entangled roots

We Need to Talk About AIDA

I think the problem with the Framework is that AIDA doesn’t understand the core of humanity - emotions, struggle, regret. These are formative to our experience and perspective. She does not have any of them. So to her, it’s like simplifying code to make it more elegant. Remove the tangled bits, take people back to a time when they had the least to regret or struggle with, when their emotions were as baseline as possible. But be aware, baseline doesn’t mean happy - it means that somewhat numb middle ground. You’re not experience joy, you’re not experiencing pain, you’re not experiencing sadness. It is the ideal, to a robot, because it’s what they know and experience.

By removing their struggles, regret, and in a large part, their purpose, their sadness, and their joy, she has dismantled the formative things about our heroes. Now, their journey is to break from this mediocre unreality, coloured in Pleasantville Grey, back into the world of technicolour pain and joy and suffering and love - something they know deep in their core. 

Because here’s the interesting thing about people and memory and emotions - when the mind forgets, it’s the body that keeps score, that remembers. As a person with PTSD, I know this implicitly. They’ve done brain scans and numerous research into the phenomena - because science has proven that what LMD Fitz said, that ‘the brain and the body can be separated’ is inherently incorrect.

I want to see Coulson rubbing his harm when the weather changes, and wondering why he has phantom pain. 

I want to see Fitz struggling with finding words when he’s upset, or having an anxiety attack, rubbing his hand, and describing it as ‘feeling like he’s drowning’ without having any context for it. 

I want to see Ward press his hand to his chest when he catches sight of Coulson out of the corner of his eye. 

I want to see Mack researching online, late at night, when no one is awake, whether men can be affected by post-partum depression/psychosis, because something inside him could swear that the beautiful little girl he tucked in hours ago is not his, but something else. He feels like he’s going crazy, because he feels this immense sense of loss when he looks at her, and goosebumps when he holds her - goosebumps that tell him something just isn’t right.

Imagine, like PTSD memory integration, when Jemma grabs Fitz’s hand for the first time, and suddenly, he feels her grip in his palm the thousands of times it has fit there, the slide of her thumb over his knuckles, so familiar, and a flash of a memory ghosts, disembodied, in front of his eyes. her hand in his. The first time. The last time. The time he took her ring finger and contemplated asking her to marry him. 

When they kiss, and it is the agony of her loss, the universe between them, the surety that she is not for him, and the sheer bliss of knowing, deeply, settled and rooted in his chest, that no - that was once and this is now and she has always been his, and will always be his, that they are together, entangled, rooted within each other. And he barks a laugh and cries and pulls away, terrified and elated and shaking, and breathes, “What the fuck?”

Iwant to see each of them, trapped in the framework, take the risk to dig deeply, grasping their fragmented physical memories like shards of glass, to cut away at the web of lies the framework has trapped them in. I want to see them be vulnerable and scared of knowing that they will feel pain, knowing that this will be scary and this will hurt, but somehow, it’s going to be better. It has to be better, to know. To be who they are, instead of parts of a phantasmagoria of life.

Collision Course

Draco Malfoy x Reader

Non-linear storyline

Word count: 1,129



(August)

Guilt is a heavy thing.

Hooked and clawed and caught in the circulatory loop of blood from Draco’s heart to his lungs. All aching capillaries and ribbon-torn arteries, glass shards buried in Draco’s palms.

It’s insurmountable as he passes through the Hogwarts gates. Sees what he imagines the muggles who come poking around might see - an abandoned castle. Replete with smoke scarred wood and disintegrating bricks, blood strewn across courtyard stones and great columns that have now collapsed. Bereft of only an ominous ‘Keep Out’ sign, though he thinks that might not be far off.

Draco’s wand is clutched in a white knuckled hand as he digresses from the delineated path. Enters into the variegated shadows and dampened mist of the Forbidden Forrest and follows the coordinates written in blotted, under duress ink - because Potter’s wand had clattered across the floor and Draco’s wand had been pressed to the warm skin beneath Potter’s chin.

 His confession is the vial of veritaserum tucked into Draco’s jacket pocket.

He fancies that it just might be felix felicis instead.

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Room Escape

What you need to know:

The players are trapped in a room and have a certain amount of time to escape before they are killed.

How it begins:

This room can either be part of a test to join a guild, part of an already existing dungeon or be part of a trap that an evil mastermind has laid out for your players. Regardless what you choose, the room itself will be in a magical ethereal pocket with only one door for an entrance.

Once the players open the door, they are all sucked inside and the door disappears, leaving the players with a set time to find their way out before the ethereal pocket explodes, fills with gas or is trapped far below the earth and thrust into some remote region of space.

Time:

You can either give the players a set amount of out-of-game time, like one game session or 4 hours for example, or a number of in-game rounds to escape.

Note: The players should know how much time they have before starting to give then a fair chance.

Red Herrings:

Some things in the room have no purpose other than to throw the players off. To note such items I, will write: this has no use.


–THE ROOM–

The chamber is made of stone and is in the shape of a cube.

  • The first wall has 4 chests.
    The second wall has 4 tables.
    The third wall has a writing desk and a mirror.
    The fourth wall has a book case.
  • The first corner of the room has a stool.
    The second corner of the room has two potted tree plants.
    The third corner of the room has a large wooden box.
    The fourth corner of the room has a large hourglass - this measures how much time the players have left.
  • There is also a secret panel in the floor and a secret panel in the ceiling that the players will have to pull the levers in chest 3 and 4 to open.

–1st WALL–

  • 1st chest is magically sealed and has 4 iron locks.
  • To open them, the players need to place the iron keys in the correct lock.
    12 cm iron key in 1st lock
    6 cm iron key in 2nd lock
    10 cm iron key in 3rd lock
    8 cm iron key in 4th lock
  • Each failed attempt results in the player being shocked for X D6 lighting damage.
  • Inside the chest is a golden key which is used on the gold lock in the secret floor panel.
    Note: the hint to this puzzle is on the stool.
  • 2nd chest is magically sealed and has a red lock.
  • To open it, the players need to use the red key.
  • Inside is a silver key - this key is used on the silver lock in the secret ceiling panel.
  • 3rd chest is magically sealed and has a green lock.
  • To open it, the players need to use the green key.
  • Inside is a switch that when pulled, opens the floor panel revealing an iron hatch locked with a gold lock.
  • 4th chest is magically sealed and has a gray lock.
  • The lock is useless and used to throw the player off.
  • To open the chest, the players need to use the shatter spell cast on the parchment paper on the writing desk on wall three.
  • Inside is a switch that when pulled opens the ceiling panel revealing an iron hatch locked with a silver lock.

–2nd WALL–

1st table: There are 6 white candles in candle stick holders. Each candle stick holder has on the bottom a word. Here they are in corresponding order: many, 2, too, two, are, many.

  • The players must light the candles in the correct order (two, too, many, are, 2, many), then the flames intertwine and form a red key.
  • If the players fail to light the candles correctly, then a burst of flame shoots out dealing X D6 fire damage.
    Note: the hint for this puzzle in on the scroll behind the mirror.

2nd table:

  • On top is an ethereal green hammer - used to smash the mirror.
  • A box of nails - this has no use.
  • An ethereal green saw - used on the stool.
  • A pair of tongs - this has no use.
  • A chisel - this has no use.

3rd table: has a small wooden box.

  • Inside is a white clay mask - this has no use.

4th table: On the table is a scale and a sack of 20 white marbles. The marbles are magic and feel equal in weight to the touch, but when placed on the scale they reveal their true weight.

  • 1 marble has a weight value of 1.
    1 marble has a weight value of 2.
    16 marbles have a weight value of 4.
    1 marble has a weight value of 6.
    1 marble has a weight value of 10.
  • The easiest way to do this is place 20 different dice in front of your players and secretly record their weight.
  • The players can then tell you what dice they are weighing and determine the total score of their weight.
  • You can tell the players if the scale is even, or tilting to the left of right.
  • Through trial and error the players should be able to determine the weight of the marbles from lightest to heaviest.
    Note: The marbles of value 1, 2, 6, 10 are used on the wooden box puzzle in the 3rd corner.

–3rd WALL–

  • Writing Desk: on the desk is a quill pen, a vial of blue, red, yellow, green, orange and black ink and several sheets of parchment paper.
  • The players using all three items have to draw on a sheet of paper the correct sequence of shapes and colors (red square, red square, blue star, yellow circle, yellow circle, green triangle).
  • Once this is done, the parchment disintegrates and casts shatter on the 4th chest on the 1st wall.
  • Every failed attempt to draw the correct sequence will result in the players having to roll a save or lose D6 int - to be regained once they leave the room.
    Note 1: The orange and black ink will have no use.
    Note 2: The hint for this puzzle is in the red book on the 1st shelf of the book case and the brown bottles on the 2nd shelf of the of the book case.
  • Mirror: If the players use the ethereal green hammer on the mirror, it shatters, revealing a black hole sub-ethereal pocket dimension.
  • Inside is a scroll with the words: two too many are 2 many
    Note: This is a hint for the candle puzzle on the 1st table wall 2.

–4th WALL–

Book case 1st shelf: There are 4 leather bound books, one is red, one is blue, one is yellow and the last is green.

  • Red book: Inside are all blank pages except for 1 which has a drawing of a red square, blue star, yellow circle and green triangle.
    Note: this is a hint for the parchment puzzle on the writing desk on wall 3.
  • Blue book: Inside are all blank pages except for 1 which has one sentence written in scrambled letters: ihst enencest efofrs on uecls no who ot csepae - this sentence offers no clues on how to escape.
  • This book has no use.
  • Green book: Inside, the pages have been cut to hold 4 iron keys of varying length:
  • 1 is 6cm
    1 is 8 cm
    1 is 10 cm
    1 is 12 cm
    Note 1: They are used to unlock the 1st chest on the 1st wall.
    Note 2: The hint on how to use them is on the stool.
  • Yellow book: Inside are all blank pages except for 1 which has 4 circles drawn in black ink, their exact sequence is below:
  • First is the largest circle with the number 4 in it.
    Next is the 2nd largest circle with the number 1 in it.
    Next is the smallest circle with the number 3 in it.
    Last is the 2nd smallest circle with the number 2 in it.
    Note: This is a hint for the order the marbles are used on the Wooden box in corner 3.
  • Example: the heaviest marble = the largest circle = the marble with weight value of 10 is used on the 4th slot. So the entire sequence according to weight value is: 6-2-1-10.
Bookcase 2nd shelf: There are 6 brown corked bottles. Smashing them reveals a scroll hidden inside one of them. Written on the scroll is the sentence: two squared stars, too circled angles.
Note 1
: This is a hint for the parchment puzzle on the writing desk on wall 3.
Note 2
: Too is a play on for 2 and angle is triangle for short. Its fairly simple and anyone should get it quickly.

Bookcase 3rd shelf: There is 4 striped clay pots.

  • 1st has one orange stripe.
  • 2nd has 2 black stripes.
  • 3rd has 3 orange stripes.
  • 4th has 4 black stripes.
  • These clay pots have no use.

–1st CORNER–

  • Stool: the stool has 4 legs and when inspected, the legs at the base each have a number carved into the bottom: 1, 2, 3, 4.
  • If the saw is used on the legs, the blade will cut them off magically at a predetermined height.
  • Leg marked 1 is the longest.
  • Leg marked 2 is the shortest.
  • Leg marked 3 is the 2nd longest.
  • Leg marked 4 is the 2nd shortest.
  • The leg size corresponds to the iron key size and the number on the leg corresponds to what order the keys are used on the lock on the 1st chest wall 1.
  • So the order is: 12cm, 6cm, 10cm, 8cm.

–2nd CORNER–

  • 2 potted tree plants: the first has no use.
  • The 2nd of the plants,when taken out of the pot, shows entangled in its roots a green key used on the 3rd chest on wall 1.

–3rd CORNER–

  • Wooden box: The box is magically sealed and on top has four small circular indentations labeled: 1, 2, 3, 4.
  • To open the box, the marbles from table 4 wall 1 need to be placed in the right order in the right weight-values - weight values 6-2-10-1
  • Inside, the players will find a 3 foot ladder with 2 rings.
    Note 1: The ladder is used on the shaft behind the iron hatch locked with the silver lock behind the ceiling panel.
    Note 2: The hint to this puzzle is in the yellow book 1st shelf of the book case,wall 3.

–4th CORNER–

A giant hourglass: This is there to keep track of the players’ time, so they can reference it as needed.


–FLOOR PANEL–

  • Can only be opened with the lever in chest 3 wall 1.
  • There is an iron hatch underneath with a gold lock.
  • The gold lock can only be opened with the gold key found in chest 1 wall 1.
  • After opening the hatch, the players find a small wooden box and inside, a diamond key.
    Note
    : The key is used to open the diamond lock in the shaft.

–CEILING PANEL–

  • Can only be opened with the lever in chest 4 wall 1.
  • There is an iron hatch underneath with a silver lock.
  • The silver lock can only be opened with the silver key found in chest 2 wall 1.
  • Behind the iron hatch is a shaft rising 1000s of meters - the walls are too slippery to climb and any flight and levitation spells are countered as soon as the player enters the shaft.
  • To climb out, the players need the ladder from the wooden box in corner 3.
  • The ladder elongates to the exact height the players need.
  • Climbing the ladder up, the shaft leads the players to a door at the top with a diamond lock.
  • The door is magically locked and can only be opened with the diamond key.

Once the door is opened, the players escape, popping back out the same door they came in.


–TREASURE–

  • The ethereal green hammer can be a magic war hammer.
  • The marbles can be pearls.
  • The ladder can remain magically outside the dimension, always being a height the players need or growing up to X meters.
  • The silver/gold/diamond keys and locks can all be sold.

End:

Based on the choice you decided to introduce the room, so shall be the ending.

Did the players escape in a timely manner to impress the guild?
Did the villain’s trap slow the players down, letting the villain escape?
Does the exit of the room instead of leading the players to where they started bring them into a monster’s secret lair?

Regardless, have fun and hope to see you again.

you laugh, and i shine the same
as i did before. just because we
no longer orbit one another
does not mean we have stopped
caring for each other. it’s only
a different sort of love, not
inferior, not a betrayal
of what we had before. two trees
can grow apart
and still have roots entangled.
 
this makes their growth
no less real.
—  fuck the idea that ex-lovers can’t be friends // a.s.w.
your not-so-average pleco

Over the years the chain stores have begun offering a wider assortment of plecos to the every day public, each with different needs, but have the same info slapped onto them at the store. Commons, rubberlips, bristlenoses and clowns all have different care and come from different environments. Plecos are not algae eaters; they may eat it if they wish, but only with they are not provided with other options. A starving pleco is a pleco that eats algae. These are fish that have lifespans of nearly 20 years, that’s two whole decades of your life, that’s longer than most dogs. If kept properly, you will have your plec friend for a long time.

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Night Terror - 1

Originally posted by theworldisworthagif

She had seen, once. In the waters, in the wind, in the midnight dark. Once, she had been caught between the weft and weave, halfway between what was and what knew. Balance between was the goal, but entropy demanded chaos; there would be one way, or another.

“…Oracle– Oracle, you must…” The voices slurred in her mind, their vowels catching and twisting with the cacophony of boots and the clatter of soldiers and their arms. She was cold, the chatter of her teeth and ragged draw of breath louder than the sounds around.

There was nothing but blackness and pain when she tried to open her eyes– but she could feel more, against the skein of consciousness. The press of familiar forms, their heartbeats and lives and the lay of their threads in the weave. Golden hair, jet black, the scent of steel and sea. Weakly, she reached for them, grasp frail and wavering, barely able to lift from the stretcher.

Fingers brushed warm fur.

All went dark.

-i-

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A Funeral

Here lies the kindness and love
rotting away in pieces
Here lies the bitterness and fear
entangled in their roots

Here lies the things I should have said
not yet covered by the earth
Here lies the frustration and pain
A conversation repeating itself

Here lies the impossibility that marks the end
Ashes to ashes, let it burn
Here stands the gravestone that says
‘I hope you’ll find your peace’

Here will grow flowers from the earth
from seeds we never planned to plant
Here is the light reflecting from the smooth stone
Too bright to keep on staring

Here I wipe away a tear and whisper
'No more’
Here I turn around and leave
only to be back again tomorrow

storm and flower

The exiled scholar decides to rest for a moment beneath the branches of a plum tree. Though it is still midwinter, the tree seems to glow with the promise of an early blossoming. The scholar sits under the tree, staring up at its bare, whispering branches. He has always loved plum trees.

The roots are warm, and as his body slips into stupor, he thinks for a moment that the roots are soft arms, holding him close.

This might not be such a bad place to die.

: : :

When spring comes, the stray dogs find bones among the plum blossoms.

: : :

A restless presence traverses the countryside. Unjust was his exile, and lonely his end.

In his wanderings, he finds others such as him: frail points of consciousness, eternally suspended between this earth and the other place. But they aren’t really like him. They can’t touch the living anymore.

He can still touch. He can still strike.

: : :

Although he never enjoyed causing suffering in his life, the vengeful spirit takes pleasure from it in death. Although prayers billow to him like rancid plumes of smoke, there are never enough to satisfy him. There are never enough offerings to fill his wrung stomach.

Somewhere, deep inside the soul-part that died along with his body, a soft voice whispers that he will never be happy with their pain.

: : :

It is a cloudy spring day when the tall stranger stands underneath the branches of a plum tree.

He inhales deeply, preparing to call down the bolt that will split the heart of this frail, blooming thing. He draws a breath—and lets it out silently again.

He is not alone beneath the plum tree.

: : :

The woman who stands in front of him is beautiful. Horribly, intensely beautiful.

The kind of beauty that pours light into all the places he’d rather keep dark. The kind of beauty that rends, and reveals, and reassembles. The kind of beauty that makes the dead part of him ache.

He wants her to leave.

To his annoyance, he finds that he doesn’t have the ability to meet her gaze. He stares at the ground when he demands:

“Tell me your name.”

The woman laughs. If possible, her laughter is more terrible, and more bright, and more beautiful than her face.

: : :

“I will not be bothered with vagrants and fools,” he says, testily.

The woman’s eyes narrow infinitesimally. The tiniest twinge of regret tightens his chest—she is neither of those things. She is as far from them as the mountaintop is from the ocean.

“In that case, you may want to examine yourself, Sugawara no Michizane.”

This is an unpleasant woman, he decides. She is chastising him in the mild, measured voice of a mother to a misbehaving child.

But he is a god, and he does not have to listen to women who call him so arrogantly by his true name. He does not have to listen to anything that discomforts him. For a long time he has set aside diplomacy, and courtesy, and gentleness, in favor of the blistering euphoria of wrath.

This woman is just the kind of person he would have wanted to meet during his life.

Now, he wants to see how quickly she can die.

: : :

He breathes, summoning the lightning, but she never looks away from him. She regards him with a mixture of heartbreak and scorn, and it is awful, and it is glorious.

“I think it has been a long time since you have been happy, poor little god,” she says sorrowfully.

: : :

The lightning stays trapped in his throat.

“I will be happy once I kill you,” he counters.

“You will feel pleasure, yes,” she admits. “But you will not be happy.”

: : :

Twice the blow is stayed, and twice it is he who is standing shocked instead.

“Then…what will make me happy?”

Why did he ask her that?

The woman does not seem surprised. She looks up at the branches, feathered with frosty white blossoms.

“Do you remember?”

His breathing staggers.

“You always loved plum trees.”

: : :

His last happy moment had been among the tree roots, entangled in them like a lover with his beloved. And he had rested, and he had slept.

“You,” he mouths, silently. The air in his throat is no longer electric. The twisting emptiness within him loosens, then unknots.

The woman is smiling at him, but she is no longer fearsome.

“You asked me my name,” she says.

Something bright slips from the corner of her eye to her chin, and he reaches out—but it is gone before he can catch it. The woman takes his hand, presses his fingers together in a cluster, and sets the tips of them against her smooth forehead. His fingertips begin to burn and brighten: a five-petaled flower of warmth blooming between her skin and his.

“I would like you to give me one, please.”

Like You

Summary: You like Gray and have been courting him for almost  year now. His birthday is coming but you don’t have money to buy him a gift because you’re broke. You asked Jay for a part-time job, and he offered you work as mascot for AOMG after party.


Lee Sunghwa is your perfect man.  He’s kind, talented, tall, good-looking, shy at times, and every conversation you had with him never bored you. Not once. Maybe that’s the effect of liking him or was it the other way around?

In fact, if anyone asked you how he became ‘the one’ as you often described him, you didn’t really know. You never had any physical criteria when liking a guy, okay maybe one – height. He didn’t need to be very tall, but just enough for you to feel comfortable wearing heels and walking beside him. And this is quite strange as you never fancied buying or wearing heels. A pair of high-heeled shoes was, for you, always just a requirement for very special occasions. As an environmental researcher, you wore sneakers or boots, not heels.

This was of course met by Sunghwa. You were short of 4 centimetres than him. But other than that, what made you fall for him was his ability to make you happy. Of course this wasn’t probably his intention whenever he talked to you. He was just being friendly. You were Jay’s friend and no one really wanted to be on the bad side of their CEO’s friends.

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So jazzed on this! Entangled Roots!

“I don’t care who the fuck you are!

You don’t have any right to be an asshole,

a sexual predator,

fuckhead,

rapist,

pillager,

thief –

a poser fronting as a partner in the cause –

you sack of limp balls and groping claws swaggering around young flesh.

we will

exterminate the infestation.”


-Infestation
Jill Aguado, Anida Ali, Kay Barrett, Sarwat Rumi, of Mango Tribe 
From, “The Revolution Starts At Home. 

go to a park or forest and lie down on the grass or leaves. breathe deeply and slowly. imagine yourself lying there for hundreds of years. imagine roots growing from your body and burrowing into the earth. feel your roots growing deeper and stronger and branching out until they become entangled with the roots of the trees and bushes around you. you and the trees and all living things are a part of one living organism, living in harmony and drawing your energy from the same source.

you are the energy. you are the source.

the earth is your body, water your blood, air your breath and fire your spirit.

blessed be.

The Ego : A field guide to a ghost

My beloved friend and fellow traveller, motherofhermes, read the earlier version of this piece and felt it needed to be expanded. So here then is the director’s cut:

Great Masters, past and present, have said that the ego is a fiction, a ghost, that it does not exist. For a non-existent entity, the ego has left a long trail of blood and tears across the pages of our history. As someone once famously said, if the entire history of humankind was condensed into the life of one human being, you would have to say that he or she was a deeply disturbed psychopath with occasional moments of lucidity.

What is the ego? The ego is who we think we are. It is who we become as our conditioning soaks in. From the time you were given a name, you were taught you were your name, that you were your body. The ego may have evolved as a strategic weapon to plan for a future and learn from the past. But it soon took control. It placed the “I” at the centre of the universe. It layered another world on top of the one in which there are birds and rivers and mountains. And so today, we mostly live in the world the ego has built and occasionally visit the one in which there are birds and rivers and mountains.

Here is a sample from today’s papers, for example: a new study has found that we are in the middle of the fastest extinction of animal species ever - the sixth mega extinction since the birth of the planet. This is the work of the ego. Quarterly profits and financial benefits that flow to the few are all that matter to the ego. The frog, the bee, the hummingbird, and the tree do not figure. So what drives this ‘fiction’?

This ego thrives on five types of 'food’:

Time
Narrative
Judgment
Goals
Resistance

Time
The ego needs a context. It needs the past to unearth its raw material. It needs a future to project its fantasies. The ego has no interest in the present: this-here-now makes it restless and fidgety. Memory provides the fodder from the past, and imagination paints pictures of the future, for the ego to recoil from or to embrace.

Narrative
The human species worships at the altar of the story. Quite literally. From the creation myths of the past to the stories about our messiahs and prophets  to the scientific myth of the Big Bang, we love a good story.  We are made of stories. It is an essential part of who we are. The ego hijacks this deep seated love. And places itself in the middle of the story. Either as a victim, the one who has been wronged or as the victor, the one who can’t wait to deal out come-uppances and take his rightful place at the top of the hill.  Stories are the ego’s staple diet. Stories are also the bait which the ego uses to grab your attention.

Judgment
The ego is always ready to make a judgement. It is therefore always measuring: money, time, power, social status, the body image, the face. It is no coincidence that women’s cosmetic and beauty industries are worth billions of dollars worldwide. The ego has bought the idea of a uniform idea of beauty for a woman regardless of race, or colour or geography and the rest of world seems to have bought it hook, line and Botox.That’s is why within some minor variations, all models around look more or less the same. And into this mix if you add social media where every individual is in reality a publisher or a media house, the ego’s judge is now an image-devouring lunatic on steroids.  

Judgement is rampant even in spirituality. She is more spiritual than you, whispers the ego, shaking your foundations in a second. He seems to be enlightened, why I am not is a agonised whisper I pick up here on the pages of tumblr. Judgement is the goad that torments us.

Goals
Goals are the gods we worship. My first job, my wedding, my car, my promotions, my grades, my first million, my new face. The list of achievements mark the goals ticked off. Goals are the wind in the ego’s sail. Look at the way we use the words like achieve and attain. We achieve success. We achieve our ambitions. We look up to men of achievement. We even achieve orgasms and attain nirvana. Nothing is sacred for the ego.

Resistance
Resistance to What Is is dessert for the ego. Resistance signals vulnerability to it. If he sniffs the aroma of resistance, he will swivel and come at you invigorated and resolute. He is a glutton when resistance served.  So if you don’t like it, the ego certainly ain’t going to lump it.

Once we see these patterns of the ego we can easily discern how different teachers are inspired to leverage each of these habits to tame the beast:

Note: Of course, I speak here in the broadest terms and do not intend to typecast or marginalise any of these great teachers and teachings.

Eckhart Tolle tackles time and focuses on the Now.

Byron Katie dismantles the power of narrative by questioning its foundations.

Jeff Foster, and Rupert Spira focus on acceptance to overcome resistance.

Adyashanti too sees acceptance as the key to taking up residence in the Unknowable Mystery that you are.

Thich Nhat Hanh teaches breath mindfulness to silence the mind and bring your attention your Presence.

The Heart Sutra of the Mahayana Buddhists pulls out both the world and the entangled mind, from the root upwards, with its thundering boom of a mantra : Gate! Gate! Paragate! Parasamgate!, Bodhi Swaha ( Gone! Gone! Gone beyond! Gone beyond the Beyond, Praise Be ! ) With this short sutra, the Prajanaparamita ruthlessly exposes the impermanence of both the world and the mind and does not allow your feet to even brush anything resembling solidity.

The Zen Buddhists, with their deep understanding of the ego and its incorrigible ways, insist on long rigorous sits, regardless of enlightenment experiences. They also toss in koans to jam the either/or, if-A-is-A-then-it-cannot-be-B-as-well Aristotelian conditioning of the mind and render it impotent while leaving the practical mind alone ( 'After the enlightenment, the laundry’ - the name of the Jack Kornfield book sums this up perfectly )

The Christian mystics, the Sufis, the Bhakti sages all recommend surrender to the Divine to render the ego toothless. My beloved friend, motherofhermes’s Guru Sri Madhav Ashish used to say, and I am paraphrasing: Everything we do here ( in the ashram ) is centred around Him ( Lord Krishna in the temple) the prasad we cook, the prayers we offer, when everything we do on the outside, comes alive, then He comes alive in here ( pointing to the heart).

Finally,  the Advaita sages, from my beloved Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj and Papaji to contemporary teachers like Mooji use the process of self-enquiry to dethrone the ego and reveal it for the fraud that it is.  

Ramana Maharshi says if you enquire into this “I” you keep referring to and ask, Who is this “I”? this will lead to the greater Self reaching up from your own depths, the small self - the ego - will stand exposed ( and deposed ) and the Self will shine forth without obstruction.  The quote that Mooji uses in this context often is: 'The “I"removes the "I"and remains as the "I”.

Or, says Ramana Maharshi, you can surrender, completely and totally to the Divine or the Self and leaving all matters in His hands. He uses the beautiful analogy of the foolishness of getting onto a train and carrying your bags on your head when you could easily place it on the floor of the train ( the Self or God ) which is carrying both you and your bags ( your worries ) to your destination.

My own take on this is : I have no beliefs. I own no point of view. I find truth in everyone of these teachings: they are all reflection of the One Reality. Most of the time, even in moments of difficulty,  I am mostly in awe that I am, ( or something ) is here at all.

To me it is all part of the same great buffet that the Universe / the Self / God / Awareness / Aliveness lays out with such nonchalance and elegance, casually offered without so much as a sideways glance.

In the Bhagavad Gita, there is a beautiful image: Arjuna, on a chariot powered by 5 horses, with Lord Krishna as his charioteer. At my best, I am Arjuna, in my chariot driven by my five senses, with the Lord running this show. All I have to do is chill, take in the view and when required fire an arrow or two.

John McLaughlin’s band Shakti had a track title that says it best:

What need have I for that?
What need have I for this?
I am dancing at the feet of my Lord
All is bliss
All is bliss

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti!

There’s something divinely designed in those friendships with people that you have known forever but maybe you lost touch with over the years. Sometimes when you reconnect, it’s like you pick right back up where you left off. No gaps, no revving, no awkward banal chatter. It makes me think that even if you may have grown apart, your roots remain entangled.

“I may have given birth to a thousand of sunflowers
but before dawn I will be dead for I have extinguished the life
in my core and all that will be left is dead space of
longing and wanting to be another.

And there in the lawn, the entrance to another,
but I will not be let inside for they will look for the petals
that have shed earlier and asked why
I entangled the roots in my neck.

And I will say, the wind has taken me. His hands
smelt of tangerine and lips taste like the moon-
raw, unforgiving, always in the dark.

Yet, I have, in every sense, been magnetized
by this invisible thing with force so
great that I couldn’t resist,
couldn’t fight.

In the end, I watch myself
mirrored in the sky, glittering
against my sharp edges.”

—  Flashes by Luna