“Prayer for Protection” from Unity:
The light of the cosmos surrounds us.
The love of the cosmos enfolds us.
The power of the cosmos protects us.
The presence of the cosmos watches over us.
Wherever we are the cosmos is.
May all beings be well and safe, may they be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be,
Whether moving or standing still, without exception,
Whether large, great, middling, or small, whether tiny or substantial,
Whether seen or unseen,
Whether living near or far,
Born or unborn;
May all beings be happy.
Let none deceive or despise another anywhere. Let none wish harm to another, in anger or in hate.
- I make plans, but I remain flexible and open to the surprises that life has in store for me. I try to say “yes” as often as possible.
- I cultivate patience, and by doing so I also cultivate self-confidence.
- I welcome the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone, and I do not let myself be guided by fear.
- I love myself unconditionally, because it’s essential to my happiness. I love the person that I am, and I do not need other people’s approval to love myself fully.
- I’m going to drink water, eat fruit and vegetables, walk, take the stairs, exercise. Today I’m giving love to my body.
- I give everywhere I go, even if only a smile, a compliment, or my full attention. Listening is the best gift I can give to those around me.
- I try to be impeccable with my word, and to speak only to spread positivity It’s counterproductive to my happiness to speak against myself or against others.
What does it mean to identify? Is it how close you are to the other members of the group? Is it how important this characteristic is to you, and how it affects your thoughts and feelings? Is it how important this characteristic is to society, and how people treat you? Is it how proud we are to be it? Is it the degree to which we attach it to our personality?
It’s interesting to see the words that people choose to identify themselves, and also what they identify with more. We all choose our own ways to describe ourselves. This is how I identify, with stronger items that are more core to my being at the top of the list. Some items on the list refer to a mindset, which is just as important as tangible conditions.
- I am a part of the world.
- I am transient (*mortal).
- I am an earthling.
- I am human.
- I believe in love. I believe in loving all beings, in love’s power to conquer all, and I’m a pacifist.
- I am open.
- I am female.
- I am a young adult.
- I am middle-class.
- I am the child of immigrants.
- I am an optimist.
- I am inquisitive.
- I am intellectual.
- I am independent.
- I am creative.
- I am adventurous.
- I am a biker.
- I am an environmentalist.
- I am a US citizen.
- I am black**.
- I am tall.
- I am plain.
*I had an extensive conversation with a linguist-enthusiast friend about using transient to mean mortal. Mortal focuses on death and the end of life. Transient has a broader lens. It’s about existing in this world for a short time; passing through. It has larger implications: that this world, this experience, this dimension is perhaps not all there is. Of course, I mean this in the Stephen Hawking/ Rick&Morty way, not in the heaven/hell way.
**I realize that this is shockingly low on the list, especially compared to how high on the list “female” is. Racially, I’ve had a unique experience, I guess. A uniquely pleasant experience. Past the age of 8, I lived in mostly white communities. Affluent, educated, worldly white communities where I’m treated as an equal, a neighbor, a peer, a friend. I don’t expect prejudice when I interact with white people; I expect to be treated with respect. That’s an important distinction, I think: seeing racism as the exception, not the rule. The effect that this has on one’s mindset is profound.
I want honesty, openness, vulnerability. I want to be direct. I want to ask for what I want. I want to share how I feel. I want to know how you feel. I want to ask all the questions, even the hard questions that challenge my prejudices, my opinions, and the idea I have of who I am. I want you to ask the questions that linger on your tongue for fear of offending me, or getting hurt. I want to be REAL with people. I want to talk about pain and fear and dreams and hopes. I want to hear about your hard times, and what you learned from them. I want to be with you through your lows as well as your highs. I don’t want to hide under a social media mask that only shows the pretty, cool, impressive, successful parts of life. I want to value the less palatable experiences just as much, for I’ve learned that they have the potential to bring so much grace, patience, and understanding of people and the world at large. They offer a rare opportunity for true, deep connection between people. I have suffered alone too many times, and I know far too many people who have suffered alone as well. As Alan Watts said, “Just as manure fertilizes the plants, so the contemplation of death, and the acceptance of death is very highly generative of creating life. You get wonderful things out of that.”
I’ve failed a lot on my quest for more authentic relationships, and I’ve lost a couple of friends along the way. But I’m not giving up.
If you are aware of a state which you call “is”, or reality, or life, this implies another state called isn’t. Or illusion, or unreality, or nothingness or death. There it is. You can’t know one without the other. And so as to make life poignant, it’s always going to come to an end. That is exactly, don’t you see, what makes it lively. Liveliness is change, it is motion, and motion is going to fall out and be gone.
Everybody should do in their lifetime, sometime, two things. One is to consider death. To observe skulls and skeletons, and to wonder what it will be like to go to sleep and to never wake up, never. That is […] a very gloomy thing for contemplation. But it’s like manure. Just as manure fertilizes the plants and so on, so the contemplation of death, and the acceptance of death is very highly generative of creating life. You get wonderful things out of that.
(Quotes by Alan Watts. Song is “Hungry Ghost” by STRFKR.)
“I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
-Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903 in Letters to a Young Poet
And that’s ok with me. I’m just surprised I didn’t admit this to myself sooner.
I look at the people who succeed here, and I’m not like them. I’m never going to be eager to fulfill my boss’s needs. I’m never going to make small talk or networking a priority for me. I’m never going to have a 5-year plan for professional growth. I’m never going to dedicate my ambition to a company. I simply don’t want to do these things, and the benefits they bring don’t have value to me, nor are they worthy of my energy.
I’m like a grumpy dog, too stubborn to do tricks for treats. I’d refuse to get off my ass. You want me to roll over? Beg? Shake your hand? FUCK YOU AND YOUR DUMBASS TREATS! That’s basically how I feel about the corporate world – doing a lot of fake, dumb, meaningless actions to get treats (income, prestige, and a way to impress people when they ask what you do).
I’ll cautiously take this one step further. It’s more than just the corporate world. I feel this way about society. Society is our harshest judge, and our most fickle critic. Why should we judge ourselves by the values of others? Why do we assume society’s values instead of thinking critically and finding one’s own values? Because it is difficult. It takes a lot of strength of self to eschew the masses and hold on to one’s self. There is immense strength in each artist that chooses to sacrifice the will of society and the pressures of the world in order to pursue their own work. There is immense strength in people that are unsatisfied with the answers they are given, and choose to look further, think deeper, explore existentially in order to find something that speaks to them, that makes sense to them.
I look at this modern world, and don’t see the world. I don’t see the Earth, our humanity, our animality. Rather, I see us abandoning our truth. Our true selves are not groomed, edited, styled, nor poised. Our true selves are messy, scared, naked, curious, emotional, and humble. We lie about ourselves. We hide ourselves. We cover ourselves in makeup and fashion, showing only our best angle to the camera, and to the world. We curtail our speech, we suppress and ignore our thoughts, saying only what we hope will be well-received. And in doing so our true selves are subdued, often to the point that we don’t even know our true selves, and sometimes to the point of near non-existence. The profoundness of our sadness, the transcendence of our ideas, the brilliance of our questions, the delicacy of our love, the creativity in our ponderings, the sincerity of our fears, are all lost in the effort to be palatable to society. Society doesn’t value these things, so we have learned to hide them in order to protect our vulnerable selves. But what is more human than the things we experience so deeply within ourselves? What is more real? So much of what we do and what consumes our minds and our time serves not us, but others, society. And that is a betrayal to our selves.
Who are you? What will be revealed if we strip down the bullshit we layer on ourselves to insulate us from society’s judgement, and satiate our ego? Who are you without the job, the house, the car, the posh friends? Who are you without the rules of society, without the expectations of others? Who are you without the ideas our peers have of us being the funny one, the artsy one, the athlete, the DJ, the hipster, the goth? Who are you without the impressiveness of your accomplishments, your fancy vacations, your athletic achievements, your GPA, your instagram followers, your sarcasm? Who are you without the cute shoes, the smokey eyes, the (sic) swole muscles, the #beardgamestrong? Who are you without the pretense?
It’s not that these things aren’t valuable. The question is, is it valuable to YOU? Do you do it for yourself or for the effect it has with others? Are you an athlete because you’re good at sports, or are you an athlete because you intrinsically love it? Be not an athlete. Be someone that loves athletics. Be not a writer. Be someone that loves to write. Be not a misfit. Be yourself. Stop obeying what others tell you, and decide for yourself.
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