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9 April 2016 4 Comments

A Spiritual Poem

A Spiritual Poem

Below is poem I wrote on spiritual retreat.

The word “Hu” is a name for God in the most intimate and personal but not embodied form. I used it as “Who” in my poem:

It snowed when I wasn’t looking.
I emerged from sleep to inhale the morning,
sunny and smiling; all innocent.
Birds whistled as if nothing
had happened. Hu spoke that into Being—
and why does it surprise?

Earth pushes mountains from her belly.
Planets whirl. Continents and cathedrals
crumble to Ether through a long breath out both nostrils.

Hu is watching?

In the heart of God I watch the universe
recreate Itself as breath returns.
Infinite points of frozen light,
I swirl through space, interlace vast
limbs of pine and softly settle,
a blanket of white, melting into Service.

P1000528

18 March 2016 4 Comments

Manage Your Energy Part 76: Creating Your Reality?

Manage Your Energy Part 76: Creating Your Reality?

“No sooner does man become the creator of the drama of his dream state through the projection of his dormant impressions, than this very projection of his own dormant impressions reflects his past as if it were really his present, and man, finding himself involved in this drama, gets absorbed in his past while still maintaining his past to be his present.”  ~Meher Baba

This quote may initially seem convoluted, while it is actually quite lucid. It is structured in the same way the energy kind of bends when we are DOING what the quote is about. That energy structure makes the description more vivid, once we can wrap our perception around it.

Perceiving this evokes some of the elements of looking at the bottom half of your arm and hand under water. You see the illusion of disconnection between body and arm as the image is displaced by the view through water. The hand seems to be the wrong size and angle. It’s a bit confusing. At the same time you can SENSE P1120995that your arm and hand are in correct relationship with your body.

When we are involved in our pasts and taking them to be the present, a certain amount of distortion of the current reality occurs. This displaced reality often feels normal or continuous. We might say this is what happens in a dream; things that are bizarre when awake seem normal. Unlike correctly sensing that your arm in water is still straight and continuous, the illusory, shifted past-in-present can be a compelling “reality,” displacing the fresh, clean, present moment and casting that awareness into the background of perception.

As we begin to wake up into Presence, we may begin to notice when we are becoming absorbed in the past, replaying things that happened before and projecting them out like overlays upon the faces and events around us.

Have you noticed yourself doing this?

Re-live your awareness in that moment. Note that you can tell The Observer part from the parts of yourself, and of your experience, that you are observing.

What do you notice about when you are present to this awareness?

25 February 2016 0 Comments

The Relative Value of Religious or Spiritual Practice

The Relative Value of Religious or Spiritual Practice

This excellent quote on the relative value of religious or practice nicely summarizes the theme of my last few posts:

“Often the aspirant is concerned in the early phases of his awakening by his attitude towards established religions and their rituals. All of these have a tendency to encourage the spirit of love and worship, and as such they help to a limited extent in wearing out the ego-shell in which human consciousness is caught.  But if they are followed unintelligently and mechanically, the inner spirit of love and worship dries up.  Then they harden the ego-shell instead of wearing it out.

Rituals and ceremonies cannot carry one very far towards the path, and if they are unintelligently followed they bind as much as any other unintelligent action.  In fact, when they are deprived of all inner life they are in a sense more dangerous than other unintelligent action, Version 2because they are pursued in the belief that they help towards God-realization.” ~Meher Baba.

Steady and consistent practice of a discipline has multiple advantages in creating rhythm, momentum, focus, and depth. It can form positive neural networks that persist and assist us for extended periods of time.

The quote is not intended to discourage spiritual practice, but to point out that awareness, engaged personal expression, and open, intelligent application are essential elements.

Whether a particular action or mindset serves development depends upon where we are along the path. Intelligently engaged action furthers. Taking an aware and intentional breath in the line at the grocery store furthers Awakening more than habitual, unengaged spiritual or religious practice. Fully engaged, Present practice aids development significantly.

The benefits of religious or spiritual practice depend as much upon how we bring ourselves to it as on the particulars of the practice. It could be argued that one action, engaged with Presence, has no greater or lesser merit than another, except as a personal preference. This is more true in abstract theory than in practice. In life, learning to engage ways that express our own Highest Option in the particular moment at hand is ideal. Doing so is a function of inner Guidance.

Have YOU ever felt that the way you are approaching religion or spirituality was keeping you asleep instead of waking you up?

Did you find a more alive and satisfying way to bring yourself to it, or move on to something else?

12 February 2016 5 Comments

What is Genuine Love?

What is Genuine Love?

“How few understand what love really is, and how it arises in the human heart. It is so frequently equated with good feelings toward others, with benevolence or nonviolence or service.  But these things in IMG_0108themselves are not love.  Love springs from awareness.  It is only inasmuch as you see someone as he or she really is here and how and not as they are in your memory or your desire or in your imagination or projection that you can truly love them, otherwise it is not the person that you love but the idea that you have formed of this person, or this person as the object of your desire not as he or she is in themselves.

“The first act of love is to see this person or this object, this reality as it truly is. And this involves the enormous discipline of dropping your desires, your prejudices, your memories, your projections, your selective way of looking . . . a discipline so great that most people would rather plunge headlong into good actions and service than submit to the burning fire of this asceticism. When you set out to serve someone whom you have not taken the trouble to see, are you meeting that person’s need or your own?” ~ Father Anthony de Mello

Contrast this understanding of genuine love with your conditioning about what it means to be loving.

What do you discover about yourself?

5 February 2016 0 Comments

Corrective Insights About Being “Religious” Post

Corrective Insights About Being “Religious” Post

A friend wrote the commentary, below, on my last post, and another friend shared an insight about the topic. I appreciate and welcome these loving and expansive viewpoints, and would like to share them:

“My religious conservative family in Arkansas and many conservatives I know abhor the word spiritual. It has been constructed as the other, much like the word liberal. Folks like this would say they are religious (period) and are offended by the term spiritual (again, think liberal). To the religious, there are specific forms of practice and these forms are required to be called a person of faith.

I grew up in that world. It worked well for me when it worked, and there came a time in my life when everything I had been taught fell apart. But for the rest of my family, it did not fall apart for them. It still works and be careful, because they have experiences of their faith. Experiences, just like Sufis have.IMG_0261 So you cannot divide believers from mystics around experiences. They both have experiences of their faith but they come to them through different means. Both are valid, even if I do not understand how it works for others who are not like me.”

Since thought and insight cannot themselves be Truth—which is ineffable and cannot be rendered into words—every insight opens itself to what is called “a corrective.” A corrective is another insight or truth that does not diminish the first, but augments and modifies it in an important ways, increasing perspective.

It was my intention to stimulate inquiry into the way rigidity of thought can make us uncomfortable directly exploring the Greater Whole. I like my friend’s comment because it makes my own thinking more flexible and comprehensive. It decreases the inadvertent “other” in my previous post.

A few reflections:

—Hypocrisy comes in both spiritual and religious flavors, as do all human issues.
—Superficiality and rigidity have many different types of packaging.
—Dedication to depth and direct exploration of personal experience are more likely to lead to growth than hand-me-down beliefs we do not actively engage through life experience, no matter what we label our experiences or call our belief systems.
—Either/or thinking limits us and exacerbates “other.”
—When there is an “other” group, each group is likely to project what we don’t like in our own group onto the “other,” just as individuals project inner material that is difficult to own onto other people.

The second friend with whom I discussed my last post shared another valuable insight. He said that some people who become “religious,” in the sense of having a rigid and codified way of managing reality, have emerged into this way of being only after living in unmanageable chaos. In this case, sorting reality into manageable categories is a big life improvement. This is one reason people may go from drugs to Jesus.

It is important to allow our beliefs to be flexible, to reach for experience, and to allow our experience to change as our hearts continue to unfold. Then again, we can only start where we are. Rigidity may compensate for fear, overwhelm, uncertainty, or shame.

Behavior and ways of thinking that are an advantage for some are severely limiting for others. The hermit crab needs a shell that is not too cramped and not too big to get around and stay safe. We are like hermit crabs in the way we view and take on life. We cast off beliefs that are too tight and take on the next bigger size, only to jettison that one as we continue to grow.

Whatever perspective we maintain, broadening it is of spiritual benefit—but we can only do that when and as we are able to do so and remain relatively stabile. Maintaining compassion is more important than maintaining any particular point of view.

When you are set in a particular view, what makes that view resistant to change?

How is this resistance structured inside you?

29 January 2016 2 Comments

What Does it Mean to Be “Religious”?

What Does it Mean to Be “Religious”?

I have a friend who uses the word “religious” differently than most people do. At first I had trouble understanding what she meant. She is a self-aware therapist, a shaman, and a highly insightful elder. I have been contemplating what she means when she describes someone this way—particularly those who are not involved in or interested in religions. Through my meditations on it, I have come to find her use of the term enlightening.

Let’s unpack what she is describing:

Spiritual people who are comfortable with the universal energetics and insights that underlie and lead to the development of religions are not “religious” in the sense I am about to describe–and probably already understand.

The word catholic means “broad-based, diverse and liberal” when it is not capitalized. It is used largely to refer to a person’s tastes. The same word refers to the Catholic religion when capitalized. Similarly, my use of “religious” here is like an antonym or opposite for catholic. It refers to tastes or habits of mind that are narrow, based on either-or thinking, and rigid. In this case “religious” specifically refers to IMG_1056belief that is mind-based, garnered from something one has been told to believe, instead of upon direct personal experience.

Here is an example: Someone I know was listening to a transformational speaker and became fixated on the fact that the speaker mentioned that he likes a particular country. Instead of paying attention to the transformative value of the speaker’s offering, she went off on a mental tangent, judging him for supposedly tolerating atrocities she associates with that country. Obviously she had no way to know the speaker’s standpoint on the problems. This thought-based, emotional reaction was irrelevant to the main thrust of the talk.

The content of the talk applied directly to life issues she was too fearful to take on. In this incident, judging the speaker and taking attention away from what was being said constituted:

–a defense, preventing insight from getting in
–a way to stay stuck, avoiding life change
–a conceit, owing to the use of moral superiority to hide behind

We cannot say someone is “religious” based on one incident, any more than you can say someone is Catholic if they attend one Christmas Mass. The habit of thought I am talking about is consistent. It is a defense against insight.

Implications of “religious” and characteristics of people the term fits:

–narrowness gussied up as idealism or Rightness
–judgment of other people under the veil of moral superiority
–black and white thinking
–trying to navigate life from a set of rules instead of sensing what is going on and making a fresh and principled response

Let me unpack this in more detail: Unfounded, mind- or belief-based, idealism is “religious.” It is unfounded on experience, impractical, unpracticed, or even unpracticable in actual life. Movements or political actions based on concepts that spring from judgments, reactions, and suppressed personal emotions create, at best, ancillary problems. This can be seen as a naive attempt to solve a problem without appreciating the context in which the problem exists. I will skip making an example here to avoid inadvertently stirring up reactivity, taking those who most need to hear this off on a distracting tangent.

From the perspective of learning personal balance by working with the Elements, being “religious” can be described as: too much Air (thought), heated up by Fire (passion), in the absence of adequate Water (emotion—this kind of reactivity is out of touch with personal emotion and uses reactivity as a substitute), with the Element of Earth being both deficient and stuck (Earth represents grounding in reality. When it is stuck, people become rigid and resistant.).

From another point of view, being “religious” is almost the same as being controlling. The person is seeking security and stability by being Right. Like all psychological defenses, this behavior protects the person from insight and change until he or she is ready and able to face life’s paradoxes and inconsistencies more directly.

A lot of people who are spiritual dislike anything religious because they lump it in with the “religious.”

Similarly, many good hearted people resist spirituality because they associate it with control issues and hypocrisy, including wars and outright abuse, supposedly founded on religions. Those who have openly explored numerous religions understand that the universal and spiritual heart of each religion stems from something lovely. The “religious,” unable to grasp the heart of it, become fanatic and sometimes perpetrate upon others. Again, that is a conceit and a defense.

None of us are totally free from limited thinking or judging others. Excessive resistance to religion can show a “religious” reaction toward those who are religious. :)

People being people, there is no group anywhere that does not contain individuals who are “religious.” Wherever we have beliefs, we have people who grasp them with their minds and become passionate, without yet being able to live these beliefs from day to day. This is a call for compassion.

It serves us to look inside and see where we are being “religious” ourselves.

What are YOU “religious” about?

How does this play out in your life?

What persons or groups show up as “other” when you hold this view?

22 January 2016 4 Comments

Barriers

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers

within yourself that you have built against it.  ~ Rumi

 

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1 January 2016 4 Comments

Managing Your Energy Part 72: The Big Question About Spiritual Unity

Managing Your Energy Part 72: The Big Question About Spiritual Unity

Underlying some of the distress that can accompany intermediate personal and spiritual development is the following situation:

As we become more able to experience Unity, we may be treated as “other” by those who cling to the confines of what they can categorize and define. Those who cannot see where we are moving from, because it is outside of their experience, tend toIMG_0070 make up something they understand, or feel unsettled.

If being seen as other bothers us, we will be inclined to perceive those who ‘other’ us as other. This disrupts our current potential to experience Unity. It is on us, therefore, to be able to accept being othered so we do not other others.

How do we manage to see those who other us as ourselves, yet maintain the boundaries required to establish and maintain a spiritual resonance that invites the experience of Unity?

Do YOU ever experience being “othered”?

Please share your personal reflections on the topic.

 

25 December 2015 6 Comments

You Do Not Deserve God’s Love ;)

You Do Not Deserve God’s Love  ;)

We have it backwards: “You don’t get love by being good, you get good by being love.” ~TD

Issues about whether or not we deserve love are relics from childhood. Divine Love is not earned. Some might call it a birthright. I agree—but with prejudice. “Birthright” language evokes entitlement, which is often toxic. It also presupposes that we are separate from Source. Having the right to something brings Cosmic Teaup the sense of not having it, and having to demand it.

But where would we demand Love from? This again smacks of childhood wounding.

From an energy perspective, to invite higher Love we need to resonate with it. To resonate with Divine Love we become it. This means finding, sensing and feeling the quality of such Love inside—and amplifying it. Doing this is an act of creation. This does not mean it relies on fantasy. Fantasy is a sidetrack. The path is to locate the resonance of Love inside by learning to focus and call it forth from within. Then we blow on that like an ember. This takes spiritual work. Anything that stands in the way must be embraced—but not allowed to stand as a distraction.

When we have something, we can give it away. If we do not have it, it is not ours. Having Love means receiving it first. When we seek that in other people we are bound to be disappointed, as we probably were in childhood.

We do need to generate love for ourselves—but we need to catch the perfume or resonance of it somewhere in order to really grasp just what it is we are seeking. Finding Source can be very abstract. Most of us need one or more human role models to get a sense of how to ‘run’ that Love in our bodies.

The role model we choose is less important than learning to bring forth Love. Since I am writing this on Christmas eve, I would be remiss not to say that Christ could be one such model. Owing to various conceptions and experiences, that name aggravates some people, and many have belief systems that cause them to recoil from religion.

A current of Love and truth underlie and run through religions, but codes of belief do not in themselves produce the miracle called Love. Whether or not we are attracted to one or more religions, we take great benefit in identifying someone, somewhere, some time, who represents to us the possibility of being a human who is capable of experiencing and expressing the vibration of Divine Love. The word “God” can be too abstract, and also laden with freight. “Source” is abstract as well.

From where do we receive the impressions that stimulate in us true inspiration?

This is a wonderful question to ponder in this inward time of year, when we long to bring forth true joy, blessing and generosity.

Ideal Love will be a little bit different for different individuals, depending exactly which vibration of the rainbow of all love is key for that mind, heart, and soul to take the next step toward becoming it oneself. The being, saint, prophet, person, spiritual teacher, or element that inspires us may even change as we develop. It is important to learn to identify and allow our hearts to be impressed (like soft clay) by real Love when we see it, and to own as our privilege in being human, our right to enjoy and express that Love.

Having God’s love (change the g-word if it bugs you) means having it flow through us to others and into the world. It is not something we earn and then receive like an award for being a self or being good. It is something we cultivate and practice over many years or even lifetimes. Seeking to GET it enhances ego issues about deserving. We get more of it by giving. I am not talking about over-giving, driven by old wounds, I am talking about expressing from your heart.

No matter what is going on with us it is okay to allow Divine Love to come though us. If this depends on mood or being in a particular way, we will withhold it. When we let Love touch us despite our shortcomings it will help us to move beyond them, gently over time. Even if we do not move beyond them, our lives will have meaning and value because we have been vehicles for Love. There are no prerequisites. Concentration, attention and intention invite it. Noticing and making room for it when it comes helps sustain it. These are aids. There are no prerequisites.

Please feel free to comment.

I send you love in this traditional time of calling forth Light.

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10 October 2015 0 Comments

Managing Your Energy, Part 64: The Inner Mechanics of Forgiveness

Managing Your Energy, Part 64: The Inner Mechanics of Forgiveness

P1070144“The first step toward forgiveness is to forget.” ~ Inayat Khan

“That is to say, remove all remembrance of the act from the mind. The one who has done wrong does this best by a complete change of attitude, so great a change that the mind will not again succumb to a similar temptation, will not permit the ego to sway it in the wrong direction. Those who have been wronged should steel themselves against being wronged again. In the first stage, one completely erases all recollection from the mind or ceases to regard the deed as an evil one–especially if one has learned a living lesson through the experience. This prepares one for the higher condition which is not to be insulted, not be wronged or hurt by another. This shows real spiritual advancement on the part of a person, that he or she is not affected or harmed by the acts, thoughts, or words of another.” ~ Murshid Samuel Lewis

The second quote is Murshid Sam’s commentary on Inayat Khan’s quote. I would like to share my reflections of them:

–This practice requires being in several internal places at the same time; able to be in touch with negative emotion without being run by it, so as to pick the Highest Option.

–Steeling oneself from being wronged again is an interesting construct. Paradoxically, doing this requires memory. This quote is like a tongue twister for the mind. How do we steel ourselves against being wronged? Doing this requires correct assessment of the situation, personal responsibility without blame, an intelligent readjustment to circumstances via a change in behavior, and the memory and mastery to maintain this adjustment going forward.

This being done, it is possible to “forget” the negative impact that occurred, knowing one has taken action to prevent it from occurring again. As we practice this we are moving toward a state of clear observation and understanding of the actual capacities of others, from which we are not likely to be surprised or offended by what they do. Once we remove any behavior on our own part that invites an inappropriate response, they do what they do because of themselves, not because of us. When we become fully responsible for our responses and vulnerabilities we see what others do without taking it personally and are less apt to feel harmed, or to place ourselves in positions in which harm may occur.

–When open-heartedness outpaces personal mastery, we find ourselves forgiving without learning how to keep from being wronged. The wounding that sustains this condition becomes circular as we place ourselves in situations or fail to support ourselves adequately and become wounded again and again. Intelligently managing this wounding can open the heart. Inability to do so leads to the perceived need to hold on to and remember what has wounded us, in an attempt to avoid further wounding. Turning painful episodes into living lessons breaks this circle, making it safe to forget and making our pain serve spiritual and emotional growth.

–Think of “forgetting” like this: Suppose you have something important on your list of things to do. Knowing it has yet to be done makes it stick in your mind. Once you have accomplished it, you can forget it because it is done and in the past. You know you have done it, yet it is empty of charge.

–How do we cease to regard as evil something that caused us harm? We may practice with less charged issues to learn this. By seeing into and accepting the human motivations that drive another person’s behavior we release judgment. We do not then view such behavior as ideal, but this can release the intensity of the charge we carry about it. When we recognize such motivations clearly we trust ourselves to avoid being harmed and our charge lessens further.

–When we have done wrong ourselves, making a clear distinction between our ideals–the Highest Option–and the dictates of ego initiates change of attitude. Engaging our hearts with our ideals and using positive remorse without guilt helps to realign intention. We release any claims we hold against ourselves when we are certain that we will not do the same thing again.

How do YOU manage forgiveness?

What does it take to be around people whose behavior is offensive without taking harm?