Common Sense

According to the dictionary common sense is practical wisdom.  Practical wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge to a situation in order to gain a favorable result.  Courtesy is a form of common sense, like saying please and thank you, eating with utensils instead of fingers (unless that is cultural), or acknowledging greetings from other.  Sometimes there isn’t a lot of agreement on what is common sense.  However, let’s explore some ideas about common sense in spirituality.

The-sacred-lifeThe dharma of Amaraji Maha Marai is based on the belief that each individual is a spark of divine light, that all beings arise from One Source, that humans have been gifted with the ability to imagine and analyze situations in order to respond to them.  Humans, therefore, are blessed with the inner need to express love, joy, peace, light, and life.  These are qualities not emotions.  The path of spirituality arises when an individual seeks to expand, understand, and share these divine qualities in whatever way is possible under current circumstances.  This drive to embrace our divine nature constitutes souls’ imperative to seek union with a Higher Power.

 Let’s look at some common sense objectives for a spiritual seeker. When we are attempting to find something it helps to have a general idea of where to look and where to not get bogged down.  That’s the idea on the spiritual path.  The first thing to do when taking a journey is to create an inventory of what you have and what will be needed then we acquire things along the road.

  1. We know our personal ethical code and adhere to it even when it’s inconvenient and we are tempted to do otherwise.
  2. Take inventory of one’s benefactor qualities and do an honest assessment of one’s harmful and detrimental behaviors. Then accept that both these things are true about the self and while modifications can occur we will never really be rid of either of these things.  In other words accept all of what we are as a human being.
  3. Accept that there is no utopia and never will be. Life is not fair.  There is no way to create a perfect life, a perfect relationship, work with the perfect teacher, or belong to a perfect community.  Instead, we grow, evolve, forgive, and try again many times.bigstock-Child-sitting-on-a-rooftop-and-12160391-300x209
  4. Find a reliable teacher to assist in expanding your promise, your gifts, as a soul. But don’t expect the teacher to be perfect…if you’re lucky the teacher will be a full human being who has learned from his/her mistakes and wants to help you learn from yours.
  5. Ash-E-Tah needs to be a daily practice. Ash-E-Tah means accepting what is and looking for the sweetness that is also available even in the midst of horrible events.  We all live life between one challenge and the next upsetting event…however, there is usually quite a lot of time (hours if not days/weeks/months) between difficulties.  Our life can be lived by focusing on the space between the tiger and the dragon.
  6. The human brain is hardwired to problem solve. When we perceive a challenge the brain kicks in to figure out how to survive, even if it isn’t our direct problem.  Over exposure to tragic, horrible, disastrous, emotionally draining events that we can do nothing about is detrimental to our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.  Common sense dictates that we limit our exposure to bad news and focus on helping where we are actually able to make a difference. This keeps us strong in difficult and dangerous times instead of depressed and burned-out.
  7. It is common sense to accept that we are not indispensable. We may be important in the lives of many people but they got along somehow in the world before they met us and they will get along somehow if we are no longer available.  It’s ego to never take a regular time out for rest, play, and sanctuary because others “need” us to be there for them.  As Gandalf said, you are just a little fellow in a very large world after all.  We have been chosen to offer our gift…but so has everyone else.  Our job is to do what we can and let others take care of the rest of the problems.tumblr_mlipahaKVj1qhmhdfo1_500
  8. Because we seek enlightenment we are bound to acquire some sooner or later. Most enlightenment is about our behavior, habituated choices, cultural conditioning, and coming face-to-face with personal entitlement.  This is why true enlightenment often results in our saying- Oh, shit!  The common sense of discovery is to see or recognize what was and make a plan to free/liberate ourselves from that suffering.  So, retroactive guilt, guilt that comes from feeling bad because we were ignorant and did harmful things is not useful.  If, however, we continue the behavior after we know better guilt could assist in making positive change.  By and large, however, guilt is not helpful.  Shame is not helpful.  Deciding to make a new plan, a new life, a new attempt to do better- that’s helpful!

This is a short list of a common sense approaches to spirituality.  There are undoubtedly many other items you could add to this list.  Perhaps the most important advice of all is- ask questions, try things out for yourself to see if they work for you, and remember this is your journey to the ultimate union with the Higher Power.  Others have left a trail, a path, even a road…make sure their way is the best way for you

The Monastic Journey

The secret to spiritual mastery is to become more of who we already are as spiritual beings.  We did not become who we are today in a year, or two years, or even in ten years.  It took a lifetime to be ourselves.  IMAG0820Who is this self?   To be human is to long for an unfettered union with the divine although we often strive to meet that need, that goal, through friendships, companions, and lovers eventually our soul will turn to the Maker of All Things and rejoice in the possibility of that unconditional, loving union.

We can never eliminate our ego, or personality self, but we can be aware of the voices inside that do not speak to us of love, compassion, forgiveness, and grace.  We can let go of guilt, anger, and self-pity and take the journey of awakened consciousness.  The only thing standing between us and our highest spiritual good is our fear and an acute sense of our own unworthiness.

Monasticism is a joyful journey toward Great Spirit and the sublime heights of spiritual love but it is also an arduous climb out of the shadowed valleys of self-hatred, despair, and childhood psychosis so that we can touch the sublime heights of spiritual love.  taktshang2But if effort were unnecessary we would not need courage, determination, and a passionate, even obsessive love for The Master, for Her or His Grace, or for the ultimate goal of knowing the Self, which is called Enlightenment.

To free ourselves it is necessary to change the past and our story of the past by reviewing the emotional decisions connected with earlier unhappy events.  We do this by redefining what those things mean to us now.  What did we learn?  What treasures did we find?  What do we need to leave in the ashes?  And what shall we carry with us into our future?

On the monastic path we spend a great deal of time noticing our thoughts, our arisings or mental images, emotional reactions, and bodily sensations.  We become so familiar with our inner landscape that we finally wish to release it, forgive it, and find some new adventure on which to embark.  However, our old self has to go with us.  We can’t run.  We can’t hide.  And we can’t destroy any part of us.  starangeAnd why should we?  We are a beautiful, unique, divine spark of the All Spirit Energy.  There has never been anyone just like us…and there never will be again.  Shouldn’t we try to enfold all of our beingness in the loving arms of compassion?  Great Spirit doesn’t make mistakes…and the Eternal Spirit of All Life doesn’t make junk.

So from what are we trying to free ourselves?  Simply put it is the deep seated belief that we are intrinsically bad, wrong, unworthy, and wrong-headed.  When we free ourselves from this misconception into the possibility that somehow we need all of our qualities and the wisdom of all our experiences in order to serve Great Spirit… we will be free indeed.  The monastic life gives us an opportunity to practice accepting ourselves, as we are, right now…and maybe even more importantly to accept others as they are right now.  This is a daily practice because we will be living in intimate community with people we don’t know very well, who have habits we don’t always approve of, and who may be individuals we almost certainly would avoid if we were living in the world.   And yet there they are day after day being themselves… as we continually express being ourselves.  Oh, boy, what a recipe for suffering!  So in monasticism we practice accepting others as they are and continually strive to accept ourselves as we are.11537595-bells-inside-the-buddhist-monastery-square-composition

Acceptance is not approval.  It is ALLOWING.  In allowing we find concern and kindness for others who are also on a great journey to enlightenment, and are struggling with their own doubts, challenges, and suffering.  We find care and compassion for ourselves because we are suffering.  And softly, with great gentleness we surrender to Great Spirit in prayer, pohwas, and the mighty nectar of mantra.  Slowly, bit-by-bit, prayer-by-prayer Enlightenment brightens up the world around us until we are Holy and we are Free!

Miracles

In the space of true prayer we have the power to bring about miracles. 

All of our lives we have heard about miracles. Maybe we always hoped to be present when a miracle occurred.  Spirit has assured us that miracles are possible. Saints tell us the beginning of miracles is the recognition of the blessings we already have in our lives and the willingness to allow more blessings to flow to us and through us.

Miracles happen when we allow them to happen. It is the allowing that is difficult. We must learn to let go of control so the natural laws of spirit can take place.

courage4

When we bring the two energies of faith and surrender together
almost anything is possible.

It seems to be a tendency of the human mind to obsess on one thing or another.  When we feel lack or limitation we constantly think about it, problem-solve it, and talk about it. What might happen if we use this tremendous power to focus on our GOOD?  Miracles occur when the good things in life are what we focus on…for what we focus on increases.

In order to make things happen, we need our egos.  In order to have desire, we need our egos.  In order to know who we are, we need our egos. When we want to be enlightened, ego is a hindrance.  When we want to be liberated, ego is a hindrance.  When we want to allow miracles, ego is a hindrance.

The only focus worth having is on joy, love, and peace.  Letting go of anything that is not love, joy, and peace takes determination.   Having the strength and wisdom to do these things requires discipline, prayer, meditation, and constant practice.

Miracles happen when we know the Laws of Spirit better than we know the material influences that prevent miracles from happening.

rocksBeloved Spirit of All Life,
Many times we come to a resolution
to leave behind old habits
and establish new and beautiful ones.
Many times we failed.
But today we shall make all things new
and with your help we shall succeed.
Through your grace we will focus on joy
and create more laughter.
Through your grace we will focus on love
and create more affection.
Through your grace we will focus on peace
and create more harmony.
Through your grace we will focus on our gratitude
and create more opportunities to share.
Together with you, Beloved, we shall touch Spirit.
Together with you, Beloved, Miracles shall unfold.