Give Thanks; Love Your Enemies

Hallelujah ūüôā

Realize that the goal of life is something like spiritual growth, which means aligning more and more with Truth and the Power of Love.  The goal, ultimately, is to become increasingly more loving, to the point where our love becomes unconditional.

In times of challenge and adversity, that is when our ability to love is tested most. ¬†Can we love someone who is being mean, even hateful? ¬†Yes! ¬†It is possible. ¬†“Hatred does not cease by hatred; hatred ceases only by Love,” says the Buddha. ¬†Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” ¬†It is perhaps the greatest challenge to love those who seem to wrong us or do ill to us, and the greatest challenge to love in those circumstances is also the greatest gift, because in those moments we have the opportunity to truly be channels for Divine Love, Infinite Love. ¬†In those moments of greatest challenge, we can embody the Pure, Unconditional, Love of God. ¬†Of course, we can embody that Love all the time, but in those moments it becomes particularly clear whether we are divinely loving or not.

How can we be unconditionally, divinely loving in the time when it seems like all our buttons are being pushed at once, when it feels like we’re being hated and wronged in every way?

One of my favorite ideas around love is the idea of agape. ¬†I understand agape to mean a love for another not based on what they have or what they do or who they are, but a love for the infinite potential and divine essence of the other. ¬†Whether or not that other is currently being a totally open channel for the Holy Spirit and God’s Love and Will is not our issue to discern or not – we simply acknowledge that everything has that capacity, and we love for love everything for that capacity. ¬†The Divinity of all shines forth. ¬†Even if another seems hateful, we Love because we know they have the capacity to be a perfect channel for Divine Love, because they are Divinely created, and even we love them because by being hateful, they are giving us all the greater opportunity to practice unconditionally, universally, divinely loving. ¬†It is easy to love virtuous and happy people, and we know we’re making progress when we find ourselves experiencing immense love and compassion even for those who seem wicked and hateful. ¬†We can have divine compassion for them and for all humans dealing with the human condition. ¬†It is not easy!

Ultimately, we can realize that everyone is our teacher, and they are teaching us love. ¬†We can see that those who have caused us the greatest challenges in our lives are truly the greatest gifts from God. ¬†They give us that crystal clear opportunity to practice unconditional love, or to become all the more brutally aware of our blocks to love. ¬†Are we really going to withhold our love from someone because they are screaming or yelling or cursing? Because they call us names or steal from others or hurt others? ¬†Have we not done the same? ¬†As Jesus said to those who were ready to stone the prostitute, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” ¬†We have all trespassed against the natural law of Love, have we not? ¬†So we can have compassion for ourselves and for all – and we can see that none of the sin is really personal – it is just a result of the human condition. ¬†We love and have compassion for all embarked on the journey of life with the human condition – and we can choose to love no matter what, connected with the divine essence present with them always.

We love our enemies because they are our greatest teachers and provide the greatest opportunity to practice unconditional love.  Our love does not have to be dependent on anything.  Even to those that hate us, we can seek to give them something, to be generous toward them, and to love them.  That is true freedom, peace, and joy.

We can always give thanks for the grand opportunity we have to love, to give, to serve.

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

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What is the Truth?

“Put no ahead above your own.” – The Buddha

Whatever is the Truth, know it by your direct experience. ¬†Don’t take anyone’s word for it.

Furthermore, if the Truth means pain and suffering and misery, what’s the point?

So if pain and suffering and misery happens to be the Truth, I might suggest….by all means…defy it!

If Truth doesn’t mean absolute Peace, Happiness, and Freedom, why would we align with it?

So, to pursue the Truth, it might be helpful to operate with the assumption that the Truth is generally positive, even supremely positive.  If you were the Creator of the Universe, what Truth would you create with?  If you have the power to create everything, by what laws would you allow creation to operate with?

Pretend there is no absolute Truth.  Instead, you can pretend you determine the Truth.   What would be the Supreme Truth, according to you?  What would the Supreme Truth be that would really, absolutely and positively serve you best?

Trust that whatever is best for you is actually already the case. ¬†Trust that the Truth of Reality is just that. ¬†Everything that happens is the very best for you. ¬†Test this out with your own direct experience rather than just taking it as mere fact. ¬†How? ¬†Whenever something occurs to you that seems anything less than the very best, question it intensely. ¬†I’m confident that if you dig deeply enough into any event, you can come to se how the event could very well be the absolute best thing for you. ¬†Even stubbing a toe, you can see the benefit in it, and you can see how it served you. ¬†Everything serves you! ¬†Look for it. ¬†Trust in it. Confirm it via your direct experience.

With a certain level of honesty, you can come to agree that it’s best that not everything you wish for comes true. ¬†If everything you thought of instantly manifested in the physical plane, that really wouldn’t serve you.

You’ll find that the way thinking and manifesting and action manifest is actually already perfect. ¬†It is fantastic that our thoughts don’t instantly manifest on the physical plane. ¬†We’d all be in great trouble!

Look for the perfection underlying Creation as it is. ¬†Trust that Creation exists perfectly and serves you perfectly. ¬†It is good it doesn’t give you everything you ask for instantly. ¬†That would be no fun! ¬†See how Creation is optimally fun and optimally conducive for your growth, learning, and spiritual evolution.

“You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free.” Jesus

If Truth binds us, why would we want anything to do with it?  Rather, put absolute freedom, freedom from all fear and worry and anxiety, as the metric for truth.  If it instills fear or worry or anxiety, trust that it is not in alignment with Truth.  Prioritize the Truth РFreedom Рand watch how the fear, worry, and anxiety dissolve.  There is nothing to fear in the Light of Truth.

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

How to Transcend Selfishness

Hallelujah ūüôā

What is selfishness?

What does selfishness look like?

Selfishness is essentially destructive and / or harmful.

It can look like laziness or excessive activity. ¬†Selfishness lacks balance. ¬†It is totally centered around the experience of the individual without consideration for the welfare of others, and really it even lacks considering the welfare of the individual. ¬†Even though selfishness is centered around the individual, it does not actually look out for the welfare of the individual. ¬†Rather, selfishness harms everyone and everything in the long-run. ¬†It doesn’t even benefit the perpetrator! ¬†So it is really a lose/lose. ¬†In the short-term, a selfish act like stealing can look like a win/lose, but when seen from a higher perspective, considering the long-term, we all know that stealing doesn’t even serve the one who supposedly gained from the theft. ¬†Even the thief is a loser! ¬†So selfishness is like that.

To go beyond selfishness – consider winning in the long-term. ¬†Short-term wins can look like sleeping an extra few minutes, eating three more slices of pizza, cheating on a test, stealing a candy bar, condemning homeless people, etc. but when any of the aforementioned actions are looked at from the long-term perspective, we see that they really don’t serve anyone. ¬†They don’t serve the evolution and liberation of the soul, which is what we are primarily concerned about. ¬†The earth is a school for learning, and when we act in ignorance, we don’t learn much. ¬†We might learn a little, but the learning from such actions would only be from finally admitting how they are truly painful, and that they don’t even serve us in the short-run. ¬†The minute we steal something, part of us feels bad. The minute we go past our limit and overdo, we know it, and some part of us regrets it.

Transcending selfishness requires sincerity and awareness. ¬†In Reality, the truly selfish thing to do is to prioritize your own peace and happiness above all else – because that is what we all actually want. ¬†So by all means, be selfish for that! ¬†The best part about this kind of enlightened self-interest is that it also benefits others. ¬†Because it benefits both ourselves and others, it can hardly be said to be selfish at all, or at least it is equally selfless. ¬†When you’re engaged in actions and a way of being that seems totally selfish nd also totally selfless and serviceful, that’s how you know you probably struck gold and are aligned with Truth.

Service-orientiation is the great liberating perspective to free us from selfishness. ¬†It can even be a simple focus on serving ourselves, but not just with sensory pleasures and short-term satisfactions – rather though serving ourselves with long-term fulfillment and peace. ¬†That kind of service to self serves all. ¬†Or, just forget the small self and focus on serving others – that will equally serve yourself because you’ll experience the joy of giving and transcend the illusion of separateness. ¬†When we live to serve, we realize higher consciousness and awareness that liberates us from so much darkness, ignorance, and illusion. ¬†It is only the ego that dreads service; ¬†the Highest part of all of us knows how enjoyable and pure and wonderful service is.

By all means, serve! ¬†Serve yourself by prioritizing your own peace and joy and happiness and all else, and serve others by doing the same ūüôā ¬†Or, forget yourself and just serve others however seems most natural in the present moment. ¬†Giving brings harmony. ¬†Love and give. ¬†Live only to serve! ¬†It liberates every time. ¬†Even in a moment, even if you find yourself engaged in an entirely selfish act – just stop – dedicate it to the benefit of humanity – and continue. ¬†Notice the energy shift. ¬†Notice the freedom. It is all within.

 

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

Key Habits to Human Flourishing

Hallelujah ūüôā

By no means do I claim to strictly follow any of these recommendations – but from personal experience I can truly say that when they are adhered to, the quality of life generally increases. ¬†Of course, everything in our lives is interconnected – not one of us is an island – so generally to improve the quality of our lives, we’ve got to improve the quality of life every moment, which is an internal job – a matter of attitude and awareness – rather than just external quick fixes like cleaning our room ūüôā ¬†With that in mind, perhaps we will start by looking at some external “quick fixes” and then more of the “inner work.”

Externally:

  • Clean your room ūüôā ¬†Cleanliness is next to godliness. ¬†One of Benjamin Franklin’s nightly habits was “to put everything in its place.” ¬†Keeping our environment in order shows that we respect what we’ve been given (or what we’ve earned) and that we are doing our best to treat it well. ¬†The way we treat any one thing reflects how we would also like to be treated. ¬†By keeping our space neat and orderly, we demonstrate that we are worthy of that same level of clarity. ¬†A clean room also paves the way for a clean mind. ¬†When everything is in its proper place, the mind can relax and go within to the Kingdom rather than dwell on ways to externally ‘save the world.’ ¬†A great step along the way to surrendering saving the world is to first just take care of your little part of the world, keep your own room clean, and then know you’re doing your best by setting an example. ¬†You don’t have to go cleaning everyone’s room – just keep yours clean – that is enough. ¬†By example we lead. ¬†(Writing this in the midst of a mildly disorganized desk, go figure. – and I can tell you part of the mind is thinking “when is this going to get organized?” So…maybe now is the time to do it.)
  • Sit down, relax, express gratitude, and pray before eating. ¬†We must think we are mighty important to not have the time to sit down and pray before eating. ¬†“I don’t have time to pray before eating…I can be making $50 right now!” ¬†Or perhaps it is the grip the taste buds have on us that tell us the taste must be experienced right now, this instant!, not later. ¬†Poor little pet ego. ¬†Poor ego dominated by animal instincts not based on any sort of higher truth. ¬†The ego enjoys wolfing down food and eating in a hurry and not honoring God before it eats. ¬†Why? Because it inflates the ego’s ego – its sense of importance. ¬†The ego loves to think that taking care of itself is more important than truly enjoying the moment or honoring the presence of God. ¬†In Reality, a vastly enhanced quality of life awaits all those who are willing to bring moments of pause, reflection, and gratitude into their daily lives. ¬†Before meals a great time to relax, to pray, and give thanks for the gift of food, the gift of life, the gift of all!
    • As far as ‘my’ personal experience goes, cultivating a proper relationship with food has been a rollercoaster ride. ¬†Supposedly, according to some of the great teachers like the Buddha, the two greatest impulsive desires the human animal has are for sex and for food. ¬†They practically go hand-in-hand. ¬†Hence, I’ve also heard that often when people have challenges eating properly, it might very well stem from lack of healthy relationships with people. ¬†Instead of cultivating healthy relationships with people, we turn to food to fill that void. ¬†Anyway, that is just a theory and probably not confirmed by scripture anywhere, so take for what it is worth. ¬†Scripture is a much greater authority than any so-called ‘philosophical musings.’ ūüôā
    • Point is – sit and pray before eating food – give thanks – and watch as the quality of life improves. ¬†Gradually, one can bring these moments of gratitude into all areas of life – from waking up, brushing teeth, drinking water, reading a book, writing, doing work, hanging out with friends – before every act there can be a moment of gratitude which automatically enhances the quality of the entire experience. ¬†So simple! ¬†Yet, not that easy to practice. ¬†Patience, Patience. ¬†Baby steps. ¬†Maybe start with a 2 second prayer of saying, “Thank you,” before eating, and build from there.
  • Stretch or Walk or Exercise, move the body in some sort of way. ¬†I used to be big into lifting weights. ¬†And to be open about it, it was totally vain and primarily done to attract members of the opposite sex. ¬†At the same time, health feels good. ¬†What feels even better is setting a universal example, one free from selfishness and lower qualities like vanity. ¬†So discover a way of physically caring for the body that keeps you away from obsessively looking in the mirror and flexing. ¬†Hatha Yoga is a balanced way to take care of the body and feel good. ¬†It is also generally free from vanity because of its balanced approach to caring for every part of the body, and really with a focus on developing a calm and peaceful mind.
  • Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. ¬†Foods close to nature – enjoy them! ¬†Why depend on great big machines to create your food? ¬†Then again, if you do eat food made by great big machines, that is also a great opportunity to practice gratitude – and to connect with the entire story of the food – to see the story of the food from its origins to appearing in front of you – which is of course the entire story of Creation itself! ¬†All for fun. ¬†Don’t take food too seriously, and don’t disillusion yourself by thinking that food can bring you happiness. ¬†Use food to nourish the body and mind and receive it as a divine gift. ¬†Cherish it. ¬†Respect it. ¬†Just like money. ¬†Use it for good. ¬†Processed sugar tastes good for a moment and feels pretty bad for a lifetime. ¬†Is it really worth it?
  • Read or write or speak or all of the above. ¬†Have some intellectual input and output. ¬†Once again, just don’t get caught in it and start feel prideful about how much you know or how smart you are. ¬†Exercise the mind without exercising the ego. ¬†Just take care of it like a pet!
  • Sing or chant. ¬†Use the voice, shamelessly, if nothing else – when no one is around. ¬†Sing your best. ¬†Sing your favorite songs. ¬†Chant your favorite songs. ¬†We have all been given voices to use. ¬†Use it. ¬†Enjoy the sound. ¬†Get over caring about how good it sounds or not. ¬†Just play with it have fun.
  • Dance. ¬†Same as above. ¬†Just move and jump around to music. ¬†It doesn’t really matter how it looks. ¬†Just have fun moving the body.
  • Laugh.
  • Appreciate the Present.
  • Breathe Deeply. ¬†Present Moment, Wonderful Moment.
  • Serve. ¬†Give. ¬†Act Charitably.
  • Lie down and relax.
  • Go upside! ¬†Hang over the bed, or learn how to do a shoulder stand or headstand.
  • Twist it out.
  • Reach up to the heavens and down to the earth.
  • The above three basically means stretch, stretch, stretch.
  • And meditate, meditate, meditate. ¬†Focus the mind on one uplifting idea. ¬†Build that mental discipline to concentrate the mind and feel the entire consciousness being uplifted.

 

Basically, one of the problems we might find ourselves facing in life is, “What to do with all this time?” Especially when we give up the money game – i.e. working for money – we might find ourselves with an abundance of luxury time to do with as we please. ¬†If we give up the illusion of seeking happiness in the world via external gain and acquisition, we’ll find ourselves pleasantly liberated to simply do what we love and to be in love with whatever we do. ¬†Nonetheless, sooner or later, we might reach a point where we run out of things to do! ¬†And then, it might seem very natural to take up what we might call, ‘work,’ but when we do it in this spirit, it won’t be ‘worldly work,’ but rather it will be ‘work’ for ‘work’s sake,’ what some call Karma Yoga – selfless service. ¬†Spiritual work is action without concern over whatever benefits we receive from the action. ¬†Spiritual work is not for external gain, but is a natural consequence of internal peace. ¬†So, by all means – do whatever kind of work you’d like to do – so long as you’re connected with that internal peace. ¬†As Gandhi demands, “Do it with joy or not at all.”

It is easy to make a list of things not to do.  Yet, ultimately, everything and everyone can serve as our teacher.  Everything is our teacher!  Nature is here to serve our spiritual evolution, not the other way around.  Nature and the entire Creation is our great teacher.  It serves us.  And by allowing us to serve it, we are actually being served.  When we serve, truly we are being served Рfor otherwise we just might die of boredom!  Being able to serve and contribute to the wellbeing of all is a gift.  It makes perfect sense to be grateful for opportunities to serve and learn and evolve spiritually.

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So, instead of focusing on the million things to supposedly not to do, we can just focus on the positive things to do.

Do smile. Do laugh. Do play and have fun.  Do love yourself.  Do love your neighbor (the one you are with).  Do express gratitude.  Do care for the physical body with proper nutrition and movement.  Do pray.  Do meditate.  Do reflect on your day.  Do read.  Do write.  Do study.  Do Sing. Do dance.

So then, what it boils down to is Being ūüôā ¬†All the proper doing arises from True Being. ¬†When one is Being Truly, the Doing appears beautiful no matter what – even if that just means sitting in meditation.

Bring the Being into the moments we take for granted Рbrushing teeth, using the bathroom, drinking water, eating food, saying good morning and goodnight.  Those are the best moments to practice, and by practicing in those moments, our entire lives become filled with the sense of Being, filled with total Love.

 

Truly, the work is internal.  Building positive external habits has to do with internal processing and awareness and attitudes.  Cultivate positive attitudes, and the entire life gradually becomes positive and uplifting. There is nothing to force or rush.  Attitude is foundational, and with a strong foundation we can build anything.

Of course, forcing some external habits – like smiling and laughing – can help to liberate one from the drama of the ego and lead one to discovering one’s own freedom, thereby choosing a positive attitude rather than feeling like a victim of circumstance. ¬†So by all means, fake the smile and fake the laughter. ¬†Fake having fun and fake enjoying life. ¬†Pretend you’re just acting it out. ¬†Pretend like you’re enjoying every moment. ¬†Pretend it is all for fun. ¬†Pretend you’re loving every moment. ¬†Pretend you’re so happy and grateful for this gift of life. ¬†Pretend you know it is all a game and God is taking care every moment. ¬†Pretend you have a completely perfect and full relationship with that Power which is everywhere and always present, all-knowing, and all-powerful, and that that Power unconditionally supports you and loves you. ¬†Just entertain the notion ūüôā

 

If Judging or Demonizing – Let Go, or Try It

Hallelujah ūüôā

This article is inspired by my tendency to project negativity onto dairy products, including cheese. ¬†As if eating or not eating cheese would really result in spiritual advancement. ¬†The key with all spiritual advancement is letting go of attachments and aversions, which is on an unseen level. ¬†So, whether or not one has cheese is really irrelevant – what matters is if one thinks they can’t be happy without cheese, or if on the other hand they think they’ll never be happy within 100 miles of cheese. ¬†In both cases, we can see the absurdity – yet the ego/mind still thinks it makes sense.

So, if you find yourself adverse to cheese, perhaps caught up in some self-righteousness bout veganism, perhaps try a piece of cheese and notice how the world doesn’t come to an end. ¬†There is a chance the body might actually have a negative response to it if it hasn’t consumed dairy in a while, but chances are that in moderation the cheese will not drastically effect the health and wellbeing of either body or mind. ¬†You might notice a bit more mucus when you blow your nose the next morning, but that’s not the end of the world either, is it?

Of course, one doesn’t have to go trying cheese if one finds oneself condemning, judging, or demonizing it. ¬†‘Trying it’ might just aid in freeing oneself of the ignorance of condemning it in the first place, but ultimately the freedom can be had internally without relying on an external action. ¬†One need not try heroin in order to be free from condemning or demonizing it.

The internal process of freeing one from an attachment or an aversion can be as follows:

  • Identify that which you are attached or averse to. ¬†To use the example of eating cheese, the example that sets, the process by which it came about, and the detrimental health effects on the body. ¬†Notice, the aversion might initially just look like to the idea of cheese, but when we examine the aversion more closely, we find that there are particular payoffs the ego/mind derives from holding to such an aversion. ¬†If the aversion were merely to cheese and cheese alone, there is no payoff. But considering that the aversion is really to the health effects of cheese and the process of cheese and any violence associated with producing dairy, we can see how there is ton of juice for the ego/mind and it can really feel prideful from all of its intellectual arrogance. ¬†The ego/mind feels strongly that it knows something that is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and it thrives off the seeming righteousness.
  • Continuing with the cheese example, we can ask, “What is really good about cheese? What lessons have I learned from cheese? ¬†How has cheese served me in the past? ¬†How has it served mankind?” ¬†We can consider all the hungry people that cheese feeds, all the satisfaction it brings to people (if only temporarily), the livelihood it brings to dairy producers, who knows how many great leaders of history have been fed by cheese, etc. ¬†There are certainly at least two sides to every coin!
  • Until, with an aversion – it is as though we are naturally aware of all the cons. ¬†But then we can consider the pros, and with humility we can see that we are in ignorance and are incapable of accurately balancing the pros and cons to truthful assess the value of cheese.

All attachments and aversions arise from ignorance.  In Reality, there is nothing to be attached or averse to.  All is as it is, Divinely affirmed by virtue of its existence.  Who are we, what are we to assess anything beyond its Divine Essence?  Spiritual Evolution and Freedom is about letting go of our intellectual arrogance and the pride and vanity we get from thinking we know something that is right and something that is wrong Рand instead surrendering all that to God, and being with God in affirming the Divinity of all Creation; living in the awareness that all form is fleeting, it is for fun, and we are not meant to attach ourselves to that which is impermanent, but rather we can store up our treasures in Heaven and cling to the unseen Reality of Love, Truth, God.

Remember Рthe world is for fun!  It is the perfect school.  It exists to liberate us.  If we find ourselves feeling attached or averse Рgreat! Рthose attachments and aversions are the perfect opportunities for heightened awareness, surrender, and spiritual growth.

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!