The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Journey Revisited

'Life is a Journey, not a Destination!'

It's not about reaching a Goal, whether it be a 'pie-in-the-sky' dream, or some convoluted Hope of the 'Afterlife'! It's about Living & Loving. Some people are so focused on 'The End' that they forget to Live while they are Here, which admittedly, IS a relatively short period of Time. It should be acknowledged though, that there are those who, even with this Convoluted Hope, live consistently according to this Journey Motif. We are all, just as we are ALL the same Energy, on the same Journey, but just as we all are at different stages in our personal Journey, so we each manifest a seemingly different Energy, though it is simply a different level of Energy, a higher or lower Frequency, or Vibration, if you will.

My own personal Journey, especially of late, has been rather difficult, to say the least! So many adjustments are having to be made, so many changes are occurring to me, that sometimes I feel I'm going mad. No, it's not to the point ( yet ) where I'm involuntarily erupting into fits of maniacal laughter, but sometimes I sure feel like it! Life sure takes us on some interesting pathways! I say 'pathways', because, though Life has sure taken on a different sheen of late; it is not like I'm on a different Path: I have simply embarked upon a different pathway, a Higher Plane, if you will. In the Journey of Life we all have our own pathway, our own way to tread, but when it comes down to it, we're all on the same Journey!

Life is a 'funny' thing! The twists & turns It takes often point us in such a different direction from the pathway we thought were on that It almost seems completely foreign to us. My personal Path has taken such a turn. Things I only dreamed about are happening to me, even things that I never even thought of! ( Either that, or I simply would not allow myself to think that way ) It's not, 'as above, so below', that I'm on a different Path now, just that the Path I'm on looks much different than 'The Path' I was taught to follow. I have, in some sense, therefore, left 'the Faith', but I'm still firmly rooted on the Path that I entered upon those many years ago!

'The Journey' will take you where It will! Call It 'Fate', call It 'Predestination', call It what you will; 'Life finds a way', as a man once said. Human beings make choices, yes, even we, as our true selves, as one might say, 'individual spirit beings', Beings of Pure Light, have the ability to choose & so the different levels, the various frequencies we find each other in during whatever stage of the Journey, 'our Journey', that we currently find ourselves on. In the words of another very wise man, it is best to 'Let it be', though the context most definitely determines the personal meaning of his words. Choices must be made, for in the end, that's what It's all about, but call It what you will, Life Itself has a way of turning out as It will, no matter the individual choices that we as human beings make, for Life, contrary to popular opinion, is about More than this biology!

Being More than Human, we must realize that 'Life' IS More than this Biology! The phrase ( mantra, really! ); 'as above, so below' hits hard, for in acknowledging that 'Life is more than this Biology', we also admit that it is not just our personal choices that determine our Path ( our 'stage' of the Journey , not our 'Path', per se ). Life. not unlike the Dynamo of Life, IS the Path & though our choices may determine our course, It is what determines our Path, personally speaking. Life is what It is, so unless we can accept It for what It is, we will be hit with hardship upon hardship, stress upon stress!

'As above, so below'; our choices determine our pathway & 'yes', our pathway IS our own, but Life DOES find a way, so to speak; so though our Life is, in a sense determined by our choices, in the greatest sense & on the other hand, 'It is what It is'. Therefore, in some sense, one might note that It is give & take: we DO have a choice, 'free-will', per se, but ultimately, whether because we must factor in the nebulous choices of 'others' or what; 'Life', as they say, 'is what happens in between our choices'. Life, whatever your definition, DOES find a way, not so much in spite of your choices, as those who believe in 'Fate' might aver, but THROUGH our choices, one might well note!

'The Faith' is what I was raised in, but it is different for 'others'. Not everyone was raised in the same 'Faith' I was, nor indeed was everyone raised to have faith in anyone or anything but themselves! This is not to say, of course, that no one SHOULD have faith in anyone or anything in this Life, because to get ANYWHERE in this Life, one MUST exhibit SOME kind of Faith in 'others'; this is simply to say that while we must take great care WHO we exercise Faith in, in this biology, Life needs Faith in order to subsist or even exist!

'Faith', one might well say, 'is the Foundation of Life ( as we know It )'! Without Faith ( in others or ourselves ( mostly ourselves ) it is impossible to get anywhere in this Life! One must exercise some amount of Faith in 'others' in order for one's own personal plans to come to fruition & of course, Faith in oneself goes without saying, in this respect! In Essence, without Faith in our own several abilities, we would get absolutely nowhere in this thing we call 'Life'!

My personal Journey' 'as above, so below', has been full of twists & turns ( not unlike the proverbial rollercoaster )! Life is 'interesting' to say the least. There are 'ups' & there are 'downs' but that is all personally speaking; spiritually speaking, 'It's all good'! Not simply because everything that 'happens' to us is for our good ( which I STILL believe ), but because, spiritually speaking, we simply ARE; no matter what happens in this biology, to this physicality, WE will always BE, for, being More than Human, our Spirit, being One with the All, persists through & beyond this Biology!

Getting back to our Journey, for it IS OUR Journey, though we each must choose our own respective pathway, we must remember always that we are, each of us, on the same Path, though our frequency, or level of vibration & therefore our personal 'stage' is relatively different! Personally speaking, one might well say that we have chosen our own Path, but one might also wonder, 'has our Path not chosen us?!

Namaste' & Blessed Be,
Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Center of Knowledge; A Contemplation

Knowledge; 'It is what It is'! The question on the mind of this blogger is, 'What IS It?' Can Knowledge be simply be defined, like Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary does, as 'the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association', or is It, like us, More than what we 'see' on the surface? What if I told you that True Knowledge is gained, not by doing, but by BEing?! In that sense though, one might rightly note that True Knowledge is not gained, but, if you will, 'realized through revelation'. The difference, then, between 'simple' knowledge & True Knowledge is that one is grasped/gotten by the intellect & the other is understood by the Unconscious Mind, or Higher Self.

Humanly speaking, education IS of utmost importance! Without it, people would not get very far, if anywhere in this life. Or, is that simply what we've been taught for so long that we've accepted it 'lock, stock & barrel'? As proof of the 'fallen nature' of humanity, many or most Christians use the example that, 'a child does not have to be taught how to lie, how to act selfishly, etc', when, in actuality, they do! Education, or being taught, as we can all attest to, does not come through verbal means alone. Most often, we adopt the behaviors ( or not; it's ALWAYS a choice ) of those around us. Take, for instance, the proverbial selfishness of children; 'that's MY toy, YOU can't have it!' Does the child innately know that it is her or his toy, simply because she or he has it? Or was the child told, when presented with it, that it was hers or his, that it belonged to THEM?! Not that there is anything inherently wrong with 'ownership' ( ? ). Again, then, did the child selfishly wrest their toy away from the other ( child ) simply out of selfishness ( 'fallen nature' ), or because they observed the behavior of others, children & adults, with THEIR things? Fast-forward as the child matures & falls into the trap of lying ( or not ). If the child is surrounded by liars, he or she will the more easily pick up that pattern. Then again, if they think for themselves, she or he might decide that they don't want to be ensnared in that trap & choose the Truth, even if it hurts, which It most often does!

So we come to the 'Center'. What is meant by 'the Center of Knowledge'? It would only make sense that this refers to the origin of knowledge. In the mind of this blogger, though, that brings us back to the question, 'what IS knowledge?' Maybe that's the crux of the issue though; in our mind, we think we must accrue knowledge, While this is true on this material plane, 'as above, so below', is
'knowledge' simply a learned behavior, an acquired taste, if you will, or is there More to it?! Then again, is True Knowledge acquired, or is it realized? The Gap between the purely mental plane & the spiritual can only be bridged by quieting the mind, through meditation. Getting back to the 'Center', speaking of 'meditation'; centering oneself is well-spoken of as a meditational technique. To 'Center' oneself means just that; in terms of quieting the Mind, it means returning to, remembering where one comes from & who one is; that they are More than simply a human ( intellectual ) being, that, at the heart of it all, at the very core, they are a spiritual being having a physical experience!

At the Center of it all is US! In that sense, then, though what we call 'knowledge' on this physical plane most often comes to us from without, through experiential & environmental means, True Knowledge comes from Within, through our link with the Divine, of which WE are an integral part.  Although, one might well note, we are not Knowledge Itself, it is only through that link with the Divine that True Knowledge comes! It is at this point then, that we must ask ourselves the haunting question, which I've already intimated; 'if our 'knowledge' does not come from the Divine, is It True Knowledge?' In other words, 'can we truly say we 'know' something if it doesn't come from the very Center of our Being?' Put simply, human knowledge, or 'knowledge' as defined by most, if not all dictionaries, comes largely through through the experience of others, not through one's own experience, or link with the Divine. This is not to say that one cannot 'see' Truth through the experience of others, but if one would truly KNOW a thing, one must experience it themselves, through what is called 'the Third Eye' & the spiritual 'Center' of our Being.

As 'spiritual beings having a physical experience', then, though we must needs use our intellectual capacity to operate on this physical or 'material' plane, but when we fail to maintain, or acknowledge our link with the Divine, we are consigned to trusting the experience, or 'knowledge' of others. This is not to say, of course, that we cannot trust the experience of others ( ? ), in particular, on this physical plane, for how are we to say that their knowledge does not come from their own link with the Divine? On the other hand, simply trusting another's 'knowledge' falls into the category of 'blind faith': I'm pretty sure I don't need to tell my readers where THAT can lead!

The Truth often hurts, though not as much as the pain of believing a lie! While learning the Truth for ourselves, after being taught to believe the lie for so long, or simply leaning on someone else's experience, may indeed be itself a painful experience, in the 'end' it will bring us comfort, because we will not simply have acquired 'knowledge'; we will KNOW for certain, in the very Core, or Center of our Being, that a thing is so! It is said, humanly speaking, that 'Knowledge is Power'. True enough, one might note, but if it is not True ( Knowledge ), is it then truly Power, or is it simply Manipulation? 'As above, so below'; if One does not  acquire ( realize ) True Knowledge through their OWN link with Divinity, that one is relegated to believing, with 'blind faith' in whatever 'truth' another person may choose to 'reveal' to them. This is nothing but Manipulation!

The Truth, like Knowledge, like Divinity, for that matter, 'is what It is'; it does not change! Though, again, 'humanly speaking', we may each acquire our own individual truths, or 'knowledge', when that 'truth' or 'knowledge' comes through any other means than through our own experience, or link with Divinity, even & especially through 'blind faith', it must therefore be suspect. By 'suspect', I do not necessarily mean that it is not true, for again, 'It is what It is'!

We ARE 'the Center of Knowledge'! True Knowledge, 'as above, so below', is NOT gained or acquired, It is 'realized by revelation'. Through our link with Divinity, our Higher Self, if you will, we 'see' this Truth, this Knowledge, for what It is & thus claim it for ourselves, not as Power to Manipulate, but as Power to BE!

Namaste' & Blessed Be!
Charles Haddon ( Joy ) Shank

Sunday, May 10, 2020

The End of Suffering

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, 
nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
Revelation 21:4 

When's the last time you heard these comforting, but generally misused & misunderstood words? As a 'Christian', I defended this realized hope almost to the death & while I know that I made no enemies over it ( my defense ), I'm pretty certain I didn't make any friends either! As a believer in Realized Eschatology, I adopted the position that the passage above referred to the 'end' of the Hebrew/Jewish paradigm. This is not to say, by any means, that there is no value in these words for today, just that the value popularly attached to them today by the majority of Christians requires quite a bit of textual wrangling!

For most people, Christian or not, it IS a pleasant notion to think that, at some point in Time, we will inhabit a new physicality free of all the pain & suffering that seems to be a part of our daily existence. Never to have to fear losing a loved one to the ravages of Time, much less dying yourself, is a very attractive idea to many, if not most people! Although misplaced, it IS a very valid idea. The crux of the 'matter', so to speak, is the nagging questions, 'who ARE we?' & 'why ARE we here?' The answer to the first question, of course, is pretty obvious, right? I am Charles Haddon Shank; you, reading this, are the person that was born, however long ago, to parents who themselves were born of various parentage. Well, on the surface, 'yes'; that's the obvious answer, but is that the 'reality'? Am I just Charles Haddon Shank? Are you simply the person that a name was attached to at birth? The obvious answer that I'm looking at here is 'no'! You may ask me to prove that. I was brought up to believe that we have an immortal soul that will continue to exist after this Life, either in a mythological 'Heaven' or 'Hell'. No longer do I BELIEVE we HAVE a soul; I KNOW that we ARE a Soul, in Essence, a spiritual being having a physical experience!

In ancient times, people understood more readily, moreso in the Eastern world maybe, that when an 'end' was in view, it referred more to a goal than the cessation of something, whether it be the end of an activity or the end of a life. Thus, the 'end' of this blogpost is not the last you'll read here, but the purpose in my writing, the goal I have in mind for making this 'apology'! Thus, the 'end' of suffering referred to here is not the cessation of suffering, for that is almost a constituent of Life; rather, it is the goal of suffering. 'What IS the goal of suffering?', one might well ask. 'Good question!' Most people who have examined this very pertinent question over the ages have agreed, for the greater part, that the goal of our suffering is anything from learning a necessary lesson ourselves to awakening empathy, either in ourselves or others, depending on who's currently suffering. Suffering, then, is not endless, not just that it doesn't last forever, but that it never occurs for no reason, no matter however irreasonable it may seem!

The 'end of suffering' then, does not & cannot refer to a pain-free existence, for as we've seen, humanly speaking anyway, pain is a constituent element to this Life! Pain is a signal, whether physical or emotional, that something is not as it should be. Not necessarily wrong, but not the optimal condition for our health, again, physically or emotionally speaking. Then again, the two can be, in fact, are very closely related. It has been proven, time & again, that emotional pain leads to physical pain! 'As above, so below' is a concept that may be applied here. Pain doesn't necessarily always begin with our emotions; sometimes physical pain is simply caused by something as simple as stubbing one's toe or turning one's ankle. Even in such cases though, the cause could well be linked to our subconscious desires & thus, to our emotions!

Emotions are a 'funny' thing! Whether perceived as 'positive' or 'negative', emotions, like the Ego, are neither 'good' nor 'bad'; they just ARE. How we respond to those emotions, however, is where the 'good' or 'bad' is perceived: in essence, either the positivity or negativity. Again, our reaction/response to what Life seems to haphazardly 'throw our way' determines, to some extent anyway, how our emotions are perceived. Sometimes we have no control over what 'happens' to us in the course of a lifetime, but we ALWAYS have a choice as to how we respond to the things that DO 'just happen'. Of course, our human need to control is part of the problem!

Suffering, whether emotional or physical, 'as above, so below', has many different causes, though we usually can only blame ourselves! Again, the 'heart of the issue' is in our chosen response to any given situation. The human condition lends to our emotional status, being part & parcel with it. Again, there is nothing wrong with having emotions  ( biologically speaking, they're built in ). There is nothing bad even, about BEING emotional ( again, humanly speaking, we ARE emotional creatures ). The problem, 'the heart of the issue', so to speak, surfaces when we allow our emotions to rule us, to determine how we are going to react to any given situation. Heading the obvious question off at the pass; 'yes, certain emotional responses can turn out okay, but even here we must be careful; we may respond in a positive manner out of a sort of emotional love, but the next moment in a negative manner, for our emotions often change like the weather!'

Nobody likes to suffer! Even though we know when we're deserving of our suffering, for whatever reason, we usually endeavor to alleviate, if not escape altogether, the rewards of our particular 'crime'. 'Many people', I should say, act thusly, but there are some who most willingly 'own up' to the perceived wrong they've done. Knowing that, to truly learn their lesson, the law of karma must & will be fulfilled, they willingly submit to said law & suffer the penalty of their particular crime. Suffering, however, is not always a punishment for one's own negative ( or positive ) actions; some people suffer for the actions of others, willingly even, in some cases!

Suffering, even when there is an 'end' in mind, even in sight, is not a very pleasant notion. However, it IS made somewhat easier when the 'end' IS in sight, for then, we can take comfort in the fact that we're not suffering for no good reason. We have better assurance that, not only is our suffering almost over; our goal is almost reached! These goals are not always 'selfish', either, for 'as above, so below', there are those who quite willingly suffer for the mistakes of others, so that others do not have to endure the consequences of their own actions. Though almost admirable, this is not the wisest course of action, in fact, it most often 'backfires' in the most horrible manner! When we suffer for the deeds of others, not only do we suffer needlessly, noble as we may think it sounds; we also deprive the wrong-doer of the lesson he or she may have stood to learn!

'Can we look forward to the cessation of suffering, as many, if not most people ( not just Christians ) are taught to look forward to?' 'SHOULD we focus on such a goal?!' Surprisingly, the answer to both questions is a resounding 'YES'! The answer here is in the affirmative because we can end our suffering in this life! 'What', some may ask, 'will you then kill yourself?!' This is why most people commit suicide, in the reckoning of this blogger; they don't see an 'end' to their suffering, except to 'end' their life. But there IS a better way! That Way is to make a choice, hard as it may seem. Funny as it might sound, suffering is a choice! 'Whoah', you might be thinking, 'this guy's really gone off the deep end!' But hear me out; I'm not referring simply to human suffering. In fact, I'm not really referring to human suffering, except as an effect of our spiritual condition. 'As above, so below'; we are spiritual beings having a physical experience, thus, if we choose, in our spirit, to suffer, this suffering will manifest in our flesh. If, on the other hand, we choose instead, not to allow ourselves to suffer, no matter what occurs to our flesh, we can remain untroubled, for we KNOW there is an 'end' to our pain, humanly speaking.    

'Should we then, focus on the 'end' of our pain & suffering?' Of course we should! We should realize that, not only is suffering a constituent element to the 'day-to-day', it is also a choice. Simple as it may sound, it is not an easy task. Like our Emotions, the Ego gets in the way, making us play the part of the Victim, or else making us react in a negative way, partaking in their karma, even creating our own. Like, yet unlike the misplaced hope referred to at the beginning of this post, we should endeavor, not to become emotionless, but to focus our attention on who we really are & why we're really here.  'Who we really are & why we're really here' are questions that I will leave my readers to answer!

Namaste' & Blessed Be, 
Charles Haddon Shank