into.  Luckily this can be overcome more easily than it would appear, even in the face of humanity’s long history of alienating others who seem too different to allow.

When you are able to observe these thoughts as they happen, you haven’t immediately identified with them and taken them as truth.  When you see thoughts of separation in the mind, that witnessing provides the choice between alienation and inclusion.  It provides the opportunity to not accept judgment of others as absolute truth.  Before peace becomes more noticeable on a societal level, this small decision will be building its firm foundation.

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consciousness

How To Complain

Have you ever let go of a persistent unhelpful pattern of thought?  As I’ve attempted to let go of automatic thought patterns I’ve noticed that my mind has no shortage of other patterns that work just as efficiently as fuel for thought.

One of the easiest thought patterns to get trapped in is complaining.  Complaining can be effortless, especially when it involves a situation where a correction really needs to be made.  But situations can be righted in ways that don’t create personal blame, negative energy, and food for more autopilot thinking.  A helpful question to ask before complaining about a situation is, “Am I taking this personally?”  Right away a space is created between your reaction and your conscious self.

I’ve been too excited about the rebroadcast of Oprah and Tolle’s A New Earth web-series, and I love the following video because it so clearly lays out the two ways to complain, their consequences, and how to end up with your desired outcome.

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Inspiration

How To Be Abundant In The Midst Of Lack

photo-14In the middle of the night as I lay in bed drifting off to sleep during a particularly humorous episode of Futurama, I had the idea to check my bank account and bills.  This one small thought, instantly acted upon, led me to attempt to figure out how everything is going to work out with a looming credit card bill, rent just having been deducted, and a future with a job funded by a grant that is a few months away from ending.

In unconscious moments the ego easily gains a strong hold on your attention. It presents thoughts that you already strongly identify with, in moments where you will follow those thoughts to the point of action, creating a reality not based upon real life, but upon a thought pattern.

It was all too easy to stay awake even longer with a train of thought that I kept running after as if it could somehow help me.

That is the illusion.  Identification with thought always seems like it will benefit you, because thoughts are created to promote themselves.  Thoughts are quite good at convincing your attention they are important and necessary often to the detriment of your actual welfare and living reality.

I could see, as the night dwindled, I was being taken in not only by thought patterns but also by negative emotions, and however attractive that negative energy may seem at the time, it cannot improve any situation.  The night eventually set me about sleeping.

SnowToday Chicago is a blanket of luminescent snow, a task to navigate through but incredible to behold.  The abundance of life is making itself impossible to miss.  It is everywhere and affects everything around it.  An abundance of snow is an outward manifestation of the nature of the universe, of life itself.  The fact of the outer existence of form is the evidence of the overflowing abundance of the ether, of God.

Creation, abundance, life begins in the formless, it begins within.  The formless is the foundation from which all outer form manifests. For all of the things in this world, like money, love, enjoyment, knowledge, we first must set the platform from which it will manifest outwardly in form.  There has to be an inner reality first.

No matter how many reasons your mind gives you to worry, and believe that your immediately perceived situation is your end-all be-all, you will not achieve change or prosperity until you experience the reality of abundance within yourself, as yourself.  You are living proof of an abundant universe where we have the opportunity to exist and thrive, and for our needs to be met and exceeded.

Experiment with feeling abundance in the present moment.  Look around and see the abundance of things, of electricity, of water, of snow, of people, and know that it is your reality.  For me, when I get into a place where all I see is lack I take a little while to snap out of it.  Listing in your mind what you are grateful for can help bring you into a prosperous state and give you a real experience of the abundant nature of the universe. Then with a clear mind and an open heart you can observe the transformation of your situation, however it may look.

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consciousness

What Just Happened?

NYE

New Year’s Eve Dinner at Bop and Mimi’s

It seems only a moment ago I was sitting in front of the fireplace at my grandparents’ house feeling completely at ease with my loving family all around me.

Annually in the weeks leading up to New Year’s Day my cousins from New Jersey stay at my grandparents’ house in the Chicago suburbs, along with my Uncle Joe from California, and we truly have ourselves a time.  Every day is filled with one delightful activity after another, always followed by a home cooked meal, and lounging around while enjoying each other’s presence.

Pancake House

Brother Joey, Cousins Jessica, Miriam, and Annie

After our time together we all return to our respective locations; I leave the suburbs and return to my apartment in Chicago.  Hopes and dreams for the new year usually don’t begin to creep into my consciousness until several weeks after my cousins have left.

When launching back into my usual situation I have to first focus on acceptance.  Good or bad, when change occurs I easily identify with the situation.  My thoughts and feelings become based upon the change I experience.  Whether I react to the transition with great sadness, or with great expectations for the future, the nonacceptance is the ego taking hold. Because I hold onto nonacceptance, my actions become out of alignment with the present moment.

Cousins

Joey, Miriam, Katie, and Jessica on Christmas Eve

It is now my intention to send love to what has been, and allow myself to return to the only moment where such joy and love as I experienced with my family can ever exist, right now

Is there anything, good or bad, on which you have a strong internal grip?  Take a breath and allow it to be as it was.  Now give yourself permission to come back to what is real, come back to the present.

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Inspiration

Why I Changed My Mind About Sam Harris

A few weeks ago my aunt Nancy sent me a video that blew me away.  I was about to share it when I discovered the speaker was none other than Sam Harris, a popular critic of religion.

That same evening after I decided posting something by Harris wouldn’t be in keeping with my own views and intentions of peace and unity, I posted an entirely different video and received an email that another blogger had “liked” it along with a list of popular posts to check on their blog.  The first post I saw written by this blogger was entitled, “Atheist Sam Harris changed my perception of him forever when he said this.”  I was led right back to the video I had tried to stay away from.

I was snapped out of my identification with my own views, along with the thoughts and opinions I had attached Sam Harris to. Human beings are not the thoughts they think, the opinions they hold, or the perceptions others have of them.  My perception of who another person is will never come close to the reality of their being.  Now, after letting go of the need to know who Sam Harris is, it is clear to see that attaching myself to a judgement about another person will cut me off from experiencing the gifts they offer to the world.

It is with an open mind, and understanding heart, that I gladly share this beautiful moment of presence:

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consciousness

What I Know About You

Katie, Joey, and GregA few weeks ago I heard a speaker on education, but instead of learning about adolescent behavior I was taught a lesson in the behavior of my own mind.  A person in the back of the auditorium had been chatting throughout the session, and my mind was not okay with it.  Instead of focusing on that which I had showed up for, my thoughts were preoccupied with judgement.  Even afterwards when the event had passed and was no more than a thought in my mind, I chose to keep the memory of a person I deemed “rude” alive through further internal judgement, not to mention commiserating with my friend who had also noticed this slight disruption.

In my last post I celebrated the incomprehensible mystery that is every individual human being.  When my mind was busy judging a person for behavior I felt was unacceptable I was operating completely unaware of this intrinsic truth.

How do we foster compassion for other human beings when it is so easy to reduce them into nothing more than thoughts in our heads?  The following video with author Karen Armstrong, on Super Soul Sunday, offers concrete tools for experiencing the depth of inherent mystery within all people:

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