There is a Goal!

May this serve the Highest Good – Amen!

There is a Goal that human beings can aspire to that is in many ways the most legitimate and most challenging of all goals.  It is supremely realistic, workable, feasible.  One need not doubt whether they can reach it or not.  One can proceed with absolute certainly that the fulfillment of the goal is realizable, and it is just a matter of dedication and devotion to it.

The Goal is the Spiritual Goal.  The Spiritual Goal trumps all other types of goals because its fulfillment is present in every moment of life.  Spirituality refers to the essence of life, that which pervades Reality.  Any Goal that has its fulfillment at stake moment-to-moment, consider that to be a spiritual goal.  The Goal could present itself in many different words, as examples: to be happy always, to be a servant of God, to know God, to unconditionally love everyone & everything, to be peaceful always, joyful always, to be my very best, to give my very best to the entire creation, to serve humanity, to be pure of heart, to radiate Love & Peace, to serve the Highest Good, to be good & to do good, to glorify God, to honor the 10 commandments and avoid the 7 deadly sins, to know the Truth, to be fearless and free, to be patient, to be free from anger, to be free from selfishness, to Love, etc.

All the aforementioned goals (or you might call them intentions) can be applied and fulfilled or denied in every moment of life, therefore they can be considered of the Spiritual Goal.  The opportunity is always present, and it refers to the overall context of Reality and to the quality of consciousness and awareness.

“Non-spiritual goals” refer to the content of the world, the world of name and form.  I wouldn’t say there is anything wrong with non-spiritual goals.  The main thing to acknowledge about them is that they are grounded in that which is temporary, so at the most could only really serve to enhance temporary happiness.  The end goal of all goals you could say is the Spiritual Goal of Happiness, Boundless Happiness!  So as all the goals of the content and the world get checked off the list, it becomes increasingly clear that what we’ve really been seeking for the whole time is Happiness, by whatever name we call it.  Then, the Spiritual Goal takes over as the quest for permanent Happiness, independent of the details of the world.

The life path, in terms of goals/intentions/desires, might look something like this…

I want….stuff! I want…money!  I want…a partner!  I want….a family!  I want…more money!  I want…fulfilling work!  I want…to contribute to humanity!  I want…for my family to be happy and healthy!  I want…for all to be happy and healthy!  I want…to be happy always!  I want…to Love everyone and everything!  I want….to know the Truth about Reality!

From the mundane to the ever more subtle and powerful – that is more or less the journey.  Of course, the mundane is also Divine!

What is the point?

To acknowledge that what we’re looking for is something that is already present and available in the present gives us tremendous power and significant in this very moment.  We need not run hither and thither looking for happiness or looking for the fulfillment of our great dreams of life.  The Great Goal of Life is realizable in this moment.  In this moment, one can commune with the Infinite; one can breathe deeply, smile, relax, and feel at ease; one can feel Love and Peace within; one can know that all is well; one can let go and trust completely; one can wish the entire creation well and send it all Love; one can dedicate one’s life to the service of God / humanity – possibilities abound!  Infinite Possibility….

Yes, there is a Goal.  And many have achieved the Goal.  The people who selflessly devoted their entire lives, every moment of their life to the service of God and/or humanity – they realized the Goal, and they lived in a state of consciousness/awareness beyond what is ordinarily experienced – a state ablaze with Love, Light, and Peace.  Abiding in the Presence of Love and Peace, does anything else really matter?  Imagine, experiencing fully the sensation of something like, “I am currently experiencing a state of Absolute, Perfect, Infinite and Eternal Peace.”  In that state, even just experiencing it for an instant, how could anything else compare?

To align our lives with what really matters – with what lasts longer just the physical human body – that is how to live a life filled with Love, significance, Peace, and Happiness.  Dedicating life to the well-being of all and wishing only well for all is what is called being pure of heart – and blessed are the pure in heart!  They shall see God.

With a pure heart, not wanting anything for yourself but for what allows you to be maximally of service to the whole, one frees oneself from all the pettiness and from all the selfishness that leads to suffering and misery.

As the saying goes, “The Dedicated ever enjoy Supreme Peace; therefore, live only to serve.”  Living only to serve, every moment becomes an opportunity.

Let us all dedicate our lives to something greater than just our small, limited, human vessel of flesh and bone.  Surely, we can live for something greater than just satisfying our animal cravings and earning a few dollars.  We can truly be of service every moment by centering ourselves in a pure heart, aligned with a dedicated and devoted spirit, for the welfare of all life in all of its expressions.

We don’t have to perceive separateness.  We can realize the Oneness of all life.  We can see our true Self in all objects, animate and inanimate.  And we can know that which is beyond the visible world.

Mmmm.  The Possibilities!

Go for the Goal!  Always remember it.  The moment and the Great Opportunity is at hand!  This moment, one can realize the Goal, or at least one can make efforts toward it, or one can go in another direction and have another goal…but the goal that is worthy of a capital G Goal, that’s a Goal worthy of devoting your entire life to!

Giving, Giving, Giving, Giving, Giving.

Peace, Peace, Peace

Advertisements

Overcoming Suffering from Relationships

Om!

In service to the Highest Good – Amen!

I dedicate and devote this all to Thee, Oh Lord. Amen.

Having recently closed a relationship which reached the point of Engagement and a clear idea of spending a lifetime together, and continuing to see that person (as we both lived in a relatively small spiritual community) – I’ve certainly felt a fair amount of suffering throughout the process.

What are the misconceptions / false beliefs that perpetuate the suffering?

  • the belief that I need to be in a committed relationship with someone else to be happy (and generally the idea that happiness is outside of myself)
    • thereby experiencing a sense of lack / incompleteness
  • the belief that I am separate from others (and that I am a physical body/mind and therefore need to struggle for survival, compete, etc.)

What are the remedies to the suffering?  What beliefs could heal the suffering?

  • the belief that God provides perfectly every moment – exactly what is best for me and what is best for All.
  • Radical humility.  “All I know is that…I don’t know.”  Divine stupidity is a great gift.  If one really embraces not knowing anything, then the whole thought process can relax, include the thoughts that perpetuate drama and suffering, separateness and selfishness and pettiness, etc.  This can also look like complete faith – God knows, I don’t know.  God is doing everything, I’m not doing anything.  Letting go…
  • Oneness and Allness!  I am one with everyone and everything, and yet also beyond all of it.  The world is like a dream and I am the Dreamer – the eternal witness to the great cosmic show.  Any belief that expands identity to being more than just a temporary, physical, body/mind complex will greatly serve to reduce suffering.  Pretty much all the problems are really the body’s problems – like this problem of relationship is ‘me’ identifying with the body thinking the body needs to be in a relationship.

 

What it comes down to is faith.  Faith, faith, faith.  Faith is something greater than an impermanent human body/mind complex.  Believe in a Power beyond the human and that cares for all humans and all needs and trust in that.  Remain open to its Presence every moment.

True confessions – ‘i’ am writing this as part of a process of healing – as i have been feeling identified with the body and therefore suffering!

Now that I think about it…

Vanity can be a big problem with perpetuating body/mind identification.  Overdoing physical exercise or excessively looking in the mirror and critiquing the human can be a dangerous game and certainly lead to pride, identification with the human, small self-centeredness, petty thinking, and of course – suffering!

As I heard someone speak about faith last name, he emphasized a motto, “Think of others.”  Thinking of others and focusing on serving others is really a great relief.  Thinking of ourselves as this human is a setup for suffering.  At least, if we do think of ourselves as the human, we can think of ourselves as a servant to the All, rather than a selfish cell out to seek gain and pleasure for itself at the expense of others.

Ahh yes, the great saying, “The dedicated ever enjoy Supreme Peace – therefore, live only to serve.”

The solution to so much suffering is just service!  Live to serve and Supreme Peace is close by.  Live to satisfy petty, selfish desires and suffering is surely yours 😉

And, if all this sounds complicated – forget it!

Keep it simple.

Counting blessings is pretty much always a good option.  We can always choose to focus on something to be grateful for and appreciate.

Appreciate what is before you.  It doesn’t even have to feel sincere. Just fake it. “I appreciate this keyboard. I appreciate the screen.  I appreciate this pen. I am grateful for this chair. I am grateful for electricity. I am grateful for the English language.” And so it goes…on and on…why not?  It is better than cultivating thoughts of regret and fear and loss and worry and anxiety 🙂

In times of feeling resentful or feeling like a victim…remember the calling of Jesus:

Love your enemies.  Bless those who curse you.

Why does he say that? Because that’s spiritual life!  Everything is created by God – the sun shines equally on us all.  Spiritual life is about cultivating positive feelings and goodwill toward all – to be free from ill will toward anyone or anything.  Wish everyone and everything only the best.  Condemning and judging people and criticizing is really not worth it.  Don’t squander your energy by focusing on people’s negative qualities.  Focus on the positive.  Look for the good and see the good.  Tune in to the Divine Presence in everyone and everything.  Or, tune in to the great potential of all beings.  Or, tune in to the innocence of us all, and acknowledge that we are all doing the best we can.  Have compassion for people’s suffering, and have compassion for any negativity you might perceive – people are just doing the best they can, and if they knew better they would do better.

Unconditionally and universally loving everyone and everything is not necessarily an easy task, but it is well worth it – for is life not more enjoyable when we are around people we love?  So imagine loving all people and things – then no matter where you are you are surrounded by people and things that you love!  Sounds like a good life to me.

Love, Love, Love.  Have fun.  Enjoy the moment. Don’t get caught!  Mental drama can go on forever – instead just focus on the positive.  Train the mind!  Keep good company.  Dedicate your life to serving the Highest Good and to Love and to Peace- and as often as necessary – re-dedicate each moment to that Pure Intention.  Blessed are the Pure in Heart, for they shall see God.  Continuously offer everything up for the Highest Good.  Be free from selfishness and pettiness.  Just live to serve.  Serve each moment by being with a sincere and pure heart.

Peace, Peace, Peace.

Thank you!

Loving All & Being Loved by All

Om!

For the Highest Good of All – Amen!

Words of wisdom for the day from Sri Swami Satchidananda:

“Ultimately, everyone should love you. Keep that in mind: ‘I will live the kind of life that will make everyone love me, and I will love them.'”

Beautiful!

This leads me to ponder, “How could I live better so that I would be easier to love?”

“What do I do or say or think that would be challenging to love?  What behaviors do I engage in that seem less than loveable?  Like, what do I do that might be considered selfish, mean, cruel, harmful, inconsiderate, etc.?  What do I say that is negative?  What thoughts do I cultivate that are harmful and not full of love?”

Nothing like taking a fearless moral inventory to catalyze higher consciousness and spiritual growth!

How can I live the kind of life that will make everyone love me?  Well, what do I do that leads to some people perhaps not loving me?

Reflecting on some moments in that have perhaps sparked feelings of less than love towards me….

  • Being self-righteous about not conforming to a clothing standard when going out to a fine restaurant with the family during the holidays.  That was fun!  The classic battle of ‘moral superiority.’  God forgive the ego!  If I recall the evening correctly, events prior to that demonstration of moral righteousness included holding resentful thoughts toward a member of the family for lying / wasting food.  Those negative emotions then catapulted into making a scene about a dress code…alas!  The evening turned out okay – but anyway I certainly projected judgment upon someone for lying / wasting food – so in that way I was lacking in loving the other – and then I started a conversation about the dress code and rebelled which seemed to generate lots of unnecessary stress among the family before going out to diner.
    • Solutions?  There is a time for sowing and a time for reaping.  I did not pick a skillful time to have a seemingly significant conversation about the morality behind dress code standards, etc.  Besides, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Or, another way to put it, “A yogi must always be ready to adapt and able to maintain one’s peace while adapting.”  Infinite flexibility!
    • Moreover, letting go of the dualistic sense of right and wrong and the sense of moral superiority would certainly remedy the drama of the situation.  “Judgment is mine,” sayeth the Lord!  Judge not lest ye be not judged.  We really don’t need to ever play the role of judge and jury – we can trust that God will take care of all that.  Really, when we judge we often disturb our peace as well, so it is not worth it.  If anything, when judging, we can also see the innocence of the person and the innocence of the ego – acknowledging that we are all doing the best we can – and there is nothing to condemn.
      • When we really boil down the essence of the problems we have, basically all the problems exist as thoughts alone.  They don’t exist beyond thoughts.  So, if we courageously let go of the vanity of our own thinking, and instead simply let be what is, likely all of our problems with vanish.  No thoughts, no problems.  This isn’t to say we won’t continue to speak and be of great service, but really our service will increase because we’ll be freeing ourselves from the vanity of thinking and instead opening ourselves to be purer channel for Divine Love to flow through us.
      • It requires great dedication, devotion, and faith to let go of the thinking process. Thinking is perhaps the greatest game the ego plays, and the ego operates under the illusion that if it doesn’t think, it will die.  Hence, there is a fear of not thinking.  We think that if we don’t think, we will die.  Yet, truly God takes care of every moment – and if we look honestly at our lives – we can see that our thinking is not the result for our life – but we owe our existence to a Power far beyond our intellectual comprehension.  We can let go and trust completely in that Power that created all things to care for us.  What is the biblical saying?  God takes care of the birds, will he not much more take care of us?  Don’t worry!  Just relax.  Having enough for even just today is a problem!   The moment is complete and perfect; it is only the ego/thinking that suggests otherwise.
  • Another time when I noticed ‘myself’ harboring less-than-loving feelings towards another is when I found out a previous partner of mine was exploring a relationship with someone else.  We were not officially together, but nonetheless this definitely led to feeling some emotional hurt and then also projecting some negativity on the two others involved.
    • For the most part, I feel like I healed the situation on my end by seeing the innocence of all parties involved, by acknowledging the oneness of all parties involved, and also acknowledging how I was projecting happiness on things outside myself which is of course a setup for misery!  I still occasional feel some challenging energy with this 3-person dynamic, and so it is a matter of continuing to practice loving and blessing the people, wishing them well, and aspiring to see the oneness and Divinity in them and in All.  Sometimes directly praying for them and imagining them radiating Love and Peace and Divine Light helps too 🙂

 

I could go on I’m sure with events where I’m not 100% unconditionally loving, but at least for now what seems clear is that the lack of love stems from judgment and a sense of moral superiority / righteousness, which all exists in the realm of thought and perpetuates a sense of separateness, so all that needs to be let go of.

I resonate with the path of non-duality / oneness and acknowledging the Divine Self in everyone and everything, and in that awareness all problems basically dissolve.  Sometimes though, awareness of the unity and oneness can be challenging to align with in which case I find myself mentally taking to the practice of actively praying for others if I catch myself judging them – or just offering up whatever I am experiencing for the Highest Good and devoting my life to that.

So then, ideally the awareness is beyond any sort of thinking and is instead abiding in a consciousness of unity and oneness and the presence of God…but when it is not then actively guiding the thoughts in a prayerful / meditative / devotional way seems to be effective.

And if then working with the thoughts is even too challenging – going for a walk and moving sticks from the road is always a service appreciated by the All. 🙂  Small acts with great Love!  Peel potatoes with Love…that is all that is ever needed.  Just Love!

See the innocence.  See the oneness.  See the Self.  See the Lord!

On the Path to Ever Greater Love for One and All

Om!

In service to the Highest Good – Amen!

The problem?  Mindlessness.

The solution? Mindfulness!

As the great wisdom of Life flows through all mediums, including the TV show the Brady Bunch, at a family meal prayer, “Help us to ever be mindful of our blessings.”

“Life is suffering.  Thus, the Buddha recommends Enlightenment.”

According to the above quote, what might Enlightenment be, or what might it result in?  Freedom from suffering!

Whatever reduces our suffering is a step in the right direction.

What seem to be the sources of suffering?

In a word, selfishness.   In another word, ignorance.  To expand, we might say anger, disease, vanity, judgment.  Projecting happiness and value on things outside ourselves – due to clinging to an illusion that suggests we are separate being and are lacking and therefore need things.  The basic illusion/ignorance seems to be separateness and therefore lack/scarcity, which leads us to experiencing fear and insecurity.  With a sense of insecurity, we then act selfishly to gain for ourselves, perhaps at the cost of harming others, which then leads to a more subtle level of suffering – emotional/mental guilt, shaming, etc.

So then, to transcend suffering requires an elevation of consciousness.  What we are going for permanent reductions in suffering, not just the temporary quick fixes that we might get from winning the lottery, entering a new relationship, eating a delicious cake, losing five pounds, etc.  The deep answer to our suffering is not on the superficial level of content.  The answer resides in context – a shift in context and consciousness can truly heal and transform our experience of life and free us from suffering.

Solutions in content don’t last, do they?  If we somehow start earning more money, what are the chances that we won’t be satisfied then and will still want even more money?  No amount of money solves the spiritual dilemma we face.  Spiritual solutions to discovering a sense of unconditional peace and happiness must come on the spiritual plane, which is the plane of context rather than content.

Context is similar to attitude.  In any moment, we can choose our attitude.  We cannot necessarily change external circumstances, but we can change our internal approach to the external circumstances.  We can see the peanut butter sandwich before us and think nothing of it, or we can see it as a divine gift and something to be grateful for.  Every moment, whatever we’re aware of, we can paint the picture of our world with colors of love, appreciation, admiration, gratitude, even kindness, reverence, and compassion.  We can even look at a tree and feel grateful for the presence of the tree – no conditions necessary.  Just for something to be with us in the present moment is more than enough of a reason to express gratitude for it.

To be conscious and aware of anything is an incredible experience, and every moment the content before us offers us the contextual opportunity to bask in gratitude, appreciation, reverence, compassion, or whatever other positive emotion we’d like to enjoy.

We need not be a victim to external circumstances and suffer.  When it is cold outside, we can be grateful for the feeling of the cold.  There is no need to project negativity on the cold and judge it is as bad and whither away our present moment by wishing we were in Hawaii instead.

If expressing gratitude for some aspect of the experience of the moment seems difficult, there is the approach, “Well…this could be worse.”  If being grateful for feeling hungry and cold and sick seems difficult, rest assured, “It could be worse.”  And then, you can be grateful that the circumstances are not worse.

Recently, I’ve noticed a selfish desire arise repeatedly and have been blessed to experience the suffering that follows.  To have the awareness to witness the desire, see the selfishness behind it, and then experience the suffering is pretty awesome.  Many scriptures and great teachers speak to selfishness as the cause of suffering, so it is not like I’m experiencing anything new, but it is somewhat refreshing to be able to confirm the teaching by direct experience, even if it does mean that I’m experiencing suffering.  To witness the suffering though, and realize the validity of the teaching regarding the connection between selfishness and suffering, is quite refreshing and even comical.  It’s like the Buddha tells you, “Selfish desire will cause you to experience suffering,” and then you go and cultivate selfish desires and experience suffering – to witness that is funny!  And to think how ignorant/arrogant we can be to not respect the words of the Buddha enough to fully practice them – but still having the need to experience the truth of the teaching directly.  The Buddha tells me I’ll suffer if I cultivate selfish desires, yet I do it anyway, and sure enough, there is the suffering – can I really complain?

So then, what is the illusion around selfishness?

Selfishness stems from the false belief that we are separate individuals, that I am a separate individual from you.  Additionally, there is the false belief that I am inherently lacking and incomplete and therefore must acquire and gain things externally in order to reach a sense of satiation / completeness.  Of course, the external gain that leads to satiation does not last for long, hence the cycle of feeling lack to satiation to lack again perpetuates, and suffering and selfishness do not stay away for long.

What beliefs might free us from selfish desires – free us from our illusory sense of separateness and/or our illusory sense of lacking and needing things outside of ourselves?

A few ideas, realized as a living reality, fully embraced in every moment of life – will greatly reduce if not totally eliminate the suffering:

  • Everything is complete and perfect as it is.  There is no lack or scarcity.  All is abundant.  As Psalm 23 puts it, “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all I need.” (or, “I lack nothing.”)
    • This is spoken of in eastern traditions as the concept of Wu Wei: in doing nothing, one accomplishes everything.  Truly, there is nothing that needs to be done, and there is nowhere to go.
    • This can also be understood as affirming the perfection, omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence of God.  That God is the Supreme Reality, and that God is Love and Peace and nothing else.  Divinity is Infinite Love!  Therefore, what could be possibly be needed or lacking?  Only ignorant thinking would suggest there is anything lacking.  This is like truly having complete and total faith and trust in God.  Fear and faith do not go together. If one has total faith, there is absolute trust in God, and awareness that God is providing perfectly, every moment; therefore, one does not have to fear or exert self-will to meet one’s needs – rather, God provides.
  • Affirming the Oneness of All That Is.  Or even affirming that you are beyond anything that can be seen or heard – you are, in fact, invisible.  This is a more abstract approach, known as Jnana Yoga. It is a massive shift in identity, spoken of in the Bhagavad Gita, as well as by sages like Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj in the classic text I am That, and by Sri Ramana Maharshi.
    • This approaches is a great expansion and transformation of consciousness.  While the first approach still generally holds to some sense of identity with being a human (body/mind complex) this approach takes one beyond all the names and forms of the world, back to the Source of Life and Existence, and suggest that one identify with That.  Realize the Oneness with the Source of All Life and Existence, before all worlds existed, and the world as ‘most people’ know it reveals itself to be a dream, and one is more like the Dreamer of the dream rather than anything perceived in the dream.

….

Given the two above approaches to reduces suffering – which are essentially contexts to adapt – how does one go about adapting such contexts to pervade one’s day-to-day?

Faith is required.  Also required is a willingness to surrender all desires and fears.  A willingness to identify as the witness/observer rather than being the experiencer.

In two words – keys to great spiritual progress are earnestness and vigilance.  To be earnest is to be sincere. If your heart is in it, you will inevitably step forward.  If you are vigilant – constantly watchful – you can remain the witness when temptations arises and resist the urge to compulsively act on them.  To have the heart and mind committed to the path will advance one along the path.

What are the temptations?  What are some of the obstacles to progress?

Generally, think of the ego as the obstacle, and the ego is constantly playing the game of seeking subjective pleasure and gain.  This can look like the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth.  Let’s look at each one briefly.

  • Pride is taking credit for things – which when examined reveals itself as absurd.  Can you even take credit for the body breathing, circulating blood, or digesting food?  The antidote to pride is humility and gratitude.  To stay humble and grateful, whenever someone offers praise, a simple response is, “Thank you,”  and if feeling particularly devotional, “Hallelujah!” or “All Praise be to the Lord!” Really, the power that moves the body and mind – how could we take credit for such power?  When we give credit for our successes to the Great Beyond, we stay humble.  This also helps protect us in cases of failure, for the failure too we can attribute to the Great Beyond and there is no need to wallow in guilt and shame about failures.
  • Greed is wanting more than we need, or just simply wanting.  Greed stems from projecting lack on our present scenario.  It likely also arises from clinging to bodily life and having all unfulfilled selfish/petty desires based around satisfying the cravings of the flesh.  Antidotes for greed including expressing gratitude for what you do have.  Also, expanding awareness of the impermanence of the things and the fleeting nature of the content of reality can help reduce greed.  Know that one of the primary spiritual illusions to transcend is the idea that happiness is outside of ourselves.  Realize the source of joy and happiness is within and what is there to be greedy about?  Affirm the perfection of Reality and realize there is nothing lacking.
  • Lust.  Greed might be considered wanting material things, whereas lust is wanting sexual gain.  They are not really so different. But let’s just say – from personal experience – I found lust relatively easy to keep at bay when material desires were also reduced.  There was a period of time when I intentionally lived without using any money, in a way disabling myself from acting upon any possibilities of greed, therefore I didn’t experience much of it.  And, because I was not using money, I did not feel like I was possibly in a position to provide for another person, and therefore lust did not arise.  Now, however, having regular income and a savings, I can say that lust is more of a reality.  Because of the material gain/accumulation, it allows for that next level of gain which would be partnership/relationship, the negative connotation of which is lust.  I just mention this to suggest that perhaps there is a great logic to the order of the seven deadly sins (to be expanded upon later, by God’s Grace).
    • Antidotes for lust: dedicate sexual energy and desire to the Highest Good of all Creation, to the benefit of humanity and to the glory of God.  This is what Mahatma Gandhi might refer to as channeling kundalini.  Also, physical exercise is a great way to channel the energy – and perhaps a more advanced way would be to sit in meditation and prayer with it.  Other antidotes – from a male perspective – are to look at women’s feet, rather than their face, and see the Divine Mother.  This is a beautiful practice that I found useful while living in New York City and traveling on the subway.  Sitting on the subway, seeing all the feet, with the gentle rocking of the train car, I felt practically in the womb of the Divine Mother – totally nurtured and protected.  Another antidote: see lust for what it is – a fleeting desire for sense pleasure – it will go away quickly – it is just a passing thing, like a cloud in the sky.  It is really just energy and you can use it in all kinds of positive ways.  Aspire to be a more advanced being than the wild animals that simply eat and procreate and run around – the human being has far greater capacities!  Master the animal instincts and evolve beautifully.
  • Anger generally arises when selfish desires are not met.  Keep in mind selfish desires are really desires of the body and basically arise when we identify with the body and mind.  Once again, a Jnana Yoga approach and realizing that one is far more than simple a human body/mind can remedy anger.  Also, being spiritually-oriented, an antidote to anger can be to remember that our primary service is remaining peaceful and loving, and by being peaceful and loving, we can then share peace and love with the entire creation.  We cannot give what we do not have – so primarily we must have a sense of peace and love, and then we can give it.  When we are angry, we don’t really have anything to give – and we are clearly just caught in some selfish desires, wanting, cravings being thwarted, etc.  Anger can really be painful, and a great Catholic approach to handling negative emotions like this is to “Offer it up.”  Dedicate the negative energy to the benefit of the whole, and maybe even channel the energy with physical exercise, singing, dancing, reading spiritual texts, etc.  Shift the consciousness out of the bottomless pit.
  • Gluttony.  The tongue!  “The spiritual journey begins when one tames the tongue,” or is it, “When one tames the tongue, Enlightenment is not far away,” words from Sri Swami Satchidananda.  The tongue is quite a powerful tool.  It is used for eating and for speech, input and output – so to master the tongue is quite a feat.  Gluttony and lust are very similar – the craving for a sensory pleasure.  So to have a feeling of lust come up and not satisfy it through eating is quite impressive.  On the other hand, I haven’t experienced feelings of gluttony arise and then quell them by sexual expression – but maybe that happens?  My guess is the expression of lust is ‘more reprehensible’ than gluttony and therefore gluttony is a common way of balancing lust – replacing one sense craving with another.  Anyway, to be free from both lust and gluttony is the ideal.  The general path is reducing the projections of happiness to less and less – until one realizes fully that nothing external brings any real happiness – and that the source of happiness is purely within.
  • Envy.  Envy arises because one identifies with a physical body and mind, separate from all others.  In contrast, a sage can look around the room and say, “All this is Me and Mine.  I am the world.  The world is Me.”  From that perspective, what is there to envy?  Hence, the Jnana Yoga awareness is a great way to reduce envy.  See yourself in all, and all in you, and there is no envy.  See yourself as the other, enjoying the piece of cake, or even enjoying the conversation with the beautiful person, and there is nothing to envy.  You are That!
    • Or, from the faith perspective – remember that God is providing perfectly, and only gives you what is best for you and exactly what you need.  Envy arises when we forget this and feel that we are lacking.  Remember the perfection and completeness!
  • Sloth.  Hmm.  Yes I think this one afflicts me daily.  Waking up in the morning – why the slowness and resistance?  There is a sense of contentment with how things are – and no need to rush and do things.  Yet, the spiritual path is about moderation and also discipline.  To think of it simply, it is about doing things that ordinary animals do not do.  Of course, the Dalai Lama has spoken highly of the merits of sleep, so it is not about depriving oneself of sleep or rest.  Rather, have guidelines, and beware of times when the animal ego attempts to hijack the higher capacities.
    • As an example, just this morning I lied in bed for a bit longer than usual – yet I attempted prayer and meditation during that period – rather than simply letting the mind wander and think about whatever it wants.  That being said, sloth is not just about physical laziness but also mental laziness.  If the mind is actively engaged in spiritual practice, that seems to be a state free from sloth, regardless of the shape the body is in.
    • Sloth, then, might really have to do more with the mental than the physical.  Sitting and gossiping is sloth, whereas sitting and philosophizing or discussing spiritual texts is not.  Lying in bed and daydreaming might be sloth, whereas lying in bed and repeating a mantra is not.  Lying on the couch eating chips and watching the news might be sloth, whereas being on the couch and reading scripture or mindfully enjoying a cup of tea is not.
    • Antidotes for sloth would then include mental exercise.  Get the mind in an uplifted energy field – the body will follow as need.  Read spiritual texts, listen to spiritual teachers, prayer and meditate, or at least exercise, stretch, do service, give abundantly of yourself, smile and laugh and play and have fun.  Remember feeling happy and peaceful is a service to everyone and everything.

Om!

So then, what really matters?

What really matters?

What is Real?  What is Eternal?  What is Never-Changing?

I hear that progress on the spiritual path is really quite simple.  It is a matter of having faith and sticking to one practice.  One doesn’t need to read a lot of books, but rather just simply implement one idea and practice it all the time in all conditions.  To be kind to everyone and everything no matter what – that is a great practice.  It need not be more complicated than that.  Of course, the intellect loves ideas and thinking, etc., so we occasionally read and talk and play those intellectual games.  Just know that spiritual growth is not so much a matter of learning anything new, but really unlearning.  Unlearn the idea that you are a separate being, unlearn the idea that reality is imperfect and incomplete and lacking, and unlearn the idea that you really need to do anything, but rather you can just be loving, and everything will take care of itself, moment by moment.

Unlearn. Undo.

Love 🙂

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti