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life

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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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Fill My Hole

You know that fire in your belly when you're hungry? That glint in your eye when you're horny? That skip in your step when you're passionate about something?

Don't lose it. And for god's sake, stop trying to bury it. 

Each of us contains a deep-seated inborn sense of lack; it is the eternal human condition and the cornerstone upon which most religions and philosophies are built. The Buddha, for example, said that your cravings (desires which attempt to fill that hole) are the very cause of your suffering. The thought is:

  1. Since you will never ultimately be fulfilled, you're only setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment if you seek fulfillment.
  2. Therefore, desire should be overcome.

Cool, Buddha, but here's a different perspective: that empty space that seems to eclipse your happiness is in fact not a curse but a tremendous boon - and the search to "fill your hole," while ultimately futile, is the very thing that gives life its power and juice and well… LIFE.

If you allow it, that anxious buzz in you can be the fuel that drives you. That discontentment that feels like pain can actually help you to spring out of bed in the morning and tackle life. Don't be concerned, friend, about the sadness and lack in you. Celebrate it. Own it. Let it push you like a goddamned rocket. Breathe it down deep and feel the energy surging up and through all of your limbs. That "unffff" you feel when you see something that REALLY turns you on? Go after life like THAT.

Don't be fooled, however. Reaching your goals and fulfilling your desires will never make you happy. In fact when you get the guy, when you land the job, when you realize your fantasies, when you buy the house - you will be disillusioned. It will not satisfy you or fill the hole, but that does not mean you should not pursue or desire it.

At the risk of sounding like a kitchen magnet: screw the destination; the journey is exactly the point. 

Most of us do not celebrate our discontentment but rather are annoyed and pained by it. So what do we do? We mask it or deplete it. We smoke weed, we jerk off, we drink heavily - not to feel more deeply - but to shut off our thoughts and distract our dis-ease in a thousand different ways. 

Take sex for instance. When you've got "the urge to merge" there is a craving in your body/mind that feels like an electric buzz. Your frantic search for fulfillment is a pursuit to make that buzzing end. But I would also wager to say that at the same time you're feeling horny and needy, you're also more alert, more eager for life and [very likely] more loving (all of which will certainly deplete the minute you get your rocks off). Instead of seeking release from all of your longings, what if you were to harness them, feel them circulate in your body and utilize that eager energy like a tamed (but extraordinarily powerful) bull between your legs?

Now take that and relate it to finances, to career, to spirituality, to any of your needs:

  1. Feel your lack deeply;
  2. Celebrate your longing for things to be different than what they are right now;
    ...and then...
  3. Find contentment - not in the satiation or fulfillment of your desires and goals - but in the unsatisfied, buzzy hunger itself.

Suddenly life is juicy and yummy and full of spark and opportunity. You are more attracted to your partner, you pursue financial opportunities with vigor and you sensually and enthuastically enjoy the challenge and process along the way. Unfff.

By Trevor Harden
Artwork: "Finger Sex" by Tina Lug. Used with permission - check out her amazing site!

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Living V. Reliving

Transient

Your shelves and coffee tables are littered with books. Your newsreader is overflowing with blog posts. Your Twitter is alive with the sound of verbal diarrhea. Words, words, words. We think we're learning, but we are only reliving. All of these stories, all of these insights are simply "fingers pointing at the moon." But they sure as shit aren't the moon. 

Have you substituted direct experience for fairy tales? Do the insights of pastors, authors and poets get you off just enough to help you sleep at night? Think you grok some deep, fundamental truth because you read some swami's autobiography?

Fuck that shit. 

  • If you desire to feel a deep unity with the Ground of Being, don't read a book about it - sit your ass on a cushion for 30 minutes a day.
  • If you want to know the "peace that passes all understanding," don't replay an audio sermon about it - regularly schedule time to shut everything down and be with yourself.
  • If you want to learn how to be more loving and less selfless, then set a goal to write one handwritten note of encouragement per day.

Experiment with life. Treat it as a laboratory. Push this and watch that pop out. See for yourself. Get your damn hands dirty. 

Wisdom and insight are fine; after all, I realize the irony that I am writing words on a blog. But words are simply signposts that allow us to witness and enjoy others' experiences and to learn routes for our own journey. 

"If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him."  No teacher, no book, no ritual, no prophet, no second-hand story will ever allow you to access spiritual truth until you carve the time to experience it firsthand. If the desire of your heart is to see Paris - you can read the Wikipedia page - or you can get on a fuckin' plane and marinate in the sounds and smells of the city.

Trevor, The Edge of Spiri

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Check Your Twitter, Become a God

Transient

This week Deepak Chopra spoke to the Social Good Summit about how online social media is the next phase of human evolution. After listening to his talk, I have to admit I'm on board with that idea.

See, two of my fundamental beliefs about the world are that (1) life exists so that the Universe can experience itself and therefore (2) everything is interconnected and unified. The ONE (God, Brahma, Spirit, whatever-you-call-it) fragmented into "the ten thousand things" in order to experience life relationally... and then proceeded to "forget" its identity as a sort of cosmic game of hide-and-seek. To carry that out further it appears that the "goal" of evolution is a sort of cosmic redemption - the ten-thousand things realizing their identity and becoming one again. Of course I have no empirical proof of that and may be way the fuck off the mark, but it seems to align with both my internal truth as well as countless others who have embraced a Perennial Philosophy.

Energy and stars evolved into cold matter, later evolving into life and consciousness - which over time became the various apertures from which the Universe witnesses itself. You, me, the President, your nanny, your granny - each is a life, a unique bundle of energy that has a job, gets depressed, enjoys orgasms, lays in the grass, gets lung cancer and cries at rainbows. We exist in a playground of dualities so as to taste the sweetest fruits and the bitter depths of despair.

But beneath all that is still the unbroken One.

The internet - which is so ubiquitous now that it's almost impossible to remember a time before it - is one of the first major steps of "the ten thousand things" becoming one again. Through this technology we are no longer fractured, disconnected and individual selves. We are part of something much bigger - and the internet is a sort of nervous system that is connecting us (the various appendages) all over our planet. It really is quite fascinating (and almost mystical) how we have evolved to this point and one can only wonder where we go from here. (Deepak's message had a lot to say about that.)

So you obsess over Facebook and check your Twitter feed every 30 seconds. Some might say you have a problem - that you're anti-social and out of touch with flesh-and-blood reality. Actually, I think something else is up; subconsciously we know we are not alone, that we are not fractured, isolated individuals. Getting outside of our self-centered bubbles to share, to commune and to interact in such a global and powerful way is something nearing the Divine. Even "Liking" your cousin's cat pictures and bullshit political rants helps prove that time and space are dissolving. Something new is emerging. It's an exciting time to be alive indeed.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
 

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