Oct 21, 2011

Håkonshallen - and Grandpa

This is a response to the comments on my Wordless Wednesday post showing a part of Håkonshallen, especially Alice's thoughts that it looks like a prison. Nothing could be further from the truth so I thought I'd give you a whole post about that.

First, the pronounciation of Håkonshallen (the hall of Håkon): That funny "a" in the first syllable is a Scandinavian vowel, and pronounced like a very open "o" (approaching an ah). HOH-kohns-hahllenn.

The 750-year-old Håkonshallen is beloved by the people of Bergen, and those massive stone walls make an excellent backdrop for outdoor operas. I've seen "Aida" there. The walls would have been painted white in medieval times, as was the custom then. It has occurred to me that many tourists miss this building, because they are distracted by the rather fascinating row that precedes it:

In really old days, when the main mode of long-distance transportation was the boat or ship, Norway consisted of today's western mainland, the islands north of the British isles (like Shetland and Faeroy, etc.) and Iceland. Bergen was then the capital, meaning it happened to be where the king lived (as it turns out, Norway's had three capitals, all depending on where the king decided to have his throne). The first laws of the land were written in Bergen in 1276 by king Magnus Lagabøter (Magnus Law-Improver), son of the King Håkon for whom the hall was built. The first activity in the new hall was prince Magnus' wedding. (In case you're keeping track, that would be King Håkon IV and King Magnus VI.)

Håkonshallen has survived fires, neglect and a massive explosion on the harbor in 1944, which took out everything except the stone walls. The hall was lovingly restored and I finally got to see inside in 1988. That's when my grandpa was invited to a medal ceremony for his participation in the war effort as a member of the Norwegian merchant marine.

The above picture from a concert this June shows what the inside looks like with rows and rows of seats filled. (The acoustics aren't too bad.) It was a bit like that with my grandpa. He was 87, dressed in his blue-gray light wool suit and polished brown shoes that he seemed to have had my entire life, and he looked so proud. I was a bit surprised by that, since he never talked about the war. But on that sunny day, surrounded by hundreds of other old sailors (a few were women), he was immersed in the honor and the formality of the occasion. Grandpa has received three medals for his efforts. I took them home with me when Grandma went to the nursing home and they hang on my wall.

The above medal was the one Grandpa got in 1988, signed by King Olav V. The text reads (my translation):
For especially long and effort-filled service on Norwegian and/or Allied merchant ships during the world war 1939–45 and thereby rendered great service to Norway's cause.

A portrait Grandma made of the man himself hangs above my desk.

Oct 16, 2011

Getting my beliefs challenged II

I am going down yet another rabbit hole. It diverges from the one I was falling down about a year and a half ago. At least somewhat. All roads lead to Rome, but not all are main highways and will get you to your final destination; they do move you forward, though.

My new rabbit hole is all about how, if I forgive everyone and everything, we will all cease to exist and happily so.

Some background:

I accidentally learned of ho'oponopono. In looking for more information, I ended up reading Joe Vitale's book "Zero Limits" (and I really liked it). All my decades of swearing to affirmations to accomplish something got set aside while I instead practiced on chanting "I love you" inside my head. I have since gone back to using my usual morning affirmation since that seems to be such a good set-up for me and my day.1 However, the ho'oponopono method makes perfect sense to me and it is far simpler (and more foolproof) than affirmations. Affirmations require wording yourself carefully, being aware of what you are asking for, and even being aware of what you need to ask for. Ho'oponopono lets you say, "I have no f-ing clue what's wrong with me, so I'll just forgive what's happening right now." So any situation that triggers you can be forgiven and therefore healed and removed from your experience. You don't even have to know why you were triggered.

Searching for more information on ho'oponopono led me to the Disappearance of the Universe. This is my new rabbit hole and is even more mind-blowing than "What the Bleep…".

Back to the present:

Reading the "Disappearance of the Universe" (DU) kept reminding me of my favorite novel, "Illusions" by Richard Bach. Both books are about how nothing we see is real. In "Illusions" it is suggested that once we realize nothing is real, we can do with reality as we wish because it's all in our minds, anyway. In DU, the message is that once you realize nothing is real, it all disappears. Both are saying reality isn't what we think it is – no, wait, that's exactly what reality is.

DU is channeled material (for lack of better words) that helps the author clarify his own study of "A Course in Miracles" (ACIM) and spiritual development. He is told that once we all heal ourselves by removing our illusions, all the ego's magic tricks go away – body, mind, universe and all – and we all go back to being one with God again.

As I understand "DU", "we" don't exist. We imagine ourselves to exist, as individuals separate from both God and each other. As part of this illusion, we also have made up trees and kittens, black holes and galaxies, politicians and wars. It is all one humongous props department, so that we can stage whatever we want to keep the ego happy and God at bay. But on a God level, there is no Keera, there is no you, my dear reader. In as much that you exist for me, you are only one of my many illusions. And yet, I am also one of yours. How mind-boggling is that? Whose reality is this???

This is where my brain fails me and I cannot imagine how we are all one, still a part of God but oblivious to God (because He can't acknowledge something He's not) and also seeing each other as independent individuals. I'm also not sure about the explanation for why we all/I decided to make up galaxies and dolphins and then get embarrassed about it and hide from God (to put "original act of ego" in a nutshell). I keep hoping the penny will drop, but for now it sits lodged in my metaphorical coin slot.

I am far more comfortable with the claim that God didn't even create any of this, not even the good parts (as disappointing as that is), because that would truly explain why God allows cancer and the evening news. According to DU, God doesn't even know these things exist because – again – God can't acknowledge something He's not. God is only love.

And now you have some idea of what DU is about.

I look at the huge brick that is my copy of ACIM, and I also have a Kindle version. Many years ago I tried to understand the whole forgiveness and atonement (at-one-ment) thing in ACIM but gave up. ACIM is itself a very demanding read.

But there is something about all this that is very appealing. In DU, you can apparently heal any lifetime you may have had by forgiving everything and everyone in this lifetime. Even just getting rid of the troubles of this lifetime would be rewarding enough. What gets me is what might happen next. That bye-bye universe thing.

For now, I will read another Gary Renard book (he has three), and practice ho'oponopono more actively. If the penny drops, I'll let you know.

1) Breathe in while focusing on something natural (a tree, the sky) or with eyes closed, and say, "I breathe in the cosmic forces of the universe asking for strength protection and guidance." Exhale and repeat.

Oct 15, 2011

Test post

This is a test for my friend Alice, for whom Blogger is not working.

You may ignore this post completely, but if you've read this far, you haven't so ignore what I said.