Avoiding the News

One of the most effective ways to reduce the level of poison in our personal Image Spheres is to avoid the news as much as possible.  One can not even catch a small glimpse of the news without being exposed to something horrid.  Even so, this can be a difficult step for people.

In the United States, we are taught from an early age that it is our civic duty to “keep informed.”  For this reason, even if we do not really want to keep abreast of the news, there can be a sense of guilt in staying away from it.  After all, there is real suffering in the world, and we are given the impression that our awareness of “issues” can help in some way.

The problem is that the “issues” in the world are complex and intertwined.  Taking action in one direction may cause more difficulty in another direction.  Unless one is an expert on a subject or issue, one really can not understand all of the complications involved.  Becoming an expert on an issue truly requires one to devote much of one’s life to it.  For the rest of us, all awareness of “issues” does is to poison our Image Spheres.

Blossoms growing on the World Heart Tree from restored Heart Flowers

Isn’t this selfish?  How can we just worry about our own protection and Image Spheres, when there is so much suffering in the world?  These are fair questions, but I think that as counter-intuitive as it seems, I think that protecting our own Image Spheres does help on a larger level.

One of the best explanations I found for this forms the basis of the Anime series, Heartcatch Precure.  In this series, the Heart Flower of every individual is connected to the World Heart Tree.  The Evil Side’s goal is to turn the world into a Desert and steals people’s Heart Flowers to create monsters called Desertarians.  For someone’s Heart Flower to be stolen, it must already be wilting due to some pain or worry.  The heroines (the Precure), fight to cleanse the Desertarians and to restore the stolen Heart Flowers.  By doing so, the restored Heart Flowers strengthen the World Heart Tree.

Cure Sunshine and her fairy erecting a barrier to protect the World Heart Tree

Cure Sunshine and her fairy erecting a barrier to protect the World Heart Tree

While this is a fictional Anime series, I think that it is based on sound metaphysics.  Our Hearts are microcosms of the Sun, and the World Heart Tree is a metaphor for how all of our individual Hearts are connected.  Horrid events do not just damage bodies, they damage souls.  The damage to the World Heart is increased when more souls are exposed to awful things.  If there was a physical contagious infection, it would only be common sense to limit the exposure to that infection as much as possible.  Even those who were caring for the sick and working to contain the infection would take precautions to limit their exposure, not just for themselves, but to avoid the spread of the disease.

In a similar fashion, I think that taking precautions to limit our exposure to the horrors of the world helps to contain the spread of the “disease,” as it were.  I believe that guarding our own “Heart Flowers” does indeed make a difference to the “World Heart Tree.”

Why Japanese?

For many months now, I have been deeply immersed in the study of Japanese.  Indeed, I probably spend at minimum of 3 to 4 hours a day actively studying and at least another 3 or 4 hours with Japanese media in the background while I do other tasks.

I have to admit to feeling a little awkward when people ask me what I have been doing lately.  I explain that I have been deeply engaged in the study of Japanese.  I often get asked the questions, “Why Japanese?” and “What are you going to DO with it?”

Those questions are a bit tricky to answer as at the moment, I am not really sure of THE reason for Japanese, if in fact, THE reason exists.  I seem to have been led in this direction, and I have learned from long experience that the Fairies often give us information on a “need to know” basis.  Still, they are trustworthy, and it is generally best to follow where they lead.

That being said, there seem to be lots of reasons, and more and more reasons become manifest every day.  It occurred to me that some of the reasons are deeply intertwined with the journey that this blog has been documenting.

Language is far more fundamental to our being than many of us realize.  Not only is language a means of communication, but it shapes they way we think and look at the world.  Many English speakers, especially English speakers in the U.S., never learn another language.  Most people take one or two years of another language in high school and/or college, but that is not the same thing as actually learning a language.  I took two years of French in high school, but I really do not remember anything from it.  In order to truly learn a language, one must really embrace it, and I think that embracing a new language really changes a person on a fundamental soul level.

I have noticed many changes in myself over the past several months.  It is hard to really describe the changes, but I think that overall, Japanese has softened me.  I have noticed that I feel gentler and more quiet inside.  While I my Japanese is not yet at the level that I can think in Japanese, or at least not for very long, it has stilled my inner monologue considerably.  Even in English, I have noticed that my voice has become softer, and I feel less pressured in social situations.  I have also felt safer when out and about, as if Japanese has formed a protective shield around me.

vlcsnap-2014-09-06-01h18m25s84On this blog, I have written many articles about the Image Sphere.  As part of my studies, I have been consuming a great deal of media in Japanese.  As the reader may know, I had already been watching Anime with English subtitles, but watching them in Japanese (even at my level of Japanese) is a much different experience.  Even in English, the shows were gentler and cleaner than anything I have seen in Western media, particularly recent Western media.  Yet, watching them in Japanese makes even the English translations seem course.  (Cure Dolly wrote an article about the difficulty of translation between Japanese and English that can be found here).

Are any of these things THE reason for studying Japanese?  I do not know.  Yet, I do think that they are very good reasons.  What I am going to DO with Japanese?  I do not know that either.  What am I doing with Japanese now?  I am learning and letting my soul be reshaped by this language.

What Is “Real”? What is Ideal?

There was an interesting discussion after my last article, Welcome Back, Sandra Dee, regarding actresses, the roles they play, and who are they in “real life.”  There was mention of how who we are is often shaped by social expectations, and even a bit of philosophical discussion regarding our lives being an illusion and a play.

sandra-dee2As interesting as this discussion is, and I hope it continues, I think that in many ways the images are more important than the “reality,” or at least the “reality” in the sense of our physical existence.  I understand that this is contrary to the view of modern society.  We are fascinated by the “real lives” of celebrities, which generally consists of prying into the darkest and dirtiest parts of their lives.  We are particularly fascinated when the “real lives” of actresses, or other celebrities do not match the characters they play or the images they present.

I think that this fascination is a bit misguided, though, and I also think it is not really useful for those of us trying to clean and purify our Image Spheres for various reasons.

One of the reasons is that people are complicated.  We all play many different roles in our lives.  We play roles as parents, as students, as workers, as friends, and the list goes on and on.  Which one of these roles are “real”?  I think the answer to that is that they are all “real,” even though they are likely quite different.

People are also complicated in that we all have a True Self and a False Self.  On a basic level, our True Self is our better self, and our False Self is who we are when we succumb to temptation.  Using a popular media image, our True Self is the little angel on our shoulder, and our False Self is the little devil.  This idea is a bit foreign to modern, cynical thinking, which seems to operating under the belief that we are being “real” when we are at our worst.  Actually, it is interesting that there are currently many “reality shows” being produced that create artificial situations that often have the effect of bringing out the worst in people.

Aside from the complicated nature of people, when we are working to purify our Image Sphere, we are making choices as to what we are exposing ourselves to.  In our day to day interactions in the physical world, there are many situations that we do not have control over.  We can not always avoid ugly or poisonous things.  We are not always capable of creating a living environment that nurtures our soul.

Given that there are many things we do not have control over, when we do have control over our Image Sphere, it makes a lot of sense to choose good and healthy images.  Do these images represent the “reality” of the past or of another culture?  Some of the answer to that question depends on what one defines as “reality,” of course.  To avoid that difficulty, I think an easier question would be whether the images accurately depict the physical circumstances of the past or another culture.  If one phrases it that way, the answer is likely  that it does in some ways, and it does not in others.

On the other hand, when we get too much caught up in that analysis, I think we lose sight of what we are trying to do.  I think that the media we create and consume reflects our values and our ideals.  These are the stories we are choosing to tell and to listen to.

While the stories that we tell and hear may on some level reflect the physical, material circumstances that we find ourselves in, they also help shape and define our circumstances.  If we are trying to make changes in our lives to let our True Selves or our best selves shine forth, we need role models and examples.  I see nothing wrong with these role models being fictional characters.  I also see nothing wrong in allowing the actresses who bring these fictional characters to life being role models as well.

I think that this was understood in the past.  The images of actresses and movie stars were carefully preserved to hide their faults and their struggles.  Nowadays, there seems to be a great deal of effort spent on exposing the carefully hidden faults and struggles of the role models of the past and celebrating the bad behavior and faults of those who would be the role models of the present.  Much of the time, this is done in the name of “exposing the truth.”

VaseYet, is this really “exposing the truth,” or is it creating an illusion of an ugly and cynical world?  If our role models are celebrated for behaving badly, and if we are taught that this is “reality,” how will we ever aspire to, well, anything?

A metaphor to this might be a beautiful ceramic vase that has a flaw in it.  Does it make sense to turn the vase so that the flaw is visible and draw a black marker around the flaw to make the flaw more obvious?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to position the vase so the flaw can not be seen?

I think that all of us are beautiful vases with flaws, including celebrities.  The choice that we have is whether to highlight our beauty or highlight our flaws.  It seems an easy choice when looked at in this light, I think.

The Image Sphere

One of the fallacies of the Modern Era is the belief that the images and ideas that we expose ourselves to do not matter.  In my last article I talked about speech and thought and I previously wrote an article about the television.  The ideas addressed in these articles relate to the broader subject of our Image Sphere.

fantasia-gardensOur Image Sphere consists of the things we are exposed to.  What we see, what we read, what we hear, what we think, what we dream, what we imagine, all of these become a part of our Image Sphere.

In the West, we are taught that the only things that are “real” are those things that we can experience with our senses, with instruments that enhance our senses, or things that can be logically derived or inferred from sense data through reason.  This belief is an aberration of the post Enlightenment period in the West.  Metaphysically, the world we can experience with our senses is only a small portion of the entire cosmos, or the sublunary sphere.  Above that sphere is the Lunary Sphere.  For a more detailed explanation of the Traditional Model of the Cosmos, you can see a previous article I wrote on the Apple Seed on this subject here.

Our personal Image Spheres are part of the larger Lunary Sphere.  Also in the Lunary Sphere are all of the images that are created everywhere in the world.  When you think about all of the material that is currently on television and the Internet, it is a rather frightening thought.  Ever since the mid-1960’s, starting with the West and spreading Eastward, society has entered into a downward spiral, or a Tamasic Guna.  In some Deanic and Filianic groups, this is known as the Eclipse.  In the Eclipse, the collective Image Sphere we are exposed to has become poisonous.  The three main poisons, atomization, deracination, and deformation are discussed in detail here.  Atomization is the severing from the community and other people, or rampant individualism.  Deracination is severing from tradition, or our roots.  Deformation is the inversion of values, or the creation of deliberately ugly or disturbing images.  The term deracination can also be used to refer to all three poisons collectively.  We are exposed to these poisons on a constant basis all of the time, in the clothing people wear, in what we watch on television, in what we are exposed to on the Internet, and in almost everything we do.

In The Feminine Universe, Miss Alice Lucy Trent writes:

Modern people are generally very careful about what they put into their mouths.  They will not normally pick up any interesting edible thing from the street and swallow it; but no similar caution is exercised over what they put into their minds, and indeed, the concept of mental hygiene is one that takes a considerable adjustment in our whole way of thinking.  Everything in a Tamasic world is strongly against it.  Everything encourages us to think that we can see, hear, and mentally ingest anything without any particular consequences; and that we should, therefore, make a practice of mentally ingesting whatever comes our way.

The reader may think that I am talking about the usual complaints about the media, too much violence, swearing, or s*xual content.  Those are problems to be sure, but those are just the tip of the iceberg.  Just as problematic, if not more so, are the clothing, manners, and general demeanor shown.  We live in a world of 24 hour a day news cycles, with stations like Fox News and MSNBC poisoning us with and fueling the constant political conflict in the United States.  Even those shows that seem wholesome, like children’s media, portray a world that is dangerous, where innocence is punished and where those in authority are not to be trusted.  Indeed, media is criticized if it too nice, lacks conflict, or does not show enough moral ambiguity.   There is a very interesting article on this subject, Guilty Pleasures and Conscience Inversion.

The reader may be thinking that the solution is to do political action to change the media.  Indeed, there are many groups from the Far Right to the Far Left, and every group in between, working to influence the media.  As an aside, the attention paid to the media by these groups belies the idea that what we see does not matter.  If it did not matter, there would not be so much strife and political action surrounding the subject.  The problem with political action though, is that political action is in itself poisonous.  It embroils us in the world of overbalanced conflict and strife.  Nothing in this article or in my philosophy would dispute with those who feel moved or called in the direction of social change; however, this is not necessary to clean up our own Image Spheres, and is likely counter-productive to our goal.

Aunt BeeCleaning our own Image Spheres does make a difference.  Every person is a microcosm of the cosmos, and our own personal Image Spheres impact the larger Lunary Sphere.  A simple way of cleaning our Image Spheres is to carefully consider the media we ingest, what we read, what we watch, and what we link to on the Internet.   In the The Feminine Universe, Miss Trent suggests both avoiding poisonous media and purposefully ingesting positive media.  Miss Trent suggests media from the Rajastic Period immediately preceding the Eclipse, or prior to the mid-1960’s.  Another more recent place to find good, healthy media is from Japan.  One still must be careful, particularly with modern Japanese media, in that there is heavy Tamasic Western infiltration into Japanese media; however, there is still wonderful media to be found, if one is careful.

One of the advantages of recent times is the availability of the Internet, which gives us access to wonderful, good, healthy media if we take the time to find it.  With Netflix and online streaming, one can have relative freedom from the shows that are currently made on television and cable.

Miss Trent warns though, that it is not enough to ingest good media and to avoid bad media to cleanse our Image Spheres.  We must do so with understanding.  For example, one can watch a 1950’s show and think of it as an “old movie,” which has nothing to do with our modern world.  One can watch Anime in the Magic Girls genre and think that it is all just fluff.  In either case, these shows will do little to change our Image Spheres.  It is necessary to watch them with understanding and with an intent to absorb the wonderful examples of femininity, beauty, innocence, and a clear sense of right and wrong.  We can also watch them for the way people dress, behave, and look at the world.

When I was first taking the journey of cleansing my personal Image Sphere, I lamented at giving up favorite television shows.  A wise person suggested not worrying about giving up anything, but to start with ingesting healthier media.  I found as I began ingesting healthier media, my taste for unhealthy media started to fade.  I still occasionally watch a modern cooking show or two with my spouse, but I have found that there is very little in modern media that I can tolerate anymore.

In addition to cleansing our personal Image Spheres, we can also pay attention to what we are putting out in the communal Image Sphere.  With the many available forms of social media, including blogging, the Image Sphere has become democratized to a large extent.  While we may not be able to control what others put on the Internet, we can be careful of what we put on it.  We can avoid foul language and ugly and disturbing images and instead write with polite language and share beautiful and lovely images.

For further mediation on this subject, I will end this article with words from feminine Scripture:

Thoughts of the mind pass not away, nor vanish into air.

For every thought is a builder in the subtle world that lies about you.

Thoughts of beauty and of things of the Spirit refine and purify the soul, making her fair to look upon and graceful in her movements,

Uniting her with the universal music of eternity and gathering about her the servants of the Janyati.

But harsh thoughts harden the soul; coarse thoughts coarsen the soul; thoughts bound only to the tings of clay burden the soul with heavy chains.

My children, I speak not in pictures, for truly these things are; and to be seen by all whose eyes may pierce the veil of illusion.

What maiden, receiving of her mother a fine and well made house of well-wrought oak and stone and furnished by the skilful hand of love, will break the walls and furnishings, pour filthy waters into every place and bring swine to dwell in the most splendid chambers?

Will she not rather bring new things of beauty and precious works of love to add to those that lie already there?

Will she not keep away all dirt and defilement and protect it from all harm?