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experience

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The Devil's Interval (Accepting Your Life Drama)

In Western musical theory, there are typically 12 notes in the chromatic scale and therefore 14 different interval possibilities (an interval is the distance between pitches). When two of these intervals are played at the same time, some of them are pleasant sounding and bright, such as the major third and perfect fourth and fifth. Others are darker, with a minor, strange or "sad" sound, such as the second or the minor third. There's one interval, however, that's the darkest and most dissonant of them all.

According to the OnMusic Dictionary, a tritone is...

The interval of an augmented fourth. This interval was known as the "devil in music" in the Medieval era because it is the most dissonant sound in the scale.

If you're familiar with the piano, play a C and then play the F# directly above it at the same time. Or if you're a guitarist, play your second string (B string) open while playing the first fret on the first string (high E string) at the same time.

This is the tritone, the "devil's interval."

Why is it known the "devil's interval"? In the middle ages this interval was often avoided in composition because of its dissonant, clashing quality. The very sound of it suggests discord, opposition or even evil.

[With that said, this isn't a history or music theory lesson on the tritone. If you'd like more information, check out this Wikipedia article or just Google search "tritone."]

Interestingly enough, what we consider music today wouldn't exist without it. The dissonance created by this interval introduces drama into the tonality.  As a piece of music moves along (if you listen closely enough), notes clash and then resolve, bite at your ear and then become pleasant, make you cringe and then make you smile.  Without it, music would become boring very quickly.

SO WHAT?!

Many of us want to sanitize our lives: pushing that which is dissonant far away, living a sheltered and safe life, avoiding the drama and fearing the darkness both in ourselves and in the world.  During those times when we want life's fucked-up twists and turns to end or for everything to be safe and manageable, let us never forget that the end of drama is the introduction of boredom, of lifelessness. Yes, there are shitty days and terrorists, jock itch and natural disasters, but at least in this dimension - in this life - everything that we know and experience couldn't exist without them.

Let's transform the previous sentence from above:

As *LIFE* moves along, it clashes and then resolves, bites at you and then becomes pleasant, makes you cringe and then makes you smile. Without the drama, life would become boring very quickly.

When we learn to accept that the dance of harmony and dissonance, the clash of good and evil, is exactly the very thing that makes the world go 'round, we're free to participate in it with joy.  We can be happy to roll with the punches and navigate a complicated and tricky existence without frustration, but rather with the acceptance that it has to be this way.  This isn't to say we have to be tolerant of the various kinds of evil or injustice we experience - let us fight them with vigor when we need to - but all the while knowing that in some grand, meta-narrative, it is all - ALL - good.

By Trevor, The Edge of Spirit

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You're Going to Die, Your Accomplishments Mean Nothing... and That's OK

You are going to die. Your name and your life story will be forgotten. Everything you’ve built, worked for and accomplished will dry up and vanish like condensation on a summer afternoon. 

Think of the billions of people who have come and gone from this planet since the dawn of history. A small handful are recorded in history books but the life and legacy of the vast majority are erased like an old hard drive. 

Does that scare you? It scares me a little. But it also changes my perspective on things like career, goals and dreams

LETTING YOU OFF THE HOOK

Nothing ultimately matters. The book you’re writing, the dreams you’re chasing, the house you’re building… it all will disappear. I find that if I really look into it, most of our pursuit of accomplishments, career, success and notoriety are simply the ego’s search for survival and relevance. We want our art to outlive us and keep our name alive. We want fame to persuade others to reflect that our existence matters. 

But we still die and are forgotten in just a couple generations. How often do you dwell on your grandfather’s career or your great-grandmother’s accomplishments? (Do you even know their names or what they did for a living?) Additionally, our worth as a human being is no more important than literally anyone else. The street sweeper working for pocket change in Saudi Arabia is exactly no more or less important and will live no more or less longer than the top realtor, the recognizable Hollywood celeb or the millionaire entrepreneur. 

SO, WHAT THEN, IS THE POINT?

The point of our few years here is not to get a great job or accomplish your dreams or build a successful business. It’s great to contribute to society and the betterment of those around you if you can, but it’s certainly not the end-game. The point is to be the eyes of “God” experiencing a 3D (or multi-dimensional) world through your particular set of genetics and circumstances. To say it another way: the point of life is to experience life. As far as I understand it, that’s it.

For about 70-80 earth years (give or take) the universe is witnessing itself through a portal called “you.” Right now, “God” is playing the role of “you” reading this on a computer or mobile device. The things you’ve done today, the life you’ve built, your particular body composition and health and psychology - is simply ONE lens in an ocean of billions and trillions of lenses in which the universe diversely experiences itself. 

EVERYONE PLAY YOUR PART

Maybe your trip is that you’re the frustrated, underaccomplished striver that never quite “gets there.” Maybe you’re the successful business manager. Maybe you’re the angry victim who was crushed on the corporate ladder. In a sea of endless diversity, each of those characters has to exist too.

All that to say - and I’m speaking to myself here - “chill the fuck out.” If you die a beggar, a pool boy, a food runner, a postal worker, an engineer, a custodian or a rock star, it matters not. Your ego seeks worth and survival from these things but in a short amount of time you’re going to be worm food anyway.

Instead of always planning and dreaming about a future goal, be present now. Leave work at work so you can experience and love the ones in your immediate sphere. Put down your to-do list at lunch and fully enjoy and taste that peach

Whoever you are and whatever game you’re playing - why not just be grateful? Soon you will be NOTHING. At this moment, though, you’re very much a SOMETHING. So look around you and be appreciative of all that you are and have. Maybe you need to take a less demanding job so you can enjoy your evenings and weekends. Or go ahead and build your tech start-up or get your doctorate degree if you must. But if you forget to hug your kids, neglect to take vacations or frantically strive so hard for money that you IGNORE YOUR *LIFE*, it’s not too late to reconsider. 

By Trevor, The Edge of Spirit

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Fuck Purity

Transient

Nearly every spiritual tradition since the beginning of time has exalted PURITY as a requirement for being open to God. The suggestion is that our bodily purity, our moral purity and our mental purity somehow clears out hindrances and sets the stage for communion with a holy divinity in some way. To put it more plainly: some things are ok, other things are not.

Wash your hands before you worship. Don't eat meat. Don't smoke. Don't drink alcohol. Don't do drugs. Don't curse. Don't think impure thoughts. Don't be angry. Don't have lust in your heart. Don't have sex until the right time. Don't get carried away with desire for money. Don't harbor jealousy. Bring the monkey mind to stillness. Then you will be free to see God.

How did this begin? I understand that primitive cultures needed moral guidelines in order for societies to be fruitful and multiply (after all, how can a tribe propagate if its members are murdering one another or harming themselves?). But how that is still tied to one's spiritual experience today is beyond me.

I say that purity is exactly the denial of life. As a matter of fact, fuck purity. In order to shield ourselves from the fullest range of experiences that can be had, we settle into rules for ourselves and others that - while genuinely keeping us free from harm and ensuring our survival - can also stem from fear and keep us from doing what I believe is the reason we're here: to be the vessels by which the universe consciously experiences itself. 

Is the universe one or is it not? Is this all one reality or is it not? How can some of this be God and parts of it not? God is present in your depression and as your depression. The universe can be felt consciously and deeply while you're piss drunk on cheap tequila. You are just as near to the Source of life in a fit of rage as you are in Savasana.

Alright, so the apostle Paul in the Christian Bible says, "Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial." I'm down with that - not everything serves the greater good or brings health to your body. And people that harm others need to be brought to justice for the preservation of our society. But singling out THIS as holy and THAT as impure is quite frankly a limited view on the reality we find ourselves living in.

I had the wonderful privilege of sitting face to face with [a Hindu guru] and the first thing he said to me was "Do you have a question?"... I said, "Yes, I have a question." I said, "Since in Hindu thinking all the universe is divine, a manifestation of divinity itself, how can we say no to anything in the world? How can we say no to brutality to stupidity to vulgarity to thoughtlessness?" And he said, "For you and me, you must say yes." [Joseph Campbell]

Ah, YES. The eternal YES. Campbell went on to say, "The warrior's approach is to say YES  to life. 'Yea' to it all." To abstain from something for the sake of purity is fragmentation of the One into many. Look, I'm all for self-discipline. Sometimes you have to choose your highest desire over your lesser desire. But this can be carried out without demonizing those lesser desires; you simply keep in mind that certain results must follow certain formulas.

The next time you see or experience something foul, impure, unclean or profane, see if you can strip the labels away and be with it fully. Is it too not an expression of this diverse, glorious and majestic wonderland in which we "live and move and have our being"? Even the heinous, awful darkness that we often witness (just turn on the news) - as difficult as it is to swallow - is no doubt part of the whole. How could it be any other way?

And suddenly the colloquial phrase, "It's all good," takes on a whole new meaning. Consider adopting it as your mantra for a week and see what you once shunned and proclaimed unholy in an entirely new light.

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I Don't Have Time for this Shit

Transient

You wake up, you go through your morning routine. Commute to work. Sit and do a job. You're working for money; you're dying inside. Days roll into days, into weeks and months. At night is dinner and trash, pay some bills and shower your kids. Then maybe a little TV or wine or weed - whatever you need to unplug from the monotony of what happens between 6am and 7pm. You're surviving but if you're honest you're barely showing up.

When was the last time you did something for yourself? Remember how you used to play guitar and make up recipes? Remember how you wanted to learn how to paint? See all those barely-opened books right over there?

What the fuck are you waiting for? The kids will never be less demanding of your time. Your significant other could always use more of your attention. There are always bills to pay and checklists to do (mine currently has about 23 line items on it).

"I think what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That's what it's all finally about." [Joseph Campbell]

See, you can drown in a sea of tasks that will get you to tomorrow, but will get you no closer to "the experience of being alive." And you know that you're postponing and making excuses for following your deepest truth - those things that make you glad to be alive. 

Take a moment and think about things that you would love to do, or experience, or be. Maybe it's something expressive or creative; a sport; some form of meditation or yoga; playful sexytime with your significant other; a new business idea. Commit to just ONE WEEK of spending at least 30 minutes a day on one of your passions. Schedule it and just see what you feel at the end of the week. If you feel like going back to merely surviving, then by all means. (Also, don't bother coming back to this website; you'll find nothing of use here.) 

Here I am writing a post to help encourage you on a night where my heart and attention are scattered. I don't have time for this shit. I have a wife and a child and at least 23 things on a to-do list. And I'm tired. But goddamnit, I love to write and to encourage and to connect deeper with a creative force that's bigger than myself. So that's what I'm doing. And for a moment - this moment - it is bliss.

What possible excuse do you have not to do the same thing? Get to it, friends. 

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