Dwelling in the Valley of the Shadow of Death

dwell (dwl)

intr.v. dwelt (dwlt) or dwelled, dwell·ing, dwells

1. To live as a resident; reside.
2. To exist in a given place or state
When troubles arise, it is not the troubles themselves that are the problem, it is our propensity to dwell upon those problems that is. In walking through the valley, we often find ourselves beset, looking to either side for succor, but finding none. Dwelling is to “exist in a given place or state”; to hold tight and fast to that trouble, that problem, to the extent that it permeates our consciousnesses and affects all that we see, think and do. The food that we eat tastes different, the ways that we interpret the things we experience changes, the things that we decide to do or not do are affected, as are the outcomes of our chosen courses of action.
To take an issue, be it a regret (Past), a worry (Future) or an problem (Present), and to blur the divide between them – allowing them to exist within our perceptive field in perpetuity – creates a space of illusory reality that pervades our entire conscious thought process. As an example, if you pick up the mail and open a bill, and find that you don’t have the money to pay it, you have money problems in that instant. This opens a mental door to memory, which gives rise to regrets regarding past money problems as well as triggering worrying thoughts about possible future money problems. Simultaneously engaging Past, Present and Future leaves no room within our Egoic mind structure to experience the moment, since we are walking around all caught up in this feedback loop of regret, doubt and worry, which creates a sort of perceptive stasis within which we interact dully, emitting fields of tension and disharmonic auric emanations.
We either snap at love ones, ignore the things happening around us, make decisions we might not have made had we not been preoccupied with this negative mental workout, or we end up doing all of the above, creating karma unnecessarily, since, in the end, the events which shape our lives occur regardless of our dwelling upon them or not. This generalization is more or less true, to the extent that the power of thought is the power of creation. Negative thought processes and projections lead to negative interpretations of external experiences that compound and contract like a tortoise retreating into its shell, instinctively fearful potentially dangerous situations. Positive thought processes and projections are inherently expansive, birthing sublime potential in their ability to interpret and encompass external experiences within the boundless quantum field of probability, increasing, rather than decreasing possible outcomes.
Dwelling refers not only to an actual physical presence within a specific place, but a mental and spiritual state of Being-ness, non-material in nature:
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

To “…dwell in the house of the LORD, for ever” may not actually mean, to live in a physical house that G-d has built for his own use, or even to exist in the Spirit, dwelling within some ethereal palace of plentitude alongside other heavenly souls, piously worshiping Divinity until the end of Eternity in such a static, inconceivable manner as this passage might draw forth for some. The imagery of the “valley of the shadow of death” is particularly apropos, in that suspending our individual experience of time and space in the indulgence of dwelling leads us to strange places, from where we look up and wonder how we got to where we are, only belated realizing that we were so caught up in the past and the future that we missed the crux of each moment as it arrived, trading the Now in for an unchangeable Past and an unknowable Future and the dubious solace of mental and emotional imbroglios that satisfy the Egoic desire to control outcomes from within the space of fear, rather than love.
Dwelling in this negative mental and emotional space can be a comforting habit, and becomes such, over the course of a lifetime. Recognizing the pattern is relatively simple, but changing it is not. Patterns, habits, retain their power by becoming almost imperceptible to our conscious thought processes, and we find ourselves engaging in them without consideration, even automatically, only realizing belatedly that we’ve shifted into negative mental and emotional space, once again. The only way to move past these patterns is to break them consciously by creating new mental and emotional patterns and habits that encourage positive rather than negative mindsets, no matter the peculiar experience or event that might occur in our lives. Learning to react to the trials and tribulations of Life in a more measured manner, letting problems pass through us into the Past without dwelling upon them, and resisting the temptation to project them into the Future.

Easier said than done, of course. As we pass through the valleys of life, we find comfort in our idiosyncracies. We define ourselves by our neuroses, truly believing that we can’t teach old dogs new tricks, and that we are who we are, and can’t really change. By defining ourselves as our Ego complexes, those history-driven entities within our heads that keep up that ceaseless chatter we call thought, we miss the fact that our true Selves exist somewhere beneath all that, perpetually observing, silent and still, calling forth Eternity with each breath.


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