In times of universal deceit, telling
the truth is a revolutionary act.
         - George Orwell

Napoleon once observed that "history" is a set of lies agreed upon. In an era of ubiquitous fake news and information warfare, this has never been more true. The very concept of objective truth in history is fading out of our world. Pure propaganda and outright lies are passing into our history textbooks as unquestioned truth, condemning future generations to false views about historical reality. But the task of sifting through the lies and propaganda is overwhelming, limited by the ambition and time constraints of most observors. Only those who have dedicated their lives to sorting reality from falsehood are qualified to rewrite "consensus" history as a duty to humanity. The contributors to this site endeavor to do just that.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Attitude of Gratitude, and the Aptitude for Solitude

 "I'm just overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude right now.  When you do the work on yourself, and you work through your resentments, it's so freeing. We inevitably get hurt throughout our lives, and we carry so much negativity around because of that hurt and what happened to us.  But the most beautiful thing in the world is when you choose to just face it, to look at it, and to shine light on the darkness within you; you will find gifts in there.  And the most amazing gift is freedom - absolute freedom - and that's what I feel right now.  I feel so overwhelmed [with happiness], but I wouldn't feel this if I didn't go through the struggle, the heartache, and all the bad stuff.  Because there are gifts in the struggle - there are gifts in the bad stuff - but only if you are willing to excavate them, and find what's there.  The hardest thing for a person to do is to take an honest look at themselves, but when you do it sets you free." - Erica Derrickson (YouTube, "A Moment of Pure Bliss at Sunrise", vlog #544)

Erica's poignant words ring true in my own heart now after an hour-long heartfelt chat with an old friend this evening, my next-door neighbour of 40+ years.  By most accounts, this neighbour is a model citizen:  he has a beautiful wife and healthy, loving children, "living the good life" in a safe community, while holding down a senior management position that pays six figures annually.  I, on the other hand, am single, have no children or home of my own, and am saddled with legal problems.  My reputation has been repeatedly dragged through the mud, with front-page local newspaper headlines painting me out to be some kind of deranged monster.  When it comes to relationships and career options, where I'm going to live and what I'm going to do with myself, I feel like my life has hit a dead-end street.  I have no idea where I'll be living in a month from now, let alone a year from now, or even who my friends will be.  I am alone - just me and the universe.

Yet somehow, I am happy and filled with gratitude!  How can this be?

It is because of exactly those things that Erica Derrickson identified in the quote above (transcribed from her YouTube vlog).  I am free of resentments, despite ample reasons for having been unfairly treated by several individuals and the justice system.  I have been hurt, but I have moved beyond the negativity.  I have simply "faced it, looked at it, and shone a light on the darkness", as Erica would say.  There is a gift there, alright - the gift of acceptance.  There is no use resisting what has already happened to us, replaying in our mind some wished-for alternative outcome to our predicament.  The "struggle, the heartache, and all the bad stuff" we experience are reminders of the true nature of suffering.  No matter how much we may feel "I don't deserve this," we must face it head-on.  We must "excavate" our deepest feelings, our deepest fears, and overcome them.  We must take an honest look at ourselves, and forever remind yourself that your life itself IS the gift.  Everything you experience in life - the good, the bad, and the unwelcome - are designed to awaken you to your own nature, your own being.  Only by being totally and completely honest with yourself can your soul be set free.  This absolute freedom comes from the attitude of gratitude.

Such an attitude is not going to be welcomed by all those around you.  My neighbour, for example, was imagining himself in my shoes and dreaming up effective means of revenge against those who have done me injustice.  I just smiled in response, knowing this reaction to be all-too-human.  Revenge, afterall, is sweet.  But it is not liberating.  To be truly free, sometimes we have to go it alone.  We need to summon the inner strength to resist "the ways of the world", and to embrace total honesty in the face of a world that has institutionalized violence and suffering. It is a world engulfed in 'maya' - the illusion of the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of our world.  I choose total truth, even if that means I have to face the world alone.  Overcoming suffering is a job only an honest soul can achieve, no matter what the world throws at you.  When the world gives you a lemon, you don't complain and fill your heart with resentment - you make lemonade.

By cultivating an attitude of gratitude, and developing the aptitude for solitude, we can overcome all obstacles, and keep our eyes on the light in an otherwise dark world.  Then, and only then, can we hope to achieve the prize above all prizes:  enlightenment.

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