“Flight”, a Haiku by Gregg Hake

Soaring through the air
Above the clamorous crowd—
Bird and man take wing.

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The Adulteration of You

Scientifically and spiritually speaking, adulteration is the process of corruption, debasement, or making impure by the admixture of baser materials. This process works out in your life whenever you choose to grant inferior substances – be they people, thoughts or things – access to your mind, heart or life.

In consumer goods, adulterants are often used to cheapen the manufacture of a product. This occurs with cutting agents in illicit drugs as well as with food additives in the food supply. In either case, the original thing is degraded by virtue of the adulterant.

Adulteration can occur at the level of spirit, feeling, and thought, just as easily as it does in form (e.g. in consumer goods). Whenever you let things in that are inferior to the highest and finest of which you are capable, you partake in the adulteration of you. You cheapen and yourself; you exchange the satisfaction of dignity for petty and fleeting pleasure.

You need not engage outwardly, that is, commit the act, for the simple matter of looking with your heart upon that which is beneath your dignity invariably furthers the adulteration of you.
Consider the perfect innocence and guilelessness granted to each and every person on earth at birth. That innocence is more often lost to self-adulteration than it is by virtue of the corruptive influence of another. As soon as a young man or woman starts being who he thinks he should be or who he thinks others think he should be instead of sincerely and unapologetically being who he is, the adulteration begins. And the sad result is the loss of innocence, the corruption of being.

You cannot mix that which is lower into your world, mind, or most especially your heart without suffering a loss of dignity. You may conceal it for a time, you may convince others and quite possibly even yourself that the adulteration is justified and reasonable, but at a certain point the compromises you make will jeopardize that which you love most. And at the end of the day, that is all that matters.

The good news is that the corruption can be stopped and in many cases the ill effects can be reversed. Innocence can be restored and guilelessness can be reestablished by a true and deep repentance: a rethinking of your approach and a reconsideration of the level of that which you entertain in your heart, your mind, and your world. Dignity can be restored, for dignity is simply the full expression of the real you.

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I was meditating on the nature of maturity recently and I recalled something that Saul Bellow once remarked. He said: “A man should be able to hear, and to bear, the worst that could be said of him.”

One sign of immaturity is an unwillingness to be responsible for one’s decisions, behaviors, and actions, be they good, bad, or ugly. A mature person, however, assumes full responsibility, never blames, and always makes the adjustments necessary to regain the high road.

The mature person readily admits impure intentions, poor decision-making, and myopia. The immature person, on the other hand, elects dissemblance over honesty and pretension over sincerity.

The mature person makes himself vulnerable, while the immature person camouflages his vulnerabilities. In any case, the former approach constrains to enlightenment and the restoration of innocence; the latter to encumbrance and greater shame, guilt, or both.

Were you to hear the worst that could be said about you today, in this moment, would you bear it and seek to improve upon it so that the greater you can find expression? Or would you leap to your own defense and seek to convince those who know you well that they should accept the lesser you?

The choice is always yours.

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“The man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very, very long time.” – Chinese proverb

Knowing what you want to do and actually getting it done are two different things.

Think about it this way: there is a no-man’s land between every goal that is set and every goal that is accomplished. That no-man’s land begins as unclaimed and uncharted territory, but with the application of focused and sufficiently persistent work, it gradually becomes familiar as it is traversed.

The process of achieving any goal involves the transformation of the unknown into the known. Self-discipline allows this to be done. The ability to do the right thing when it needs to be done without external control or coercion is the measure of self-discipline. And self-discipline is an essential element of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual maturity.

Self-discipline at one level (e.g. physical or mental) provides foundational support for the development of self-discipline in the other levels. As such, the successful handling of the small, seemingly insignificant details of life contributes significantly to the pattern of victory in the larger goals and aspirations.

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This Moment

“This Moment”, a poem by Gregg Hake

In the silence of this moment
The crushing echoes of the past
Are hushed.

In the calmness of this moment
The clamorous wants of the present
Are filled.

In the stillness of this moment
The susurrus of the future
Is felt.

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School of Life

If you’ve ever seen a time lapse video of plant growth you likely marveled at the beauty and wisdom of life. The flow of life vivifies what would otherwise be an uncoordinated conglomeration of matter and energy.

Life surges through the members of the animal and vegetable kingdoms it animates, including mankind, though man, with his capacity for free will, can modulate the expression of the life which pours through his form more than any other animal. Every man, woman, and child allows, through his or her pattern of choice, for the outpouring of life within. Some choices amplify the flow, while others attenuate it.

The creative process is by nature incredibly forgiving. The physical world is constantly in flux. Life, which is by nature eternal, is constantly inspiriting new forms in new ways. Old forms give way to new ones, but life itself never dies. The death of a loved one is not the death of life, but the sundering of life and the form it quickens. There is loss, but it is not total.

Every new thing you undertake moves through a life cycle. Impregnation, gestation, birth, and maturation work out through every aspect of your life. This order is the law of life. It manifests in a pattern and the pattern is immutable. That, however, doesn’t stop people from trying to work around it. They lean into it with the force of their will, pitting cleverness against wisdom in an effort to speed things up or to bypass the laws of nature. While such attempts may appear to work in the short term, they are eventually swept away by the pliant, yet unchangeable laws of life.

At any given point in time you will find yourself in the midst of any number of cycles which are at various stages of unfoldment. Time management, project management, life and leadership skills, and so many other clever classifications are simply fancy ways to describe the process by which these cycles of life are managed. Some advocate the use of force more than others, all demand a certain level of understanding of the principles of organization, but ultimately we are all students in the great school of life.

Your dominion over the world you center is as dependent upon the timing of your action as it is the quality of your action. Pushing and demanding results, insisting that the form be a certain way prematurely will distort the outcome and possibly abort the unfolding cycle. Likewise, waiting too long to act, procrastinating beyond the point of no return, or constantly wishing things were different than they are now will likely result in a string of missed opportunities.

Life is wise. Life is beautiful. Coordinate with it and you will flourish and blossom. Struggle against it and you will wither and eventually find yourself unable to accommodate its vibrancy. In this sense the old adage is correct: if you stop and get a whiff of the flowers, you might just begin living more generously, more radiantly. And like the time lapse films, it may work in and through you faster than you might have thought possible.

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