Reasonable is how I’ve always thought,
Except for when I wasn’t thinking.
Compassionate is how I’ve always felt,
Except for when I wasn’t feeling.
But Love is what we’ve always been,
Even when we refuse our being.
Reasonable is how I’ve always thought,
Except for when I wasn’t thinking.
Compassionate is how I’ve always felt,
Except for when I wasn’t feeling.
But Love is what we’ve always been,
Even when we refuse our being.
Contemporary life can break your heart on any day, and from that wreckage most of us learn to stand in our own way, habitually, practically, and fearfully rationalizing why we remain disengaged from our heart and the hearts of others
This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many different types of communities even when talking about spirituality specifically. You could have an online community where you just share ideas and experiences with each other, or maybe you have a more formal gathering with practices and maybe rituals (and everything in-between)
In my opinion, communities are a toss up. They can be extremely rewarding to everyone involved or they can steer you right off you path into the ditch (or send you off to find a new one if you notice it before then). Some of the pitfalls of community are that people can become dependent on them. They are only spiritual when they are in community or for example they feel like they can only do group meditation. If someone hasn’t developed their own personal practices then they are more likely to fall into dependence with their community. On the positive side though, a group of good hearted people is always more powerful than just one and many experience more profound meditations and journeys in community. It can also help you to have others in a similar place on their path as you are.
If you don’t know of any communities near you, create one! If you don’t feel up to that, the internet has some as well (just make sure they are right for you). I found the easiest way to find a community is to do yoga at a yoga studio. Yoga is so prevalent today that there is usually at least 1 spiritual yoga studio in the area for most people. Joining a beginner class is a great way to meet new spiritual people, not to mention yoga is just all around good :)
It’s very “New Age” and hip today to say love everyone and accept everyone for who they are. It’s also true that we should Love everyone and everything (not meaning love in the romantic sense as people usually think) and we should accept people for where they are in the present moment. However, don’t confuse this non-judgement with non-discernment!
It can be very challenging for people at times to not judge others, especially when they have done or said things that are shockingly tragic or hurtful. Some of us have trouble not judging every person we see walking down the street for any number of reasons, the clothes they wear, how the present themselves, how they speak, etc. Deepak Chopra says “everyone does the best that they can in their current state.” I had to really mull over this one because I felt there was truth in it, but my head was saying huh? really?
People are always projecting their inner state onto the outer world. People who are rude and nasty on the inside feel insecure and afraid, the nastiness is they defense to the projected threat they perceive in the outer world. Inside the person is probably threatened by a part of themselves that they do not accept. Most often today, we see this come out in a need for safety. People feel unsafe inside themselves, so they perceive threats in the outer world. If their need for safety is no met, they can forfeit and number of freedoms to have it.
So, does this mean that you should try and hang around nasty people, because you should just get over their rudeness and accept them right? Well, it’s not quite that simple. You should accept that that is how that person is in this present moment, but you should discern whether that is the best situation for you (and them) to be in. So, should we ship all the rude and nasty people to an island somewhere? No, because the optimal situation might be for you to spread some kindness their way, and who knows! Maybe it’ll enlighten them a little. Another example that’s a little more counter intuitive would be that if you are doing volunteer service work, but you feel drained doing it and you don’t find it particularly rewarding, maybe that line of volunteer work isn’t right for you right now.
When interacting with others, keep an open mind. Maybe they will surprise you! Try not to be cynical and avoid others because you think they might be a certain way. Take an interest in why people behave the way they do, and notice it in yourself! Do you ever behave in a way that you wish you hadn’t or do you notice that something triggers you to lash out or withdraw? Noticing the reasons for your own missteps can be really helpful in accepting others in the moment.
Some believe that in spiritual practices that symbols should be avoided, because you cannot capture any kind of spiritual essence into any symbol, therefore the symbol is pointless or even damaging to the practice (since some people can focus on the symbol rather than what it represents). I am not one of these people!
To me, symbols are more powerful for personal use that for sharing with others. When it comes to your spiritual practice, what something means to you is much more important than what that symbol represents to anyone else. Symbols are a way for you to personally connect with Spirit, God, the Universe, whatever you want to call it. If a particular item, or photo, or shape really “holds” and energy for you then it’s a great symbol for you to use to commune with that energy. If looking at and listening to running water calms you, then a picture of a waterfall might be a good symbol for you to commune with that energy. Someone else though, might not have the same response to the same situation, so that same picture may not be a good symbol for them. Does this mean that water or the picture of the waterfall have some calming quality about them? Not really, it does mean though that it is a connection between you and that energy.
Create your own symbols! They don’t have to be squiggly lines that look like some ancient language; they can be anything. If you like some of the symbols that other cultures or religions use then use them, just remember that that symbol can me one thing to you and something totally different to someone else. Just like two people can look at a painting and see two different things.
Is healing something you go out and get? Is it something others give to you? What is the true nature of your health?
We are not separate from nature, as much as western culture would like to tell you that you are something else. We were created in nature, and thus our bodies behave just like nature does when it becomes “diseased”. Even in allopathic medicine, we assist the body in its healing; we don’t heal the body! The body is self correcting, just like nature; in medicine we just facilitate that self correction. This isn’t a tough concept to grasp, but many western people live in a way that flies in the face of this fact.
As with many things, we as humans stand in the way of our own healing. All of the aspects of being human (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) will go towards health if you let it, and it can also be helped along the way. We all have tendencies or habits that we know stand in the way of our healing, whether that be getting angry at the person who just cut you off on the highway, or that bowl big bowl of ice cream you had.
Many spiritual people today “wake up” in the realm of the healer (one of the four human archetypes of the heart. healer, warrior, teacher, visionary). Most people wake up here, because they finally recognize the need for healing in their life and they on some level, realize they must heal if they are to be able to do what they have come into this life to do. They seek out spiritual healers (hopefully reputable ones) and experience some healing from that. Beautiful! However, one of the major pitfalls that happens here is that these people feel so drawn to the healing that they feel their purpose is to be a healer. This isn’t a terrible thing, but if your purpose isn’t there, then you are spending more time not focused on your purpose (though there’s nothing bad about learning some healing forms for personal use). However, if you truly feel your purpose is to heal, there are a few things you should consider. The true healer is one that wants no patients or clients. This is because the person who identifies themselves as “the healer” creates the identity of “the diseased” in the world. “The healer” cannot exist without anyone(thing) to heal. Be wary of identifying yourself as a healer (as in labeling yourself).
One more thing to be knowledgeable about is that you need to understand that you do not always know what is best. We would like to think that if someone is on their deathbed, that they need to be healed so they can get up and keep living their life. However, what is that person’s soul saying? Maybe the soul is ready to leave. We are not meant to live forever, and assuming we already know the problem or the solution usually ends badly. Being the healer in a situation like that would require you to help the person to leave (by helping the soul reconcile any debts it may have), however generally the client(s) (the dying person’s family) is(are) asking you to help their loved one live.
I’ve only scratched the surface here, and there are many more questions to be asked. If you want to learn more about some of the things I talked about, I encourage you to go to www.whyshamanismnow.com and looked through the podcasts there. Christina Pratt (the host of the show) has many shows on this topic which are very enlightening.
Where is the line between individual success and the well being of the whole? In western culture today, the majority of people are focused on bettering themselves. Though different people go about doing this is many different ways, and have many different goals. So, is bettering yourself selfish or is it good for everyone? That depends on what bettering yourself means to you, and by what means you use to meet that end.
I had the opportunity to listen to a discussion where a group of students were asked some fairly simple questions: “Is your education good for everyone, or is it only good for yourself?” Most of the quickly answered that it was the best thing for everyone that they become educated. The professor then asked them “Why is it good for everyone that you get your education?” There was a pause in the room for a few seconds, and then a student chimed in and said, “Because it helps people.” Not a terrible answer right? Right, if you’re trying out for Miss America, but is that a true statement? Does getting an education help others? What you do think? These students couldn’t answer that question.
The discussion continued to another question proposed to the students. “Why is social stratification OK? Why is it alright for you to have and for others to go without?” One student answered that “Some people just suck at life.” Another student answered that they “worked for what they have” and said something to the effect of others that don’t have must not work very hard, or they would have too. This is western thought in a nutshell. If you work hard you will have all you need. Is this true? Are people that are poor lazy? Is the converse true, do people that have abundance work hard?
I would say that it’s not OK that others starve and die of disease without a thought by those that have solutions available. If that’s the case, should we all give everything we have to those in need? Well, giving is good thing yes, but too great a sacrifice is no better than a sacrifice that is too small. The real solution here is to find out how these people got into the situation of starvation and disease. Are they unable to grow their own food? If so why? The “give a man a fish, he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime” fits well here. Why are they affected by so much disease? Can their living conditions become more optimal so that they are not as susceptible to disease? These are the questions to ask. Empower others to help themselves, whether it’s a group of starving people in a far off country, or you’re best friend having everyday troubles.
In the world we live in today, some things are considered completely taboo to discuss. Even the mere proposal of questioning some things is met with at best some judging stares, and if you are lucky enough to have others hear you, they rarely listen.
If you cannot question something, you have a problem. You don’t have to know the answers to all the questions, but you mustbe willing to ask them. When you refuse to question something (a person, a belief, a system, or anything) you allow it to become corrupted. By refusing to ask questions and refusing to listen to the questions of others you invite corruption or distortion in, just as if you had opened the door and asked it inside.
It’s not directly the lack of answers that is the problem, it’s the lack of meaningful and thoughtful questions. So, don’t search for the answers; start a series of good questions. The answers you get will probably not be what you expected, but you will be glad you asked. Don’t fear the truth, see the fear that hides it.
Many people will tell you that humans are naturally selfish and violent. They say that “we’re just wired that way”. Shortly followed by either one of two comments.
1.You have to struggle your entire life to fight your nature (this is generally used in a religious context)
2. There is no point in striving for compassion, because nature will always win out.
To this, I would like to emphatically say that you are not “wired” to be selfish and violent. In fact, there is scientific evidence that shows that we are in fact “wired” to feel empathy for one another. Being human means that we can choose to ignore this empathy, but it also means that as long as you draw breath you have the power to change and transform. In every moment you can choose to tear down the walls that you’ve built around your heart, and feel where before you were numb.
Do not settle for the cop-out answers that we are constantly fed. Ask the hard questions, the ones that no one else is asking, the ones that others may not want you to ask. Ask your heart for the answer, save your mind for the how you will bring that answer into your life.
Anthropomorphize- to give human traits or form to anything non-human. One of the major causes of misconception when dealing with Spirit comes from our wanting Spirit to be like us (humans), behave like us, or reason like us. Why do we do this? It’s much easier for us (and takes much less work on our part) if we don’t have to leave our “human bubble” of perception. In other words, we are trying to fit something really big into a box that is quite small in comparison. This can present a problem for people trying to interact with Spirit, because as humans we generally can’t comprehend well when interacting with the enormous and faceless Universe (we like names, faces, places, times, etc.). So, why does it matter if you anthropomorphize? Also, if you shouldn’t anthropomorphize, but you can’t make sense out of the Oneness all at once, what can you do?
When you anthropomorphize Spirit, a whole host of problems arise, and generally you get a result similar to Greek Mythology, with Gods and Goddesses killing, raping, and full of vengeance. One problem with this is that it distorts your understanding of the Divine. It leads to questions like “Why does God, allow evil to exist?” and ” If God, is all loving why is there an eternal place for those who are deemed unworthy of that love?” This shows a fundamental misconception. The Oneness ( Spirit, the Universe, God, whatever term you wish to use) does not “allow” things, it just is. It is a mass consciousness that contains all the information of all existence (at least as far as we can hope to imagine), but in the concept that it is the puppeteer of the world is just misconception.
So, what can you do to connect with Spirit, that mitigates these issues? My best answer is shamanic journeying, and you don’t have to be a shaman to journey. The reason this method of connecting with Spirit doesn’t have as much trouble with this misconception is because it allows you to (at least at first) have your cake and eat it too. In a journey you connect with your helping spirits, which are really just “facets” of the Universe. In other words, you can interact with one “face” of the Universe without being overwhelmed by all of it at once. In my opinion this makes it easier to not anthropomorphize because helping spirits usually present as animals or plants. However, they can be humans, angels, mystical beings, or even gods/goddesses so it isn’t a “fool proof” system. Journeying is a fairly large topic, that I’ll probably cover in a later post, but I’m definitely not an expert on the subject.
God doesn’t want you to do X and not want you to do Y. The Universe is totally comprised of energy, and that energy has a flow. Nature is always in this flow, because it does not have the ability to choose a different course. We as humans have free will, therefore we can choose to move against this flow. However, when you move against the flow, it requires energy from somewhere. Just as you cannot sail a boat upstream without a power source to overcome the flow of a river. When you take energy in this way, someone or something else becomes depleted. If a person is depleted they will also tend to take energy in this way, to restore their own depletion (at least if left to their own devices), creating a cycle of taking and depleting. This is where the “do’s and dont’s” come in, not because of an arbitrary list of rules. It’s not right because it’s a rule, it’s a rule because it’s right (and by right I mean good for all living things). It’s not until we are willing to step outside our bubble and go to Spirit, instead of insisting that Spirit come to us, that we can see it for what it really is.
I’ve been doing some self reflection and found that I’ve too often been living for the future, instead of the present moment. Always waiting for that moment that will be the perfect time. Then I asked myself, Why not now? What am I doing with all of these moments spent waiting for the next? There is so much I could do in these moments of the present, that would actually be fulfilling rather than distracting. Timing is important, you cannot expect a tree to bear fruit before it has been planted, but to decide to not plant the tree and tend the earth in the mean time makes no sense. I feel as though this is what I have been doing, waiting for the “fruits” before I’ve planted and nurtured the seedling.
The only moment you will ever be in is the present one. You can imprison yourself in the past, or you can get lost in the ever changing labyrinth of the future. Either way, you end up oblivious to the one moment that you can act in, the present moment.
Winter is the time that nature conspires to help you to go within yourself. You can do this anytime, but what better time to go within than when outside is cold and unpleasant (not that Winter does not have its beauty, but you understand what I mean). Even some of the plants go within like the deciduous trees and the bulbous plants. Winter is also the time of planting your seeds and of gestation.
In the garden of your life, what seeds to you want to plant? What things do you need to let go of or let die? Death is one of our greatest allies (a long discussion for another post), often we need to let go of what no longer serves us. What things do you need to gestate and nurture before you birth or give life to them in the spring time?
Find time before winter is over to go within yourself. Go back and touch the Source, from which you constantly cycle your energy.
This is a very “sciencey” video, but I find it amazing how science and spirituality really overlap if you look from the right perspective. To see how everything in the universe was totally evenly spread out, then pulled together into a pattern due to gravity (and other factors that I’m not that knowledgeable about). The law governing the universe is entropy right? So, how is it that this mass of chaos became form? And since we are all made of the same things the universe is made of, I’m sure this patterning applies to our lives somehow. These are the things I think about :)
For many people today, silence can be torture. I personally know a few people that cannot stand silence, and they will constantly try to break any silence they find themselves in. As for myself, I have always appreciated silence. I’m a very contemplative, introspective, and somewhat introverted person. I’m always listening, thinking, and staring off into space, but “the gears are always turning”. I can walk down a street of crowded people and not be aware of where I am because I am deep in thought and my body kind of goes on “autopilot” (this also happens while driving, which can be a little scary and I do not recommend it lol). Silence doesn’t have to be the total lack of sound either, you can be in silence when surrounded by noise. The people that tend to break silence often annoy me (which is probably why I seem to find them!), it’s kind of like being in the middle of a good dream when someone wakes you up and you find yourself grasping for that place you were before but you can’t quite reach it.
Most people dislike silence out of fear for one reason or another. Most often, I hear about people constantly running through their list of “to do’s” and don’t let themselves “go”. They’re afraid they are wasting their time sitting around doing nothing when they should be doing all their to do’s. Others are afraid of what they might find in the silence (although they may be consciously unaware of it). The most common way to overcome your fears and worries around silence is to start a practice of meditation. If you have trouble with silence, I recommend concentration on the breath. Feel the breath going in and out of your body, then you can imagine your skin as a porous membrane and you breath comes in and out of those pores. Then you can imagine that membrane dissolving and you then have no boundaries. Don’t focus too hard on these images, if you get distracted by random thoughts, acknowledge them and let them pass by as if you are just the observer of your thoughts. In this state of silence, you can be given guidance or even feel the Oneness of the all things. It takes time and practice though, and requires daily practice. Try and make if a routine and you will have better success.
There is a real beauty in silence. Don’t be afraid to go there. You don’t have to spend all day meditating, just start with 5 minutes. It will help you take another perspective on your life, and give you a chance to sort through all of the things you didn’t have time for in the moment (if just sitting in silent contemplation).