Tuesday, 3 February 2015

It's not an easy Road: blocks and blights along the Path

"It’s not an easy road
Many see the glamour and the glitter
So they think a bed of rose
Who feels it knows
Lawd help me sustain these blows."

From ‘Not and easy road.' by Buju Banton

This chorus has been going round and round my head for the past few weeks; provoking me to invite some wisdom my soul is trying to communicate to me. It would be natural to assume the ‘road’ to be referring to ‘one’s’ life. ‘Glamour and glitter’ could be far reaching or moderate; referring in the first instance to ‘celebrity’ as experienced by Buju and other artists (in that wide field). By ‘moderate’ I refer to the apparent ‘successes’ of ordinary people (career, material possessions, popularity) who seem always to shine in the midst of general mediocrity. The lyrics suggest that there is some kind of illusion with success. Despite the apparent illusion of its merits everyone aspires to succeed. And why not...

They call it 'depression'
A friend shared an article yesterday about the award winning novelist Chimanda Ngozi Adichie’s battle with depression. This seems to have popped out of the blue because she always seems so together, her self-declared feminism and pride in her Igbo identity championing her strength; her beauty adding to the glamour of her literary fame. The article was removed by the Guardian, perhaps because she didn’t authorise its publication. So I’ll refrain from quoting her on this platform. That said I thought it was compellingly written, definitely capturing the emotional truth she masters in her writing. I was interested also because depression is quite common yet rarely spoken about, especially in some communities.

In one of my earlier posts I wrote about the feeling of melancholia which echoes some of what Chimananda Ngozie Adichie was expressing in the article:

“Some days the melancholia is a chain encircling your neck. You despise yourself, everything and everyone. The previous day you were all smiles; you noticed the sun, a patch of blue in the sky. Today the birds outside your window are irritating – what makes them keep chirping tuneful melodies? Deeply you resent them. Not a lark, not a robin, nor a rare dove cross the sullen silver sky. Only pigeons, blackbirds and single magpies flitter through the pale opaque canvass outside your window. Trees shorn of leaves and cloaked in dusky browns depress your soul. The uniformity of houses whose colours match the trees’ dirty browns stimulates only a desire to return to the world of dreams. You remain as long as possible in bed- if there’s no work and there is no work because you have no energy to do anything or there isn’t anything to do.”
From 'Phoenix and the Blues.'

A friend called soon after to ask if I was alright. At the time I wasn't quite, but after releasing the 'feeling' with wordz I felt better.

Though commonplace, it’s believed depression particularly affects creative people. As a creative that’s hardly comforting because it implies propensity to an interminable dis-ease. The difference between ‘creatives’ experiencing depression and the general population might be that artists consciously or unconsciously commune with spirit by which they attempt to recreate (make manifest) deeply intuitive messages (in the form of sculpture, painting, novel/story or other). It’s an unavoidable interlude; hence the persisting heavy feeling and desire to be cloaked in darkness (or remain in bed, away from everything/everyone). It’s in this interlude, wherein the artist experiences ‘stillness,’ and tries to interpret the messages of their creative muse or spirit; or align with their soul purpose; connecting to their intuition. Brilliance (illumination even) is achieved in this way if the artist is prepared to attend to the pressure of being summoned away from the ‘glamour’ (mundane/celebrity life) and rest awhile with spirit (meditate).

Artists (as we can see with Buju’s lyrics) might use the medium of art to expose their struggles; a cry to be recognised for their humanness in spite of the swirl of celebrity and success. But how does the ‘general population’ cope with their instances of depression? I mean if self-expression isn’t part of a natural response to their experiences. Quick fixes like anti-depressants are readily dished out by doctors; and for some they can have the desired effect of restoring homeostatic order. Yet others might yield to the side effect of dependency (addiction).

The nature of the struggle
I would like to appeal for a different interpretation of that chorus by Buju that’s been haunting me. I see the ‘road’ as being not just my ordinary, mundane ‘life.’ By this I mean where and how I work, where and how I live, who my friends and family are, my material possessions, academic or other achievements, my hobbies and my part/place in community/society etc. These things matter (are in deed ‘material’). They are the outer expression of who I appear to be: my personality. My identification with my ‘personality’ is natural. I have come to ‘know this personality’ or rather it has become associated with ‘me’ – the ‘known’ entity that appears to express my (true) self. But in Truth my ‘SELF’ the ‘unknown’ entity, moulded in secret (if you like) as my ‘soul’ urges me to connect with that greater SELF and higher purpose. The ‘road’ in this case would be my Path – the journey of SELF fulfilment/enlightenment; the reasons for which I incarnated in this time and space. How well I am able to balance the desires of my personality and the urges of my soul will determine my spiritual alignment and ability to withstand the ‘blows.’

For me the ‘lawd’ Buju intercedes to is the inner self (soul) whose battle is with the outer personality (ego). An illustration of this is found in the Ausar/Set story as related/interpreted by Ra Un Nefer Amen. Set and Ausar can be seen as extreme ends of the same pole; or the ego/soul manifestation. Ausar is associated with the ‘higher natures,’ (‘spirit of Go (o)d’/Indwelling spirit’ - love) Set the ‘lower nature’ (ego consciousness/force that thrives on deception and illusion). Devotion to the ‘indwelling spirit’ or higher self (as symbolised by Ausar’s wife/sister Auset) which the ‘personality’ must pursue leads to (re)birth (or soul nurture) as symbolised by both the resurrection of Ausar and the birth of Heru (the ‘light’/eye of the world, manifestation of the indwelling spirit). This highlights that our Path is impeded (blocked/blighted) by a neglect of active intelligence and subsequent lack of devotion to the ‘indwelling spirit.’ What we ‘feel’ during interludes with spirit can create a sense of ‘separation’ (as being different and alone) so intimate and demanding is the experience. These are to me the kind of ‘blows’ the person sustains in their conscious or unconscious struggle to unite the higher and lower forces.

Spiritual devotedness
The spirit demands this attempt at unity of soul/ego consciousness (ultimately submitting the lower forces to the higher). Those who succumb even slightly to the call/tap of spirit might experience psychic estrangement which medically would be defined as ‘depression,’ ‘mental breakdown/illness’ or some such 'psychological crisis.' Paradoxically those who do not succumb to the same call/tap might equally experience bouts of ‘depression’ (or ‘blows’). Either way there is a call for devotion to spirit which might resolve (if not permanently) the tendency to ‘suffer with depression’ or ‘having mental breakdown;’ at least this lends an alternative view of these experiences. Our unwillingness to attend to the demands of the soul reinforces the ‘blows’ – this ‘unwillingness’ (or unconsciousness) is really a denial of the indwelling spirit. If we’re unwilling to acknowledge spirit (and be devoted as Auset to the indwelling spirit of Ausar), the ‘higher forces’ (which might simplistically be considered – ‘the head’) instead succumb to the pressures of the lower forces (or 'the base' when interpreting this as the Chakras).

Sustenance for the ‘road’ or alignment with the Path involves taking responsibility for our sense of self, harnessing our unique gift (talent) and acknowledging our higher purpose. This gift I see as an expansion of a creative centre, embedding the mediation between the spirit and material worlds. Consciously recognising it doesn’t evaporate feelings of melancholia/depression but tries to liberate the soul from the digressions of the personality. The journey is naturally riddled with obstacles we can identify simply as mundane – striving/labouring to be successful (honouring the desires of our ego). But the journey along the Path also brims with possibilities (releases light/creative energy), dependent on our perspective (inner sight, as reflected in the symbolic eye of Heru in the story of Ausar). This inner sight thus activated might lead to the kind of fulfilment/enlightenment (rebirth/awakening to purpose) resounding in one of Buju’s other great tracks – ‘Destiny:’

“There was good and evil
We chose good
Why waste the time of the most high
Ye sons of men
Rich mans wealth is in the city
Destruction of the poor is his poverty
Destruction of your soul is vanity.
I want to rule my destiny…”

The interpretation? Read the signs. Use the newly accessed 'inner sight' (expanded third eye) and alas see/channel your 'most high.'

Related links
http://thespiritscience.net/2014/07/05/ascend-academy-creative-energy/ (from where the above image taken)

http://www.the-open-mind.com/getting-through-the-dark-night-of-the-soulimportant-read-as-everyone-experiences-this/ (from where the man on the edge before the light tunnel was taken)


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