Monday, July 29, 2013


I first saw this poem on a video by Peak Crackers. I think it conveys the spirit of these verses, which are timeless.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: 'Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear --
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Nature of Heaven and Hell

[from Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron, h/t Ken Lauher]

A BIG, BURLY SAMURAI comes to a Zen master and says, "Tell me the nature of heaven and hell."

The Zen master looks him in the face and says, "Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you? A worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything?"

Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword and raises it to cut off the master's head.

The Zen master says, "That's hell."

Instantly, the samurai understands that he has just created his own hell - black and hot, filled with hatred, self-protection, anger, and resentment. He sees that he was so deep in hell that he was ready to kill someone. Tears fill his eyes as he puts his palms together to bow in gratitude for this insight.

The Zen master says, "That's heaven."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Near Death Experiences and the Dark Side

[I know the name of this blog is "The Lighter Side of Jody" but I was impressed with this article and it really belongs here. I know I spend way too much time running from my own shadow. HT: New Heaven, New Earth Pulse]

“To appreciate heaven well, it is good for a man to have some fifteen minutes of hell.”

– Will Carleton

NDE and the Dark Side
By Dr. Rajiv Parti
July 6, 2013

We spend our early lives creating our ‘dark’ side, our shadow. Everyone has one. It is instinctive and irrational and prone to projection: turning a personal inferiority into a perceived deficiency in someone else.

Think of your most embarrassing or shameful moment and you’ll find your dark side. It’s that part you wish wasn’t there, that part you want to hide or forget ever existed, that part you pushed down into your unconscious in childhood. It was often created as part of your coping strategies.

As an adult, your dark side personifies everything that you hate or refuse to acknowledge about yourself. It contains rejected and ignored emotions, situations and phobias. Your dark side is your fear of failure, your extreme shyness, or your sexual compulsion. Or maybe a drug or alcohol addiction, or an aggressive way of dealing with your closest family and friends.

In many cases, if we hate angry people, we lean the other direction and become passive. We let others walk all over us until resentment builds into a pile of impotent rage. This unexpressed energy has to go somewhere — it will either implode and create illness, or it will explode into angry behavior that we will later feel guilty and horrible about.

Similarly, when we put those we admire on a pedestal, we often fail to nurture our own seeds of greatness that we see flowering in them. Looking up to others may prevent us from looking inward to recognize those traits we can’t imagine possessing ourselves.

To get by, we spend a lifetime stuffing unpleasant or distasteful moments into the bottom of our memory bags. Unfortunately, these hidden or lost parts of ourselves, like neglected children, eventually cry out for attention.

I believe that we all have a ‘light’ side and a ‘dark’ side. Each part plays a role in our lives. Stifling one or the other leads to dysfunction and misery. The truth is, we’re all on Earth to evolve. We cycle through different stages and milestones and grow by embracing our whole selves.

To become whole means investing time and energy into illuminating and reclaiming our lost selves so that we can begin to heal. The key is to retain awareness of our dark side without identifying with it. We need to see, with clear eyes, our human failings and weaknesses. We need to feel our guilt and shame. Then we incorporate these shadowy aspects of ourselves into the light. This produces a stronger, wider consciousness than before.

It wasn’t until I had a near-death experience in 2010 that I realized how deeply my dark side was impacting the choices I made and how I lived my life. Up until then, my life had been very materialistic and self-absorbed, devoid of love. I was not practicing compassion or forgiveness towards myself or others. I was especially harsh towards people that I perceived to be lower than me in social or professional status.

While near-death experiences are typically recounted as pleasant and uplifting: visions of pure light, verdant landscapes and dazzlingly clear skies, accompanied by an overwhelming sense of bliss — not everyone has a pleasant or a loving near-death episode. Less reported are the accounts of nightmarish and painfully hellish experiences: terrifying deities, gruesome apparitions, racking and painful torture. These accounts may include a life-review process, judgment or a disembodied state, followed by rebirth into this or other realms for further growth and learning.

During my near-death experience, my first stop in the other realm was Hell. Since going public with my NDE, I have been asked several times, “Why did you go straight to Hell? If God is all unconditional love, should you not have gone to Heaven straight away?”

Unpleasant or hell-like NDEs can be perceived as a wake-up call, a learning experience. And I was in dire need of a wakeup call, I just didn’t know it. I like to think that a negative NDE can be viewed as positive when it results in significant constructive changes in a person’s life, as it has in mine.

Every near-death experience carries with it a message of growth. NDEs also offer insight into the true nature of life. I consider my NDE a gift. It inspired me to see things differently and consider other points of view. It helped me to see many different aspects of myself and then to embrace, forgive, and love what I saw.

Acknowledging that you have a dark side is the key to personal growth. When you acknowledge who you really are — both the good and the bad — you integrate your outer personality and actions with your inner being — your soul.

Accepting that you have a dark side also frees up energy that was previously used to stifle, avoid, and deny dark impulses. Now this energy can be used for other purposes. Just by accepting all the different parts of yourself, you will have access to a new source of personal power.

When you totally accept yourself, you make a big step toward inner completion. By shining a light into the darkness, you invite that which has been hiding to come out. With self-inquiry, you start unlocking long-hidden parts of yourself, creating a life of balance, inner-peace and harmony.