Today as I sat down in my writing chair I noticed a melancholic heaviness.
Perhaps this was brought on by gazing out the windows to yet another grey day on Martha’s Vineyard –– a place where spring comes late, passes too quickly and there’s too little sun for my preference.
Rather than linger in that heavy blue state and fantasize about beaches in Costa Rica, I turned to my Advisor –– a deck of digital flashcards I’ve created, for some advice.
For many years I’ve been an avid reader of what has been called “Perennial Philosophy” –– inspired texts that have stood the test of time because their authors wrote them by tapping into a deep space of stillness and then emerged with timeless, universal insights.
Over the past two years my reading in this area has focused on a few texts I keep on my Kindle. The most important of these have been Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of NOW”, the channeled teaching known as “A Course In Miracles”, the Stephen Mitchell translation of Lao Tzu’s “Tao Te Ching”, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Essays”, and Marcus Aurelius’s “Meditations”. I’ve taken some Sufi side trips with Hazrat Inyat Khan because he occupies the intersection of sound and conscious more firmly than any other author I’ve read.
I like to read these books on my Kindle reader because it’s very easy to highlight passages and export collections of notes to my MacBook. The Kindle app on that computer has a very powerful feature –– flashcards. The Kindle reader for Mac allows me to create decks of digital flashcards and then pull cards at random for inspiration, clarity or commentary.
My introduction to inspirational card decks didn’t come from the Tarot or similar decks. I first encountered inspirational card decks via Brian Eno’s “Oblique Strategies” –– a deck of cards he created with the artist Peter Schmidt. Eno would use this deck to solve compositional challenges as they arose in his work. The cards have directions such as “convert a melodic element into a rhythmic element” that served to jog Eno’s mind from thinking about how to solve a challenge, and create a sudden shift to a non-thinking aha! moment that would bring new insight and way forward in his work.
Many years ago in San Francisco I was given a lovely hardcover edition of the “I Ching” by a self professed “God freak” –– a friend I’ve lost touch with since 1979. I was a pretty active “tosser of the coins” in the early ’80’s. Anyway, I have an innate interest in, and respect for, the practical problem solving ability of Perennial Philosophy, especially when card decks are created from classic spiritual texts.
I have two main card decks on my MacBook, a master deck of 1404 cards and “culled and refined” deck of 265 cards. The larger deck is comprised of almost all of my highlighted quotes from the texts I mentioned above. The smaller deck is more focused on the current project our team is bringing to life and extending into the world –– our N.O.W. Tone Therapy System.
This smaller deck of 265 cards provides commentary from, and about N.O.W., and I use it to set direction or obtain clarity with the work we’re doing. It’s also very handy to help one get out of a funk.
As I took my seat this morning I decided not to dwell on the mostly physical sensations of the funk (I wasn’t thinking melancholic thoughts, but rather feeling the blue body sensations) and instead immediately turned to my small deck for a new way to see the day.
I have a practice of pulling three cards and considering each in sequence. The first card this morning was an excerpt from “A Course In Miracles”:
“You must look in before you look out. As you look in you choose the guide for seeing. Then you look out and behold his witnesses. This is why you find what you seek. What you want in yourself you will manifest, and you will accept it from the world because you put it there by wanting it”.
This first card appeared to remind me that we are the authors of our external reality. That, by some means we do not understand, (though the field of Quantum Physics is making some progress explaining the “unknowable”) we have the power to “look in”, adopt a “guide for seeing”, look outward and see what it is we want to observe. As I pulled that card I decided to look inward, ignore the egoic guide (Ego: “Michael you feel crappy because its a grey day and you really would feel better on a beach in Costa Rica”) and let the peaceful voice of stillness speak to me instead.
It wasn’t more than two or three minutes before my gaze through the same windows, onto the same grey day showed me the wonder of the place I get to observe. With that new seeing, a gentle joy dispelled the melancholia I was feeling.
My practice is to pull the second card as a commentary on the first, a sort of IF / THEN logic statement (learned from software programing). IF I do what the first card suggests, THEN the second card shows likely results or offers further advice. The second card today also came from A Course In Miracles:
“Remember throughout the day –– pure joy, peace and limitless release”.
A reminder to continue the practice of looking inward to find joy, peace and release … then to observe the manifestations of the world I would gaze upon. As I read the words “limitless release” I felt an immediate relaxation response “sigh of relief” and a lifting of the heaviness that had begun to settle on me.
The final card of the set of three came from the “Power of NOW”:
“The instant your conscious attention sinks below a certain level, thought rushes in. The mental noise returns; the stillness is lost. You are back in time”.
Here the teaching as presented by Eckhart Tolle urged me to be vigilant. One must remain vigilantly aware of one’s inner, thought free stillness –– in the moment, throughout the day, as the day’s challenges present themselves. Otherwise mental noise, disquiet and past regret / future fear will return –– the melancholia of longing to be out of the here and now and to inhabit a better there, in the future.
The N.O.W. Tone Therapy System disrupts the perils of time-bound thought because it helps the listener be present in the here and now in which thought cannot occur. Remember –– thoughts take time to unfold and string themselves together (and thereby create feelings in the body). Thought is the ego’s primary device to skip over the present in which it does not exist, and try to convince you (that is, convince your essential self –– consciousness) that it, the ego is real, but only if you dwell in thoughts of the past or future.
Listeners of the N.O.W. Tone Therapy System often notice a disruption or distortion of normal time as focus is increasingly brought to the eternal NOW –– the present moment in which neither blue thoughts nor blue feelings have “time” in which to exist.
btw, the sun is out now and I’m feeling gently joyous.