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Learning from Opposites

This better work, it's what the guy in front of me did!

This better work, it’s what the guy in front of me did!

A very thoughtful friend who knows I have Seneca heritage introduced me to the teachings of a wise Seneca elder, Twylah Hurd Nitsch. Since then, I have become transfixed by her teachings I want to read and assimilate all her wisdom. She often speaks of truth, the truth within. In an interview with Margaret Wolff she described how we inflict upon ourselves pain and hurt when we avoid our truth within, which also affect our love within and peace within. She also expressed that until we grab hold of the truth and remember our Oneness, which is a truth we hold deep inside each of us from birth, we will continue to learn that truth through opposites.

Now this was where the hair stood up on the back of my neck – she said, “you confront the opposite of truth so you can learn it.” I get in the mud often and bemoan and lament the actions of others I find offensive or disrespectful, but in reality what is really happening? I am learning how not to be, or I am learning how to be, by recognizing what not to be. Think about a time when you watched someone struggle to do something, you see what works and doesn’t work and use that knowledge when its your turn. This concept reminds me of the tough mudder competition I recently participated in, I would watch the contestant in front of me attack the obstacle if they were successful I would use the same approach if they crashed and burned, I did not. So this idea of learning from opposites means that we are actually blessed each time we witness offensive or disrespectful behavior particularly when we recognize it as such.

I know this sounds bizarre but it’s so true. I have witnessed many people who struggle with the truth and my response has always been the same, a mixture of disappointment and pity. Now I recognize they are heyoka’s. The Lakota call those who walk among us and react and move opposite of the people around them heyoka spirits. Heyoka’s violate the ethical rules and societal taboos of the tribe thereby teaching the importance of such rules by creating awareness.

Beautiful and simple yet painful. As I continue on my path in this world I see how the truth really does set me free. The more closely I respect and embrace my truth within, the lighter my load. I recognize now my pious reaction to my heyoka’s is not only misguided it is disrespectful. These people are walking a very difficult and painful path to teach us how to connect with our peace and love within.

So the next time you feel repelled by the behavior of another be grateful that you are blessed to be aware of that behavior and have the ability to choose the opposite.

“It is in vain that we search for an essential difference between good and evil, for their constituents are the same. The crucial distinction lies in their structure, i.e., the manner in which the pieces are assembled. Evil is disintegration, an angry juxtaposition of alienated opposites, with parts always striving to repress other parts. Good is the synthesis and reconciliation of these same pieces.” ~ Charles Hampden-Turner

Embracing the contradictions of my life

Let's go snowming mom!!

So many things come to mind as I walk the halls of the Tulsa Cancer Treatment Center of America or as they call it here CTCA, but today I was thinking how odd it is that I love this place and at the same time I wish I wasn’t here.  I even catch myself and think oh my gosh I can’t love this place I don’t want to be here, but I am embracing being here.  It’s not like this is the first contradiction in my thinking I hate to see anyone get hurt that I am connected to in some way but I enjoy watching funniest home videos especially the videos where someone really gets knocked on their can, they strike me as the funniest.  What is up with that?!?!?

Dealing with cancer is such a contradiction too.  Cancer is serious business but humor is the best medicine to deal with it.  They even have humor therapy classes here, I mean really what is funnier than dealing with cancer?!?!?!?  Cancer is this alien invasion in your body that you put poison in your body to rid yourself of it, but it is still part of your body, a piece of you.  So you are to destroy part of yourself to survive.  How can you wrap your brain around that one.  Also how can you truly love yourself if you are trying to destroy part of yourself. 

I went through a stage where I said I hate cancer, I really despise that word and what it stands for, but I said it anyway.  I am amused by that contradiction I hate to say hate!  Then as with all the other contradictions I am now aware of, I was not comfortable with hating something associated with my dad even if it was something I didn’t want him to have.  It seemed disrespectful, unkind and unloving to him.  So now what do I do with these conflicted, contradictory feelings I have about cancer and specifically the cancer cells in my dad’s body.  They are part of him and I love him so I guess by proxy I love them too.  What in the hell does that mean, I have a love/hate relationship with cancer.  Again more contradictions. 

In Asian philosophy there is a concept called yin yang where opposites complete the whole, each rely on the other, order from chaos.  I understand cancers reliance on dad but what is dad’s reliance on cancer?  I don’t have the answer but just contemplating the question expands my horizon. 

I guess these contradictions or opposites further reinforce my belief that everything is just as it is supposed to be, it is neither good nor bad, it just is, complete as it is.  Rather than judging my experiences I can simply experience them, notice them for what they are, experiences.  I am trying to be aware, to be present, be authentic, be transparent, be compassionate, be grateful, just be.

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