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Let's keep it simple! Love, Love, Love. Peace! Love, Love, Love :-) Oh, and, Hallelujah! Gloria in Excelsis Deo :-)

The Glories of the Present Moment

“The Sound of God is Silence.” – Dr David. R Hawkins

Thoughts…how troublesome thoughts can be.

What are thoughts all about, anyway?

In the tradition of the Yoga Sutras, there are 5 types of thoughts: thoughts about right knowledge, about wrong knowledge, about verbal delusion / imagination, about memories, and ‘about’ sleep. That’s it! Moreover, all thoughts also fall into two categories: painful or painless.

How often do we allow ourselves to dwell on painful thoughts? And why would we subject ourselves to such events?

And…I believe in at least one school of Buddhism, thoughts are placed into three categories: those of the past, those of the present, and those of the future (i.e. ‘imagination’ since no such future could possibly guaranteed ;-))

So…looking at the 5 categories and the 2 categories of thought from the yogic tradition and the 3 categories from the Buddhist tradition…safe to say — at least for me! – I would like my thoughts to fall into the 3 categories: right knowledge, painless, and present.

Thus spawns the some of the beautiful practices of the Zen Buddhist mindfulness tradition.

“Breathing in, I know i am breathing in. Breathing out, I smile.”

Simple practices like that – so beautiful!

There is so much beauty before us in every moment, if only we can give attention to it instead of the wandering thoughts about the past, about the imaginary future, and so on.

Quite the paradox…that it is difficult to live in the present. When really that is all there is!
Odd that the mind would resist focusing on the present…
perhaps because it identifies with a separate animal that fears for its own survival and needs to acquire all kinds of stuff in order to survive.

Yea…if I identified with an animal body that is born and will die I guess I would be afraid a lot too and probably do everything I could to acquire and gain as much as I could and plan for the future…

Nothing with acquiring things and planning for the future, either — just that some actions taken on behalf of our human animal bodies might really lead to more pain & suffering than anything else. Any action taken with neglect toward the Present Moment misses an opportunity for enhanced awareness. The joy is in the journey, so they say.

What’s the point?

Well…every morning when I meditate, there are several sorts of prayers I say at the start and the beginning of meditation — like saying that I most definitely want to be reminded me of frequently.

And I’ve been thinking about adding a new one, because I sense I am missing out on the glories of the Present Moment and would like to live more fully in it, basking in appreciation and reverence for life that is here & now, always & forever.

What is it that draws me away from the glories?
Desires!
Yes…wanting…can be so painful.
Rightfully so, because on some level, any wanting is like a denial of the perfection of Creation as is…so if we are going to live in denial of the perfection of this Moment…then sure suffering is basically intrinsic in that.
Better to embrace the perfection of What Is, and maybe have a ‘preference’ or two, but to really ‘want’ anything…eh that’s just the mind caught in the illusion.

How to get out of that illusion?
Counting one’s blessings seems like a good place to start. And have the lowest possible standards for the blessings to be counted…such that you can count everything and anything you can possibly perceive with any senses or any thoughts in your mind as a blessing and feel gratitude for it. Like, grateful for the left pinky finger, and the left pinky finger knuckle, and nail, and creases in the pinky finger skin, and the left pinky finger cuticle…etc….let no detail go unnoticed! Until, of course, you snap out of the illusion and come back into the glories of the Present Moment and the Perfection of Creation.

So the saying for me to remind myself of more frequently, from Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, “Desirelessness is perfect bliss!”

And thankfully reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s Peace is Every Step is bringing me back more into the present moment as well…so grateful!

Love in Abundance!

Life is Tough

(Silence) OM (Silence)

Listening to the silence…what a nice effort that is!

A Confucian saying comes to mind, “Man who chases two rabbits, catches neither.”

But anyway…

This thing called life can sure be a beast, no?

What is so challenging about it?
Could it be…wanting so much?
Maybe if we didn’t want so much, life would seem easier.
Imagine feeling totally content, happy, and peaceful, regardless of the status of ‘your material world.’

Perhaps one of the trickiest energies to find contentment with is money. Can I be content regardless of how many 0s are in my bank account balance?
With no money in my pocket, no money in the bank, and not even the slightest potential on any job that would provide any income, could I remain content?
What comes to mind for me then is the possibility of support of family, friends, the various sorts of work exchange programs like Yogaville offers, even the possibility of soup kitchens.
And if all those options fail?
I’d be left with sleeping outdoors, and possibly eating insects!
Aye, that would be interesting.
Good news is, even living outside, I would potentially have an abundance of freedom to meditate, to walk, to listen to nature, to stretch, pray, and who knows maybe I’d stumble across someone who wanted to hire me to do yard work or clean their garage.

An interesting service industry that seems to have pretty high demand — cleanliness. What a great service to provide, to keep a place or space clean.

So…when in doubt…a willingness to clean could certainly get me through challenging times. Maybe that means cleaning bathrooms at a McDonalds, or even cleaning up an elderly person’s diapers…who knows! (Recently, I’ve been doing lots of diaper cleaning…it certainly helps keep me humble.)

Ok…so with physical health and a bit of humility it is easy to dream up ways to be of service to Creation and perhaps earn an income (or at least receive free room & board).

Without physical health? Well then I would likely be in need of services rather than be the one providing them…so that would be an extra-tough scenario. (This isn’t to mention the mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of health which are perhaps more important than physical health to be of service much less to enjoy life.)

So physical health…a great empowering attribute that allows one to offer all sorts of manual labor — particularly in the ‘genre’ of cleaning (be it bathrooms, houses, people, yards, cars, buildings, etc.)

As mentioned, to embrace the opportunities to be of service by cleaning…that requires humility! Here I am with a college education and I might think I could be working for some company in New York earning 100k+ year if I applied myself in such a way…and yet to clean diapers…

So, if I considered the purpose of life to earn money, I might consider myself a failure, which would then result in poor emotional, mental, and spiritual health.

Thereby, to have good integral health (Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual), in the midst of earning little to no income, one needs to consider what one considers to be the purpose and/or goals of life, and likely upgrade them so that one can experience a sense of peace and happiness in this moment, regardless of one’s financial wellbeing.

OK then…what’s the point of all this?
1. To increase integral health, conquer fear. If you end up broke with no friends and family to support you, what could you do? Live outside, meditate all day, smile and laugh and see if you can offer some service, if nothing else than silently blessing everyone who passes by. Consider the worst case scenario, and see that it is really not that bad. Even if the worst case scenario is death of the physical body, realize it is not that bad (if even bad at all). Death of the body is inevitable, so it is really an energy drain to fear it. And, if there is one part of you that lives beyond the body, it would be something like spirit/soul/consciousness — so it is a fine idea to cultivate that in such a way that’d you be happy to bring your consciousness with you to the next phase of life. If your consciousness is constantly worrying or complaining…do you really want to bring that with you? Wouldn’t you rather let that go and instead bring a consciousness that focuses on the positive, that looks for the good in all scenarios, that maybe even sees beauty in all things?

2. The illusion of the world is ferocious. If we have desires related to how we want thing to be in the world, we better be careful. With those types of desires, we are setting ourselves up for pain and misery. We can take action and aspire and work toward certain goals, but if we allow our peace & happiness to be dependent on achieving those goals, then we might very get ourselves into trouble and suffer from it. Better to appreciate this moment ad infinitum! In a way, expressing gratitude for this moment (in every moment) is affirming Divinity and all Creation and the Perfection of All. In any moment we can certainly find something to feel gratitude for, if nothing else but for our sense of awareness in a moment — that is a miracle already! Like…do you ever wonder how you can see so much with your eyes? It is unbelievable the amount of information we take in through the eyes..and yet somehow it seems effortless! Clearly, something Great is at Play…

3. Individuals might be immensely unforgiving, but the whole of Creation ultimately will live with forgiveness toward you, as long as you are sincerely apologetic and correct your mistakes – otherwise you will keep getting burned. I think this was an idea I heard from Warren Buffett, something like, “It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, and only one second to ruin it.” Aye! Just think…if we say one stupid thing to one person, it can totally destroy that relationship. But…perhaps destroying that relationships stings us badly enough that we then learn our lesson and become ever more mindful of our words and how we communicate with others – thus the sting of the loss ultimately serves our Highest Good and serves all Creation.

4. Taking time to sit in stillness and silence each day, perhaps even several times throughout the day, might very well do wonders to increase our sense of contentment with how things are. It is almost like voluntarily putting ourselves in a jail cell each day, and then we leave the jail cell and experience the great liberty and joy of Creation. Similar to the notion that in order to really enjoy your next meal, consider skipping one or two, i.e. fast for a bit, and then the next time you have food you will really enjoy it. Sometimes we forget how good things already are. Taking some time to slow down and embrace the radical simplicity of sitting in stillness and silence for a few minutes a day can help tune us into the wonder of the world. Any mindfulness practice can tune us in. Just to take some time to consciously open and close one’s hand, one finger at a time…what a beautiful thing. Or just to listen to the sound of the breath, or to feel your feet moving through mid air, lifting up and landing down, walking across the floor. All these little miracles…

Anyway…reminds me…great wisdom from a yogi tea bag I remember….
“Gratitude is the open door to all abundance!”
In a way,
if we want ‘more,’
then we must first appreciate what we have.
Only once we have adequately appreciated what we have now,
have we then proved we are ready to receive more.

And, ultimately, receiving more will eventually look like receiving ever enhanced awareness and have nothing to do with one’s material status in the world…but appreciating material things is certainly a good starting place. Appreciate the material, the non-material, and anything in between!

Everything is worthy of some respect and appreciation, and the more we give, the more we receive.

So, when in doubt – give!

Give yourself the gift of expressing gratitude for the little things and the big things.

And of course the gift of voluntarily solitary confinement a few times a day does wonders too!
And to dive into a spiritual book once a day, to fill the mind with some beautiful ideas…


And, one thing I notice, if we are really going to talk about giving ourselves some supreme gifts…
to give oneself the gift of living according to what one holds as the highest standard – then one will have unshakable confidence and peace, because one is consciously doing/being/giving one’s very best.

And, if you find yourself consistently not aligning with ‘what you hold as the highest standard,’ consider even re-defining your ‘highest standard’ so that it does match your behavior…because perhaps your behavior is already perfect as is 🙂

No need to be hard on ourselves and constantly beat ourselves down with guilt and shame and whatever else. Life is tough enough already – we don’t need to make it any harder 😉


If all else fails (or better yet -before all else fails)
the power of Love NEVER FAILS
so you can always turn to that!

One of my favorite quotes…
“the more you are motivated by Love, the more fearless and free your actions will be.” The Dali Lama.

So, if we want freedom and a sense of fearlessness, there is not much else we need.
Only love!

Love is…not easily provoked. I need to remember that one.

Hallelujah!

Awareness: The Greatest Joy

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

At the start of this year, I was very clear with a resolution for the year that would assuredly lead to an enhanced quality of life.

What was this resolution that I knew would absolutely enhance my life if practiced every day?

To eat sitting down.

What it is about sitting down while eating so powerful?

It demands awareness.

And, the experience we have with the tongue and the pleasure of eating foods is incredibly powerful.

In fact, I’ve heard that the Buddha said that if there was another sensory experience as powerful as eating food or having sex, he would not have achieved enlightenment.

So, there you go — putting food on the same level as sex!

Sounds ridiculous…but is it?

Food & sex are perhaps the most primal of all drives. Food & sex are the foundation for the continued survival of humanity. Without food & sex it is a guarantee that the family and/or the species cease to exist. (Pending sci-fi science 🙂 )

So…to get mastery over all things related to food and sex…that is HUGE!

In the Yoga tradition, there is a virtue/vow known as Brahmacarya, which primarily refers to celibacy or mastery over the sexual urges, but more generally it can refer to moderation of energy — so whether it is food or sex or music or movies — to have that moderation & mastery with all those energies — free from any addictions , any excess, any over-indulgence — moderate in all circumstances!

Anyway!

So to commit to only eat while sitting down is a baby, baby step on the path of mastery & moderation with all things food related.

Sure enough, as you might be able to guess – I failed at maintaining this practice throughout the year.

If I remember correctly, I succeeded for the month of January when it was my primary focus for the month, then in February I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal to continue so I took on some other challenge to focus on, but meanwhile letting the “eating while sitting down” habit slip and also forgot all the good reasons to practice it.

What are the immense benefits that await someone who commits to only eat while sitting down?

Increased Awareness – just to have that discipline requires awareness any time you are around food or about to eat. So that would do wonders for enhancing overall awareness.

Then, sitting is a foundation for enhancing the awareness even further.

Once sitting with the food, a logical step would be to express gratitude for and it (or pray over it). This act would further enhance your enjoyment and appreciation for the present moment.

And with the act of prayer/gratitude, you’ll physiologically relax more which will improve digestion of the food and enjoyment of it.

Sitting will also reduce your chances of eating with a ‘hurried/rushed’ mentality and increase the chances that you enjoy the food one bite at a time and eat with patience rather than with a frantic energy.

While eating the food, you’ll also be more aware of how much you are enjoying it, hence enhancing your overall enjoyment.

You will also have a better sense of the right quantity for you to eat, decreasing the chances that you overeat and increasing the chances that you feel good before, during, and after the meal.

Endless benefits!

Overall, it comes down to giving oneself the gift of awareness.

As Bob Proctor said, “All you will ever need for fulfillment in life is awareness.”

For a sense of a full and complete life, all we need is awareness in the moment.

Awareness is perhaps the most powerful capacity we have.

To bring awareness to anything is like honing our entire sense of being and all of our focus, and with that energy focused we can utilize it however we’d like.

We can wield our awareness to bring a great sense of peace and happiness to the moment, to enjoy the fullness of what is before us.

Consider in any moment that there is a near infinite capacity to feel sincerely grateful for what is before you and with you in your immediate surroundings. Truly, what is the limit for how grateful one can feel for even something as simple as a paper towel? If looked at closely enough, the paper towel will soon reveal the thousands if not millions & billions of people part of the process for the paper towel being before you in the moment. In fact, it is reasonable to thank the entire humanity for the paper towel, including all people who ever lived in the past and all who are presently living. Not to mention also being grateful for all the forces of nature that facilitated the life of all the people – which expands to include everything in Creation…every single entire thing in Creation is connected to the paper towel. Everything is connected to everything…so in anything we can see everything and feel grateful for it all.

That capacity to feel gratitude is always present, but the great challenger we face is called Maya or the illusion/delusion/seduction/glamorization of the world. Because we get caught up in the dramas of the world, and of time, and of our to-do lists, we forget the glories eternally before us and with us.

Alas…the greatest joy is no further aware than our very own heart. It is closer than our own heart! The greatest joy is simply a matter of awareness, always available and accessible to us, if only we are patient and willing.

So…sitting down to eat is a good start on the journey 🙂
And by God’s Grace I’ll re-establish that habit as a springboard to ever-increasing gratitude & appreciation for not only food but for the entire Creation!

Infinite Love & Peace

Greatness

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

What does greatness look like to you?

Recently I watched the Last Dance documentary series on Michael Jordan and couldn’t help but feel inspired and consider what would be my equivalent to that level of greatness in my own life? Or at least, what would be the very best I could realize in my own life if I put forth that same amount of dedication, discipline, and one-pointedness that Michael Jordan cultivated?

One point to consider is time. Some say it takes 10,000 hours at a craft to achieve a level of mastery. 10,000 hours does seem like a lot of time, and say you practiced a craft for 3 hours every day – that would still take you 3,333 days or 9.1 years to achieve that level of mastery. If you are in the fortunate lot where you absolute love your craft and perhaps it is also your career, then maybe you are able to dedicated as much as 5 hours a day to it every day – in which case it would only take you 2,000 days or about 5.5 years to achieve that level of mastery. So there is hope!

For me, where I think the rubber really hits the road is when you aspire toward greatness in living itself – which you might call a greatness in mindfulness / awareness – in which case you could count as much as 16 hours / day if not all 24 toward the mastery. In that case, achieving mastery would take you between 1-2 years. And, I think this type of one-pointedness is something we can all appreciate and aspire to in our lives.

So what does it look like to reach a level of greatness and mastery at living itself?
Happy Always, Peaceful Always, Relaxed, Playful, Ever-Giving, Ever-Kind, Ever-Loving.
Always Grateful. Full of Reverence for Life.
Present with each movement, each breath.
Practicing the Presence of God, as Brother Laurence might say.

Practicing the Presence of God can be interpreted in many ways, for God can be pointed at with many different qualities…so practice focusing on any one
divine or virtuous quality would be a similar practice.

Now, to aspire to be unconditionally, universally Loving in any and all circumstances might seem like a practice just reserved for monks, but really formal vows do not guarantee anything, and any one of us can take the true steps toward renunciation of the world which would allow us to love equally and unconditionally everyone and everything.


For me…I think the path to ‘greatness’ consists in a few simple yet powerful steps:
– As Benjamin Franklin says, “Early to bed, early to rise – makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Wow! Could it really be that simple for health, wealth, and wisdom? Perhaps a few tricks to this simple statement are all the implications. Because to go to bed early implies giving up the late night parties, late night eating, late night movies, etc. And to wake up early implies that you will be awake when others are not, so you will have somewhere between 1-3 hours by yourself to either do work or exercise or meditate or pray or study or whatever one can do by oneself. So this is I step I feel I need to take, regularly going to bed by 10 if not 9 and waking up by 4/5/6. A slow and steady approach wins the race! Currently I’ve been going to bed around 11 or midnight and waking up at 6/7/8…I feel I would greatly benefit by shifting both those sleep/wake up times a couple hours early.
– Eating. True confessions…I’ve totally been eating like a savage. Healthy foods, sure, but in a blatantly mindless way. Standing up, hardly saying a prayer if but for a split second, chugging a smoothie or whatever it is. I like the idea, “Live as if the whole world is watching,” and if I ever considered that with my current way of eating, I’d be fairly embarassed to see the whole world watching! It very much lacks awareness and gratitude. So key steps to take (i.e. rules to apply in my life) are to be sure to sit down when eating, pray before eating, and eat one bite at a time, put the fork/spoon down in between bites, relax and enjoy the food! More giving thanks, more relaxing, certainly sitting down…grateful for the gift! God forgive me for ever taking food for granted when so many go without it…
– OKAY! So sleep & food are under control – what’s next?

I think my next steps toward greatness are really quite simple. And the metric is essentially: meditate for 3 hours a day for 90 days in a row. I have a feeling that doing that will launch me to the next playing field.

So that’s it!
I would like that to be my number one aspiration going forward in the months ahead.
Maybe I”ll even make it a bit more concrete so to help me take action on it.
Meditation from 9 – 10pm.
Sleep from 10 – 4/5/6 (this will be a process… 🙂 )
Meditation for an hour in the morning (e.g. 5-6am)
Meditate for 30 minutes around noon (e.g. 12-1230)
Meditate for 30 minutes in the evening (e.g. 6-630)

And there we have 3 hours of meditation in a day! Looks doable.
A key decision I could see being immensely valuable with going to bed early and also generally going deeper when meditating is to have a certain time window for eating, and to stop eating by a certain time every day. When living in New York, for a few months I stopped eating by 4pm every day, and that was part of a period of time when I had a very deep meditative experience…so I’d be inclined to return to that. Of course, discipline the tongue like is tough – so maybe I’ won’t be so strict starting out!
Let’s look at possibly eating times given the potential meditation times, with the idea that I’d want to have at least 2 if not 3 hours after eating before meditating.
So if meditating at noon, I could eat from 830-9am.
If meditating at 6pm, I could eat anywhere from 1245-3.
If meditating at 9pm, then I could eat something light at 645/7.
Ok so there we go!

And for the sake of being clear and specific I’ll specify that “something light” in the evenings could be a small bowl of fruit, a protein shake? (not sure), or a handful of nuts/seeds, or maybe 1 piece of toast. For now let’s say we’ll allow the protein shake just to not drive my human animal crazy 😉

Ok then…this is all SUPER CONCRETE and CLEAR and very exciting!
God bless us all on this journey!
And one of my favorite sayings…Patience attains the goal!
So, I may stumble on this new journey with the external goal of 3 hours of meditation a day for 90 days…but each day’s effort is worth it!
As Gandhi said, full effort is full victory.

Not to mention it will not necessarily be easy for me to sit for 60 minutes at a time since I’m more accustomed to 20-30 minute sits…adding an extra 30 minutes might be met with strong resistance. So that may transform into a bit of walking meditation or spiritual study toward the beginning.
Perhaps I’ll just start with the goal of 45, 30, 30, 45…or let’s see 60, 30, 45, 45…to be realistic — right now my meditative practice is at about 1-1.5 hours per day…so to double it all the sudden would be kind of intense.

Anyway… I’m just going to get my toes wet at first with the goal in mind and see what happens.

Essentially…I just have a feeling this is the direction of ‘greatness’ for me to go in.
And I recall back to the days when my #1 goal was to sit in the full lotus pose, and I didn’t know how long it would take but I knew it was possible and so every day I just did tons of stretching, eating very healthily, and even doing a sauna most days…and after a few months of practice with this I finally got it — and sure enough it was not a huge deal or anything and didn’t radically change my life, although I had the experience and could then move onto other goals so that was helpful…
So in this case let’s just say I’m not moving onto any other goals until this one is achieved! That is 90 consecutive days of sitting for 3 hours or more per day.
So…if I ever want to move past that goal I better get started soon! 🙂

And just for fun…let’s consider what the next goal might be…even though having this experience could very well shift my whole experience of reality…
Some general life experiences I think i’d still like to have …
– be in silence for a month
– fast for a month
– lead a street retreat for a week or live homeless in a city for a month (maybe this wouldn’t so great during covid times 😉 )

And then the big one, which I think is in store for me at some point during this lifetime…
Have one child! 🙂

Before the one child – I mean I have no idea how finances work with a family honestly – but my hunch is to have 200k savings and a yearly income of at least $50,000…so who knows how that all would manifest but anyway seems like a safe foundation. Then again I’m sure the details will take care of themselves. (just putting out energy in this direction in case the universe responds with ideas or something…)

And also perhaps before the child – of course a wife…and probably a book!

But anyway all these might be grist for the mill as the 3 hours meditation for 90 days could certainly change things…
and honestly I think after those 90 days are up I’ll likely want to proceed to 4 hours a day for 30 days and see how that goes (4-6am, 12-1230, 6-630, 9-10) and how might it progress to 5??? (4-6, 11-12, 5-6, 9-10) or even 6???? (4-6, 11-1, 5-6, 9-10 — (or maybe 6 hours a day looks like 4-6, 12-2, 8-10) Anyway…maybe at the 5/6 hour a day point the morning meditation becomes like 3/4 hours…who knows 🙂

Point being…greatness for me in this lifetime is not playing basketball like Michael Jordan…but it very well could be meditating as well as Michael Jordan plays basketball 😉 And greatness in service to the whole creation…very exciting!

Alas, it is 11pm and way past my bedtime!

Love in Abundance

Hallelujah! New Creative Outlets

Dearest True Self,

Love in Abundance!

Amidst these unique circumstances, what could be more important than ensuring we continue to enjoy the fullness of life including our capacities to creatively express and connect? And of course to take good care of our physical bodies — so important!

In light of the importance of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, I’ve taken to developing a few habits.
For one, ensuring I laugh every day, so literally spending 5 minutes laughing about something or nothing…it doesn’t matter but just to laugh for the sake of laughing!
Another, ensuring I move every day, so trotting up and down the driveway or on the road I live on for 30 minutes a day.
Then, as far as having some creative expression, this blog has regularly served that purpose, but given the limited social exposure as well I felt verbally expressing was very important – hence I started a YouTube channel and recording daily talks on Yoga Philosophy (as well as Laughter Yoga).

Here is a link to the YouTube channel in case you’d like to check it out:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPHGpjZQOSGf-o3sdws-aHQ’

If you search, “Siva Abundance” on YouTube it comes up.

Alrighty then — by all means stay healthy and happy! The Power is Within!

Love & Hallelujahs Forever!

Perhaps the Best Gift We Can Give Ourselves: To Go Without

Dedicated to the Highest Good of All…Amen!

What’s the #1 illusion and delusion we suffer from?…
The idea that happiness is something outside of ourselves.

I project my happiness upon so many conditions – and only if all of these conditions are perfectly met – only then can I experience a moment of happiness; but as soon as these conditions are not met, then unhappiness follows.

What kind of life is that?

Some people like to talk about how powerful the mind is, and if you think about something hard enough for long enough, surely it will come to pass. What we think about tends to manifest. So it goes.

So people utilize the power of their mind to think of about money and fame and relationships and cars and houses and whatever else, but those same people forget to look past the material for what really leads to a sense of lasting happiness.

Essentially, lasting happiness in life comes from being of service. To be of service to another is the ultimate gem. And yet it doesn’t have to look like tangible service, e.g. feeding a person or helping another person is not necessarily what it is all about. Rather, any action – even any moment – can be offered in a spirit of service to one and to all, and thereby one’s entire life can be in service to one and to all, even if it looks no different than sequestering in one’s home for months while a plague passes through. Just because there is no physical contact with others, or even mental/emotional contact with others, that does not mean that we cannot be of abundant service. Truly — this might be a big leap of faith — but the greatest service we offer to humanity and to the entire Creation is in our Being, not in our doing. By virtue of how we are moment to moment, e.g. are we generous or are we greedy? – that quality of awareness/consciousness impacts all of humanity, for better or for worse. So each moment is a great opportunity and a great responsibility, becomes every moment impacts the all — all is connected.

Hence, religion is not to be compartmentalized. Our service to humanity is not to be compartmentalized. Life is an integrated whole, and no moment goes unaccounted for. The universe is just indeed, and no hair on our head goes uncounted. So…be vigilant! Love is all-powerful.

And, true confessions – after just tonight watching ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ for probably the 3rd or 4th time in my life, I was struck by the amount of suffering that Chris goes through on his journey to greatness. So much sacrifice, so much perseverance, so much dedication. And so much hardship!

As I sat watching it, I was thinking how hard it was for me to relate to what he was going through. And also considering his story of hardship is likely similar to the story of so many others…how could I not relate?

So then I remembered – I too voluntarily put myself through some trying circumstances for several months – and the reward for those several months of sacrifice and ‘going without’ far exceeded the cost. For about 6 months I lived without spending a single cent — essentially living in faith and as a beneficiary of the goodwill of humanity. And, throughout the course of those 6 months, I was practicing ‘living without money’ with the notion that I was continuing it indefinitely — so there really was no end in sight.

Those 6 months were challenging and yet immensely rewarding, and I’d say they mark the greatest of my life experience. From spending 6 months of going without using a single cent (having previously given away what money I did have) — I emerged with great faith, confidence, and conviction. Moreover, fearless.

Nowadays, I’d say I’ve been somewhat hooked back into the dramas of the worldly and even seduced a bit by the dollar and material comforts, and yet when I can reconnect with those 6 months of living without money – I remember the fearlessness and the beauty of such an integrated and dedicated life.

The details of our lives are not what matter so much — but the values by which we live by and exemplify — those mark us more than anything else.

Currently, I’d say I’m living a dedicated life, specifically in service to an elderly woman who has no family to take care of her.

Of all the virtues and values that I could live by…for me right now I’d say there is none that seems more powerful than non-greed. To abstain from greedy behavior is to live in service to others, and that is a divine life and a beautiful life. To give, give, give, with no thought of receiving – that is beauty.

And perhaps another gem from the 6 months of living without any money: to see beyond the illusion of the world. It is not a source of happiness. Rather, happiness is an inside job. The Kingdom of God is Within, Jesus says. So then, if that Kingdom is Within, then whatever is external must be only secondary to that at best. I mean…honestly…what could be better than the Kingdom of God?

So…with a trust in God, or with a sense for the Kingdom of God Within, there comes a fearlessness which is the result of seeing that nothing external can bring true and lasting happiness, and thereby it is fruitless to attach oneself (either physically, mentally, or emotionally) to anything in the material world. Then, unattached, all outcomes become acceptable, and there is nothing wrong. If I get a peanut butter sandwich for dinner or nothing at all, it really doesn’t matter. Why? Because there is an awareness that everything is okay either way — even that everything is perfect as is! And perhaps there is a trust in God, knowing that each moment provides perfectly.

And…to be at peace with all the comings and goings in the external world…it helps to abide with an attitude of humility: “I don’t know.” Sure, I can think one outcome is better than another, but really – I don’t know. How could I know? To truly know what’s best, I’d need to abide in omniscient awareness. Hence the saying – leave all judgment to God. So, that frees me not only from the burden of judging people, but also judging all the events in the world. It is not my responsibility to praise or condemn anything. Good or bad, who knows? Being aware of the totality of the history of earth and human history, as well as what that means for projections into the future for the next 10, 100, 1000, even 1,000,000 and beyond years, what would I make of today’s events? Well…they are probably perfect!

One of the great leaps of living without money — it is a total placing of trust in God and humanity. In a way, it is like throwing oneself totally at the mercy of others, or at the mercy of God. Which really – actually – sounds like a very safe bet and a good way to go! When left to my own devices, the chances I do something good are not all that great…but when I am voluntarily in service to others, the chances of doing good are much higher — and doing good pays way better than material wealth. The spiritual richness of doing good far exceeds anything the world offers. Similarly, what is the point of feeding the homeless if one does it with a poor attitude? Love, gratitude, goodwill — that is the real currency.

Someone today asked me what she could plant in her garden for me so that there would be food to eat in case all **** hits the fan, so to speak 😉
And to me…the question didn’t resonate – I think because if such circumstances ever came to that, I’m sure I would find myself in either a very active service role or living on a carrot a day or something like that. Basically to say – I’m fairly confident that I’d be one of the last people to ever compete for food with others. The key is…to be of service with no string attached. To offer selfless service to anyone, such a master would be a fool to not give the servant some sustenance – and if that is the case then so be it.

Then, throughout all this – how valuable it is to be at peace with death. One of the great mysteries – when will any of us die? Supposedly it is already set in stone — the time of death — but how it happens has yet to be written! So it is kind of exciting in one sense, and also a great relief that we don’t need to be concerned about living forever in these particular human bodies. I’ve heard the body described as like wearing any other piece of clothing — once the shirt is worn out, you throw it away and put on a new one — so it is with a human body. Of course, at some point we learn all the key lessons that there are learn in human form, and then we move on to the next phase.

So then – what are the key lessons to learn in human form?
Unconditional Love!
Yes…if one can learn to unconditionally love everyone and everything…I’d say that is a fantastically successful human life.
Or if one can learn the glories of selflessness and let every action be dedicated in service to the highest good of one and all — that is divine!
To desire to be of service to others more than any other desire…that’s a good way to go.
To want to know God, to serve God, to Love God, and everything else is second to that…that’s a good way to go.
Or as I’ve seen it said at the Abbey of Gethsemane, “God Alone.”
Which is like saying, “I’m putting God first in my life…so there is really no point of talking about what comes second or third or fourth.” God first; God Alone.
And, of course, God can be completely comprehensive and all-inclusive.
Saying “God Alone” is not like saying, “God is first in my life and screw the rest of you.”
No, it is like saying, “God alone is Real, and I am dedicating my Life to That. God is in you, in me, in all — God is All! And my life is dedicated to realizing that truth completely and living as an example and bearing witness to the glories of that truth.”

God Alone…what a great saying.
Like saying…there is nothing but God.
Thou Art That!

Another one of my favorite God sayings…
God the Obvious!
Like…yes God is everywhere you look, everything you can perceive — so blatantly and abundantly obvious!

God presents…
like the master puppeteer!
If only we could see all the strings being pulled at once, as well as all the strings that were pulled in the entire history of Creation, then maybe we could make some good sense out of what is happening 🙂
For now, acknowledging the string-puller, having faith, and to let your owns strings be pulled — and not resisting the way God pulls our strings to move us to ever greater Love and Service…then that’s the best!

When something ridiculous happens: “Really God? You really just pulled those strings that way? Hmmm…well you certainly know better than I do…since thou art omniscient! I do not claim omniscience…hence I yield to Thee!”

And, of course, it is operating in awareness of the Master Puppeteer and patiently waiting for all your strings to pulled in the most divinely beautiful way might not be everyone’s cup of tea as far as the context for day-to-day life…so when in doubt I’d say it is safe to say some divinely ordained activities include:
–> expressing gratitude and appreciation; giving thanks
–> praying
–> meditating
–> acts of charity, generosity, and giving
–> rendering selfless service
–> feeling compassion for the suffering of others and for the human condition
–> silently blessing people/things
–> any activity that increases your physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual health.

Perhaps to keep it even more simple…when in doubt…as a perfect act is defined in Yoga:
Harm None, Benefit at Least One
That is Perfection in Action!

So…as the Bible says…Be Perfect!

Infinite Love and Peace

Blessings in Disguise: Mandatory Austerity!

For the Highest Good! Amen.

Let’s define austerity as a deliberate and intentional practice dedicated to the benefit of all. So…it is like a sacrifice.

And now we are all being asked to sacrifice for the benefit of all — we are all being asked to live with awareness of the wellbeing of others, and to live in a way that cares for and respects the wellbeing of all.

Yes – we are all being asked to live in a sacrificial way for the benefit of all. And, for now – at least in the USA, it is still more-or-less an optional choice, hence perhaps some people are still resisting — but soon it could even become a mandatory lockdown and we’d all be forced to start live pure and holy lives in honor and out of respect for the welfare of all 😉

Mandated holiness! This could finish in a pretty awesome way.
How many people will have glimpses of the Infinite in these quarantined times?
Or…of course if the time is spent in media saturation, maybe there might not be too much spiritual benefit — but even still the austerity of staying in or nearby your home for a month or two or twenty would likely bestow a radically advanced awareness and understanding of life.

In the yogic tradition, there are some sayings about austerities taken on for 12 years at a time, and the benefit that follows such a discipline. For example, if one speaks nothing but the truth for 12 years, then after 12 years, everything one says becomes true! There is a similar benefit about if one stays in one place for 12 years…and I don’t quite remember the benefit but it is something awesome! Anyway…even if practiced for just a few weeks or months, one starts to get a taste of the benefit.

So we will all get a taste of the benefits of austerity.

Very interesting times ahead. Massive uncertainty and massive opportunity to ponder, to reflect, to pray, to meditate, to dream, to align, to serve, to sacrifice for the welfare of all!

As Gandhi may have said….Joy in life comes from living for the welfare of all.

May we all realize greater clarity about how we can live for the welfare of all.

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

Practical Guidance for Navigating Coronavirus

For the Highest Good of All – Amen!

After now watching/listening to/reading 20+ hours of programming regarding the Coronavirus, I feel pretty darn close to an expert.

And basically a few key ideas stick out:
For the benefit of everyone, including our individual self,
it is best to pretend that we already have the virus
and thereby it becomes our responsibility to stay as healthy as possible
and to do everything we can to ensure that we don’t spread the virus to others.

Essentially, this means to quarantine as much as possible, for as long as possible, until the global drama calms down. Currently, it seems like a minimum of 2 months from now which would be Mid-May.

And, for moments when not isolated, for sure practice social distancing and keep 6 feet between you and other people,
and know the virus primarily spreads via droplets so
the one recommendation I would put out here that I haven’t heard doctors say is that if you are going to speak with someone — even if still 6 feet away —
don’t face the person but rather face away so any droplets from your mouth aren’t going toward the other person.

Then the other common guidance from doctors:
– wash your hands regularly
– refrain from touching your face as much as possible

Some other novel ideas I picked up via emails:
– if the virus gets in your mouth and you drink water within 15 minutes of its arrival, then the water will flush it down into your stomach where it will die —so this potentially means it would be beneficial to take sips of water every 15 minutes or so. I haven’t heard this recommendation corroborated by doctors on television, but apparently it is a recommendation from doctors in Taiwan or something like that.

Anyway…the main thing is to keep as much space as possible from other people as frequently as you can for as long as you can.

It certainly changes the dynamics of every day life, and in a way points to the real purpose of this life — novel experiences like this offer an abundance of opportunity for spiritual growth and awareness — so let us seize that and embrace the new way of life for a bit and open to all the opportunities it provides for us to grow and practice non-attachment to habituated ways of being, growing increasingly aware of the kingdom within!

Infinite Love and Peace!

OM Shanti OM

“Learn to Want Well.” – Sri Swami Satchidananda

For the Highest Good of All — Amen!

Today I’ve been thoroughly immersed in a great drama
of how to best take care of an elderly woman
toward the end of her life.

Actually, I’ve been part of this drama for the past 4 years,
but only today did it turn into a great drama
when a seeming what i wish i could call deusexmachina
(i guess it depends how you look at it)
(Lol side note: apparently the opposite of deusexmachina is the devil…ahh!!!)
so anyway this character from out-of-the-blue
arrives on the scene with a new approach for handling this woman’s care –
essentially wanting to put her in a nursing home ASAP,
even though that is not her wish.

So anyway…without getting into too much detail I’ll share what I’ve gleaned and am continuing to glean from this scenario.

Wanting well for all parties is critical!
To end with a win / win / win / win ad infinitum!

Everyone wins…nobody loses…what a great outcome that would be!

So — what is the best-case scenario for the elderly woman?
Ditto for her friends & family?
Ditto for her heirs?

Certainly it would make sense the best case scenario for the elderly woman is the top priority since it is her life…

So what does she want? What would serve her best?
To want that, regardless of how it impacts me…that is to want well!

So even if that means I step out of the role of this job, if it serves the Highest Good then so be it!
But imagine the pain if I were to cling to this as a job even if it didn’t serve her well?
So to be free from the selfish desires and to want well for all…that’s a great space to be in.

Alrighty then – time to continue to process the details of this in a slightly more private space 😉

To continue to want well for all parties…for everyone…only the very best!

Hallelujah!

“I am a little pencil in God’s hands.” – St. Mother Teresa

For the Highest Good of All – Amen!

One of my favorite things about the words of the sages and saints,
especially when they speak in the first person,
is that ordinary folk like you and I
are not excluded from living the same truth they express.

For Mother Teresa to say, “I am a little pencil in God’s hands,”
means we can all live in and experience that reality.

For her to be aware of being a pencil in God’s hands
means that she was aware of God acting through her.
Like the puppet / puppet-master relationship,
God pulls all the strings, and she responds and moves appropriately.

So…it might be possible to look at that sort of puppet relationship
as a bad situation to be in…but actually when you consider who and what the puppet master is, it is the best!

If God is Love, and Love is pulling all the strings, then that is an optimal situation to be in.

The interesting dynamic is that it seems like we, as the puppets, might have some sense of autonomy from the puppet master…so maybe the analogy isn’t totally complete (or is it?)

Either way, to live as a pencil in God’s hands is to listen within
to the voice of Love, and allow that pure voice that only wants what is best for everyone to move you and shape your life.

We can all aspire to be aware of that Divine Relationship, to see and realize God as moving us and living through us. As the pencil, we do the actions, yet we don’t have to feel overly responsible for anything that happens – after all God is the one that is writing! So we can relax and trust that everything will be okay, remembering we are just the pencil, and God is the One moving us.

So…being the pencil is a lot like just being the audience to a movie. The movie is on the screen and the audience sits back and relaxes and watches the movie. And, of course any reasonable movie goer attends the movies with the aspiration of being entertained and enjoying the show — likewise we can aspire, as pencils, to watch and enjoy the show. That is our duty. A pencil can essentially just be…it is completely surrendered to the will of Nature. So we too can live in that surrendered state, simply being, letting everything happens as it does — eternally present, every watchful, enjoying the show, and perhaps the greatest enjoyment comes from the awareness of that great hand that is moving us every step out of the way.

We can see God’s hands moving all of life in all of its expressions. Even if it looks bad, it only looks bad from our limited perspective. God as the master writer / puppeteer, knows the grand play and orchestration of all the pieces together, so we can let go and trust that everything serves its Higher Purpose, constantly aware of the Power of Love moving through us, living through us.

Our life is an expression of Love. So there is nothing to do about it…just be aware of it, and you’ll likely enjoy it far more. Just to be aware…consider the Source of Life. And know that same Source ever-present, moving through all, living as all. One Spirit!

To be the audience…what is the movie theater commandment?
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!

OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti