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#UniversalChildrensDay

I spotted the hash tag for Universal Childrens Day on Twitter this morning and had to smile at the relevance to recent events and discussions at The Costello dinner table during the last few days.

Daughter aged 17.

I’m tired about all the comments at school about what it means to follow certain BAC* programmes. According to students and teachers, the only programme worth anything is the BAC-S (mostly science). They think ‘S’ students are the achievers and above the rest.

*Baccalaureate

She doesn’t follow the ‘S’ programme but is a high achiever. I’m not saying that as a doting parent, I base it on facts evidenced by her grades. For several years she has said that her goal is to be a surgeon. Sadly though, teachers don’t support her goal, they are consumed with the idea that you have to reside in a particular box to become a doctor and Kalyani is one box below. We have heard (and ignored) their comments at parents evenings because we know that our daughter will follow her path and, with 100% support from us. Some doctors too don’t support the teacher point of view and good news from the president.

A review of the system is underway. Exactly where that will go we aren’t yet sure but will it force a change of attitude on the coal face where teachers’ seem to push young people away from their life-path?

I told the class tutor that I am going to university in Toulouse to study to become a lawyer. She said I wouldn’t be able to achieve that.

That came from a dinner discussion with our son, Sasha. He is currently in the final year of a BAC course that last years class tutor said he wouldn’t be able to manage. He is scoring grades above the class average.

At the end of the semester (Christmas), the class council will meet and decide whether or not to support Sasha’s choice. The tutor will vote against, other members of the council are expected to follow her lead.

What does this do to a young persons confidence?

Facing judgment and disapproval for our choices can be painful. But over time it becomes clear that others’ judgment often has more to do with their own fears and insecurities than with our shortcomings. They might feel betrayed, confused, or even envious. Seeing things from this angle can help take negative comments less personally and increase our understandings of others.

We encourage our six children to follow their dreams and impress upon them that not all dreams are created equal. The life we want to means making choices that may go against the expectations of communities or culture. Stigma, isolation, and uncertainty might occur as a result but the less travelled road has its advantages.

While nothing in life is risk-free, some paths have clearer roadmaps than others. Carving a difficult path involves trial and error, which can also mean greater potential for failure. Experiencing failure can help us change our relationship to it, and see it as a learning opportunity rather than a verdict on our ability.

There’s no shortage of opinions about what it takes to make life meaningful or the path we ought to follow. Some argue that life doesn’t have meaning until one gets married or has kids, others place a higher value on professional success. Personally, I follow what can be described as a mystical path. Meaning is a deeply personal, subjective experience guided by my intuition. Research suggests that the types of experiences that give us a sense of meaning—like kindness or overcoming adversity are not constrained by culturally-defined milestones or opinions.

On this Universal Childrens Day, we should be promoting the needs and goals of our children and helping them achieve rather than pushing them toward paths we see rather than those they hope for. At any given moment, it is they who ought to decide how their story will progress.

Lost in our own stories

Greetings from here, a stunning autumnal day in the south of France.

In my last post, I talked about freeing ourselves from the need of regular selfish desires and transforming our thoughts and desires to the needs of others.

I didn’t expect those comments to raise such a wonderful rush of chatter on various social media forums and I am pleased they did.

One person said, “Thank you so much Steve for bringing up that which stops us from experiencing constant, intrinsic and unconditional love – the illusion of individual needs and desires. The illusion of individuals.”

While another said, “When we get out of our own head our attention immediately turns to others (or donuts). The question to ask is “how can I help?”

I love that reference to donuts (even though it should be doughnuts! Ha ha) but it is rather sad, like, ‘my works’ done for the day so that person who seems lonely, lost . . . can wait until another day, I don’t have time for that right now.’

Not a day goes by without a tag being added; today (10 October 2017) is World Mental Health Day. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with ‘depression’ a label that was difficult to come to terms with, and then add the other odd things that kept surfacing. Thank heavens’ for the person who noticed, she pulled me out of the mire.

How often do we take the time to look around at our fellow humans? Sometimes they can’t reach out when they need to because they don’t have the capacity or, nobody is listening.

“Is seeking pleasure what is hindering us from realizing who we are, or is it just a matter of mistaking transient pleasure (TP) for authentic pleasure (AP), which is inherent in consciousness?”

I wonder if seeking pleasure through the various aspects of our lives can be a hindrance, especially if an element of risk or fear is involved. Consider the confidence it takes to ask somebody you don’t know too well if they are okay. The ego steps in and raises doubts while our intuition gently asks for attention when it tells us it’s a good idea to say hello or offer a coffee to someone within our radar.

We have to love the ego, it can lead us astray, it often protects us but we must also listen to our intuition. The TP, such has having the latest phones aren’t AP.

TP = Ego, AP = Intuition, soul . . . If we only know authentic pleasure, we have stepped into the light and whilst still there, our ego and intuition are as one, looking after and guiding us as we travel along our paths.

Here’s what another commentator had to say,

“Good Morning varying versions of shared Self:

Sitting here observing and experiencing the miracle that is the freely gifted daily morning waves, sunrise, birds, dolphins and all…all thought seems superfluous to optimal being.

I am intrigued and guided by the latest neuro science from the Max Planck Institute where by connecting individuals to a new type of brain scanner and giving them a series of multiple choice questions…they could accurately forecast each thought 6-7 seconds before the thinker had it.

What they were unable to do is to say accurately where each thought originates yet the tests do point to the strong possibility that there is something invisible at play.

From this human perspective the only way is to view life as one ‘qualia program’ being directed, written, produced, experienced and ongoingly informed by the Only One Formless Being – and holding the knowing that I am that Being….feels all that is needed to be known.

It feels that we confuse & reduce via distractive thought when there are birdsongs, waves, breezes through the trees, children’s laughter, Mozart, Bach, sharing, caring, tender, playful, creative, inclusive, compassionate & wondrous other unlimited experiences to be lived and felt.”

Each day I learn and grow, through life, meditation other studies and leisure activities.

Is it through meditation that we can take great strides forward? Can meditation affect the thoughts of people not meditating? There are arguments we are connected in such a way. Put like that it sounds so simple. Of course it’s not but getting people to the same page is part of our journey and to do that, we have to notice them.

Despite the darkness that all too often drifts into the light, we were born in love and our universal love is something to be cherished and shared.

If you would like to join the debate, try one of these forums at Discovering Your Cosmic Self where you can discuss these issues in a supportive and challenging environment.

I will leave you for now (or maybe not) with a poem by David Whyte

The Bell Ringer

Consider the bell
ringer as an image
of the human soul,
he stands foursquare
on the stone flagged
ground, and surrounded
by a circle of communal
concentration
searches in his fixed
aloneness
for a world
beyond straight,
human,
eye to eye
discourse,
in this case
above him,
the collision of metal
worlds chiming
to each bend and lift
of the knees,
letting his weight bear down
on the rope,
creating out of the heave
and upward pull,
a hollowed out
brass utterance,
a resonant
on-going argument
for his continued presence,
independent
of daily mood
or the necessities
for a verbal
proclamation.

***

Let him stand there
then
for the human soul,
let his weight
come true on the rope,
the way we want to lean
into the center of things,
the way we want to
fall with the gravity
of the situation
and then afterwards
laugh and
defy it
with an upward
ultimately untraceable
flight,
a great ungovernable
ringing
announcement
to the world
that something, somewhere,
has changed.

Consider
the bell ringer
as one of us,
attempting some
unachieved,
magnificent
difference in the world,
far above
and far beyond
the stone-closed
space we seem
to occupy.

Below
we’re all
effort, listening
and willful concentration,
above,
like a moving sea,
another power
shoulders
just
for a moment
the whole burden,
lifts us
against our will,
lets us find
in the skyward pull
a needed antidote
to surface noise,
a gravity against gravity,
another way to hear
amid
the clamor of the heavens.

(Everything Is Waiting For You)

Namasté dear people of Las Vegas

I’ve just finished editing a difficult chapter of my work in progress (wip). Four central characters diverted from their road-trip route by a fictional road traffic accident with loss of life. There was a sound reason for this and it may be a difficult scene for anybody with real-life experience of similar events. Editing the chapter contributed to my current spiritual low-ebb.

From fiction to fact, my characters visited a place called Oradour Sur Glane in France. Toward the end of the Second World War the population of the entire village was massacred. Possibly because of one man, kidnapped by the local resistance. Nobody really knows the truth except that 642 men, women and children were murdered.

If you visit Oradour Sur Glane, the old village is preserved as it was on 10 June 1944. The doctors’ car is still in its parking space. There is a sewing machine, babies’ pram and evidence of unnatural destruction.

Not for the first time yesterday (02/10/2017), I spotted a news alert on my computer. Intuition told me not to go there but something over-rode it and I opened a news page on my browser to discover the latest tragedy in The USA. Las Vegas, at least fifty dead, hundreds physically wounded and I dread to think how many psychologically damaged following the actions of one individual.

Something drove that man to that point, we may never know what, but one thing is certain, a range of powerful weapons were at his disposal. He may have had licence to own them and he put them to devastating use.

There is but one road to peace in this world and it does not involve mass-murder whether government sanctioned or not. Power will never bring peace. Only the internal peace of individuals who share their inner-strength can do that. It’s a matter of choice to seek internal peace; it takes courage and confrontation with many of the things we thought we knew. The potential for greatness is within all of us, it comes pre-installed and I don’t mean in a way that nourishes the ego.

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