For the next year, I'm working with The Temple of the Twelve
as part of the initiatory group sacred12novices
. This month, as the first month, is dedicated to exploring the color Black and the many Mysteries and Truths she keeps. About a year ago, I had my first Black month and it was empowering and transformative
. I'd expected a harsh reality check from Lady Black and instead got an emotionally restorative affirmation of my own divine nature. This time, though, it has been more of a tough love session.At the new moon this month, I was challenged to see more Truth in my life and to learn greater discernment in my judgments and choices
. I've been fielding all sorts of lessons and musings on the topic ever since and in them, I've realized just how prevalent self-deception is in our society. I live shrouded in the darkness of my self-created worlds without ever waking up to the reality of my impact and decisions. Once in awhile I've woken up with a start, mentally, with a flash of insight about what exists beyond the box of modern consumerism. Once in a long
while I realize just how programmed I am. The awareness surfaces for a moment and then is swept away under the weight of the not-Me voices to come. I don't think I'm alone in that.
There is the voice of Truth, of Black, and then there is the (constant, chattering) voice of scripts. The scripts have come from my experiences, from the society around me, from friends and family, from strangers and critics, from overheard conversations, advertisements and the plots of books and television shows. The Truth, when it comes, upsets the balance of my life and so is frequently overruled with more scripts. (No, scratch that, always
overruled as I never stay in those awake moments very long.)
So here's a couple of examples I've been thinking a lot about this month. The Disease of Consumerism
Truth tells me that the Earth is overburdened by consumerism. There is a finite number of resources and everything on this earth that is created or manufactured or dreamed up in material form consumes some of those resources. For every one finished product, say a wooden chair or a marble chess set or a plastic ring of measuring spoons, ten times more resources are consumed then ever end up evident in the end product. I, as an American, am part of a society with no limits. I use too much water. I use too much electricity. I own too many things, made with too many precious pieces of the Earth's living body. I am personally responsible for too much pollution. If every human inhabitant on this planet aspired to the lifestyle that I feel is my right, our planet would die and everything upon it with Her. I am living an unsustainably indulgent lifestyle while others are dying, daily, from simple deprivation of food, water, warmth, and medical attention. That is Truth and it is ugly and shocking and upsetting. I know it. And yet, I cannot tell you how strong and frenzied and persistent the scripts are in my head that say, "I deserve to be happy. I deserve to treat myself. I deserve to have nice things. In fact, I *need* them."
If I'm being honest, unflinchingly standing with Black, I don't. I am fortunate, blessed beyond measure, that I have all of my basic needs met. I am awash in abundance, not only within the world, but even within the high-life of modern American life. Someone, in fact a lot of someones, somewhere is paying or will eventually pay for the extravagance of my own choices. The resources of our planet are finite and when I take more than my share, I am costing someone else. The responsibility upon me, as one of the fortunate, is to share my abundances and to limit my consumption. The trouble is, with the scripts running, I forget these basic Black truths in favor of the advertisements for the latest sparkly eye shadow, another pair of shoes I don't need, or a crystal mined from god-knows-where with god-knows-what-destruction for my Earth-centered spiritual (material) lifestyle. I forget because it is radically inconvenient and makes me feel guilty and horrid to remember. That is my own self-deception...that this is okay.The Monster of Overeating
I think the monster of overeating is really just a symptom of my own disease of consumerism--my 'affluenza'. I have access to every kind of high-fat, high-sugar, highly-processed food that trips all sorts of internal human body sensors that say, "Ahhh. That feels great. That kinda caloric boom will keep us alive for some time. Great job, provider!" Things that didn't even exist 50 years ago and the sort of food-high that humans encountered rarely, if ever, in their history are now so common-place that they've become a disaster for health and wellness. The statistics here in the United States are appalling
and though I don't register officially as obese, I'm affected by the monster, too.
Truth: I eat too much and move too little. I am sabotaging my body, the quality and length of my life every single day. I'm throwing away the best and only gift the Universe has ever intended for me alone. My lifespan. My body to live it out in. I know it, it is plain fact, and yet I bury that inconvenient knowledge under insulating scripts.
The scripts say, "I'm hungry. I want it. I deserve it. It'll make me feel better. I need it to cope."
And the worst of it, for me, is knowing that my actions are not only affecting me and my family but also are rippling out with all sorts of (on my part) unintended consequences through the world. I went vegan for a reason, a whole host of reasons, but as a natural end-point of my spiritual belief system. It is a way for me to lessen, directly, the suffering that my consuming unleashes on the world. One way in hundreds, perhaps, but a very concrete way for me to live mindfully. I made that decision almost seven years ago and in that time I've fallen off the wagon, more than once, and started consuming dairy and egg products. I cannot envision a day that I'd ever eat animal flesh again but it is easy for my scripts to overwhelm the opposition and encourage me to forget all the reasons I steered away from cheese pizzas and ice cream and traditional dessert products to begin with. I've driven by veal calves chained in their little plastic doghouses and could almost hear the fever-pitched LA LA LA LA LA! I'm NOT LISTENING!! LA LA LA LA!
ear in finger tactics that the scripts combated the sight with.
It is pretty horrifying to me to realize that I'm compromising what I believe to be morally right because the monster, that overconsuming monster, wants the fat and grease and calories and fullness and convenience and NOW!ness of non-vegan foods. I'm tempted and then the voices weigh in with all the reasons it is not only a good idea but a downright necessary indulgence. The voice of Truth gets buried in the chatter of the scripts.
~*~So Instead of Giving Up, I Can....
Lady Black sees right through me, my self-deceptions, and shakes her head. I have justifications, I have excuses, I have many forms of defense but really--I'm sleepwalking through most of my life. I do things for reasons that aren't Truthful or mindful and then
come up with scripts that support an image of me where that's okay. And this month, more than any, I've had the sobering and painful and embarrassing experience of being more keenly aware of these personal self-deceptions. It is enough to make me want to give up, go back to my self-made fantasy life, and find new ways to tune out the voice of Truth. But, this time, I'm trying not to. I'm trying to sit with the perfect Truth that I'm a divine light and precious beyond measure, yes, but that so is everyone and everything around me. I'm so big and I'm so small--a human body standing under the canopy of the night sky. I am nothing but I am part of everything and I have choices every day that I make that effect the world around me. I am flawed, yes, of course, but that means I can always do better
1) I've been inspired to check out and read a few books (from my local library, though my knee-jerk reaction is *always* to buy things). Anyways, they've all crossed my path this month and tied into my thoughts on Black. They are:The Power of Half: One Family's Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back
by Hannah and Kevin SalwenLost and Found: Unexpected Revelations about Food and Money
by Geneen Roth
2) I've also been working on making small, mindful steps each day. We came home to a near-empty kitchen and will leave for Florida in only two days. Normally, I would have gone to the grocery store and stocked up. I'm suspicious of food that's sat in our fridge over the completely-arbitrary-time-frames I make up. I tend to toss leftovers and produce that looks even a tad bit imperfect. It is wasteful and silly. Also, I will let perfectly wonderful food rot in my fridge because I choose, instead of making it a priority to eat it, to buy more food that I like better or to go out to dinner or to just forget about it until it reaches that state of not-brand-new that triggers my urge to throw away.
Today, I pulled my crockpot out for the first time in six
years in order to make something out of the bits and pieces we had laying around. I'm not sure what sort of soup we're in for tonight but it includes the half-a-jar of tomato sauce I'd left behind last week and would have ordinarily thrown away, half an onion, chickpeas, celery (which I'm no fan of), a handful of wrinkly grape tomatoes, two cloves of sprouting garlic, leftover steamed broccoli, veggie stock and some pasta odds and ends. It smells delightful and was surprisingly fun to scavenge together. It feels productive and ingenious and most importantly, mindful
. A small victory but one in which I stayed AWAKE--not zooming along on my comfy scripted autopilot mode.
3) I came across a quote this month that has been fueling me and led to quite ambitious goals to declutter, thin out, and donate vast amounts of our clothes, toys, books, and other extraneous household items. It has been the voice of Black this month--compassionate, honest, and challenging."The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry;
the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked;
the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot;
the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor;
the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.” ~St. Basil the Great