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The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

You’re Perfect

                                                          Benjamin Smythe

 

 

What if you knew that you were ‘perfect’, as is…without judgment or condemnation? Once upon a challenging day, a young man named Benjamin Smythe had what I think of as a ‘God-vers-ation’. What emerged was the idea to create a simple sign and take it to the streets.  It consisted of two life changing words:  “YOU’RE PERFECT”.   When I watched a you tube video on Karma Tube about his revelation, that you can enjoy below, I had several competing thoughts…  “yeh, wouldn’t it be nice if…” and “wow, what a relief..now I don’t need to do more to be more….there’s no there to get to.”  Our cultures tell us that perfection is unattainable, that only God is perfect. But, what if we are, as many spiritual teachers offer, ‘God in a body’? Then wouldn’t we, even with all of our woundings and wonderings, be perfect too? That doesn’t invite arrogance, because when you recognize perfection in yourself, you see it mirrored in the eyes of all those you encounter…they’re perfect as well. And what about all of that ‘life stuff’ that happens…the marvelous and the messy…what if it is perfection-reflection. 

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Wishing you awareness of your ab-soul-ute perfection <3

 

How do you live your Bliss?

I aim for having fun and don’t hope to be happy all the time.  Wanting to be happy all the time is so damn painful.

How did the inspiration for You’re Perfect, arise?

A really bad day in 2005.  I thought, “If I make other people feel better, I bet that would make me feel better.”  It worked. 

 
Were you immediately enthused about it?

I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t until 2008, after a particular experience of clarity that the sign really came to life for me because, wouldn’t you know, the universe is perfect just the way it is. 

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Since people’s image of perfection is varied, what is your idea of the concept?

Perfect, as I use the word, simply means “what is so obviously the case”.  I also mean it as “unique, one-of-a-kind, and (paradoxically) equal to everything else”.

 
What resistance do we have to embracing our perfection?

I have never met someone who is resistant to perfection because perfection includes resistance. The minute I have the idea “This, not that” I set myself for disappointment because, by golly, I am not in control of the universe.  I notice when I relax my expectations, everything happens perfectly.  This does not mean I get my way all the time.  It simply means I am not controlled by the need to get my way all the time. Again, wanting to be happy all the time is so painful.  I prefer to be real because oddly, it feels better.

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What was the initial reaction when you began holding up your sign?
 
Same as it is now:  thumbs up, thumbs down, smiles, laughs, “f-you’s”, “no, I’m not’s”, and tons of no responses.

How has it changed you?

1. If someone smiled, I used to think that had something to do with me.  If someone frowned, I used to feel pity for them.  If someone said, “F-off” I used to get sad.  All of these assumed they were responding to me.  How could they respond to me?  I am just a guy holding a sign.  They are only ever responding to their own interpretation of what they think they are experiencing.  I have nothing to do with that, cannot control it, and now, through day after day, year after year of standing on the street with the sign, have absolutely no desire to try. Trying to control other people, even with private wishful thinking, is hell.  I am not into suffering.

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2. The other thing I learned is the minute I think someone should react differently I really have no right to hold the sign because it would mean I have no clue as to what perfection is.  Whatever happens, perfect.

3. It destroyed my stereotypes.  All my ideas about “what someone looks like equals who they are” got demolished.  I have had car loads of tattooed gangbangers cheering and whistling and I have little old ladies give me the stink eye.  I no longer waste my time assuming appearance has anything to do with who someone is.

4. Over the last 6 years, the single greatest lesson I have learned is: I am not that important.  I am just 1 of approx. 7,000,000,000 people on earth. I die tomorrow and the world goes on fine without me, maybe even better.  The brutal honesty of the universe is the source of freedom. I didn’t know this before I held the sign and I have to say, it is so damn relaxing to know it now.  Whew…what a load off! 

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What would you like to see this do as it dances about in the world?

When I have expectations, I bother myself. I don’t have any desire for the sign to do anything special because holding it is as special as it gets.  It is amazing to have found something that is it’s own reward.  Many things I used to do were to eventually reach some point in the future.  There is no point to reach with the sign because everyday is the same: thumbs up, thumbs down, smiles, laughs, boos, and tons of no responses.  I really don’t care what happens out there and I notice I usually have a blast doing it.

 
How can they get involved?

The only lastingly satisfying way for people to get involved is to come up with their own, unique expression. The minute something becomes institutionalized it begins to lose it’s potency.  I hear people say, “The more signs like this, the better.”  No way.  Anyone who pays attention to how the human mind works, knows that saturation is the death of an idea.  If their were signs everywhere, the eye would pass over it eventually,  It does this with millions of items every day.  Advertisers have to work hard to overcome the saturation factor by coming up with new ways to pitch the same exact item for this very reason.  

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Anyone who is paying attention knows the sooner you sit down and really do the hard work of coming up with something unique, the sooner you will have created something fresh, inspiring and alive to play with.  Not only that, it will be yours. I highly recommend reading You are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier.  The modern technological push is slowly destroying human creativity and he offers some wonderful ways to avoid the destruction the dominant Internet culture is generating.   

Think of it this way:  If there were 1,000,000 Bliss Blogs, would you really give this project the same energy? The joy of creativity is knowing you really are offering something unique, not only to you, but to the world. A “clever or inspiring sign” becomes a “whatever sign” eventually.  The “You’re Perfect” sign is no different.

Wishing you whatever you wish yourself,
Benjamin

http://www.karmatube.org/videos.php?id=2240   You’re Perfect video

 
www.benjamintsmythe.com
 

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A Path With A Heart

                                       

The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by anthropology student Carlos Castaneda,  came into my life in the 1970’s  although it was published  in 1968. Autobiographical?  Allegorical?  Both?  It didn’t really matter to this youthful spiritual seeker who gobbled up these writings like the mystical meal that they were. My favorite portion is offered here:

“Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary.

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This question is one that only a very old man asks. Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long long paths, but I am not anywhere. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn’t. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.
      
 Before you embark on any path ask the question: Does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it, and then you must choose another path. The trouble is nobody asks the question; and when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart, the path is ready to kill him. At that point very few men can stop to deliberate, and leave the path. A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it.”

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Each day, as I set my bare feet on the ground, taking a step out into the world, there is before me, always a choice as to the direction I maneuver my life. I can dig in my heels and refuse to move forward. I can walk the path alone or in the company of dear ones. I can welcome people along some of the trail and then veer off solo. I can invite in new journeyers. I can plot a course and follow it definitively or I can willingly or reluctantly take detours, enjoying the scenery along the way. Believe me, I have done all of those and have found reward in each, including digging in my heels, since it showed me clearly, the areas in which I had set roadblocks and needed to clear away space in which I could move forward with greater ease and grace. The thing is, there is no ‘there’ to get to. The joy is in the journey.

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Just got back from the wedding of the daughter of a dear friend,  named Gary. It was the wedding ‘that almost wasn’t’ (for today at least), since the venue was smack dab in the middle of hurricane-land. All of us kept holding a vision that the weather would clear and that the ceremony and festivities would go on as planned. Long about noon, I met up with my friend Ken and together we drove the remaining 40 minutes or so, with the residual wind whipping around the Jeep en route. The gray clouds would occasionally step aside while the sun-glow attempted to push its way through. By the time we arrived, the venue was packed, as the other guests had weathered the storm as well and were smiling in anticipation of the joyous occasion. As a minister, over the past 12 years, I have officiated at a few hundred weddings. It is rare that I am simply a guest, so being a ‘civilian’ was a different kind of experience. I could relax and just enjoy it; basking in the beautiful energy of it all. As I often do, I mused at the winding path that led me to be dancing with, talking with, laughing with, enjoying food with friends, including Ken, Phil and Janet whom I have known for years, as well as folks I just met today.  When my husband died 13 years ago, Gary showed up from our interfaith community to sit shiva with us. We became friends after that and now here I was celebrating his daughter’s marriage. Clearly a path with heart we both stepped on. Wishing Julie and T.J. showers of love and blessings that rival the waters that fell from the heavens in anticipation.

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Walking out of the restaurant to the parking lot, Ken and I noticed the brilliant sunshine and light winds and were finding it remarkable how the remnants of the storm were gone…hard to  imagine that 24 hours earlier, the view was quite different. I shared my favorite line from the movie The Neverending Story…”It’s like the nothing never was.”

When all is said and done, I can use the heart as a map and compass to guide each step along the way.

ww.reverbnation.com/artist/song_details/2428086 A Path With A Heart by Michael London

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Cookie Face

 

                                                                     

 

Life is all about juxtaposition. Light and dark, laughter and tears, sadness and joy; blended together in a huge mixing bowl, stirred by the celestial chef. Today was such a day in which the bowl was filled to overflowing with all of the above. Predictably unpredictable time at my full time job as a social worker in a psychiatric hospital, with needs and expectations of patients and families calling to be met.  Left to attend the memorial service for my friend Beth Rotondo Hadrava who passed a week or so ago and on the way stopped to eat dinner . Enjoying comfort food soup and sandwich and smiled at the tow-headed three year old boy who was making the rounds to each table, asking each of us “What you name?”, as his mother was waiting in line getting their food. Every one grinned back at him and volunteered their moniker. One my way out the door, I passed their table and noticed the tiny ambassador chowing down on mac and cheese and a big mini rainbow candy flecked cookie. I asked him his name and with crumbs tumbling out, he answered, “Ian”  I introduced myself to his mother Lisa, commented on how friendly her son was and then went on my way.

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When someone I know dies, I find myself with a keener appreciation for my life and the people in it, as well as an awareness that time is fleeting. As I was driving on winding Edgehill Road en route to Bryn Athyn, I experienced a similar sense of something that occurred after my husband Michael had died in 1998.  Back then I had felt a rush of warmth flow through me and heard his words in measured tone, “This is what heaven feels like all the time. You don’t have to die to experience it.”  I called it my ‘transfusion from heaven’.  This evening it returned and I was again reminded that there really is no separation between this world and the next, except in our minds.

Arriving at the gothic Bryn Athyn Cathedral in which Beth’s service was being held, the peaceful feeling continued. Towering against the pale blue, cloud dabbled sky, it welcomed in the several hundred people who came to honor her. Hugging our comforting hellos, in many ways, it felt like ‘old home week’ since there were folks from the overlapping soul circles in Beth’s life. She had an exceptional way of drawing people in and creating community all around her.  She was raised as a member of The New Church, founded by Emmanuel Swedenborg who was an 18th century theologian, philosopher and scientist. He had a spiritual awakening, experienced visions and powerful dreams and communed with angels  What I know of the teachings is that the focus is in taking the spiritual and making it practical, being of service, and living as an incarnation of love itself. They also believe that the spirit lives on beyond this earthly plane. Beth lived that fully; in her calling as a Homeopath, in her nurturing of friends and family, in the seva that she offered. A few tears, but mostly a feeling of awe that such a life existed and will always be, regardless of the form she takes.

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At the end of the service, I found myself gazing at the circular images on some of the stain glass windows and remarked to myself how the multi-hued design reminded me of little Ian’s cookie and how we had indeed come round-about to the sweetness of life in the midst of death in the midst of life.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cdnF3NUSCY   Heavenly Day   Patty Griffin

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Fall Down Five Times, Get Up Six

                                                                        

I was thinking about my father Moish, (who passed in 2008) the other day as I was telling a friend about the way he always encouraged us to excel at whatever it was that we chose to do. My father was not a formally educated man, but a wise one who knew about people and the ways in which, when nurtured,  they grew beautifully. He put his heart and soul into all of his relationships and everything else he did as well. Graduating from Bok Vocational High School in South Philly in 1942, he joined the Navy immediately afterward as an Electrician’s Mate. While serving, he also became a Golden Gloves Boxer and he tells the story of sparring with pre-Hollywood fame Charles Bronson. Who knows if it was family legend or if it truly happened..it made for interesting conversation. Alhtough I am not a fan of boxing; I admire his dedication to life long athleticism; running, jumping rope, bicycling and even into his 80’s; working out at the gym.  On occasion, when my younger sister Jan and I would butt heads over something as children, my dad would put the gloves and protective equipment on us and offer us a chance to ‘battle it out’ that way. Of course, we would swat at each other, never connecting. I joke now that it is a good thing I was; even then, such a pacifist, since I could have developed a mean right hook. So many people experience learned helplessness and give up before they have a chance to succeed. I was offered the gift of learned resilience from both of my parents; each in different ways. My mother’s attitude was “What will be, will be, so why worry?” which didn’t preclude walking the talk and instead invited inspired action. My father’s mindset was ‘you do what needs to be done in all aspects of your life.’

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Three incidents came to mind from my childhood during which, in the face of fear, my father showed us that we could pick ourselves back up and continue on. The first that I recall was when I was 7 and he was teaching me how to ride my bike sans training wheels. I was so excited about that transition, since it marked a time in my life, when I was beginning to feel like a big kid. Perched on the seat, daddy holding the back of the bike and running behind me as I pedaled down Pheasant Lane in  the suburban South Jersey town of Willingboro, I told him he could let go. As he did, I wobbled and immediately crashed into the tree in the front yard.  Ouch!  After making sure I was uninjured, he said, “Ok, get back on the bike and let’s do it again.”  And so I did, being bolstered by his belief that I was capable of mastering this skill. Because he had confidence in me, I had confidence in myself. Within minutes I was zipping down the street, riding like the wind~

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Scene two took place when my family went to a ranch in Milford, Pennsylvania called Malibu (just looked on line and it’s still in existence!) The four of us; my parents, sister and I were riding our noble steeds. I still remember the name of mine…Ruby.  I was about 10 and Jan was about 7 or 8. We were heading back down a rocky mountainous trail and the reins on the horse Jan was riding….snapped… and the horse took off like lightning. Terrified, she clung to it for dear life. My father; a city boy who was not accustomed to equine behavior, was close behind, yelling for the horse to stop…of course the horse only picked up speed. He knew his destination, as he headed for home. When the horse arrived in the corral, he slowed and then halted. Out of breath, my father checked on Jan,  and along with staff from the ranch, lowered her to her feet and as he had with me when I fell off my bicycle, got her back on the horse; a different one, if memory serves, and led her around the corral.

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The third time involved my mother. We were on another family vacay, heading back East from a visit to my Uncle Dave, Aunt Annette and cousins in Chicago. In Indianapolis, our blue station wagon was hit on the left rear quarter-panel by a white Corvette, narrowly missing the gas tank.  The ‘vette crumbled and our car was left with a dent, but still drivable.  Jan sustained a minor shoulder injury and I remember watching an episode of the original Star Trek while we were in the ER. Hours later, as we continued our journey, again my father, after being sure my mother was able, encouraged her to get back behind the wheel and drive for awhile. And she did.

What all of these events had in common was that my father was certain that he didn’t want us living in fear, so, kindly and with compassion got us ‘back in the saddle’. From him I learned, not just about strength, but resilience; that marvelous ability to bounce back no matter what. There was never focus on failure, only re-creation; seeing everything as life lesson from which we could gain experience. That has served me many times throughout the years, as when faced with challenges and tempted to crumble, I picked myself up, dusted myself off and started all over again.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6MtmkqPbps

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