How Can We Have Love?

What is necessary to have love in our lives?  Is it someone who loves us and who we also love?  Is it true friends, people to trust, and those who are supportive of us?  Is it belonging?  Is it being accepted as we are and who we are?  In order to have love we have to sacrifice something to get it.  In order to have joy we have to sacrifice something.  In order to have peace we have to sacrifice something.  In order to have abundant energy and good health something must be sacrificed.  What needs to be sacrificed is almost always an unhelpful attitude or belief.

192859-I-m-Letting-Go To have love, one must sacrifice the attitude that we are unlovable, unworthy, or challenged in some way.  We let go of the idea that there is something wrong with us, or that everyone is against us.  To have love we must sacrifice those attitudes, stories, and ways of thinking about ourselves and the world around us.  If we come into the place of divine relationship and find love inside of our heart, it isn’t because we’ve found the right person, set of circumstances, group to belong to, or new family associations.  It’s because we have decided true love is within us and can be found all around us if we are open to receive it.

heartbreak-rejection-lost-love-1 We might go to a  church, meditation, or dharma gathering and declare, “I have never found so much love from a group of strangers than I have here.”  And if we don’t feel welcomed, think we don’t belong, or that people are ignoring us- we will tell a story, or form some kind of belief about what’s wrong with that group of people in order to excuse our inability to feel love and compassion.  Love comes from within us- not from the people around us.   This doesn’t mean that sometimes there are not people who don’t like us.  There probably will be.  No matter how wonderful we are, someone won’t like us.  When people don’t like us or we form dislikes of others it’s the lack of love within our heart or their heart that’s the problem.

But if we are expecting love- mostly we will receive love.  If we are expecting to be disapproved of- mostly we will be disapproved of.  If we have a story of unworthiness- mostly we will experience unworthiness.

In order to have love, something has to be sacrificed.  What needs to sacrificed is whatever story we have about why love doesn’t work for us.  How useful is that story?  We want to think about cutting away the past that doesn’t serve us and keeping only the past things that help us go forward in love.  And if we have an experience where someone doesn’t love us or doesn’t like us, walk on.  Leave them behind.  Why are we dragging them along?  If we cut ties to the things of the past that anchor us into victimization, unhappiness, isolation, not belonging-guess what?  Life is filled with opportunity instead of pain, happiness instead of suffering!

hold-handsYes, it’s true.  We think everyone should love us.  But they won’t.  This doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with us?  It means someone didn’t like us or love us…that is not our problem.  Our challenge is not being able to love everyone just as they are, in not being filled with Divine Compassion for all beings.  If we are not able to look at everyone and love them, does that mean that they are intrinsically unlovable?  Or that we have just not found the place of love and compassion in our own heart so we can see them with love?

The point of sacrifice is to cutaway, liberate, and detach from the things that actually end up causing our suffering.  If we are attached to stress it’s very hard to be at peace.  If we are attached to being overwhelmed and burdened it will be difficult to find peace.  What would we have to give up or sacrifice in order to create a life that didn’t hold burdens and stress?

Liberation is not always permanent.  But if we are liberated for an hour, we had a good hour.  And then everything fills back up and we have to liberate ourselves again.  We could say that the world provides plenty of opportunities to have be upset and stress.  But it is possible to detach ourselves from the stress of the world through meditation, silence, times of prayer, and going somewhere to be in nature.   We detach ourselves so we may come back to a place of joy, peace and love.  That is why there is the phrase- Be Here Now.

Divine Spirit Awakenings LogoMost of what we have to sacrifice is attachment to what happened in the past, five minutes ago or five years ago.  If we detach from those things, sit in the present, be focused, know who we truly are, be who we truly are, mostly we will be happy.  Mostly we will have the space of joy.  Mostly we will have peace.

There is a Great Beings inside of each of us just waiting to be released.  Why are we keeping that Being locked behind a wall of unhappiness, anger, thwarted desires, and struggling?  What if we decide to know our heart of love?  What if we decide to allow ourselves to be happy now?  What if we let go of what upsets us and allow peace to flow into the crevices and corners of our lives?  Anything is possible for Spirit!  We are Spirit and when we know that anything will be possible for us!

 

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!

Reducing Attachments

The goal of a monastic community is union with the Divine as expressed by Great Mother, Great Father, and Great Weaver.  This is only possible as we reduce our attachments to, and preoccupation with, personal goals, desires, wishes, fears, angers, resentments, and needs.  Attachment is defined as having a fondness, liking, or bondage to things, methods, or peopleenthusiasm_webSimplicity, the sought after goal of the spiritual path is the ability to realize we have enough.  It’s creating an uncomplicated life with a minimum of possessions and emotional attachments to self. We do this because we understand that having only what we really need allows us more time and energy to focus on prayer, meditation, and compassionate service.

All of us have attachments.  We have filled our life with connections to people, places, and things.  We do not want to give up most of these components of life.  We are emotionally committed to relationships, possessions, education, status, jobs, money, security, family, friends, and our pets.  Some of these attachments are desirable and have motivated us to do great things, such as become more compassionate, develop our intellect, or care for those who need our help.  However, it’s wise to acknowledge that certain attachments, especially to power (status), privilege (awards), and possessions (money), can make it difficult for us to maintain our core values and moral standards.  Even a life of service can have a hidden agenda- the desire for acknowledgement in this world or the next.

200-2The evidence is all around us.  Our fear of losing our job might prevent us from speaking out against unethical conduct in the workplace.  Fear of losing our independence can prevent us from entering a monastery or taking guidance from a spiritual teacher.  Clinging to financial security might lead us to remain in an abusive relationship or allow our children to be abused. As individuals it’s important to admit that our desire for comfort, financial well-being, our need to be in the know, have our voice heard, our opinions validated, and our contributions appreciated personal can create conflicts with an enlightened, spiritual life.  At some point we have to decide that we have reached an adequate stage of attainment (we have enough) only then can we truly live according to greater ideals and spiritual truths.

Reduction of attachments requires discernment.  And this discernment can be around simple, everyday objects that most people take for granted.  Let’s take cell phones for example – in the modern world such an object appears to be a necessity of life.  However, suppose that the monastery has a land line which can be used occasionally for personal calls and a cell phone that the monastics take with them if they must run errands away from the property.  newcellphonesSince Bill will not be required to travel far distances as part of his duties and will only sometimes be asked to run errands, he does not need a personal cell phone.  He might want one, find numerous reasons why it would be useful for him to own a cell phone, but he truly doesn’t need one.  In attempting to reduce his attachments Bill realizes he has been programed by advertising to desire something he doesn’t really need; so in letting go of this desire he is able to liberate a part of his mind to focus on things of spirit.

When we begin to focus on reducing our attachments the mind launches a series of urgings and arguments that seem perfectly reasonable, as well as justifications for the way we feel and what we desire to have happen.  These energies are Attachments.  Attachments can be positive or negative, affirming or rebellious, inspiring or discouraging- whatever form they take they are a seditious product of the five minds (body, desire, striving, storytelling, and habituated) and their goal is distraction.

Our five minds (little self) cannot imagine that we are seriously considering a disciplined spiritual life, especially a life that will change, reduce, or even eliminate its control.  Little self is that portion of our mind that thinks about SELF, and relate all things to self- “What will this mean to my job, my relationships, and my leisure time?  When am I going to get a vacation, time for my family, or an opportunity to advance at work?  I don’t know if I want to make a commitment it takes too much effort- what if I change my mind?”
When (little) self is terrified it will cease to exist (die) it begins to fight back with every weapon in its arsenal.

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Great Spirit Mother, Father, and Weaver

I bow to your wisdom.
I accept that if personal change were unnecessary I would already be just like You.
Help me, for I am prone to trusting in myself instead of Your Wisdom.
Many times I have come to the resolution
To leave old, bad habits behind and create beautiful new ones.
Many times I have failed.
But, together with you Beloved there can be no failure.
Together with you miracles are possible.
Together with you I can change and become just like You.

This is my promise to you, and to my Great Being who is waiting to be born.
When my little self is hungry, I will feed it with gentle Love.
When my little self is angry, I will seek refuge in your peace.
When my little self is sad, I will focus on my blessings.
When my little self sees lack, I will focus on your many kindnesses to me.
When my little self sees failures, I will remember they are the path to wisdom.
Today I will try to be the Master of my life
So it does not master me.

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the ability to compassionately understand ourselves, our desires, and our needs.  It’s the ability to realize that no matter how awkwardly I’ve attempted to meet those needs, and no matter how many mistakes I make in the process, it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with me. broken-heart-broken-hearts-6853604We are well served to be suspicious of any voice, inside or outside, that says there is something wrong with us.  For example- it’s possible to realize I have been unkind toward someone and then feel sad about that.  It’s not that I’m a bad person who will get into trouble- it’s just that I don’t want to be unkind because it hurts my heart.

Forgiveness is allowing.  Allowing ourselves, or another, to confess a mistake, take responsibility for whatever harm may have been created by that mistake and to move on into trusting that something new can happen.  Forgiveness is letting go, permitting something to pass, and allowing something in.  With true forgiveness we agree to forget the past in order to authorize trust for the future.

If we hold ourselves or others in a place of remembering preceding incidents, emotional outbursts, and former mistakes 3.-BURMA-US-congress-Lalitwe are keeping them a prisoner in our mind; they have been judged, sentenced, and jailed.  And we will continue living a life of suspicion, doubt, and mistrust of those whose mistakes we find upsetting, shocking, or appalling.

Consider– we cling to mistrust in order to be safe and self-protective.

What if, instead of falling into judgment, we allow in the possibility of a life initiation?
Initiation means making a beginning, opening an investigation, or launching a new possibility.  Initiation also implies hard work, striving to learn a new skill, and sufficient motivation to introduce a transformed, difficult, and disciplined response to our accustomed discontented and calamitous emotions.  Both those who judge and those who make errors are in need of such an initiation.

The initiation being offered is the knowledge necessary to build an intimate relationship with spirit, the self, and others.  Such a relationship is built by reviewing and restating our values, beliefs, and past stories so that they are consistent with our current understanding, goals, and aspirations.  relaxOur relationship with self is also fostered by distinguishing the adult-voice from the child-voice, the self-hate voice from beneficial caring advice.  It means cultivating and developing genuine emotional intelligence.  A mature, adult, spiritual relationship is cultivated through disciplined thought, silent meditation, contemplative prayer, and the counsel of a sagacious spiritual director.

As we practice and create trust all our relationships begin to have an indivisible sense of unity.  Each member of our community becomes like a cell in our body.  The group needs the me, and I need the group.  To be truly human means understanding that we need each other.  Only in this way can we express and experience the love and caring for which we long.

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Do you trust yourself?

If so, what do you trust yourself to do, say, or give to others?
Can you meet your own needs
or do you expect others to know what you want
and give it to you?
What demonstration do you wish the people around you
to make so you can trust them?
Are you willing to make this demonstration
so that others can trust you?
Do you believe others are well-intentioned
even when they are ungraceful in their behavior or words?

Service

When we observe a problem in someone’s life we often react by trying to fix it through advice or suggestions.  We call this response, compassion when actually it is sympathy.  One of the important qualities necessary to a worker of the light is detachment about our needs, our desires, and our contribution. Detachment is the ability to see another in pain and ask them if they want or need our help.  Detachment is accepting the answer- “No!” Detachment is also letting go of what we cannot change and working to change what we can- about ourselves.

A gift given grudgingly or with the expectation of how it will be used or received is no gift at all.  When we are kind to people we believe are inferior, or less than ourselves, what we offer is condescension, not compassion.  We are taught that there is merit in serving the poor, the downtrodden, the helpless, and the hopeless.  But if we perform  those same acts of kindness, assistance, and service because we see others as our brothers and sisters such service becomes an Act of Grace.

Perhaps the greatest wrong of our culture is to see people in pain, and throw money at them to make them go away.

May we remember that we were sent here to make the world a better place than it has ever been before. At the center of the Spirit Path is a loving heart that wants the best for every person. Anything we can do to help foster the intellect, spirit, and emotional growth for our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who hold this great vision must continue against all odds. Our life does not belong to us…it is given to us to make of it a gift to all beings.

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May we become at all times:
A protector for those without protection-
A guide for those who have lost their way-
A ship for those with oceans to cross-
A bridge for those with rivers to ford-
A sanctuary for those in danger-
A lamp for those without light-
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter-
And a servant to all in need.

Your heart is calling…Great Spirit is calling…will you answer the call?

ImageGreat Spirit, may I learn to go about my ordinary activities
sowing the seeds of happiness.
If others don’t seem to appreciate my heartfelt sharing,
let me release those seeds to the Winds of Spirit
trusting that they will eventually find a place to grow.

My heart hurts when I see the pain of the world,
And I want to do something to make it go away.
Teach me how to drown my pain
in the joy of Great Mother’s song.
Teach me to accept with grace the things
I cannot change.
Help me to understand what I truly need,
and what others truly need.
Help me to humbly serve You in those around me.
Show me my job
and assist me to do it fully.

Great Spirit, help me to be the best worker of the Light
You have ever seen!

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Dealing With Pain

Pain is a sign that something is out of balance in our lives.  Mostly this imbalance is something we created, such as holding on to unmet expectations in a relationship, feelings of rejection, betrayal, depression, guilt and shame.   Sometimes our life is out of balance due to circumstances outside of our control, such as a death in the family, loss of employment, fire, flood, or accident.

Whatever the source of the pain, it can be healed.  In order to be healed we have to release our hold on the pain.  Our Master has taught that the only true “sin” on the spiritual path is keeping unpleasant, painful emotions constantly alive in our mind and in our hearts.

Who do you believe is the cause of your troubles? 

  1. Our experiences and the thoughts we create around those experiences are the ultimate cause of our pain.
  2. There is a power in the Universe greater than we are.
  3. That power is within us, as us, and arises from our connection to Life.

The source of all life is Great Spirit.  It is our access to the Great Mind of Life that allows us to create.  This Source, however, only exists.  It is neither good nor bad.  Great Mind has no attachments so we can use that Power any way we want to.  The wise person aligns the inner self with the Light and makes choices to create love, joy, and peace.

Holding onto thoughts when we do not need those thoughts creates burdens and confusion.  But with time and true effort we can jerk our mind away from it’s pain focus back onto the paths that lead to Spirit’s Compassionate and Healing Hear

prayer-on-my-knees4 Great Spirit, I am very good at being confused and in pain.

I have lots of desires
and lots of thoughts
and lots of plans-
And I get very upset when they
do not turn out the way I wanted them too.

I know it would be good
if I just worked on one thing at a time.
If I could manifest what was
most important and let the rest go.

Great Spirit, I want to release to you
my pain and confusion,
my inability to get everything to turn out
the way I intended.

Today help me to start down the road
of true healing.

Help me to forgive myself
for what I did not know.
Teach me how to give and receive
love with an open heart.
And most importantly, Beloved,
give me the courage to heal!