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Readings

The Idea
The Individual Perspective
Illness and Injuries
Work
Family
Pairs of Perspectives
Helpers and Helpees
Larger Webs
Clues to the Answers
Metaphysical Musings
Psychics, Science and Gambling
Global Webs
Final Thoughts

1- The Idea

"It's a magnificent ideaan idea that appears in India in the mythic image of the Net of Indra, which is a net of gems, where at every crossing of one thread over another there is a gem reflecting all the other reflective gems. Everything arises in mutual relation to everything else, so you can't blame anybody for anything."Joseph Campbell on Schopenhauer's idea of how everything links to everything else, from The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers.

In each of our lives there are seemingly magical coincidences that, if not convincing us there is a higher force at work, at least cause us to wonder. In each of our lives there are also random, sometimes painful, events that, if not causing us to disbelieve in a higher force, at least cause us to doubt. At times we feel the masters of our destinies and at others the victim of fate. Our lives and the world can seem good one day and filled with evil the next. In short, life often seems contradictory and confusing. The contradictions lead to age-old theological debates about the existence or non-existence of God or a god-like force. They lead to philosophical debates of free will versus destiny. They make us grapple with the ideas of good and evil and ask why they exist in our individual lives and the greater world beyond as well.

This is a book about an old and simple idea that makes sense of the contradictions and confusion at all levelspersonal, global and metaphysical. It is a beautiful idea that simply and elegantly explains the connections between us all and it all, but it is also a deeply troubling idea that disturbs the dark secrets we all keep within ourselves.

It is an illogical idea, but it has an intuitive power that eats away at more rational views of life. It is not an idea that can be proved right or wrong in debateit either feels right or it doesn't. All any of us can do is try it on and see how it fits.

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2- The Individual Perspective

" You don't always get what you want, but if you try sometime you just might find you get what you need." Rolling Stones

To begin, let's be a little more precise about the terms used to define Reflection. It is stated as each of our realities is a perfect reflection of our inner selves. The two concepts that need further clarification are reality and self.

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3- Illness and Injuries

" 80% of all visits to a doctor's office involve a complaint with a stress related component. " Health Stop video

Because of our intimate knowledge of ourselves, physically and mentally, health issues are perfect for beginning explorations into Reflection. All of the information is there at once, how you are feeling, what's wrong, and the inner state before, during, and after some illness. It was health issues that gave me my first understandings of Reflection. In particular, Reflection opened my eyes to a part of myself hidden beneath a long sequence of colds that occurred like clockwork, twice a year, when I visited my parents.

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4- Work

"The true use of speech is not so much to express our wants (needs) as to conceal them"Oliver Goldsmith

Work is an area of our lives where it is very easy for inner and outer self to get out of harmony, and for striving and shoulds to prevail. The desire to secure ourselves against the future and the desire to stay afloat financially are often strong enough to cause us to ignore voices within that are pushing for change.

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5- Family

" 'How is an Island a part of the land (asked the kitten)?' ...
And the fish told the kitten how all land is one land under the sea.
The cat's eyes were shining with the secret of it."Golden MacDonald from The Little Island

For me, looking for Reflection in my family life meant delving into the most painful parts of my life. It is in my relationships with women, my children, and my parents that I am probably the most out of harmony with my inner self, or in other words the area of my life in which I practice the strongest self deception. Because it is the area with the least harmony, it is the area that has the deepest pain.

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6- Pairs of Perspectives

The invading soldier said to the Buddhist monk blocking his way "Don't you realize I can drive my sword through your stomach?" The monk replied, "Don't you realize I can wrap my stomach around your sword?"Zen Story

From an individual point of view, Reflection makes it appear as if each of us is the center of all about us. The people, events, and things in our lives are all reflections of our inner selves, but if everyone in our lives is a reflection of our inner selves then we, too, must be reflections of their inner selves. This is a mind-boggling idea, impossible to grasp with cause-and-effect thinkingyet a lack of understanding of the idea often leaves us confused by our reactions to and feelings about the world around us.

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7- Helpers and Helpees

"I know a lot about mixed motives. I'm the world's expert on mixed motivesmy owntrying to disentangle the good from the evil, to unravel the knotted skein of my better self...the weeds growing with the wheat...and suddenly I am overwhelmed by my kinship with this man, for we are both sinners hoping in the mercy of God and His forgiveness." Bruce Ritter on himself helping homeless children and a pimp's financial donation to his efforts, from 'Sometimes God Has a Kid's Face'.

There is a common relationship between helpers in our society, such as doctors, therapists, and counselors of all sorts, and the people they help, call them patients, clients, or helpees in general. Reflection implies that the helper and helpee are connected in a 100-100 relationship. The helpee fills the helper's needs just as fully as the helper fills the helpee's needs. The helper is not on a higher plane. Each reflects the inner needs of the other.

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8- Larger Webs

"It was as if everybody who wanted to get off, got off."Survivor of Cincinnati plane crash on mood inside the plane as it filled with smoke.

It is when we start to look at larger webs of connections that Reflection really begins to assault common sense. Reflection implies that events involving large numbers of people, such as a plane crash, are perfect reflections of the inner selves of all involved. It implies that all is a reflection of each one of us, and that each one of us is a reflection of all. While very difficult to accept, this is exactly the world view of many Eastern mystics and some Western philosophers as well.

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9- Clues to the Answers

"Terror is the anticipation of your own negative potential" Joseph Brodsky

The normal patterns in our lives take on new meanings when understood from the point of view of Reflection. For example, if our reality perfectly reflects our inner self, then why do we have the emotional reactions we do to events in our lives? Why are we sometimes afraid and what are we afraid of? What do the controls we try to put on our lives mean? What are lies, the truth and love?

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10- Metaphysical Musings

Calvin: "This whole Santa Clause thing just doesn't make any sense. Why all the secrecy? Why all the mystery? If the guy exists, why doesn't he ever show himself and prove it? And if he doesn't exist, what's the meaning of all this?"

Hobbes: "I dunno... isn't this a religious holiday?" Calvin: "Yeah, but actually, I've got the same questions about God."

From Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes collection, 'Yukon Ho!'

There is a fundamental phenomenon, discussed as Reflection in this book, at work in the Universe that is evident in all of our lives all of the time, yet because it conflicts with common sense and often directly threatens our self images we have difficulty seeing it and accepting it. Still, we are, as were the generations before us, compelled to try to reconcile its intuitive truth with what our senses and feelings tell us. The result is the myriad of religious, philosophic, and psychological teachings in the world today.

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11- Psychics, Science & Gambling

" Sir Isaac Newton secretly admitted to some friends: He understood how gravity behaved, but not how it worked!"Lily Tomlin, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe.

Psychic functioning - I once took a course that promised to teach psychic functioning. They kept their promise and I enjoyed the course, but their task was easy because they knew something most people who take the course don't, that is, that we all function psychically, but for one reason or another don't recognize it.

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12- Global Webs

"... all of us have grown used to the totalitarian system and accepted it as an immutable fact, and thereby actually helped keep it going. None of us are only its victims; we are all also responsible for it.

"It would be very unwise to think of the sad heritage of the last 40 years only as something foreign, something inherited from a distant relative. On the contrary, we must accept this heritage as something we have inflicted on ourselves. If we accept it in such a way, we shall come to understand it is up to all of us to do something about it."

Excerpt from Czechoslovakian President Vaclav Havel's New Year's Day address.

Following the implications of Reflection, the entire world situation is a manifestation of each of our inner selves, but the degree of closeness or distance we have from any given situation indicates how much a part of us that situation is.

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13- Final Thoughts

"It's a magnificent ideaan idea that appears in India in the mythic image of the Net of Indra, which is a net of gems, where at every crossing of one thread over another there is a gem reflecting all the other reflective gems. Everything arises in mutual relation to everything else, so you can't blame anybody for anything."

Joseph Campbell on Schopenhauer's idea of how everything links to everything else, from The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers.

This book has covered a wide range of implications of an old idea, from sprained ankles to the Holocaust and from dice games to God. Ultimately, however, the idea provides us with a way of understanding and looking for the answers we each carry within.

The truth of the idea can only be learned by trying it on and seeing what connections it reveals. So, this last chapter is left as an exercise for the reader. Drop, for awhile, pre-existing notions of how it all works and what it all means, assume Reflection is true, and see how the world and your life looks from there.