Illusion and the Lessons of Neptune in Pisces
Recently, I had the privilege to spend a holiday at one of the most beautiful places on earth- Point Reyes and Muir Woods in Northern California.
Nature is always the best teacher. I realized lots of themes in my "life class" this week but the most striking was a reminder of the power of illusion and perspective. We have very little control over most things in this life, even though we tell ourselves that we do to feel safe. Control is an illusion to mask the emotion of fear. We humans have an amazing capacity for illusion that we use consciously and unconsciously. Denial, delusion and disassociation are all byproducts of dysfunctional illusion. We are currently being affected by a long generational transit of the planet Neptune in Pisces. Here we have the planet of illusion taking a respite in the sign of dissociation, addiction, and make believe. Because of this we are wondering if our news is fake, if our leaders are telling the truth and if huge populations of people are seemingly in mass delusion regarding climate change among other challenges. But in addition to its challenges every transit has its gifts and Neptune, the great teacher of perception, is no exception. You see, the ability to create illusion is a wonderful tool that is only detrimental to us if we engage in its power without consciousness.
When we realize that our perception of anything is a choice, we can use this power to our advantage. If we are unconscious of the choice that we are making about how we perceive something, we may be increasing our suffering or causing suffering in others unnecessarily.
One of the best ways to use illusion is simply for pleasure and joy. Neptune and Pisces rule theatre, film, and the suspension of disbelief. To use one's ability to consciously take a break from a stressful or painful situation can be sustaining. Many times a harsh truth or social statement is easier to convey through a fictional novel or film, rather than a divisive speech or protest. A spoonful of illusion helps the medicine go down. Mindfully choosing how you are using perception or illusion to experience a life situation is more than having a positive attitude or "seeing the glass half full and not half empty." I believe it can truly effect the outcome of events, whether negatively or positively, and create the conditions for better health and more joy along the way.
But let's get back to what the beach taught me at Point Reyes.
While I was taking one of those walks at the shore where you are busy in your mind using the low tide flatness like a blank page to lay all of your problems out so you can categorize, count and sort them, I was drenched with sand and surf by a big black dog. Annoyed and uncomfortable, I was shocked out of my reverie. The dog, oblivious to me or anything else on the beach, was focused on catching a bird flying low along the surf skimming the waves. The bird was completely in control and un-phased by the dog, who was at an obvious disadvantage in his chase. His endeavor was futile and it was kind of funny to watch the dog running and barking like crazy...believing he is going to eventually catch the bird that was out of his reach. It struck me that I was doing the same thing in my mind- chasing my problems like birds, believing falsely that I have some sort of control over of their outcomes. I know you think I am now going to say I was just like the dog but..I'm not. I wasn't like the dog at all. I guess we were alike in the sense that we are both about the business of doing our work in this life...me chasing my problems, the dog chasing his birds. But that's where the similarity ended. You see the dog was experiencing joy in his work, in the possibility of the outcome. He wasn't judging his best efforts by the success or failure of the catch. He wasn't focused on anything else around him. Not the success of the other dogs with their bird chasing or the people like me chuckling at the futility of his efforts. After one especially passionate chase, he ran over to check in with his owner, tail wagging, sand flying, and grinning as if to say, "I've just had the most marvelous chase!"
I was immediately humbled and struck by the lesson. I became aware of the voice in my head that laughs at me when I'm chasing my birds. I became aware of that part of me that scans the beach to compare myself to the success or failure of others, the one who keeps the score. I wondered how many times that I don't reach out to others to share the experience of my joy or exhaustion in the endeavor. Like the dog with his owner, shouldn't I be proud and excited about what I am chasing and creating? Shouldn't I share this contagious desire with others and not hide it out of the fear of ridicule or judgment? I asked myself, who was being more "productive" in their chasing that day, me or the dog? More importantly, who was experiencing the most joy...or any joy at all?
Was the dog delusional or living in an illusion that aligns with his heart, soul and purpose? Was he in denial of his true abilities or embracing a story that enhances his joy in the present moment on this earth. His story of being a dog...in the sand...in the surf...chasing a bird...right now.
What if we all chose our own unique story, designed to enhance our own personal moment here...right now. What if in our life right now we told our ego to get a ticket, have a seat, eat your popcorn and enjoy the show?
Happy Neptune in Pisces transit. Use it wisely.