Delight and Surprise

    Sanford Baran:  It is good to be together again as we bring to a sharper conscious awareness our rightful orientation in Spirit. This might sound a bit abstract but practically speaking what we express in our moment-to-moment living speaks volumes as to where our orientation really is. Every thought, word, action and decision is an opportunity to express and accurately represent the Tone. Such expression, if it really is the Tone, offers blessing and upliftment, which is the very nature of Spirit. But it's important to emphasize that it's not so much what we happen to be doing, but how. The form of our doing or the particular job description is never the important factor. Rather, it's the Spirit behind the form that delivers the real substance and value. The true treasure is known through our radiance and presence, articulated in the course of our doing. So regardless of the circumstance or the task at hand, our primary job is to represent the Truth, which has everything to do with attitude and heavenly demeanor. Now this is not to say that any old sloppy job will do, as long as we have a good attitude. No, in right Spirit there is care, rigor and a genuine desire to deliver our best. We are here to be fully present and in realizing that we can be assured that whatever we do will be a job well done.

    I very much like what John Gray had to say about this two weeks ago in the talk entitled Ever Here, Always Now. "Ever wish you would have done more, or feel you should do more? ... The compulsion I predominantly move with these days is to be more—to be more fully present, to fill every moment and every circumstance with my presence." I wholeheartedly agree! Instead of fretting about doing more, the real focus is rightly being more, allowing the truth of who I Am to shine brighter and clearer in whatever I happen to be doing. Recently somebody asked me, "Now that I'm retired, what was on my bucket list?" We are so programmed to assume that doing is everything, the more exotic and far-flung the better. Well, I really don't have a bucket list—at least not a very interesting one. I know I won't be going on safari or climbing Mount Everest. And I'm pretty sure that space travel is out of the question. But to be clear, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with doing. Doing provides the means for us to fulfill our real job, expressing the Tone. If it wasn't for doing there would be no way for human beings to visibly reveal their presence and true stature. The point is, if doing is merely a means of satisfying human desires or boosting human egos, it is an incredible waste of life force. On the other hand, if we are conscious of the creative possibilities, the potential of allowing the current of Spirit to be known and expressed in the course of our doing, then it is a most worthwhile endeavor indeed. So, if climbing Mount Everest is the vehicle that allows someone to reveal the Truth of themself with majesty and humility, well, by all means go for it!

    I've been giving some serious consideration as to how I can take personal responsibility to be more—to express in my doing a clearer representation of who I am. I'll give you one example that pertains very specifically to me. Before I retired, I spent some forty-four years in jobs having to do with technology, including my time at Sunrise Ranch. Now technology doesn't always work all that well. As the saying goes, "What could possibly go wrong!" In fact, a lot goes wrong particularly when you're under pressure and trying to get things just right. Consequently, if you've ever worked in my proximity under such circumstances, you would notice a lot of cursing which is not exactly heavenly or uplifting. Now this is fairly common in my profession but that's no excuse. It is possible however that I might someday get involved again in some technology project. But if this were to happen, this cursing would definitely need to stop. In taking that step, my doing in this field would quite immediately be transformed and would reveal something quite different—an uplifting Tone characterized by calm and patience. How great to really follow through on this and in fact be more while working in this field.

    Indeed, there are so many practical steps that each one of us can take if we give it just the slightest thought. Starting with what already is on our plates, let's take a stab at the low hanging fruit, the easy stuff—relinquishing the remnants of human nature still lurking in habit and attitude. Let's once and for all release that which no longer fits. In doing this I can assure you that this will make a significant difference both in our own personal experience as well as the experience and well-being of the larger whole. Behold I am here—let my presence shine forth.

    I wanted to touch on an area that I've been pondering of late and is slightly off the beaten path. It boils down to the following question, "Is randomness a part of the creative process?" This might seem like a curious question because the design as we know it does indeed have purpose and meaning whereas randomness usually connotes the opposite—having no specific pattern, purpose or objective. So, I should clarify—I'm not thinking of randomness as something devoid of purpose. Rather, what I am referring to is something more mathematical, the way a statistician might think about it. In statistical terms randomness is a state with absolutely zero bias. So, for example, when flipping a fair coin, it never favors heads over tails. When rolling a six-sided die that isn't loaded, none of the six numbers are favored. On any roll, there is equal opportunity for each of the sides to appear and there really is no way to exactly predict in advance which one it will be. Now you can look at the results of many rolls after the fact and see patterns. But what occurs on any individual roll is always a surprise. So, without getting into too much detail, suffice it to say that randomness is an incredibly useful mechanism for reliably producing unbiased selections unburdened by preferences or agendas of any kind. In this sense randomness really does have purpose. Let's hold on to this thought and we'll get back to it shortly.

    Something else that I wanted to bring into the picture is that there is more than one way that the creative process manifests perfection in a given circumstance. I was out hiking the other day in a forested area not too far from my house and the landscape of the forest was carpeted with tall blades of grass, as far as the eye could see. It was nine o'clock in the morning and the quality of light and shade cast on this forest tapestry of deep green was stunning. And the thought occurred to me—would it matter if just one of these millions of grass plants was growing a few centimeters from where it presently was growing? Would that change the beauty and perfection in that moment? For that matter there could be hundreds, thousands maybe even millions of variations in the way the grasses were arrayed, and no doubt each configuration would still convey that same stunning experience of beauty. The creative process has tremendous flexibility and latitude in producing unbounded variation and diversity, without compromising the glory and splendor of the tone. There isn't just one possible creative manifestation there are in fact many. Is one better than the other? Maybe or maybe not. And does the creative process make up its mind in advance as to which outworking should occur? My gut feeling is that it doesn't—Spirit is more than willing to accommodate the element of surprise. And what actually ends up manifesting is the perfect outworking. Could this be any more ingenious?

    In summary, here's the way I see it. The design brilliantly provides the stable framework for ongoing creativity to manifest everywhere in the here and now. The design itself is definitely not random—its role is to very precisely apply and enforce the laws and ordinances of heaven. Now the creative process which works within the framework of the design is the mechanism which allows new forms and experiences to be born moment-by-moment, making optimal use of the material and circumstances at hand. My view is that the creative process happily accommodates randomness, which provides an unbiased means of reaching a specific outworking from all of the possible outworkings that could transpire. To the delight and amazement of all who happen to be observing, the perfect outworking really does get born. Also, I'll speculate that the creative process itself is both delighted and surprised by the particular outworking that has put in an appearance. There is delight because it has created something absolutely magnificent without needing to predetermine or micromanage every detail.

    Now, not everyone might agree with these ideas. If nothing else you can think of this as an exercise in imaginative thinking. Nevertheless, this line of thought does touch on some other interesting issues. For example, we can observe increasing fragmentation within society as peoples' biases and opinions segregate them into ever narrower groupings. Nowadays you can strictly avoid interacting with anybody or anything outside of your particular bubble. That way, everything you come in contact with totally reinforces your prejudices and misinterpretations of the world while at the same time insulates you from anything that might challenge such biases. How great not to have to come in contact with people of different political, religious and social views! How great not having to read or listen to perspectives emanating from obviously fake and questionable sources! And of course, another benefit of staying trapped within your bubble is that this gives you total license to stay set in your ways, because certainly others in your bubble are not going to be encouraging you otherwise. Well, obviously this isn't what Spirit has in mind. From the divine perspective, our job is to connect and integrate, not separate and stay cloistered. Certainly, we each have a part to play in all of this by allowing a true representation of the Tone to increasingly be present in everything that we do. Our work in this regard along with many others really does make a significant difference.

    I recently heard an interesting segment on the National Public Radio program Invisibilia. On its website, Invisibilia describes itself as being about the invisible forces that control human behavior—ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. It's well worth a listen. The segment that I heard had to do with one young man's quest to break out of his social bubble. The protagonist, whose name is Max, actually belongs to what some might consider to be a most desirable social bubble. Max is an engineer at Google and lives in San Francisco. He enjoys a good salary, has stimulating work and lives in an interesting place. He goes to his favorite coffee shop in the morning to get his latte, catches the Google bus equipped with Wi-Fi down to the Google campus in Silicon Valley, and enjoys the free gourmet lunches that Google provides. In the evening, he hangs out with friends who are not all that dissimilar to him, visiting their favorite bars and restaurants. Well, what could be wrong with that bubble? Actually nothing, other than that Max realized he was trapped and was becoming increasingly isolated along with his cohort of friends. He yearned for something more, to touch people and situations that were very different from him, to get a more balanced view of the world. So being the nerd that he was, he took action. He built an app (probably to run on his smart phone) that used a Facebook search function to find public events near him. Then the app would randomly choose which event Max would attend. And so, he started to attend all manner of strange and interesting events that were completely outside of his orbit, interacting with people who were nothing at all like those in his bubble. This was a life-changing experience for him as his world began to enlarge.

    But notice how he did this. Being in a bubble he was subject to all manner of biases and preferences. He very intentionally overrode these biases, using randomness in his app, which by definition has no bias. This guaranteed that none of his personal preferences and predispositions interfered with him transitioning into this very new, more inclusive world. Likely we all are still harboring biases of one sort or another and that these biases keep us trapped in bubbles, maybe even spiritual bubbles. Certainly, being aware of these biases in ourselves and having a willingness to address them is a great starting point. Ultimately our job is to actively move beyond all humanly created bubbles allowing Spirit to finally have its way.

    Now I'm not suggesting that we use Max's app or that we now start to run our lives on the basis of rolling the dice. But I suspect that we all could use a little more randomness in our day-to-day living, which is to say that we are quite willing to let go of heavy-handed human control and allow the creative process to do its magic. Working at the radio station I've been having a ball lately breaking myself out of musical bubbles. It's quite the experience to accidently discover an artist or piece of music you never heard of, in a genre that is foreign territory. It's hard to explain exactly how this happens but you start searching somewhere, anywhere, often in terrain you have little familiarity with. Importantly you keep an open mind, discarding the various biases that come up. And this leads you on to something else, which triggers a thought that links you to a discovery that is utterly marvelous. This seemingly random journey allows one to touch into the realm of what I would call serendipity, a world of happy accidents characterized by the qualities of delight and surprise. This is the natural experience as Spirit is given free rein to bless and uplift our worlds. Behold I am here—let my presence shine forth. I personally look forward to being more delighted and more surprised as I allow this practice to intensify in my own experience in the days to come.

June 25, 2017

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