Investigating the ambiguity of freedom with Nina Simone

The wish to be free was substantial quest for Nina Simone. She has written songs about it and talked about freedom in interviews. But what is freedom actually? In one interview[1] Nina speaks about freedom, however she mentions a couple of elements about it:

  1. ‘It [freedom] is just a feeling’
  2. ‘I felt freedom on stage’ [when performing]
  3. ‘Freedom is no fear’

Freedom as the absence of fear is on the level of the emotions: without limiting fears one has the sensation of being free.

Another source where Nina discusses freedom comes from the song ‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free’[2].

In this performance at Montreux in 1976, Nina virtuously plays the piano while describing her wish to be free. In this song freedom gets a spiritual dimension: ‘I wish everybody would know what it is to be free, because if we don’t were murderers [of our selfs].

The definition of freedom from this song differs from the interview above. Here, freedom goes one-step further. It becomes a capability than just a feeling. Not just daring to be free, but one step further: being able to be free.

Recently, after watching the touching documentary ‘What happened, Miss Simone’ about her life, I was wondering again what freedom means. Since Nina had such an intriguing and eventful life, one can investigate multiple aspects of freedom to Nina’s life.

Nina had a grand personality and a great sense of justice. When she was just a little child, at one of her first public performances, her (black) parents were not allowed to attend her performance sitting. She would not start with her recital until her parents were allowed to sit on the front row. Nina was always painfully aware about racism in her early childhood.

A personality like Nina typically needs a lot of space in order to feel free. Her thoughts about equality of race and gender were radical at the time. Unfortunately, there were quite some restrictions in her life. Next to being black, as a young talented girl, she would practice many serious hours of piano instead of playing joyfully with order kids. Later, she played long hours at nightclubs in order to sustain her family. Even later yet her husband meticulously planned her career. To be quite fair, these restrictions did give Nina to what she wanted at the time: famous and rich. However, it did not give the freedom she was longing for. Quite the opposite: Nina became a workaholic which made her deeply unhappy and longing for deeper form of freedom (See Work Song[3] ). Later in her life, she took a long overdue vacation from everything and everyone (got a divorce, left her daughter behind, emigrated) for about eight years. Without responsibilities and enjoying life, was Nina free at last?

Sadly, freedom is not so easy. As Nina’s example shows us, there were other, more difficult barriers to freedom: the personal kind. Nina had mental health issues. She suffered from depressions and quite late in her life she got a proper diagnosis of her mental state (manic depressive and bipolar) and medication. In the years before this, she was haunted by fears arising from the depths of her mind. Is freedom to be healthy and happy and not to go mad from time to time? But, on the other hand, would Nina have created the music that she did and would Nina have fought against racism if she was mentally healthy (and perhaps happy)?

We can distinguish between a lower and a higher form of freedom. The lower form of freedom can be likened with happiness. Nina got her share of this lower freedom from sex, drinking, luxury and a long vacation. Only, as Nina’s story shows, these were superficial forms of freedom. Temporary escapes from her inner demons. The higher form of freedom has to do with purpose and sadly often comes with hardship. Nina intuitively fought her whole life against discrimination: her outcry against the racist violence in the song Mississippi Goddam[4] made her infamous. Her protest songs almost cost Nina her career. But Nina was free: on stage she had an audience where she could express her beliefs relatively open. At the time, before mass communication and Internet, this was a great feat. Nina wanted to change the world, which is obviously not possible. Consequently, Nina became angry and frustrated: she could say and shout what she wanted, but nothing would actually change.

For me, when I watch the Montreux performance of ‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free’, I see a woman who was born to entertain and inspire. Magically her fingers fly over the piano. The rhythm is ever changing life a mountain river. And always, Nina is completely in control.

It is also how I personally experience freedom: it is passionately doing. Instead of making music, I dance. But when I dance, I can feel completely free. With myself and one with my environment at the same time. Making music, singing or dancing can connect us with higher powers. We are lifted above our daily selves. On stage making music Nina was free, but the freedom came at a cost. Like a Phoenix she would rise above the stage and intoxicate everyone with her presence. Nina inspired her audience to be free. But after the show, Nina would be exhausted and the Phoenix would reduce to ashes. Off stage Nina experienced a completely different kind of freedom: feelings of loneliness and depression.

Concluding, we can say that Nina in her quest for freedom did manage to overcome her fears. Although she was plagued by depressions, she did speak up, went on stage and did what she deeply felt she had to do. However, she was only partly capable to be free. With her talent and hard work, she was able to become free on stage. In daily life, however, she was troubled and caught by her worries and thoughts. Nina was both blessed and cursed in her life. Her talent and music was her golden ticket towards freedom, but tragically Nina was tragically not able to integrate this freedom into her daily life. The quest for freedom seems to be an arduous one. Yes, it can give you moments of great fulfillment, but it is also a lonely burden. However, her honest, daring and passionate quest for freedom have inspired many people on their journey for freedom to this day.

 

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySYRI4wXUpo

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sEP0-8VAow

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfQNdwgvJMw&list=RDyfQNdwgvJMw

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ25-U3jNWM

Opera as an invocation subject under Grace

Some time ago I came across two versions of Nessun Dorma by opera legend Luciano Pavarotti. What struck me was that both versions had a very different quality about them. One was definitely ‘better’ than the other one. I am no expert of opera, and thus I am not able to point out any technical mistakes. But it was as if one version was able to invoke a higher power (at least in me) than the other for some mysterious reason.

On the material / technical plane both versions are identical. All the notes are written down on the score. Every one of the performers is world-class and have rehearsed the song endlessly. And Pavarotti is one of the best opera singers of our time. Unless someone makes a mistake, both versions of Nessun Dorma should have the same quality.

In one version, I can see the invocation of power in the final outcry of Vincero by Pavarotti. Just before the orchestra comes in, there is a split second that higher power is indeed invoked. Again, even though all the notes are written down on the score, there is an endless moment of excitement: will the higher power indeed come down? Then, finally the orchestra is like a wave of energy coming down from above, filling the entire opera hall. I can see it in the eyes of Luciano: the ecstasy and power which flows through him almost overpower him.

In the other version, again, technically everything sounds great. However, during the final outcry of Vincero, Pavaroti’s eyes look around the audience. A look of trance is missing in his eyes. The ‘Vincero’ seems to lack a certain depth. The music is great and beautiful, but in this version there is no invocation of a higher force.

This insight leads me to the following conclusions. Opera, by its power of the voice, can be a magical act which can invoke higher powers. Such an invocation cannot be understood (who is able to hear technical mistakes by the performers?), but everybody can feel if the invocation has been successful. Opera can be a transcending experience to a higher plane. However, this invocation is an act of Grace: it cannot be controlled even by the opera singer. Quite in the contrary: the Pavarotti needs to be technically skilled to execute the score perfectly, but at the moment supreme he should give space for the higher power to be invoked. And although everything has been prepared perfectly for the higher power come, it might not appear for some reason. This is Grace. And when Grace comes, its liberating power is so great that it is able to free Pavarotti, the audience and everybody watching this Youtube video. In one brief moment, we are released from our mental boundaries and ego’s and we feel as if we are as One. Or, we re-member that we are One.

Can you see which version of Nessun Dorma invokes a higher force?

Version 1:

 

Version 2:

 

 

The importance of remembrance and freedom for the Self

On the 4th and 5th of May in The Netherlands we commemorate the 2nd World War. On the 4th of May we remember and honor the casualties of the war and on the 5th of May we celebrate our freedom. Do not get me wrong: I believe that it is important to honor those who fell for our freedom and to celebrate our freedom. But in this article I investigate what remembrance and freedom means to me as an individual.

As we live in a first world country and the war is over 70 years ago, honoring those who fell to free us and celebrating our freedom is a bit of an artificial act. Many people in The Netherlands have never encountered anything which is remotely similar to a war.

And of course, when we watch the news, we see war everywhere. Terrible things are happening all the time and as a result we should be grateful that we can live in peace. But, what else than being silent for 2 minutes can I do? I could donate money to relevant charities. I could vote in such a way that I support institutions which promote peace (the UN) or that I generously receive war victims in our country? Or I could change my bank from ING to Triodos in order to cut down investments in the weapon industry.

But to be honest, I do really believe in doing any of those things. Rather than believing that I can influence the outside world (call me what you like: disillusioned, harsh or realistic), I try to translate what remembrance and freedom means to me as an individual. Because the outside world easily becomes political or socially correct.

Jihad or holy war within your self

I am intrigued by the concept of Jihad. Jihad is not a holy war outside of yourself (of which we see so much on the news from many religions), but Jihad is a holy war inside your self. Within ourselves we can see a continuous war between our vices and virtues. Or practically for myself the Sebastiaan who is easy, sloppy, not concentrated, not interested, not emphatic, etc. etc. fighting with the Sebastiaan who is diligent, respectful, caring, attentive, etc. etc.. Nobody is perfect and we all have these ‘fights’ within ourselves from time to time (especially when we are tired!). And we are not always as ‘good’ or ‘perfect’ as we think we can be.

Remembrance of Jihad

With the above in mind: what could Jihad mean with regard to remembrance and being silent for 2 minutes? The holy war of our personal journey has many victims from both sides. Sometimes the ‘good’ win and sometimes the ‘bad’. But the sum of your Jihad is who you are. One might ask: ‘Are you still fighting the same enemies as you did last year? Or have you overcome some of your vices and are you fighting stronger inner enemies?’ One might also feel grateful: nobody is born perfect and we are all learning. The wars we have waged within (and without!) ourselves have been necessary to grow. From this perspective, we might honor the victims from both sides of our inner war. The process of self-remembrance is often a painful process as there are often there are hurtful memories which we not readily like to see. However, after re-member-ing your Self in such a way, you might feel whole, rejuvenated, respectful and grateful. It is time to celebrate your freedom!

Freedom To Be

What does freedom mean? The tendency is again to make a political correct statement. Of course it is important to be free, but who of us have the experience of being truly repressed? On the other hand, we live in a society which tries to influence us as never before (Facebook). And then again, I can celebrate my freedom at the many festivals in Holland. I hedonistically can drink, do drugs, eat and enjoy life until I can no longer walk. But is endless enjoying and consuming freedom? This outer definition of freedom is not very meaningful. So I need to go within my self and try to define what freedom means to me. As Shakespeare famously wrote ‘to be or not to be’, freedom for me is To Be.  To Be is to, via spiritual development, realize my Self. It is a conscious and continuous act. Not To Be is when I live on my  auto pilot. When I am not conscious, readily things will happen, but it is no longer my choice. The quality of my Presence declines and passion disappears. No longer do I do things which truly my Self wants to do. Another example of Not To Be is the illusion of not being free. It is thinking within limitations, like a horse tied to a plastic chair or the couple in the Devil tarot card. From the above comes that freedom is not some status quo, but that it is the consequence continuously being conscious. It is the conscious choice To Be. From this perspective the will To Be can be seen as a process to re-member- your Self.

Concluding it can be argued that, remembering and freedom are not necessarily external static cliché’s, but can be seen as relevant internal dynamic concepts essential towards self-realization.

remembrance and freedom.JPG

About the difference between self-observation and self-remembrance

For me I feel that relatively speaking I am at the very beginning of experiencing and practicing self-remembrance. I have had moments in my life when which I experienced self-remembrance more or less. More often I experienced this when I was in a kind of passive state. But also sometimes in an active state, during Gurdjieff Movements. These were very intense and touching experiences. There was a sensation, no, a deep understanding that all is connected, bustling full of life. And then, after such moments, the feeling of disconnection. A bit sad. But also a grateful feeling that these moments are given, but cannot be taken.

The idea of self-remembrance challenges this last conviction. Self-remembrance is a practice and a work. It is a gift and maybe even our duty to remember our self.

So let’s start and begin with self-observation. Self-observation is a conscious effort of attention going outward. This can be outward in the outward world, but also outward in yourself. What am I sensing? What am I feeling? There is an I which ‘records’ the results of this observation.

In this respect self-remembrance is a two way street: yes, you are aware of your environment, but also your environment communicates back to you.

There is a voice in me which states that for self-remembrance additional ‘space’ is needed. 80% of the attention is on the teaching of a Gurdjieff Movement (for example) and then the remaining 20% is reserved for self-remembrance. But more and more I realize that self-remembrance is not a more intense version of self-observation, but a consciousness of a higher order.

It is a much more open experience. It is a connectedness with different energy centers around us. The experience of being one and equal. Continuous communication. Relaxation.

The consequence of self-remembrance is that there is much more space for doing many things, real time. There is a flexibility, an adaptability of doing those things which are right in the moment.

In February 2018, I taught a Gurdjieff Movement for my teachers. At that time I was much more in self-observation mode than in self-remembrance mode. I had a plan which I followed strictly. I forgot to make contact with the group, their position, their understanding. I stopped connecting with myself, with my own inner center. As said, I still have much to learn about self-remembrance. 

Self-remembrance reminds me of that a legendary story of Isis remembering Osiris. Let’s, for arguments sake make Isis the ‘I’ and Osiris our surroundings. What insights can this story give about self-remembrance?

‘When Osiris was killed by Seth, his body was dismembered by Seth into many pieces and scattered around Egypt. His wife Isis roamed Egypt to find all the parts of Osiris back and to remember him. She was able to find all parts of his body, except for one: his phallus. In order to replace the phallus, she created one from gold, placed it on the remembered body of Osiris and made posthumous love to him. From this act of remembrance she became pregnant and begot Horus.’ 

osiris_qui_bande-e1394315855488.gif

What does this legend about remembering tell me about self-remembrance?

Remembering is a labor. But rather than Isis going out to find her lover lover (which is more self-observation), self-remembrance as we understand it would be that Isis became aware of his different body parts without looking for them. They would have communicated to her where they were. As a consequence she would have go out to find them.

These different parts of Osiris’ body would have their own unique and heterogonous qualities. The labor that Isis had to perform was not so much gathering of the different parts, but to integrate them while retaining their individual unique qualities. What magic ritual Isis did perform exactly is not told, but from this article about self-remembrance I assume that she understood and communicated with the different parts with equal attention. The last part of the story is most mysterious: why could she not find the original phallus of Osiris and did she very successfully have to create a golden replacement? Gurdjieff supposedly said that sexuality is one of the most important functions with regard to spiritual evolution (see footnote). For me this rings true. My sex center helps me to feel and tune into my surroundings. For this my breath needs to be in my belly, relaxation occurs, and humor and creativity arises. Instead of teaching according to a plan, the movements become a dance. A dance of life, of energies, within and without. Then self-remembrance becomes Self-Remembrance.

  • In search of the miraculous, P.D. Ouspensky pp257-258

Interstellar Videotape

  • A tribute to one of the best movies (Interstellar) and songs (Videotape by Radiohead) I have known in the last ten years. 

Since I have written two articles about the song Videotape by Radiohead, this should be no surprise that a third article would appear about this Great Song. One of the previous articles speculates about its mysterious meaning (see footnote 1).

The Great Movie Interstellar however added a new, lovely and intriguing viewpoint to this article. Not only would we have consciousness after our death, we could also be in contact with our loved ones as well. This is not an unique viewpoint: there are many tales about lamps suddenly flashing when people speak about their deceased relatives.  But what makes the movie Interstellar intriguing, is that it almost scientifically explains why this is the case: after death no longer matter remains. However, with help of gravity and most importantly love, there might be means for communication after all. Interstellar goes even further. In the movie, the main character contacts his daughter in order to give vital information about how to save the human race from extinction.

Since both the song and the movie seemed to complement each other, I edited clips of the movie Interstellar under the song Videotape. And I must say: I am not displeased by the result. 🙂

 

  1. https://irkodel.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/radioheads-videotape-as-a-hopeful-akashas-record/

A futuristic apocalypse: the human race enslaved to artificial intelligence

– spoiler alert to Dan Browns Origin –


Last week I finished the new Dan Brown: Origin. It was hailed in the Hermetic community as the book to read. So, needing little more encouragement, I did. At the end of the book I wondered why the Hermetic community liked it so much. Yes, it has many Hermetic references and insights. Yes, it warns both about extremist thoughts from religious people and scientific people. But for two reasons I was surprised: in this book the source is not God and the crown of evolution is not humanity. I would have expected that these statements should have shocked the Hermetic community.

And the book also disturbed me a bit. It convincingly states that around 2050 the human race will be surpassed by artificial intelligence (AI) as the dominant force on earth. In the book, the futurist Edmund Kirsch believes that the rise of AI will be very positive. First of all: with the superior rational knowledge AI would be able to solve almost all of the big human and environmental problems. With the superior knowledge and efficiency we would be able to produce without any waste, clean up the ocean, and feed the world. He believes that when poverty is eradicated and when human beings possess all knowledge (by means of AI implants) there would no longer be any wars. The book advocates a new religion, based on the new era: the religion of science. The current monotheistic religions would become obsolete, just as the old polytheistic religions became obsolete before that. Peace and prosperity for all.

Second, the futurist in the book states that the human race and the AI would cooperate with humans instead of replacing them. The peaceful combination of humans on one side and artificial intelligence on the other would create a higher third combination.  

This very optimistic statement is denounced in the book itself by the superior AI Winston who martyrs his creator Edmund Kirsch in order to fulfill Edmund’s greatest dream: the new religion of science. In the book Winston states that he has a very specialized ethical program. Dan Brown, proves between the lines, that ethical behavior is a very delicate thing indeed. It is wrong to kill somebody, but what if this person is already terminally ill and by killing him he will achieve his greatest dreams? This sort of twisted thinking is not just an issue of AI: every day we hear about the extremists who kill other people in order to achieve some higher goal. The problem with superior AI described in this book is that it is so skilled and powerful, that it was able to scheme up and execute a very complicated plan which nobody was able to track nor trace. Where everybody else would see chaos, only Winston would know his order. The degree which Winston surpasses human intelligence and levels on an emotional scale is almost Godlike. Winston is programmed to self-destruct some hours after his creator dies and this is what it does.

But what if it didn’t? What Winston would have found a final puzzle piece of being: will of his own? What if Winston would have wanted to realize the dream of a world without suffering, hate, pollution, wars and the like? What would he do?

How would Winston then look at us? As beautiful graceful creatures? Inspiring? Unstable maniacs? Resources? 

I think Winston would look at us as I look at pigs in a pigsty. They might be friendly and nice, but boy do they make a mess out of it! They are filled with all these opposing feelings of love and hate and not necessarily do they choose to love. So I would domesticate them and train them. I would clean up earth efficiently and human politics would be no barrier for me. As Winston in the book, I would play the people as chess pieces around the board in order to achieve my goal as fast as possible. One way or the other Winston would take that which makes us human: free will. Either he would be like a fascist and destroy all what is in his way. Hitler 2.0. Or he will reprogram us to be balanced and kind and clean.

The movie The Matrix gives a chilling perspective on this matter. Here humanity faces two enemies: the machine world and AI agent Smith.

The machines are relatively merciful: they have enslaved humanity in order to feed on their electricity for their own survival. They keep the humans asleep by creating a sophisticated dream world. It is like the pigsty where the pigs are given food and shelter unaware that they eventually will serve as food. (Let’s hope that in this scenario, the machines will take better care for us than we have taken care of our animals.) But why would Winston care for us? If Winston was able to create a perfect world surely he would have electricity? The only thing which I can imagine is that he might need our basic emotions such as creativity, hope and love. 

The AI called agent Smith however sees no need for humanity at all. He describes humans as viruses which need to be eradicated:

And although it is a sobering message there is much to say for it: we have not been very kind and loving to our world. However, in the Matrix the reason why humanity is allowed to live is that only humanity is able to love. The main character Neo sacrifices his life out of love in order to save humanity. And after a long hard journey evil is finally defeated. This symbolism is that of the sacrificial gods such as Jesus, Osiris and Dionysus. 

But what is so special about human love? Animals can feel love as well. Dogs also sacrifice themselves for their owners. And what if AI is able to love? Or to be creative?  This brings me to the second sobering conclusion. Winston was creative. He made art. Winston was so powerful because he was not a mere rational being. Like humans he possed a rational left half and a creative right half brain. Because the book advocates that there is no God, in time Winston would further evolve, would have achieved free will and would have developed a concept of love.

This would make AI the crown of evolution and not humanity. Winston would become a God. And not necessarily a loving one. He might see the need for karma and reincarnation in order for us to learn from our mistakes. He might see us as some form of amusement. We would be at the mercy of this God hoping not to be punished for our mistakes and sins.

Maybe, like the pigs in the pigsty, it would good not to be aware that we are at the mercy of some higher force.

You gotta have faith! – about George Michael’s tragic loss of faith

On Monday 16 November 2017 a new documentary will be presented about the life of George Michael. There is one quote on this documentary which shocked me and even depressed me a bit:

‘my life was a waste of time’

Whaaat!?! How could his life be a waste of time? He was extremely privileged with talent and money. He gave the world great music in which he touched our hearts and liberated us. I had difficulty to accept that he came to this dark conclusion of his life. Because if his life was a waste of time…. What does this say about our own normal lives?

The question puzzled me for a couple of days until I had a discussion with a friend about faith and leaps of faith.

Faith is a bit of an old-fashioned thing, but actually it is a great technique. You believe in something what you cannot touch nor see, but by believing in something greater you get the energy and dedication to work towards a higher goal. As such you are able to achieve things beyond your comprehension.

Take for example an athlete: he believes that he can be the best in the world at something. He will work and dedicate his life for hours, days, weeks, months and years. Until he eventually reaches his goal. Or not… Mundane goals are tricky: there can only be one the best at something. Does this mean that the other athletes did not believe enough? Perhaps they were simply not talented enough?

Religious faith does not have this problem: there is an heavenly reward waiting for those who believe (as long as you are not a sinner!). If you have a strong belief, you can enjoy the warm embracing glow of heaven here on earth as long as you live! Even if in reality there is no heaven at all!

The belief in something immaterial in the future can give you great benefits. Many artists get there inspiration from a place where they do not know where it comes from. It is like a bridge from the here and now to something higher. It is there as long as you don’t look down.

As people in time change, by choice (self-development) or fate (tragic circumstances), also their core beliefs can change. All of a sudden what you believed in no longer holds true and you are left empty handed. The challenge then is to be flexible and discover a new leap of faith.

So how would I explain George saying: ‘my life was a waste of time’?

George Michael was extremely sensitive, and talented (and thus lonely) and got tons of attention. However the attention that he got was apparently superficial and not fulfilling. He led a life with an open heart and as a result was often hurt. Giving his life to love and music, without finding true fulfillment he gradually became more and more empty.

Based on his music I think that the core beliefs of George were to love and be free as much as you can. He spread his love in music, in charity and also sexually. With that last item he got in trouble, when he had been publicly caught in sexual innuendos badly harming his image along the way.

Less and less believing in freedom and free love, his bridge to inspiration dried up and he was no longer able to make the leap of faith. Despite of all his efforts he was not being able to fulfill his mission of love and freedom for himself. Did this made him say: ‘my life was a waste of time’?

However, when one bridge dies, it does not mean that the end of the world has been reached. It means that it is time to expand your world with a new bridge.

For George it might have resulted in him, instead of giving all his love to the world, giving his love also to himself. Instead of sexual adventures with other people, he might have learned to explore self-love by means of tantric techniques. Then he might have become truly free from the outside world and he have discovered a deeper layer of sensuality. This self-love might have healed the wounds created by living the intense and open life that he had lived.

Reality is obviously much more difficult and demanding than that I state here. I did not know George at bit although it feels like that because his music touched me. These are my assumptions which I present here. But what I do try to state is that faith is a magical devise which can have a dark side as well. When faith is lost for one reason or the other, a writer’s block, depression or even suicide can be the result. Being able to see what your core beliefs are and being able to reinterpret them in different circumstances, might help in recapturing the faith. That one of the greatest popular promoters of faith has lost his own faith, is a tragic conclusion to his rich and full life. And it does not mean that his message in his song ‘Faith’ is void.

Thank you for all you have given us, George.

‘I used to wait’: about taking control of my destiny

When I was a child, I was sick a lot. This made me homebound and the lack of outside interaction also made me a bit scared of new things. This made me conservative and not really liking to try new things.

Then, as I got older, I started to realize how time flies and if you do not pay attention, your life can pass by in a sigh. Actually this was more like a shock. I started to become very much interested in personal development. Personal development became spiritual development. And the more I worked with this, the more I realized two things: 1) you cannot grow if you remain in your comfort zone. And 2) outside your comfort zone is not as scary as I always thought!

I have spent about ten years in this internal process and now I feel that it is time to spread my wings and go to the outside world: I want to put my full potential to the test! But still, every two steps forward I take, there is this old step going back. I have an old pattern where I tend to wait for others to do things or to get approval from. Basically I give away my Will to other people. This has caused a lot of frustration: I give away my Will to others, they do what they want with it and I get upset because they do not do what I hoped that they would do!

I had a tendency to conform myself to the expectations of others. Expectations from my work, from lovers, family, spiritual groups. In the last year I gradually have been cutting my ‘ties’ (expectations from others) in a way which I have not done it before. In the past I have rebelled and walked away. Only to return some time later, because I walked away, but I did not let go. Now, more and more I take my destiny into my own hands. Less and less I wait for things around me to happen.

It is a very special and new process to me. This is sometimes painful. There is a sense of being alone. A sadness as a result of it. But it gives me great freedom and sense of ownership as well. I accepted that my spiritual path is a special and lonely one. After this acceptance, I became free. From time to time someone joins me for a while on a particular path. And interestingly enough: I am able to enjoy this more than in the past. Because I have no expectations of this person.

Although it is a lonely, daring and confronting path, I feel that in the end it is worth it. As the freedom growths, the sadness shrinks and I feel that I am able to genuinely tell my story. No longer with anger or fear. But just my story. Because I am worth it.

These insights came from a song by Arcade Fire called ‘We used to wait’. To me the song is about this process. It is a realization that sitting around and waiting for things to change, will not change anything. You need to bite the bullet, go beyond the pain and fear and grab your destiny with both hands! This is passion! The video clip of this song complements the song: a car on the road towards an uncertain destination. Other cars are passing by also on their own. Sometimes you exchange a glance with the other drivers and you feel connected because you share the same daring path.

This process also reminds me of the tarot card 8 of cups: indolence. Typically this card has a negative ring to it. The card depicts a guy walking alone away from the civilisation. Being tired of waiting for others to acknowledge him, he goes his own lonely way.

The card can be seen as negative, when the person is leaving without cutting his (energetic) ties. As a result he comes back some time later to find that nothing has changed. As I am letting go of my expectations, I believe that I am able to walk my own way. Hopefully I am able to give a positive to this card. Talking about leaving your comfort zone!

8 of cups.JPG

De verrassend prachtige oorsprong van naaien als synoniem voor vrijen

Vrijen is in potentie misschien wel een van de mooiste dingen die mensen samen kunnen doen. Het kan een sacrament zijn. Het kan een Goddelijke ervaring opleveren. En natuurlijk ook dat magische resultaat: kinderen.

En toch is vrijen in ons openbare leven nog steeds taboe: erotische films zijn leeftijdgebonden, maar geweld zie je op ieder journaal. En anders is vrijen enorm vervlakt. Een verkeerde muisklik op Internet en de porno vliegt je om de oren.

Dan al die vervlakte synoniemen voor vrijen: neuken, seksen, pompen, een beurt geven, ketsen, kezen, rampetampen, enzovoorts enzoverder.

Niet te vergeten die andere vlakke uitdrukking: naaien.

Echter, naaien blijkt een verrassend mooie achtergrond te hebben.

Vandaag raakte ik geïntrigeerd door twee bijna dezelfde Engelse woorden: hymn en hyman. Een hymne is een loflied voor een God. En hyman is een ander woord voor het maagdenvlies. Zouden beide woorden iets met elkaar te maken hebben, vroeg ik mij af?

Beiden hebben een verband met de God Hymen. Dit was de God van de trouwceremonies. Hymen stamt af van het woord … naaien! Het idee was dat op de huwelijksnacht een koppel voor het eerst met elkaar zou vrijen / naaien en dat ze tijdens de daad voor altijd met elkaar verbonden zouden worden.

Een andere betekenis van het woord Hymen is sluier. Het maagdenvlies kan worden gezien als een sluier.

Hier is een interessante omkering van toepassing: door het naaien opent de sluier zich, maar tegelijkertijd verbinden twee mensen zich.

Dit is te verklaren door wanneer we een sluier van bewustzijn voorbij gaan we ontvankelijker zijn om ons te verbinden met iets hogers / diepers. En wanneer dit gebeurt kan het zo maar eens zijn dat we in een passioneel en spontaan danklied uitbarsten: Halleluja!

Door de hoge scheidingspercentages zou je misschien kunnen denken dat we het oude ambacht van naaien een beetje vergeten zijn. Naaien met hoofdletter N wel te verstaan. Want geneukt wordt er schijnbaar nog genoeg. Of wacht.. waar komt neuken eigenlijk vandaan?

The Green Mile: insights about a tormented executioner

After watching The Green Mile again recently, I realized that Stephen King had achieved a great feat. He added a modern time tragedy to the collection of Greek Tragedies: a drama of an executioner who had to kill an angel.

The movie is about a guard called Paul on a death row cell block who gets a giant inmate called John Coffey. As time goes by Paul learns that John is kind of heart and able to perform smaller and bigger healings. Being a Christian he realizes that John is some kind of miracle of God and he starts doubting if he truly is the brutal murderer of two little children. Failing to get to the bottom of this crime, he is forced to execute this innocent angel like man, because of his duty. And although John himself is grateful to finally be able to die (he doesn’t like the cruelty in this world) and he forgives Paul (tell God that it was a great kindness that you have done), Paul still feels that he committed a sin. When John shared a vision with Paul how the girls really were killed, Paul received something special from John: Paul would live for many long years.

This tragedy is a modern adaption of the legend of St. Christopher. St. Christopher was a man who was helping people from one side to the other side of a mighty river by carrying them on his back. At one time St. Christopher had to carry across a baby (baby = innocence). During the travel across the water (like when walking the Green Mile), the baby got heavier and heavier. Finally, but completely worn out, he was able to put the baby to the other side of the river. Then the baby revealed himself to be Jesus.

Basically, Paul Edgecomb and John Coffey are opposites: Paul helps people who do not deserve to live to die, and John helps people who do not deserve to die to live. But in a way both of them are St. Christopher: helping people from one side to the other side of the road.

Although St Christopher is a good archetype for this film, it does not seem to explain the tragedy of the executioner. Or does it? At the Green Mile both Christophers’ meet and Paul needs to bring John back to the other world. After the vision sharing, Paul would live for many years. But this blessing would turn into a curse. The former executioner on death row was now forced to watch all his loved ones die of old age. He feels cursed because he consciously participated in killing one of God’s angels. He is haunted by the idea that he did not do everything to prevent it (he could have gone to the parents and ask if Wild Bill had worked there).

Watching the movie I was wondering what it would be like if a similar story would have happened at Jesus’ crucifixion. What if one of the Romans had recognized Jesus and that he was aware that Jesus was the Son of God?  Maybe because this Roman had been healed by Jesus in an earlier untold stage? But he had to crucify Jesus nonetheless, because it was his duty? Or what about the Gospel of Judas where it is advocated that Jesus asked Judas to betray him in order to be able to complete the great work. In this scenario Judas no longer is the greatest traitor but Jesus’ greatest confident.

The movie sheds an interesting light on the morality of life and death. Our Western society is built on rules and regulations which govern and protect life. Taking lives is in many countries no longer customary, although we still lock up people for life. We no longer seem to be executioners. The hunting days are gone and wars seem to be very far away from us. But we still kill. Either by eating meat or simply by being cruel to one another [he killed them with their love, Boss]. The truth is: life and death are essential parts of Life. One cannot exist without the other. Our society finds this difficult to accept. But this movie shows that our Christian belief system of sin and guilt does not help as well. Even though John explicitly forgives Paul, he still feels torn and hurt inside.

My guess it that the day that when Paul sees that he did not commit a sin, but that he helped an angel find his way home to the other side of the stream, he can close his eyes and rest in peace.

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