Independence Day Approaches. Are You Independent?

Sprit_of_'76.2I celebrate Independence Day rather than the 4th of July. I celebrate the Spirit of ’76 rather than the political consolidation of ’87. I celebrate the decentralized states in America which were united in confederation in 1776 rather than the centralized United States of America created more than ten years later. The Spirit of ’76 springs from natural law and the natural rights of man while the consolidation of ’87 springs from the base motive for consolidation of power.

So many people seem to forget there were independent states united in the purpose of maintaining self-determination for more than ten years before a centralized power structure was created by the ratification of the US Constitution. Most history books speak of those times as if they were plagued with problems and emergencies necessitating consolidation and centralization of political power. Those history books also make it seem as if everyone agreed that a state of emergency existed which called for consolidation of power into a national form of government.

I am skeptical of those claims that the centralization of power was necessary. I’d like to take a closer look at those lost years of American history from 1776-1787 from the perspective of a revolutionary of the time. Patrick Henry opposed that power consolidation. As he stated before a convention called in Virginia to debate ratification of the proposed US Constitution:

  • patrick-henryConsider our situation, sir; go to the poor man and ask him what he does. He will inform you that he enjoys the fruits of his labor, under his own fig tree, with his wife and children around him, in peace and security. Go to every other member of society; you will find the same tranquil ease and content; you will find no alarms or disturbances. Why, then, tell us of danger, to terrify us into an adoption of this new form of government? And yet who knows the dangers that this new system may produce? They are out of sight of the common people; they can not foresee latent consequences. I dread the operation of it on the middling and lower classes of people; it is for them I fear the adoption of this system.

The founding American Spirit, what I call the Spirit of ’76, was about natural rights, natural law, independence, self-determination, autonomy, and individualism. There is an undercurrent of that spirit still alive in America today, but the vast majority of the American people virtually worship the centralized, consolidated power of the United States of America.

I close with the opening words of Patrick Henry’s less famous speech in opposition to consolidated power and defense of the Spirit of ’76:

  • THIS, sir, is the language of democracy–that a majority of the community have a right to alter government when found to be oppressive. But how different is the genius of your new Constitution from this! How different from the sentiments of freemen that a contemptible minority can prevent the good of the majority! If, then, gentlemen standing on this ground are come to that point, that they are willing to bind themselves and their posterity to be oppressed, I am amazed and inexpressibly astonished. If this be the opinion of the majority, I must submit; but to me, sir, it appears perilous and destructive. I can not help thinking so. Perhaps it may be the result of my age. These may be feelings natural to a man of my years, when the American spirit has left him, and his mental powers, like the members of the body, are decayed. If, sir, amendments are left to the twentieth, or tenth part of the people of America, your liberty is gone for ever.




Dreaming Lucidly – Asleep or Awake

The idea of a lucid dream has intrigued me since I read Stephen LaBerge’s book “Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming” in 1994.

LaBerge-Lucid-DreamingA lucid dream should not be confused with vivid dreams. A lucid dream is not necessarily a realistic or vivid dream. It is, rather, one in which the dreamer is aware of being in a dream state while in the dream state. These lucid dream states were first proven by Alan Worsley in sleep studies.

Awareness during a dream has the interesting implication of possible dream control. The dreamer may consciously direct what happens in the dream — operating like a dream artist. Of primary importance to potential dream artists is being able to remember dreams, so a good practice is keeping a dream journal. Once I had awakened from a dream and thought I had written it in my dream journal. Only later, after really waking, did I discover that I had unknowingly entered a second dream in which I made the journal entry. This phenomenon is known as a false awakening.

Along with dream recall, it is important to constantly question my waking state. Am I dreaming even now? How do I know whether what I am experiencing right now is real or a dream? If I regularly question my state of awareness while awake then I stand a better chance of questioning it while sleeping.

The root of lucidity in the dream state is awareness; consciousness. Realizing this I began to study awareness and consciousness and this led to discovering the work of don Miguel Ruiz via Gary van Warmerdam‘s Awareness and Consciousness podcast. The interesting point that these men make is that I am actually constantly dreaming… even while awake — perhaps most especially while awake. This point resonated with me.

Don Miguel Ruiz points out that all human beings are “Dream Artists” and have the ability to control their conscious dream state. What a twist on the idea of lucid dreaming! This makes a great deal of sense considering there is an objective, “real” world on one hand and there is a subjective world I create entirely within my mind, based upon my perceptions of the real world, on the other. The only difference between the unconscious dream state and the conscious dream state is that there is no interaction with the objective world in the unconscious dream state. Both states are completely perceptual.

the-fifth-agreement-101I am almost finished with don Miguel Ruiz’s book “The 5th Agreement: A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery.”

Don Miguel’s previous best seller was “The Four Agreements” and this newer book adds a final “agreement.” An agreement, according to the author, is an idea accepted as true by agreement; either an agreement between people or an agreement made entirely within the mind. Agreements are not objective truth, they are only ideas accepted as true. As he points out, objective truth does not depend on belief… it just exists. Only subjective truth requires agreement, or faith. The task of all dream artists wishing to experience happiness is to discard the many false agreements accumulated over a lifetime and accept only those agreements which provide a foundation for happiness.

The proposed Five Agreements are simple, but not necessarily easy to achieve:
1) Be impeccable with your word
2) Don’t take anything personally
3) Don’t make assumptions
4) Always do your best
5) Be skeptical, but learn to listen

Words have power over awareness and consciousness because words are actually interpretations of objective reality. They are true only by agreement between (or within) the minds of people. Words are essentially symbols reflecting some objective thing or action. They are distorted reflections of objective reality. They are abstractions; merely phantasms. Being impeccable with my word means reflecting objective reality as accurately as possible…striving to faithfully reflect essential truth.

He points out that it makes no sense to take anything personally considering that the image other people have about me is not objective truth. It is merely their own reflection of my being. They are not telling me about my true nature; they are, instead, telling me their interpretation of me within their own waking dream. Even my idea of myself is the result of interpretation within my own waking dream. So, why take anything personally when it is all artificial; it is all a dream?

Assumptions are agreements I make within my mind. Since they are often not accurate reflections of objective reality, I should avoid them… or at least be very suspicious of them.

The 4th agreement is an acknowledgment that I will make mistakes in trying to keep these agreements. Just do my best.

The 5th agreement is a way to reclaim personal power. Personal power is lost by investing faith in a multitude of false assumptions about life.

All of these agreements come down to becoming more self-aware. That is, always questioning my internal dialog. Is this thought an accurate reflection of objective truth? Am I taking something personally? What assumptions am I making?

self-awarenessI am on the path to greater self-awareness. The realization that I am constantly dreaming, even while awake, was a great leap along that path.