Life with OCD

Everyone’s this way a little bit.
It’s adaptative to check the door two or three times to be sure it’s locked.
It’s not adaptative to check it fifty times.

I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

I talked some about its physiological basis, and treatment, in a previous post.

I will tell more, and about my own experience, now. Continue reading Life with OCD

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Life with DSPS

“Are you abnormal?”

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS), like Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), is a disturbance of the body’s processing of serotonin.

It’s been the bane of my existence.

Continue reading Life with DSPS

Mooring oneself in What Is

Hold to God’s unchanging hand.

When not at sea, a boat is normally tied, or moored, to a dock.  The waves rise and fall, the winds blow this way and that, but the boat is stable and secured because it is moored.

The storms of life buffet us this way and that, and one can lose oneself in the chaos and confusion.  Managing, coping, requires that one have some mooring somewhere.  Some folk moor themselves in a concept, a dogma, such as Biblical inerrancy or the dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church.  Others moor themselves in the dogmas of an ideology, such as Progressivism or identity politics; or a cause, such as environmentalism; or even a romance (a particularly bad choice).  I propose instead mooring oneself merely in What Is.

Everything else is subject to change or question or dispute.  There is no disputing What Is.  And the underlying principles, the principles that underlie existence itself, never change.

Contemplation and “Deep Silence”

I have previously discussed silence:  “About silence.”  Another term for this state is “contemplation,” which I have avoided using for reason that (1) I don’t care for a multiplicity of terms, and (2) there’s a lot written about it that, frankly, I myself don’t understand.

As taught by Ambrose Worrall, the discipline of silence has as its goal the attainment of a state he calls “Deep Silence,” the contemplation of a level of existence where there are no ideas, no thoughts, no opinions, no theories, no images, no value judgments (“shoulds,” “oughts,” approval or disapproval); but merely What Is.  After 35 years of practice, I myself rarely attain this state.  It seems to depend on how much Presence or mindfulness I’ve practiced during the preceding day.

As to the absence of value judgements, Rumi said:

Out beyond all thoughts
of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

This was the Edenic state.

There is a state beyond Deep Silence.  In “Silentium Altum,” Worrall speaks of

… the realm of Absolute Silence, which we could call “Silence Unlimited,” or perfect and complete silence.

This is the condition in which God dwells.

In Absolute Silence there is neither time nor space; motion does not exist; there is no observer and nothing to be observed; there is nothing to learn, for all things are known.  It is eternity; it is infinity; it has neither position nor size; its center is everywhere and its circumference is nowhere.  This is perfection and only the perfect can understand it.

Man can approach the Absolute Silence but cannot enter it.

God created existence, being, based in a set of coherent, well-ordered, harmonious principles.  It must be so; otherwise What Is would quickly disintegrate into chaos and non-existence.  Mooring oneself in those principles can’t help but tend to establish coherence, good order and harmony in one’s soul, one’s mind, one’s life.

The inevitability of turmoil

In nature

Despite the order and harmony of the microscopic world — electrons move placidly in and among their orbitals; charged particles willingly follow paths of electromagnetic fields — at other levels of the physical universe, we see sometimes great turmoil: hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and so on.  All ultimately derive, however, from simple fundamental principles.

Three factors determine our weather: humidity, barometric pressure, and sunlight.  They are completely independent, and so never conflict with each other; but their interactions make weather fair or foul.

Sunlight always causes water to evaporate; the more sunlight, the more evaporates.  And warm air can hold more water vapor than cold.  But air at high barometric pressure can also absorb more water vapor than air at low pressure; it’s like a larger or smaller sponge, that can only take in so much before it becomes full, and then begins to empty itself as rain.

High pressure systems are associated with clear weather, high clouds, sunny days and low relative humidity.  Low pressure systems are associated with low clouds, high relative humidity, and the likelihood of storms.

When a low pressure system passes over the ocean and sunlight falls on it, increasing amounts of water will evaporate into that air.  In addition, the absorbed sunlight makes the air more energetic, so that the system rotates with increasing strength, making high winds.  This may develop into a hurricane.

So from time to time I may find myself unhappily outdoors in the middle of a downpour, with heavy rain pelting my skin and drenching my clothes and belongings; and having to lean into the wind to keep from being blown over.  This may ruin my plans for the day; as a homeless man, the steps I’ll need to take that night for the sake of my clothes and belongings are less convenient than if I had my own place.  I have my choices.

I can resent the whole situation, be angry, wish it would all go away.  I can do that with all my might.  Or I can accept it and say, “This is what’s happening now.”

In society

I have only recently come into these understandings.

Social turmoil is, in some ways, analogous to turmoil in the weather.

Feelings, affects, or emotions aren’t just within us individually.  We broadcast them.  We send them out as, as it were, spirits — not living things, but spiritual materials analogous to gases — oxygen, water vapor, the smell of alcohol, the smell of roses, and so forth.

So, for example, if you walk into a room full of people who are in a foul mood, you may pick up on that, like a foul smell.  If they’re in a happy mood, you may pick up on that also.

All these masses of gases are out there, and they develop their own high- and low-pressure systems, and under the radiance of God’s sun can become energized — and sometimes give rise to social storms.

In the past few years, I have seen any number of intense controversies come and go.  The media stir up hysteria, and folk get heavily invested in feelings, and there’s a ton of sturm und drang, and a lot of people’s feelings get hurt — not to mention the possibilities of bodily harm and property damage.  I myself have got caught up in more than one, and became passionate about it, and felt like this issue was my calling from God, and the most important thing in the world — until the media lose interest, and the thing dies off like a burnt match, and nothing’s changed.

In short, shit happens.

I don’t necessarily have to involve myself in it.  I don’t need to defend my beliefs; I do need instead to live them.  I don’t need to refute others’ beliefs; I do need instead to love them.

That is What Is.

Between people

Many examples are available; I need only focus on one.

Different people are in different places, and thus of necessity have different points of view.  The easy resolution would be for each person to understand the other’s point of view, in which case they might all agree on What Is.  But different people also vary in their degree of empathy — the ability to see another point of view.

The most incompetent supervisor I ever had was seriously empathy-challenged.  Discussing this or that approach to some need or project on the job, she was utterly unable to grasp any point of view other than her own.  I tried and tried, every way I could think of.

Now, we sometimes think or speak of empathy in moral terms, or as a feature of emotional maturity.  In her case, I came to the conclusion that it’s neurological.  She lacks the equipment that makes empathy possible.

So it is also with psychopaths: they are physiologically incapable of empathy.  They lack the equipment.

That’s the way God made them.

It is What Is.

Within oneself

We could start with the turmoil I myself have just gone through in composing this very portion of this post.

The short conclusion:

It’s OK to be torn up.
Don’t get torn up about being torn up.

On the one hand, in a composition about attaining inner peace, it would seem unseemly to propose the inevitability of inner turmoil.  So, I haven’t wanted to say this.  On the other hand, as I have pondered the different causes of inner turmoil in my own history, it becomes clear that I have made tremendous progress in recent decades, by applying the principles I am seeking to teach here.

I used to get real torn up
about being torn up.

Even last night as I wrestled with the memories of the decades I often lived in agony — that I was able to maintain my composure, in the company of sixty disorderly men (at the homeless shelter), would have been beyond me years ago.

Related:  A short route to agony

I’ve been through a lot worse than homelessness.

For the moment, I suppose there are three causes of inner turmoil: indecision; karma; and dis-acceptance of What Is.

Indecision pertains to conflicting desires.  It can be eased if one is willing to do the work to become pure of heart or balanced.  It can be exacerbated by a defective worldview, such as if one is zealous to discern and act according to “God’s plan.”  Kierkegaard referred to the latter as “existential angst.”

Karma for me is reflected mainly in my lifelong karmic obsession with racism.  The related posts in my blog evidence the progress I have made in recent years toward accepting racism as a feature of What Is, and accepting also the What Is-ness of my own skin color.

Dis-acceptance of What Is.  For decades, I suffered from an invisible disability, Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS).  I may go into the details elsewhere.  But the past few days, anticipating this writing, it has seemed to me that this condition marginalized me, made me as “differently abled,” as if I’d been born without arms.  Now, had I been born without arms, that could be karmic, or instead merely the way God made me.  As far as I understand things just now, it seems to me to be the way God made me.

Difficulties rose in my interactions with other people, with the job market, with institutions, and I became distraught over my inability to fit in.  This led to the situation described in the post, “A short route to agony,” linked to above.

Had I only known then what I know now; had I only had then the religion I have now; had I not lived in a world of “oughts” and “shoulds,” but instead merely accepted What Is; my life might have been far more joyful.

Conclusion

For all the turmoil we observe in nature, in society, in relationships and within ourselves; at bottom, God created the universe as an orderly, harmonious place; and one can focus one’s attention on that harmony and order.

This is God’s unchanging hand.

What the little birds told me

(Originally published 07/21/12 at Trojan Horse Productions.  Reblogged 04/23/14.)

The pigeons. Years ago, when I had an office job downtown, I’d wait for the bus every afternoon on the south side of Baltimore Street one or two blocks east of Charles. Often, someone tossed down several handfuls of torn-up bread for the birds to eat, and I’d have time to watch them.

For the most part, the pigeons acted just as you’d expect: eating together, share and share alike. But I noticed one individual whose conduct was quite different. This guy never picked up any food from the ground. He never seemed to notice any food on the ground. Instead, he’d notice what someone else was eating, and go over and take it away from that person. Time and time again, he did this.

Put this fellow down on top of a pile of food, and he’d starve to death, because he’d never pick up any for himself. Put another pigeon with him, and he’d be OK — taking away what the other one picks up to eat.

How much closer can you get to the way some people act; who will not do anything for themselves, but only take away what someone else has worked for? Can there be a gene for this?

———— ♦ ————

When I lived in Barclay, I maintained a bird feeder in the back yard — different locations, but always visible from the kitchen window. Two species used to visit the feeder in flocks: sparrows and starlings. There might be fifty sparrows or fifty starlings there at a time.

Continue reading What the little birds told me

Laura Nyro

Memorial Day 2018

Yesterday at Burger King I heard a song I’d never heard before, that impressed me enough to do significant research.  I don’t know who did the cover.  From the music and the lyrics, I supposed the creator to be Elton John.  The music really moved me, but I found the lyrics to be dark.

It proved to be “Stoney End,” created by Laura Nyro.

I knew nothing about her.

Turns out she created a ton of hits, and was vastly influential.

She eschewed the celebrity lifestyle, which I think William Tell would like to do also.

Wikipedia: “Stoney End
Wikipedia: Laura Nyro

Accepting revulsion 3: (I don’t know what to say.)

March 31, 2018

When I attend enough to becoming upwardly mobile myself, I often find myself looking down on the men around me now.

I don’t want to look down on anyone.  These are (mainly) good guys.  These are friends.

So this a learning opportunity, a growth opportunity.

It appears to be a common problem for folk who seek upward mobility.

I find this morning that perhaps I can sublimate or incinerate those feelings as they come on, burning up emotional filth to release light and admiration for guys who, after all, are doing the best they can with the resources they’ve got, and whose motivations no one can gainsay.

Related:
The request of James and John, part 1
The request of James and John, part 2
Resolution