The Mud at the Bottom of the Pond

Enlightenment is knowledge previously undiscovered but now exists as new consciousness. It’s a new understanding of the world.  Let’s take medical knowledge for example.  It’s now possible for people who have joint pain to have their joints replaced.  What has been the result of this enlightenment?  Freedom from pain; longer life; ability to have quality of life.  In other words it helps people to flourish.

Enlightenment, therefore, helps us to flourish as spirit beings.  Enlightenment allows us to be pain free and assist others to be pain free.  

When enlightenment occurs, even in a mundane way, it’s not universally accepted and there are challenges to the manifestation and acceptance of the new knowledge.  In order to live our lives as the Avatars of Divine Spirit we are being challenged to modify thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in order to bring them into alignment with Divine Spirit rather than following our own ideas of how things should work.  To discover this Divine Spirit alignment is as simple as asking these questions- how is this kind to myself and others?  What does this decision have to do with creating more peace or love in the world?  Who will be helped?  Who will be left out?

The enlightenment process requires extreme vigilance of our mental and emotional states of being as well as our true motivations for taking action.  It’s important to be accountable for the decisions we make.  We are trained to believe that what we think is real, that what we feel is real, and what our body tells us is absolute. However, thoughts are an illusion of organic mind, emotions come and go for no apparent reason, and our body reacts to situations that are not factual.  Think of the last time you had a body reaction to a stick thinking it was a snake.

mud-mud-glorious-mud-11As in all times when we begin to embark upon a new enlightened state of consciousness, a time of initiation into that enlightenment, we are most likely going to experience a stirring up of the mud at the bottom of our pond.  The mud at the bottom of the pond colors the way we perceive the world.  During a time of expanded consciousness, it’s important to pause, to consider results, to consult with wise individuals, and to understand motivations BEFORE reacting from what we are feeling.  This is because once we have new insight we must integrate those understandings into our life.  Having a moment of enlightenment doesn’t mean it will last.  Having a moment of enlightenment that leads us to make, and manifest, transformational, permanent changes in our life anchors that knowledge into reality.

ANY strong emotion is a problem.  Love, joy, delight, anger, fear, pain, and grief- any strong emotion is a problem.  Love can be a problem.  When we are overpowered with “true love” we make impulsive decisions.  The emotion of “true love” “romantic love” wears off and what we have left will determine if the two people can continue in relationship or not.   Long term relationships can only be based on the fact that we actually like the other person and that person actually likes us also.

Consider- Emotion simply exists and it is totally up to us what we will make of it.

When there is a lot of mud stirred up at the bottom of the pond there is a real need to not make decisions from anger, pain, grief, disillusionment, resentment, and victimization.  These are the emotions arising when the mud of unconscious emotions are stirred up at the bottom of the pond.  When this happens we usually respond from one of two ways- Depression because we think we are at fault, or Anger and Blame because we believe whatever has happened is someone else’s fault.

aaeaaqaaaaaaaalpaaaajgy1nzgxm2y1lty5mgytndnjms1izgq3lwyyztlmmtu4yzywygTO BE ENLIGHTENED WE MUST DISCOVER THE MUD IN US!

It’s helpful to try and use muddy times to focus on Evolution rather than going to Hell and taking others with you.  Try to imagine what it means to be Sacred.  Imagine that you can accept yourself.  Imagine that you are able to truly live from your heart so you can act from your ancient wisdom.  When you live from your heart you are listening with the ears of Divine Spirit. You are listening for love, joy, and peace!  You are not listening for insults, judgments, and anger.  You are not afraid of dark entities or evil times.

If we are reacting to life rather than actually choosing life, we are not free.  There is a lot of talk about free will and being free to do what we want to do rather than what some authority tells us to do.  But we are programmed into following the path of least resistance- meaning we do the same things we have always done, think the thoughts we have always thought, tell the stories we have always told, and react the way we always react- this means we no longer understand the meaning of Free Will. 

The Path of Spirit is not there- EVER- to make your life work.  It is there so we have somewhere to stand when our life does not work.  It is the foundation on which we can depend because the Dharma will tell us what to do to restore ourselves to peace, compassion, kindness, and love.

Any Path that tells us that we can have what we want if we follow the proper forms, say the approved prayers, and believe in the correct god, is lying.  Life is not Safe.  There are no guarantees.  We cannot buy enough insurance or say enough prayers to make life safe.

Ash-E-Tah- I accept what is happening.  I don’t like what is happening.  And none of my emotions about this event matter because I will choose to do what is right according to the Dharma of my Spiritual Path even if that does not make me happy right this moment.

Healing restores us to wholeness.  It does not make us perfect.

To learn to Accept the self means accepting all of the self, including our ancient darkness.  We recognize our muddy pond and decide to grow a lotus.  Acceptance means to stop placing blame on others- our mother, father, teachers, friends, spouse, neighbors, or anyone else.  Blaming others will not help us have a better life- changing ourselves and the way we interpret life will help us have a better life.

ENLIGHTENMENT- See it.  Recognize what it is.  Accept what it is. Change it if necessary.  Then you can expand, grow, and be who it is possible for you to be.  Remember it only matters what you DO with what you FEEL.

enlightenment-vs-wisdomThe Path of Enlightenment is for those who are strong enough to follow the Path of Self Questioning.  Yes- question authority.  Your authority-for you are the greatest authority in your life…you always believe you know what everything means.  Do you every question your own authority or do you assume you should not be questioned because you know the truth?  Imagine asking yourself hard questions about what is truly right and not just what feels right in the moment.  Are you choosing from Divine Spirit’s Way of love, joy, and peace?  Or are you choosing from your will, your way, and your story about the way thing should be?

Laughter Will Set Us Free

Sometimes there is a misconception that a person of Spirit will be loving, joyful, and peaceful continuously.  Then, if we are not able to maintain that equanimity, we are bad;  a sinner, a failure, a slacker, etc.  The inner critic finds endless words to assign to us if we are not consistently impeccable in our practice.  90315ea1ea84f593ae080942d2192382This is the myth of perfection.  We often associate words like omnipotent, all-seeing, and perfect with the Higher Power energy.  So if we are not perfect- as that Great Spirit is thought to be perfect- we  believe we must do atonement, or that we deserve to be punished.

Laughter shall set us free and love shall lift up the world are suggestions.  If that’s not where we are today, it’s best to accept that fact and not attempt to pretend to give what we don’t have or want to give away.  Anger, fear, pain, and grief are part of life’s experience.  There is a wide spectrum of expressing these emotions from mild to intense.  The same is true of our encounters with loving kindness, generosity, compassion, joy, and even peace.  They come and they go. This is the human condition.

The path of Spirit can teach us that uncomfortable or unpleasant energies are not unwelcome guests that have moved into our home for an indefinite period of time.  Even underneath an intense expression of anger, fear, pain, and grief-  there exists the potential for love, joy, and peace later on.  In being real, we express love, joy, and peace- only when we are actually experiencing those energies. This is not an invitation, however, to become a domineering, violent, and controlling individual giving away our anger and pain to others- It is an invitation to understand where we are in the moment. When surrounded by seemingly endless difficulties try this affirmation:  I accept myself as I am in this Now, and I surrender to love, joy, and peace in this Now.  We can have love, joy, and peace, even if things are not perfect.

helen-keller-quotes-i-am-only-one-but-still-i-am-one-i-cannot-do-everything-but-still-i-19671As a child, we could overcome, what seemed to us then, a great tragedy often within five minutes.  As we grow up we learn how to hold on to our pain.  This is why we so often fall out of love or friendship. We rehearse our pain stories, our betrayals, and our upsets. We become addicted to the perfection myth- in ourselves and in our partners. But if we can forgive ourselves for making mistakes, it will become easier to forgive others for their mistakes as well.

Let’s look at laughter shall set us free from the standpoint of play.  A play is a story drama.  If the tale is only about joy, light, peace, and love, nothing appears to happen in that story.  Soon we are bored and seek out a play, movie, or book that has some challenges and problems for the hero to solve.

It isn’t the goal of life to be problem-free.  It’s the goal of our lives to figure out what to do with the problems we encounter.

  When obsessing on the difficulties of our lives, are we working through our problem or just reviewing them over and over- with no solution in sight?  Challenges are a part of life.  350878 Suffering is the endless repetition of a painful energy.  Finding a sense of humor can work wonders on the obsessions of the mind. Laughter can be used to free ourselves from suffering.

When we laugh we free up inner wisdom so we can figure out what to do.  We must learn to listen to the still small voice within. This means we have to be quiet long enough to hear it.  Take time to walk with nature, sit by a lake or a river, watch the grass grow, lean to meditate.  In the silence we can find our way back to beauty and grace.

To have a joyful life, obsess on- smiling through the doorways, enjoying the sunrise, count your blessings, or if possible- accept yourself in the Now.  The path of Spirit can be fun, but not if you’re afraid of yourself.

575412_373889212646105_100000750870618_938814_1388775618_nGratitude is an endless focus on the positive.  Grace means that through the loving kindness of another person we let go of something and it changes our lives. Everything is temporary.  Let yourself be free in the energy of life.  Find your laughter.  It will lead you to Love!

Examining Our Conditioned Mind

women-149577_640Because we live in a body, in a physical existence, a family, nation, and culture our mind has been trained in certain ways.  Most of this conditioning takes place in childhood or early adolescence.  Once the mind is conditioned- enculturated- trained- habituated-it takes attention and discipline to change the reactivity and assumptions of our automatic and hasty mind. The preferred method of changing or reconditioning the mind is compassionate witnessing of our thoughts, monitoring our emotional response, and gently allowing time, silent pauses, and deep breaths to mitigate our mercurial and unconscious response to life’s sudden surprises.

Let’s examine the seven probable filters or lens through which we view the world. These seven lens are: Gender, Early Physical Environment, Family Class or Caste, Nation of Origin, Ethnic or Racial Origin, and Family Beliefs.

Early Physical Environment means that you were a child in a physical location. Did you grow up in the city or the country; in a large town or a small one; did you grow up on a military base; did you have opportunities to interact with nature and a wild environment; were animals in your life or not; did you see animals as pets or a means of livelihood such as farm or ranch animals?  Australia MoodboardThe place in which you spent your childhood colors the way you interpret environments around you.  It affects how comfortable you are in certain types of situations.

Let’s use as an example a relationship with animals.  If there were pets in your childhood and there was a positive interaction with them you probably enjoy playing with animals and may even own several cats or dogs yourself. But if you grew up without exposure to animals it’s probable that you have a certain discomfort around them.

Family Beliefs during childhood affects how you interact with others now.  This is true if you grew up with spiritual beliefs or none at all.  Even if you rejected your family’s training on how to interact and what to expect from others it is still affecting you.  Rebellion is a form of being affected for there is nothing to rebel against if there isn’t a pattern in the first place.

Screen Shot 2012-08-07 at 10.37.44 AMFamily pattern beliefs might include a belief in secrecy- what’s heard in the family stays in the family. Secrets are necessary in order not to get into trouble or not to get others into trouble because no one must find out what is happening behind closed doors.  Sometimes the pattern of a family belief could sound like this: life is a struggle.  Only educated people succeed in life.  It’s as easy to love a rich man as a poor man.  What will the neighbors think?  We have a reputation to protect.  Don’t talk about father/mother’s drinking you’ll get them fired.

The things you were taught to believe, as a child, about religion or a lack of religion affect your response to situations and opportunities within life.  Perhaps you have a challenge with organized religion, even if you didn’t belong to one, but what you saw, heard, and learned as a child created a belief and you might still be operating from that belief.  If your mental thoughts constantly create an experience of guilt and shame regarding your thoughts, actions, or lack of action- this is a conditioning of mind from your family’s or religion’s understanding of the world.

Family Caste or Class- which is still part of our consciousness even if we like to believe that people in the United States don’t operate from classification.  If you were raised middle class you believe one set of values, if you were raised blue collar there is a different view of the world, and if you were raised in poverty the way you understand life was effected.   And if you were in a wealthy class there was also a set of expectations and understandings about duty to the family, self, and maintaining place.  People of different social classes are discouraged from mingling too much with people who are different from us. People are still  judged by how they dress, speak, and where they came from.

Ethnic or Racial Identity also plays a part in defining our understanding of the world and our place in it.  Most Caucasian (white people) don’t think of having a racial or ethnic identity but if we  truly examine our beliefs we will soon see that white people have a certain way of acting and thinking that is different than those of others. Examine what you understand about your ethnicity and what you believe that means for you in the world.

National Identity is also part of our conditioned mind consciousness.  This is the way we were taught to think of being a citizen of a particular country.  What did you learn in history about the role of your country in the world?  Who were your nations enemies?  Who were the allies and why?  What rights do you believe you have that others do not?  And why is that ok?

GS-2Perhaps the greatest conditioning of all is Gender orientation.  What does it mean to be a woman?  What does it mean to be a man?  What does it mean if you are LGBT?  When we are born, or even before, the most important question people ask about a baby is- it a boy or a girl? From there many assumptions are going to be made about the future of that being.  What do most people in the world believe is true about girls and women?  What do most people in the world understand about the role of male entities?  What do many people believe about those who are LGBT?  LGBT people are still persecuted all around the globe and even killed because that’s not an ok gender to be.

You might consider exploring these seven lens within a group of friends. One of the advantages of exploring these seven mind conditionings with a group is the ability to discover that no two people will ever be exactly alike.  This is true even if they came from the same family background. Each person has a unique view of themselves and how the world functions because each individual exposed to these common conditionings will decide and respond in a different way.

Therefore to practice being Human we learn Acceptance and Allowing. 

acceptance-seeing-with-heartAcceptance is not approval even if the dictionary seems to indicate that’s what it means.  Acceptance is seeing the value in another person because of his/her unique and one of a kind beingness.  We cease to expect another to be just like ourselves and instead have an adventure of discovery together.

Allowing is the permission we give to another to be herself or himself and to express his or her life without needing our approval or disapproval.  This is the truth of freedom which is seldom experienced even though impressively talked about.

Understanding that we can’t escape our reactive mind response to life can either be depressing or an opportunity of awakened intelligence, of enlightenment.  If we understand how we react to the world around us from our experiences of the past we have the potential to experience the present moment in full awareness.  We learn to see the conditions and emotional arising from the past; take note of their existence; and breathe into the current moment, the current time, to see if we might experience something new, exciting, and momentously beautiful.

We are slaves to the past when we are unaware of its influence.  We are awake to the present moment when we perceive the past but remain firmly planted in the now.acceptance

The Myth of Heavenly Perfection

When we embarked upon the spiritual journey it was undeniably a part of our goal to attain perfection.  We have been indoctrinated, proselytized, and programmed to desire perfection.  That’s why advertising works.  It tells us that we are not perfect, BUT we could be perfect if we only use a certain product, drive a certain type of car, own the right house, and discover the right job.  Everyone wants to help us by selling us something- self-help books, talismans, prayer beads, amulets, potions, therapies, and workshops.  So why are we all still unhappy with ourselves?

Maybe it’s because we believe in the myth of Heavenly Attainment.  heavenThis myth says- One day we will arrive at a blessed and blissful land where everything will be well, happy, and forever wonderful.   Some of us are content to wait until we die hoping that will take care of the suffering of our lives and we will join the angels for an eternity of song and holy delight.  Some of us are always in process, striving to do what is right, be as perfect as possible, perform every action recommended by our spiritual path, studying each new idea that seems promising- hoping that somehow our life will turn out the way we hoped, planned, and intended.  When our life still doesn’t make us happy, wealthy, and wise, we blame ourselves, or the path, or the spiritual teacher, our parents, our culture, our gender, or anything else that seems to be amiss in the world.

But what if things just are what they are?  What if life will never be safe, no matter how many insurance policies we own?  What if failure is enviable and we will continue to make mistakes no matter how many college degrees we earn?  Or how good we get at controlling ourselves or others? What if we are OK just like we are?  What if suffering will continue to exist in our life even if we are OK being who and how we are?

Most of us are constantly looking for what’s wrong, and creating new crises so we can rise to the occasion.  To the little self-ego that’s survival.  It’s very important that something is wrong so we can continue to survive it.  self-hateOver and over we say, “I’m responsible… I need to do it right…I must be perfect!”  This internal pressure leads to stress.  Stress leads to developing a coping skill (eating, drinking, smoking, drugs, yelling, hitting, etc.) which relieves our stress but makes us feel awful about ourselves.  So- we resolve to be responsible, correct our behaviors, get it right, and make sure we are perfect next time!  Which leads to stress…so…

Could you love someone who doesn’t meet the standards you were taught must be met in order to be lovable?  What happens when you don’t meet those standards?  And most of us never meet those standards. Remember not wanting to be how you are is the most significant factor of SELF-HATE.

When we accept ourselves how we are- when we know and accept our less desirable qualities and also accept our benefactor qualities we might grow to love ourselves.  Most of us think that loving ourselves will make us selfish.  But those who feel completely loved and lovable are not selfish- THEY ARE LOVING!

cliff2

“Come to the edge,” he said.
They said: “We are afraid.”
“Come to the edge,” he said.
They came.
He pushed them,
And they flew…

– Guillaume Apollinaire

 

Spiritual Insight

Image

Spiritual insight, or enlightenment, as called by many, seems like a big task; a job for the likes of a Siddhartha, a Jesus, a Krishna, or a Francis of Assisi.  How can we even dare strive to be such a one?  It seems so full of ego somehow.

Many masters have told us that the secret to this nirvana perceptiveness lies in cultivating a playful, loving heart.  They have assured us that the tools needed are music, chanting, singing, and even dancing. emberadruadancing (1) It is suggested that we first bring our thoughts and emotions into the eternal song of Great Spirit and then celebrate the fullness of life through “making a joyful noise.”

But for most of us enlightenment and fun don’t seem to belong in the same sentence.  The very idea of spiritual attainment conjures up visions of hard work, fasting, endless, painful sacrifices, and austerities.  Siddhartha became the Buddha only after he gave us the hard road and decided on a middle way.  Jesus’ first public miracle was to turn water into wine for a wedding feast.  Krishna is almost always shown with his flute, and Saint Francis thought of himself as God’s troubadour gifting us with the canticle of the sun

Perhaps the reason we have so much struggle with “making a joyful noise” is because we focus on our mistakes, fears, projections, and the unpredictable upsets that life sends our way.  Another secret of spiritual illumination is allowing ourselves to forgive and forget our mistakes…and those of others as well.  forgivenessWhat if we laughed more, especially when we make foolish mistakes?  What if we let go of needing those around us to be perfect, happy, content, and at ease?  Perhaps we will have true wisdom when creating and sharing love, joy and peace is more important to us than perfection.

Great Spirit, bless me with your gift of laughter.
Teach me to let go of shame and guilt about my mistakes,
so I can allow more of my true nature to shine.
Help me release the past so I may
enjoy the beauty of this present moment
You have provided for me.

courage

May I remember that problems
are a part of daily life.
May I ask for help when I need it,
and give help when I see the needs of others.
To all my unruly and difficult thoughts
I shall say: