The personal world we live in is driven by how we relate to the world around us.
I have long believed that in life we find what we are looking for. I have recently understood that the converse is true.
A fellow blogger who writes about the occult, supernatural, and spiritual matters recently posted about how you will never find magic if you don’t believe in magic. A sceptic might point out the essential element of faith present in that statement. In other words, you have to believe in it to see it.
When I think of what atheism is, it is exactly this, though in relation to the existence and meaning of God. If you don’t believe, you won’t ever find. [Posting on faith]. I am not ready to dig into the patent absurdity of the non-existence of God—that will have to come later. Instead, I am more concerned here with the kind of self-harm one commits when one denies oneself that inevitable reality. It is the denial of Grace.
I find this holds true in the above comment about magic. To deny its existence is to rob your own life of magic. What a brutal and cold existence it might be to live without magic. Now, I can hear the atheist (and I use this term in a metaphorical sense) rumbling out that what I am talking about is quite simply the placebo effect. That belief is self-delusion. But let me ask you this. For the many people who are “cured” or healed in blind drug studies, and who turn out to be taking the dummy, what is going on? Would you posit that these people are more likely to be people of faith, of superstition, more likely to be believers? I would.
And guess what. It’s true. The mind acts upon the body to bring about physiological responses. The mind believes, and the body complies. So much so, that in a recent Harvard Medical School study on migraines, researchers found that fake “placebo pills” had 50% of the effectiveness of the top migraine-relieving medication. The list of studies on successful response to placebo is vast and growing—indeed, a doctor can say to a patient, this is a placebo, and do so in a warm and tender voice, and the effect will appear. This is a manifestation of intention. Our minds are incredibly powerful tools, and can bring about physiological change through belief.
“The Imagination, directed to the relief of suffering humanity, would be a most valuable means in the hands of the medical profession.”Dr. Charles d’Eslon
This scholarly article actually explores the role of faith as an overlooked predictor of placebo effects [Click on Link]. What is interesting is that these effects apply to yogic practices as well as formal religion. Belief is itself a healer. Faith itself is a healer. When we manifest things, when we practice meditation and manifest future or desired states, we are, in effect, bringing them about. The implications are profound.
I have written about the special place I hold in my heart for the Christmas Story, The Polar Express. I have been reading that story to my children since they were small along with the more widely known and traditional ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Well, in that book, right at the end, the boy who is protagonist and narrator relates of a little bell that Santa gives him from one of the bridle straps attaching the reindeer to the sleigh…and when it is given to him, Santa cries out, “behold, the first gift of Christmas.” It is a magical gift. And of course, the boy could have asked for anything, but instead, he asked for a trifle, something so small and insignificant, that the request possesses Grace. It is a bit like Charlie, in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Charlie is the only boy without demands, but in possession of Grace, and that is why he triumphs.
Well, in The Polar Express, so the story goes, this bell makes a wonderful, clear sound when the boy rings it. On the train ride home, however, he loses it through a small hole in his bathrobe. Of course he is distraught. But the next day, opening presents with his family, there is a small box there labelled to him from Santa. In this box is that bell. Magic. And when he picks it up, his parents ask what it is, and he says, “it’s a bell from Santa,” and then shakes it, and his parents say, “what a pity, it’s broken.” Because they can’t hear it. His little sister can, and most of his friends can too, but as they grow up, little by little, his friends stop hearing it. Even now, writing this, it brings tears to my eyes.
We lose our magic as we grow, because we lose our faith. And in losing our faith, we lose our lives and the joy that they might possess. My children always used to ask me, “Papa, why are you crying,” and I never answered. I just looked at them wistfully, and hoped they would never lose their sense of wonder, and would gradually find out for themselves the meaning in the story.
It is the parents who no longer see and hear that get to me so profoundly. And I see in this a metaphor for life. We are surrounded by magic, we are surrounded by God, we are surrounded by a spirit world that is deeply powerful and influential, but only if we are open to its messages. This is the music of life.
The parallels with the concept of presence in meditation and daily life are very apt. I am discovering that I can feel it all around me when I am open to it. I shall credit Mistress for re-opening my eyes to this. The more I interact with her the more I feel every part of my body and my spirit interacting with the world around me. I am also finding that my relationship with God as I define it, is deepening and becoming more profound, because God is becoming more present to me as I become more present to myself.
These are good things.
But the converse is also true. My same brother who reviles me for my faith, is sceptical of the beauty of life. I have written about my relationship with my father before as dysfunctional—that I did not and do not respect him for the way he has treated the people in his life, his bullying and mean-spirited ways, but I have also come to have an easy relationship with him. Once I realised that I could simply refuse to let him in, his power to hurt me dropped to nothing. But my younger brother reviles him, loathes him, to the point that it consumes his life. He blames him for everything that is wrong in his own life.
I learned recently that my brother has a tendency to snoop. I would like to make an aside about the character of a snoop. It takes a black heart to be a snoop. So, the title of this post—that you find what you are looking for, applies every bit as much to the black-hearted snoop. Well my brother snooped into the private recesses of my father’s private spaces, drawers, computer, back of his closet, wherever, I scarcely know, and discovered things that confirmed his own feelings of dislike and hate. Specifically, he discovered that our father is a boot fetishist.
I know this because he told me once when I was driving him on a long drive into the City. I wasn’t really interested in knowing the details, or even hearing about it, because it really isn’t any of my business. And given how little I enjoyed inadvertently finding pornographic images of my mother, I had little desire to get to know my parent’s sexuality.
Well, I learned recently that my younger brother had a history of snooping out my father’s pornography, something I didn’t know as I had already left home before he had entered puberty. What I also didn’t know is that my father discovered that he had been found out, felt utterly humiliated and angered by it, and this resulted in fist fights between the two of them. Shame on both of them!
My father is also an atheist. Do I equate boot-licking with atheism? Nope. But I do equate an absence of faith with someone who would punch out his son for finding his porn stash. This is nothing compared to what kind of man would brag to his son [me] about how he cheated on my mother when they were still married, or how when I was a teen he wanted me to join him at a strip club that he went to on his way home from work every day. Strip clubs churn my stomach in ways that are wrenching, and I shall write about them someday.
I guess what I am saying is that my brother wanted to find a reason to justify his hate for my father, and he found it by rummaging into my father’s privacy. He wanted to stand in judgement. But I think they are both damned for it. We have expressions for this. “You reap what you sow.” And, “Do unto others as you would have done to you.” And, a personal favourite, “what goes around, comes around.” My version of all of these is, “we always find what we are looking for.”
When you look for good in people, you find good. When you look for bad in people, or seek to stand in judgement, you find all that is wrong, and sick, and depraved. As someone whose own closets were literally [and by the way, what a great expression, “coming out of the closet”] filled with the tools to enable judgement—girl’s clothes, diapers, and already from a young age, I have been particularly sensitive to this. Not least because the snooping of friends and family has on occasion been revealed to me with the intent to hurt. I have found myself consciously respecting the privacy of others.
As my siblings picked over my mother’s belongings after her passing, they were particularly drawn to some “pornographic” selfies she had taken and turned into a book, presumably to share with her husband. They wanted me to look. I had no interest. Thankfully neither did my sisters. I can applaud my mother’s desire to create some kind of means of titillating her husband and orienting his libido around her—as an expression of creativity, spirit and also vulnerability. I would like to leave it at that.
The purpose of all of this meandering is not to judge. It is simply to say that our intent is fundamental to the shape that our life takes. I intend to support and stand by my wife until my dying day. [This transgender business may have put some ripples on the smooth surface of the pond]. That is my choice, because I engage with the good in her, and seek to encourage the good in her. I am very often a complete turkey, however. Being human has its downsides! Usually I can course-correct without too much psychic disturbance.
My budding relationship with Mistress is improving my ability to “course correct.” What I might call it is being able to listen, to be tuned into the needs of another, of providing support and devotion without condition. Of always striving to learn and to adapt, and to meeting the person where they are, wherever they are, when they are, and how they are. This is an even more important form of presence. Because in those moments we are present together. And that is how you nourish the soul. It does help that our interactions are informed by a D/s dynamic, because this provides a kind of roadmap towards the spiritual and present connection that is growing between us.
Humans are social creatures. If you believe as I do that the essence of God not just lies in all of us but is the connective tissue that connects us to one another, this becomes a spiritual necessity. Connecting to people is necessary for a fulfilled and happy life.
Going back to my opening point—that you will find what you are looking for, it is precisely this, and it is a tonic for the soul. If you approach people in your life with openness and curiosity, your life will be rich. If you learn to give without expectation of return, if you learn to just be love, then you will be enveloped by love. If you live without judgement, it will be rare that others seek to harm or punish you with their own judgement. Live with Grace and you will be Grace.