Some Thoughts On Self-Destructive Behaviors and Self-Judgment

This morning I received Tom Kenyon’s latest “A Hathor Planetary Message” entitled Escalation of Chaotic Nodes and the Dismantling of 3-D Reality. (Note: For those unfamiliar with Tom Kenyon, Tom is a contemporary spiritual teacher and a highly accomplished sound healer. If you have never read any of Tom’s channelings (or listened to his sound healings), I highly suggest you consider doing so. You can find his website here.) Like many others, I consider Tom’s channelings of The Hathors (a group of interdimensional, intergalactic beings who assist humanity’s evolution on Earth) one of the most informative sources of contemporary spiritual information.

Given where we are in our planetary evolutionary cycle, many of the Hathor messages that Tom has channeled over the past few years have been about the ever-increasing difficulty of the challenges facing us as Earth-bound, spiritually-evolving, human beings.

But this latest one is… well, it’s a bit of a doozy.

The following is a passage from this latest channeling that made a particular impression on me because of the soundness and usefulness of the insights and advice given:

Without mincing words, to use one of your phrases, we would say you are entering one of the more difficult passages of planetary transformation.

At this fork in the road, one path leads to self-destruction, madness, despair and hopelessness while the other fork leads to a deeper connection with your interdimensional or spiritual nature. It is this fork in the road we wish to explore.

It is not an either/or proposition. Many of you who possess a transcendent and interdimensional or spiritual sense of yourself may find yourselves, from time-to-time, on the path to madness and self-destruction in spite of your self-knowledge.

In its simplest terms the requirement to successfully make this passage through the escalation of Chaotic Nodes is deep authentic contact with your interdimensional or spiritual nature and the self-renewal that arises from such contact.

There are two things that particularly strike me about this communication.

The first is the assertion that the fork in the road is “not an either/or proposition”.

Although this statement is pretty much true in every circumstance where we find ourselves confronting a life decision (i.e. a “fork in the road”), the reality is that we nonetheless often approach these moments attached to the belief that once a decision is made we are stuck with it forever.

Thankfully, though we may at times forget it, life simply does not work that way. If it did, there would be no such thing as redemption or forgiveness (let alone love and compassion), and we would have all been long ago banished to burn in the infernal flames for all of eternity. My imagery here may be a bit dramatic, but certainly no more dramatic than the belief that we are forever stuck with our poor or ignorant choices.

Furthermore, no decision that we ever make about how we live our lives has a totally and completely uniform effect on us. Our choices almost always are, like the underlying intentions that give rise to them, decidedly mixed. Spiritual ascendance, like health, is not an event. It is a process. And at any given moment in that process, we are a mix of light and shadow — good and bad, conscious responses and unconscious reactions, adult and child. Or, in the imagery of the Hathor’s message, self-destructive AND self-preserving. The relative proportions may change, but we are always a mix.

Which leads to the other assertion from this communication that struck me — the suggestion that in order to successfully make it through these Chaotic Nodes the requirement is “deep authentic contact with your interdimensional or spiritual nature”.

Notice that nowhere in there does it say anything about judging, berating or castigating ourselves because we engage in self-destructive behaviors.

Just like any reasonable person would not expect perfect behavior at all times from human beings, neither does God. God is not keeping score. In fact, no one else of interest is really keeping score (and if they are, consider that we tend to call that type of behavior petty, at best).

God knows (better than we do) the difficulties of moving through some Earth experiences. And even a moderately self-aware person can understand that the only reason we engage in self-destructive behaviors is because we are suffering, we are in pain, and in those moments we are just looking for some sense of relief. And just like any reasonable person would, our higher power anticipates and expects that as humans beings going through these kinds of challenges we WILL, at times, choose to engage in self-destructive behaviors.

Of course, not judging ourselves does not mean we are absolved from taking responsibility for our actions. In fact, it is very important that we take responsibility for everything we do. It is how we come to truly know what it is that we are choosing. But in a world where we already know and expect that we will make mistakes, it would be irrational to believe that “taking responsibility” means feeling badly about ourselves.

In fact, a good rule of thumb is that when we no longer judge ourselves as bad because of our choices, that is when we know we’ve truly taken responsibility. We might feel regret, grief or perhaps even a sense of guilt about our choice or its consequences. But there is no feeling badly about ourselves — there is no self-judgment. If there is judgment, it means we are still in resistance - resistance to taking responsibility.

So if in response to life’s stresses and Chaotic Nodes you find yourself choosing self-destructive behaviors (and we all do), take a deep breath, take another deep breath, and then remember: it is not the end of the world; you are not stuck with your choice forever; and no one is keeping score. And if you’re patient and just wait for a bit (in my experience, usually no more than a few minutes), you will find that life soon enough brings you the opportunity to make a different more loving or more self-preserving choice about something in your life. (And if you “blow” that one, don’t worry. The universe contains an inexhaustible number of opportunities to choose.)

But above all, don't waste your time judging yourself for your self-destructive behaviors. Judging ourselves and others is not what we were put here to do.

Our Earthly experience is a school for our soul, and we are here to learn who we really are (i.e. what we are “made of”) through the choices we make. And when the choices seem to get harder, it is only because we have advanced to the next grade-level.

 

Now Is The Time To Manifest Your Vision (Part 2)

 The Sophia of the Moment

Introduction - Manifestation as Problem Solving

The journey to manifesting our dreams is, if nothing else, a journey of overcoming challenges. No matter how inspired, courageous or determined we may be at the start of our journey to manifestation, we inevitably run into various obstacles, difficulties and the "things-that-don't-go-the-way-we-planned." As such, success in manifesting, as with success in life in general, often comes down to our willingness to confront, and stay with, these various challenges until we find (or create) a way to prevail over them. The great Indian spiritual master Paramahansa Yogananda said of this aspect of Earthly existence that “[l]ife is worth nothing if it is not a continuous overcoming of problems.”

And just as there are activities that are supported and enhanced by a particular kind of weather — e.g. the warm, dry summer day that makes the chore of setting up for a garden party a pleasure or the rain that ensures that the farmer's laboring in the field bears fruit —invoking the Mother's presence when carrying out our manifesting activities can have a profound effect on our ability to overcome the inevitable problems and challenges of manifestation by making our efforts more joyful, more productive and ultimately more effortless!

The Gifts of the Divine Mother

The wisdom revealed to me has shown that the gifts of the Divine Mother that are more available to us at this time to assist us in our manifestation efforts are coming to us in two forms, each with its own purpose and each one working through one of the two main faculties of human consciousness - mind (reasoning) and heart (feeling).

The first of these is wisdom, which works through the mind to illuminate and help us construct a path to creative success. The other is nurturance (as love), which works through the affective qualities of the heart to inspire and encourage us. Let’s take a closer look at how wisdom and nurturance can support us in our efforts to manifest our vision.

The Gift of Wisdom - The Divine Mother As Teacher

Often, our first instinct when tackling a problem is not to invoke Divine guidance but rather to try and reason our way to a solution through or own individual efforts. Step by step we apply the linear logic of deductive reasoning to determine the impact of various causes and their effects as well as the pros and cons of our imagined solutions hoping that, through trial and error, we’ll reach our goal. And sometimes, this can be adequate enough for the problem at hand.

Yet the inherent linearity of logic means that as a problem-solving tool, reason is also inherently limited. Reason (and logic) see the world through the filter of the past — they can only deduce what to do next (i.e. how to solve a problem) by referring to what has come before. So, by helping us draw a line from past to future, reason and logic can give our quest to meet life’s challenges momentum and direction. But because their perspective is, by necessity, rooted in the past, they cannot offer us the paradigm shifting solutions (the “Aha" moments”) that can only come from deep contact with the pure potential of the present moment. And this is exactly what the Mother’s presence, manifesting as wisdom, offers us.

Unlike logic and reason, wisdom only operates in the present moment. It comes to us not in a line or sequence but in extemporaneous flashes of intuitive insight through a non-linear process of thoughtful observation and focused awareness of our present moment experiences. And so when we find ourselves engaged in the process of "continuously overcoming problems,” the wisdom of the Mother can take us far beyond what reason alone can offer us. Wisdom offers us truly innovative solutions to our life challenges because, unlike reason, it is not bound to what has come before.

Wisdom is what frees our mentality from the limitations of time and space and elevates it from mere logic to the higher dimensions of meaning, relatedness and deep understanding. Through this synergistic marriage of lower level reasoning with higher level wisdom, we are then able to achieve the deep insight and understanding that helps us tackle life’s problems and hurdles and find our way through them.

To understand the significance of this when manifesting, consider the following. Through reason we can employ our mental faculties to understand the facts and circumstances (i.e. the form and boundaries) of a particular problem. But only wisdom can give us the perspective and insight to make the leaps that allow us to grasp and work through the more human and relational dimensions of that problem — e.g. the emotional intelligence that allows us to remain fully present in the face of difficult or uncomfortable feelings that would otherwise scare us into passivity and stagnation; the compassionate embracing and holistic resolution of the conflicts that inevitably arise through our relationship to the problem and its circumstances; the ability to craft solutions that go beyond a superficial awareness of the problem and are instead rooted ion a deep, intuitive understanding of its very nature. Only wisdom can give us that.

If reason and logic are the wings that potentially allow us to fly, wisdom is the rush of air that sends us soaring. Every measure of wisdom that we gain helps us to make better, more informed and more conscious decisions about how to transcend whatever challenges or obstacles karma and nature put in our way and create the life we desire.

The Gift of Nurturance - The Divine Mother As Soother

As we’ve seen, the gift of wisdom — with its ability to reveal to us how to work through life’s inevitable challenges — is an important part of bringing our vision into manifestation.

But wisdom ultimately is not enough to manifest our vision.

Even with all its revelations, wisdom can only point the way. In order to successfully manifest our vision, we also need to engage our will and take action in the world, i.e. we have to move our consciousness out from the internal realm of ideas and thinking and into the outer world of the physically manifest so that we can engage with the people, places, objects and locations that together provide us the space, assistance and raw materials that allow us to create.

This shift from inner to outer is often the most difficult aspect of bringing our dreams to fruition. Compared to the apparent “safety” of keeping our dreams and visions hidden inside, the vulnerability of revealing ourselves to the world (which potentially opens us up to scrutiny, criticism and judgment) can seem like a very bitter pill to swallow. In fact, many times, it is not the absence of ideas or knowledge about how to manifest our vision that keeps us from achieving success. Rather, it is the fear of taking those first steps towards revealing ourselves that keeps us stagnant and immobile.

This is where the Divine Mother's presence, in the form of nurturance, can be a powerful ally.

Anyone who has ever received a kind word or a comforting embrace from a loved one — or sometimes even from a stranger — in such moments of fear knows the positive impact that such gestures can have on our ability to work through those fears. When we are afraid, nothing else soothes us as powerfully as love’s embrace. Love is what instills confidence and a belief in our ability to succeed particularly when life’s problems have knocked us down.

Like the young child that is gently coaxed from fearful withdrawal to confident engagement by the mother’s reassuring voice and nurturing touch, adults also need such TLC  to calm the self-defeating behaviors of our own “inner child" when we come up against the challenges of manifesting. And the Divine Mother is our omniscient, ever-present source for such TLC.

When we learn to consciously align with the Divine Mother, her nurturance — which comes to us through feelings of kindness, warmth and all-embracing love — acts as both a salve for our fears and discomfort as well as an inspiration to help us stay the course and keep us moving towards our goal of creative manifestation.

To be continued…

In Part 3 of this article, we will explore how we access the Divine Mother’s wisdom and nurturance and why we are actually meant to engage the Divine Mother’s help (hint: it is an important and necessary aspect of our personal growth).

Now Is The Time To Manifest Your Vision (Part 1)

THE SOPHIA OF THE MOMENT

Introduction

What does your soul long to create that you have not manifested? What gifts do you yearn to bring forth only to find yourself keeping them hidden within your own mind space?

These are always good questions to ask ourselves from time to time. They help us stay focused on what is inspiring us and this in turn can be an essential aspect of creating a satisfying life.

As illuminated by the sophia (wisdom) of the moment, it appears that right now is an especially good time not only to ask ourselves these questions but to make the effort to realize the potential within us represented by these questions.

 Manifesting and The Divine Mother's Presence

The wisdom that has been revealed to me since early this summer is that we are currently traversing through a period of time during which the presence of the feminine aspect of the Divine - the Mother - is particularly available to us for purposes of helping and assisting us in bringing forth our gifts, talents and vision for what we want to create in our lives and what we want our lives to be.

In fact, you may have noticed lately (I certainly have) that in the last six months or so there has been a marked proliferation of seminars, workshops and articles on learning how to manifest. I don't believe this to be a coincidence. It is simply an external reflection of the movements and shifts that are happening on the inner planes of reality. We are all meant to be engaging our creative powers and the Universe is providing assistance in a variety of ways (including instructional and educational opportunities) to support us in those efforts. Note, this call to manifest our potential is not the same as the "visualize what you want" fad of a few years ago that was ignited by the book "The Secret," which was ultimately rooted in egoic desires and wish-fulfillment. The impetus to manifest that is moving through at the present time is about fulfilling our life's purpose. Rather than being rooted in egoic desire, it is an inspiration rooted in our soul's longing.

The Timing - Why Now?

So why now? What is it about this period we are currently living that makes the Divine Mother's presence more accessible to us? In response to this question, my guidance basically said "because it's showtime". [1. Interestingly, as this wisdom of the moment was first being revealed to me, I soon thereafter received a newsletter article from fellow-healer and astrologer Joan Pancoe entitled "It's Showtime”. In it she very clearly and concisely puts forth an astrological explanation for why this is a good time to work to manifest our creative vision. I won't get into the details of Joan's explanation but suffice it to say that her own astrological wisdom seemed to very closely parallel what had also been revealed to me. I highly recommend reading Joan's article. If you are interested in reading it, you can find it here.] Well, actually, the guidance was a little bit more detailed - and a bit more nuanced - than that. But there is definitely an aspect of "now's the time" to what we are experiencing.

What has been revealed to me is that up until now (and for the past few years), we have been going through a kind of initial “fertilization” period during which our awareness of what we long to create (our dreams and vision for our life) has been coalescing and taking shape within our minds. This fertilization period has been about becoming aware of what we want to create and then, through reflection and conscious thought, fleshing out these first glimmers of inspiration with greater detail, all in accordance with our deepest desires.

At the present moment, we are moving out of this initial fertilization and (potentially) moving into the first phases of actual manifestation. Staying with the pregnancy metaphor, it is like the moment when the fertilized egg implants itself in the uterine wall - i.e. the first moment when the embryo and the mother physically become one and the "structures" of pregnancy (which support and nurture the physical aspects of the developing embryo) begin to develop.

This pregnancy metaphor is particularly *a propos* for this period through which we are moving because like the implanting embryo, we too are being called to unite and become one with our Divine Mother so that she may offer us the “structures” that will support and nurture us towards our goal of physically manifesting our dreams.

To be continued...

In Part 2 of this article, we will explore the two main forms in which the Divine Mother’s help is available to us at this time and their importance to process of  manifesting. In Part 3, we will explore what it is we need to do to take advantage of this propitious time and the hidden relationship between engaging this Divine assistance and our own personal growth.

Introduction To The Sophia Of The Moment

The Sophia of the Moment is a new column that I will be writing from time to time about the wisdom revealed to me at particular moments in time through my personal spiritual work as well as my healing work with my clients. In it I will explore what the particular sophia (i.e. wisdom) of the moment is, what it means and what this revealed wisdom can offer us in terms of guidance and support for how we live our lives.

The inspiration for writing The Sophia of the Moment came directly out of my work with my clients. In all the years I have worked as a healing practitioner, one of the most helpful insights that has come to me through my healing work is the awareness that any given time, despite the very different facts and circumstances of each person's life, there is always a common theme or thread that simultaneously runs through all of our lives unifying all these seemingly disparate life experiences.

There are many different ways of understanding what these common themes mean for us. We could describe these common themes astrologically as reflections of the alignments and movements of the celestial bodies. Or we could look at them from a karmic perspective as reflections of the communal karma (i.e. familial, national, planetary, etc.) that we share with others.

But regardless of the language we use to understand this wisdom of the moment, what makes these patterns truly amazing and ultimately very valuable to our journeys of personal growth is the evidentiary value that they carry in terms of revealing the unitive nature of reality. If each of our individual lives represents a kind of "micro-reality", then what these emergent common themes show us is that we truly are all living out a larger, unified reality (the "macro-reality) and that our individual micro-realities are merely different perspectives from which we view (or experience) this macro-reality.

And the awareness of these patterns and common themes can have extraordinary benefits for our personal growth.

By revealing the deeper patterns of life that are a part of all of us, the wisdom of the moment allows us to better understand our own individual experiences. This is particularly true when our individual experiences do not seem to be connected to anything else going on in our lives.

Also, by offering us a higher "bird's eye-view" of our reality, the wisdom of the moment also helps bring perspective to our lives. It reveals to us the unity and harmony within all of life when life might otherwise seem like nothing more than a cacophony of unrelated conflicts and antagonisms.

But perhaps the most powerful impact that the wisdom of the moment can have is in helping us feel less alone in life by showing us that whatever experience we are personally going through, no matter how difficult, we are all in the same boat, i.e. it is not just happening to me. This awareness alone can, in and of itself, be just what we need to pick ourselves up when life has knocked us down so that we can continue on our journey.

I have personally benefitted tremendously from the wisdom of the moment in my own life, particularly during those times when the dark clouds gather. It's during those times that I find myself paying too much attention to the distorted voices in my mind and I begin to lose hope. But then, somewhere along the line, my awareness that it's not just me weathering my own storm breaks through. And somehow, knowing that we are all going through the same storm together (albeit in our own ways) becomes its own kind of comfort and salve.

So my hope is that through The Sophia of the Moment column I can also share the gifts of this wisdom with you. And that it may, in some way, also be a salve and comfort to you on your life journey.

Namaste

On the 2012 Prophecies

By now, most people have probably heard at least something about the year 2012 and the date December 21, 2012 in particular. That is the date that the world will either (a) end, (b) be transformed or (c) experience the shortest day of the year and go on existing as it always has. It all depends on who you listen to.

At the extremes, some people dismiss the 2012 prophecies as some kind of "new age" folly, while others seem to embrace 2012 as a potent excuse to live out their apocalyptic fantasies. But the one thing that is most consistently associated with the period around 2012 is that it portends significant change of some kind.

For some time now, I have resisted writing or even discussing much about 2012, except in situations where others have specifically asked me about the subject, for two reasons. One, I have some, but not a lot, of knowledge about the 2012 prophecies, and so I am in many ways still working out my own perspective. Secondly, beyond the very real and meaningful work that many people have contributed to our understanding of the 2012 prophecies, the potential wisdom of these prophecies is often obscured by both the hype of the overly zealous believer and the derision of the cynical detractor. At times, this has made it more challenging for me to separate what feels real from what is only drama, leaving me with what feels like little more than soundbites and uncertainty.

But, having said that, things do feel different now. Although I still do not have what I would consider a deep understanding of the mysteries or the cosmology surrounding the 2012 prophecies, I do have a well developed sense of the guidance I have personally been receiving for some time now about the times through which we are living.

What I see is that regardless of what I may or may not believe about the 2012 prophesies, our world really is going through a tremendous amount of change. And, perhaps more importantly, that change feels evolutionary because it is affecting all existence at every level of consciousness -- from human to non-human, from sentient to non-sentient alike.

How the world moves through, and emerges from, these changes -- whether we come out in a better place or not -- is sure to depend in great part on the choices that we, as humans and de facto stewards of our planet, make (both personally and collectively) about how we live and, in particular, about how we are in relationship to each other and the world around us. Will we only allow ourselves to be led by the individual, self-serving and materialistic concerns of our ego, or will we embrace and be guided by a broader vision of who we are -- a vision that encompasses the individual but also acknowledges our interdependence and ultimate spiritual unity with all other individuals, beings and life forms that together encompass the many communities of which we are a part?

December 21, 2012 may very well mark some kind of meaningful shift in this evolutionary process -- I genuinely don't know. But I don't think we have to wait till then to see. Change is already here... it's time to choose.

The Gamer Advantage

From today’s Yahoo Games Blog comes this story about a video game called “Foldit” developed for the purpose of tapping the spatial skills of online gamers to solve real-world research problems:

Online gamers have achieved a feat beyond the realm of Second Life or Dungeons and Dragons: they have deciphered the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus that had thwarted scientists for a decade.

To the astonishment of the scientists, the gamers produced an accurate model of the enzyme in just three weeks.

I had read about this study a while back when it was first getting started and remember thinking how it was a great example of collaboration among people that showed mutual respect and a willingness to play to people’s strengths rather than the usual divide and conquer of much scientific research.

It’s great to see the early promise of this approach bearing fruit.

Zombie Like Caterpillars

Just in time for the Halloween season, a story of zombie-like gypsy moths. It has apparently been known for some time that among invertebrates, parasites are able to affect and change the behavior of their host in a zombie-like fashion. The exact mechanism through which this is accomplished, however, has not been known.

Now, in a study published in Science Magazine, scientists studying gypsy moths reveal that they have found a genetic basis for these aberrant behavioral changes. In particular, the study states that:

Gypsy moths infected by a baculovirus climb to the top of trees to die, liquefy, and “rain” virus on the foliage below to infect new hosts. The viral gene that manipulates climbing behavior of the host was identified, providing evidence of a genetic basis for the extended phenotype.

OK, so zombies are not just the stuff of science fiction. Somehow, not really all that surprising.

However, what really freaks me out about this story is that apparently the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and The Northern Research Station have in the past partnered up to produce this baculovirus to use in the control of gypsy moth populations.(See here.)

But if this genetic link is only now being discovered, it means that we have been playing Russian roulette with germ warfare without really knowing what we were doing.

Scary, but again, somehow not really all that surprising.

If At First You Don't Succeed

From the anthology The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives (edited by Katie Couric and published by Random House), as excerpted on Yahoo), an almost unbelievable tale of Kathryn Stockett's experience writing her best-selling book The Help, the long and difficult road to getting it published and her incredible capacity for stick-to-it-tiveness:

It took me a year and a half to write my earliest version of The Help. I’d told most of my friends and family what I was working on. Why not? We are compelled to talk about our passions. When I’d polished my story, I announced it was done and mailed it to a literary agent.

Six weeks later, I received a rejection letter from the agent, stating, “Story did not sustain my interest.” I was thrilled! I called my friends and told them I’d gotten my first rejection! Right away, I went back to editing. I was sure I could make the story tenser, more riveting, better.

A year and a half later, I opened my 40th rejection: “There is no market for this kind of tiring writing.” That one finally made me cry. “You have so much resolve, Kathryn,” a friend said to me. “How do you keep yourself from feeling like this has been just a huge waste of your time?”

In the end, I received 60 rejections for The Help. But letter number 61 was the one that accepted me. After my five years of writing and three and a half years of rejection, an agent named Susan Ramer took pity on me. What if I had given up at 15? Or 40? Or even 60? Three weeks later, Susan sold The Help to Amy Einhorn Books.

Such an amazing and inspiring story of unwavering perseverance and determination. This story was particularly poignant for me because I loved reading "The Help" so much and felt such gratitude towards the author for the gift of her work. And this was before I even knew the backstory of what she went through to get it published.

Thank you, Kathryn, for never giving up and for always believing in your passion!

(Note: The Help has now been published in 35 countries and three languages. As of August 2011, it has sold five million copies and has spent more than a 100 weeks on the The New York Times Best Seller List. (Source, Wikipedia.) The movie version of the book was released August 10, 2011.)

You Can Lead a Horse to Water

From an article entitled New Study Says "Food Deserts" Only Part of the Problem:

A new study confirms that being able to buy healthier food is only one part of a larger issue. According to research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, improving access to fruits and vegetables does not necessarily result in better diets.

It is very difficult for healthier foods and methods of food preparation to compete with the variety, convenience, mass-marketing and ubiquity of processed foods. In a world of sound bites, immediate gratification and 15 minutes of fame, the comparatively understated simplicity of unprocessed natural foods faces a difficult uphill battle when it comes to winning over tongues and stomachs if not hearts and minds. And processed foods are, from a certain perspective, simply more palatable.

Real widespread change in people's eating habits can only come, like everything else in life, through inner change. The value of a healthy diet cannot be either imposed or instilled through fear, will, exposure or accessibility. Its appeal and its strength rest primarily in an appreciation for the sense of goodness evoked when we take care of ourselves. In other words, it's how it makes us feel on the inside, not how delicious or appealing it looks on the outside, that matters. As such, it is our relationship to how we nurture ourselves that must change if we are to be healthier.

War and Prejudice

From an Associated Press article that appeared on Yahoo last week:

Two Muslim religious leaders say they were asked to leave a commercial airliner in Memphis on Friday and were told it was because the pilot refused to fly with them aboard.

Both passengers are Memphis-area residents. Rahman said he was dressed in traditional Indian clothing and his traveling companion was dressed in Arab garb, including traditional headgear.

Rahman said he and Mohamed Zaghloul, of the Islamic Association of Greater Memphis, were cleared by security agents and boarded the plane for an 8:40 a.m. departure.

The aircraft pulled away from the gate, but the pilot then announced the plane must return, Rahman said. When it did, the imams were asked to go back to the boarding gate where Rahman said they were told the pilot was refusing to accept them because some other passengers could be uncomfortable.

Rahman said Delta officials talked with the pilot for more than a half-hour, but he still refused.

As abhorrent as I find this type of profiling behavior, once I got beyond my initial outrage after reading the article, I began to think about how particularly common this kind of behavior is during times of "war". Whether the war is a military one fought on battlefields or an ideological one fought in the space of individual and public opinion (or both, as we seem to be living through at the present time), war urges us to judge and separate the bad fromt the good.

The human ego is inherently disposed to fear and be suspicious of that which is "different," which is ultimately what gives rise to bias. And superficial segregation and broad-brush stereotyping are among its most preferred tools for dealing with this kind of fear.

In this sense, profiling is not just about bias. It is also about efficiency and expediency. The broader the brush, the less the ego has to think about or ponder the limitations of its decision making process (let alone the consequences of that process) and therefore the quicker it can get back to a state of presumed security and control. A strictly black or white outlook is very effective at settling the mind,  if not the emotions. And during times of war, in our desire to feel right, safe and most of all normal, we often take whatever relief or salve we can get.

From a moral and philosophical perspective, I do not agree with, and choose not to condone, the process of profiling. Yet from a purely human ego perspective, I not only understand it but I also deeply appreciate its appeal.

My inner sense of inspiration to love more openly always seems to inevitably run into my also compelling desire to feel free of danger.

And in the midst of that conflict I find myself over and over needing to take sides and having to choose.

We all must choose...

love or fear?