The Persistent Malaise

Malaise is defined as, a general feeling of discomfort, illness, or uneasiness whose exact cause is difficult to identify. In modern society we yearn for clarity, safety, control, and known-risk experiences. A known risk experience is something which brings a rush of adrenaline but is actually statistically speaking, fairly safe. Our efforts to make what is uncertain seem certain to ourselves, and to others is ultimately avoiding our inner state of the persistent malaise.

For some who have discovered uncertainty to be a good friend, you may not need to read further. For those who see uncertainty as something to be avoided, fixed, or feared, you’ve stumbled upon some writing you may need and may be ready to receive.

Certainty is based on comparison with something in our past. We think or say, “such and such must be the case because of so and so.” You see of course immediately that the current “such and such” becomes the past “so and so” in the next moment and our minds begin the inevitable inner stacking or looping which causes our brains to name and then store this “certainty” which is really a justification within to convince ourselves we are “right.”

Because we yearn to be right or correct (righteous) , we internally “catalog” and then externalize these stories of certainty which become part of the bigger story of who we tell ourselves and others, who we are.

Over time, our genetically developed desire to be right, combined with a bunch of inner stories and chapters of stories which are incomplete truths at best, combine to make us recognize our inner fiction as fact. This false sense of certainty we’ve created is a house of cards which is very fragile. So fragile in fact that there is a “house of cards inner maintenance process”, open 24-7, that is constantly repairing and fixing the constantly breaking story (house) and further telling the owner in a variety of ways, your story is righteous, carry on.

Now before you get too caught in judgement about what’s been written in this blog thus far, realize you have an inner human drive to be right so if you don’t understand what’s been written, you will want to explain to yourself that you either understand what’s been written and then try to categorize it based on something in your past, perhaps think about someone else who “needs” this piece, or you will try to dismiss what’s been written as not true or misguided.

If you are feeling a sense of uncertainty or uneasiness about what you’re reading, you are on the right track.

As humans in modern society, we want to avoid feeling a sense of malaise. The problem is that malaise is reality. We are beings built to survive and reproduce and thus are constantly interpreting and reinterpreting our environment, coming up with conclusions quickly to survive the saber tooth tiger attack … er I mean getting the best parking place at the grocery store…

Our brains evolved over billions of years to make snap decisions for our survival and for our procreation. The problem is that in modern society, all those snap decisions pile up creating a story we tell ourselves which is always based on past information which we cherry pick to reinforce the story we tell ourselves. Some refer to this as unconscious bias but be careful naming any inner experience too quickly.

Rest assured, if you’re feeling a malaise at the moment, you’re still on the right track. In fact, rest into the malaise (reality) you may be feeling and don’t try to get away from it or fix it, through a false sense of certainty. Certainty is the enemy of the present and the present is the only place and time where you will find truth.

You may be becoming aware of how your inner yearning for clarity, certainty, judgement, righteousness, etc. is the story you use to avoid what has perhaps become scary to you, uncertainty, uneasiness… the persistent malaise.

Start with your values, envision a better future, and act with integrity and love toward all.

When our values lay dormant,

And the dust collects upon them.

We come to think, we only have what is here.

Injustice, strife, malice, greed, envy and pride,

Appear to own the day, and the future.

Drop into your values, they are there beneath the din.

Unearth them in all their glory in the bright light of the sun.

Envision your future, our future, their future, built on the values…

You’ve always known.

Don’t delay, know your values will not steer you wrong.

Though we may walk through dark valleys,

We do not walk without hope.

We know we walk toward our Beloved’s waiting embrace.

Get on with it already.

Get on with it we say,

Even inside.

To the sad little self.

Yet, it’s time to become,

The human, fully, you were and are meant to be

A living sacrifice, a becoming of presence

A place where you once avoided,

In order to find yourself…

Now you enter in and allow Your own death

as way to usher in

The kingdom of heaven, God, here and now.

The mystery of the ages,

Bending our own arc to the sacred curve.

Enter the lost ness of self, become One.

Inspired by
Colossians 2:13

Freedom: Escaping the Philanthropy Trap

Somehow we’ve hero-ized giving when we’re guided in clear language regarding giving “when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” You may recognize these words from Jesus and yet, they are hard to follow in our success and credit seeking world. Our self justifying ways regarding philanthropy whether outward or even within our own beings, is yet another manifestation of our economic idolization and a sure way to forget the humility we are all called to practice on our spiritual journeys.

Often, would be philanthropists may indeed be prisoners of their money and or resources. They may be trapped, perhaps ensnared, in a spiritual sense and without an awareness about the need to, let alone the means to escape, under normal circumstances.

Yet there is a way out but it depends on the would be enablers to not see donors and beneficiaries but see soulful beings on a journey in this place and time.

How one gives, not only the act itself, but also how one thinks and feels, what story one tells themself, and how someone engages internally with their giving, matters.

The way you give and the attitude in which you give will determine if you free yourself through your giving or if you ensnare others in the process.

And, enablers, don’t keep thinking it’s simply your job to get people to give to your cause. Without some courage to talk to people openly about their own soulfulness and how wealth potentially obstructs their own spiritual journey, you may be reinforcing the bars of their prison, making the walls thicker, extending their sentence. Further, you may unwittingly find yourself sharing a cell with them.

As a fundraiser, if you do not recognize people as spiritual beings, potentially trapped within their own materialistic and resource rich prison, you are missing your calling to be loving and supportive and to support all people with dignity, even those with great material wealth. The wealthy may be the most needy… spiritually speaking.

Those of you who might receive a gift, from a benefactor, no matter who they are… be careful that you do not give your freedom away by entering into the prison with the unaware prisoner bearing gifts. You can trust that inner feeling of being entrapped, disrespected, giving away your dignity, or being locked in. Run from those gifts that aren’t truly gifts (given with true humility) run from those prisoners of wealth who are unable or unwilling to see. Often they’re disguised so well as philanthropists their costumes even fool themselves.

Without careful spiritual discernment, our possessions can possess us.

In some cases you might be able to help free a prisoner of wealth through maintaining you’re own dignity but be careful… the allure of the wealthy life being better is dangerous. And once you’re on the inside, it’s hard to remember what freedom even feels like. Wealth can be a well formed disguise, and often the costume is so well conceived over decades that the prisoner doesn’t realize their own chains and cell.

(The rich young ruler asked) …”what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (thinking he had already done all the “right things”) the young ruler said “All these I have kept since I was a boy,”

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

NIV Bible – Luke 18:22-27

So realize, would be fundraisers and potential beneficiaries… by accepting a gift given the wrong way or with the wrong intent, you may be condemning people you call donors in ways you never imagined.

Absent humility, giving becomes entrapment for both giver and receiver.

Are you stuffed with “junk food”?

I’ve heard some people say they have no sense of the Divine within. Some tell me they never hear God speak to them. Some say they have no sense of God’s presence. Some rail against the church or someone who they think has led them away from God or from Love. If for whatever reason you don’t sense, feel, know God’s loving presence, start with knowing it is here, now, even if you don’t recognize it. Ask to see or experience.

Focus on a moment in the last 24 hours when you glimpsed something or someone that gave you a glimpse of the Divine within yourself. Now focus on that rather than waiting for your own version of the “parting of the Red Sea” or the getting “knocked off your horse” that you’ve been awaiting.

If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.

John Piper, A Hunger For God

So push yourself away from the drama- filled, over-indulged, keeping up with the neighbors, intellectualizing God into a box, never satisfied, table of the world so you can see God & God’s love in the places you’ve been trying to consume, control or use rather than appreciate.

God’s love, always here, always available, for everyone. Yes, everyone. Simply stop and ask to see.