“We may stumble and fall, but shall rise again; it should be enough if we did not run away from the battle.” — Mahatma Gandhi
Sunday marked the beginning of Holy Week.
As a child, I used to love going to church on Palm Sunday and trying to turn my palm into a crucifix or some type of animal. I also loved Holy Week because it usually meant I was out of school for Easter vacation.
These days when I go to church on Palm Sunday, though, I find myself really thinking about the significance of the day. I also find myself thinking about how fast the court of public opinion can change someone’s life, just as it did for Jesus Christ.
On Sunday, he was met with adoration. By Friday, he was dead on the cross. I mention this because if we spend our whole lives working for other people’s admiration and validation, it’s worth remembering that external validation can change on a moment’s notice.
External validation is fluid, fragile and ever-changing. What isn’t fluid, though, is one’s relationship with a higher power. That is what allowed Jesus Christ to say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
The Buddha taught that this whole life – including our thoughts, feelings and actions – arise from the tip of intention. While our intentions are usually marbled with wanting and fear, when intention comes into the light of consciousness, it unfolds into its most pure essence. This talk explores ways that when we are stuck in reactivity, we can become aware of intention, and find our way to the aspiration that expresses our most awake and loving heart.
“Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver, from “The Summer Day”
St. John of the Cross said, “All that the imagination can imagine and the understanding it can receive and understand in this life is not, nor can it be, a proximate means of union with God.”
What we have touched or tasted or known through some vehicle or another has been a way of turning ourselves on and getting high. I mean, Eleanor Rigby gets her kicks in some way or other. It may be darning a sock, it may be cooking a bouillabaisse, it may be walking by the ocean, it may be turning on with something – pot or acid, it may be making love – a moment of sexual union. It may be pure service, just serving, just totally, “Not mine, but thy will, oh lord,” in everything you do. Prayer gets you high, singing holy songs gets you high. Everybody’s got a trip to get high. Funny what we are getting to at this stage – we start to say, “Well my trip is better than your trip. You mean you didn’t go surfing man? Oh, you’re nowhere baby.”
Every year, just a few days before Christmas, my family and I sit down in our home with a minister friend and focus on the true meaning of the season.
It’s one of those traditions that everyone really seems to look forward to each year. It’s a night of grounding and it’s a moment of calm before the storm.
We begin by listening to a reading from the Bible. Then, we talk about what that parable means to each of us. We also talk to one another about our lives over the past year. Our triumphs. Our struggles. Our hopes and plans for moving forward.
After each person speaks, I usually ask, “Do you feel supported by the people in this room? If not, how can we better support you? How can we do a better job of being there for you, or backing off when you need space and letting you roam?”
As the truck pulled away I let the dogs out. I followed them into the snow. The contrast was amazing. I was surrounded by silence. Snow was gently falling. The lights glowed in the darkness. I felt peace all around me. Watching our dogs, run made me smile. It was a morning like many others; but perhaps the contrast helped me recognize the presence of peace.
One of my favorite traditions comes with the New Year. I love writing goals that lead to celebrating success.
To facilitate the exploration of the mind it is helpful to understand the various levels of reality, to examine the perceptual fields that different beings have, to see what different realities look like.
It is well known that motivation affects our perceptions. We don’t necessarily see things as they are we see them as we are. If a pickpocket meets a Saint, all he sees are his pockets. Thaddeus Golas, in The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment said, “You never have to change what you see, only the way you see it.”
Gurdjieff, the Russian philosopher, noted, “If you think you’re free and you don’t know you are in prison – you can’t escape.” Gurdjieff sees us as being in prison – a prison of the mind.
It has been suggested that there is nothing that influences one more than the power of one’s own voice, and I have witnessed that to be true over and over again in my own life. We carry a magic wand in our words, whether we want to or not. It is hard for our limited ego to believe or accept that what we say has any power at all, and yet we can immediately recognize the correlation between what we claim with our own words and the experiences we have.
Want to know how free you really are? Good! You're about to be presented with a unique opportunity to learn all about your individual level of inner liberty.
As you review each of the inner liberties on the list, just note mentally whether or not that particular freedom belongs to you. Our intention is simply to learn what's true about ourselves, not to prove anything about ourselves. Allow these forty freedoms to awaken and stir that secret part of you that knows living in any kind of bondage is a lie. Then follow your own natural sensing all the way to the free life.
When I went to India five years ago, somebody came up to me and said, “Ram Dass, you’re looking so much older!” Now try that on in this culture. You’d think, “Oh my God, I didn’t get enough sun. I’d better do something – lift, tuck, push, smile more, look healthier, get radiant, take vitamins, get exercise.” I mean, you’re mind just runs the gamut of these things when somebody would say a horrible thing like that, but then I heard the tone with which he was saying it, and he was saying it with respect.
Like, “Wow, you’ve made it! Like, you’re an elder and somebody that can be listened to. You’re somebody that can be respected.”
Now, if you think aging is bad, try dying. There’s this culture’s obsession with issues of death, with capital punishment, with abortion, with inner city violence, with guns, with war, and I think there is a kind of moral crisis.
When I came back from India, I came back armed, if you will, with the fact that there were many more people who held different views of the process of dying. Now I have to for a moment go back to what had happened to me in 1961. I had gone from being a Western social scientist over the edge into another way of understanding reality, experientially, not intellectually, and without getting into all the politics of this issue and all the moral aspects of the issue, this was the result of me taking psilocybin mushrooms.
I often talk about how suffering arises from the unseen, unfelt parts of ourselves. Only when we become aware of what is here and bring presence to what we have been running from can we discover wholeness and freedom.
The same is true when we explore our relationships to each other and the world. We cannot be free if we are pushing anyone out of our hearts. If we are discounting, rejecting, or turning away, we are not living from our wholeness. It creates suffering. When we live in resentment, we have separated ourselves and pulled away from our belonging.
Some years back, I was talking with a woman in our community. She was a breast cancer survivor and she told me about a conversation that she had with a friend who also was a survivor. Her friend asked her, “What would it feel like for you to think that something good might happen, rather than something bad?” Her response was, “Totally weird and uncomfortable. “Good,” her friend said. “Try it now.”
From an evolutionary perspective, it really makes sense that we feel uncomfortable when we envision positive things coming our way. Our brains are designed to scan for trouble and fixate on what might go wrong in any given situation. This is described as the negativity bias and it one of our hard wired survival strategies. Of course, it is a very good strategy for avoiding real danger. But, in the absence of a true threat, it limits our capacity for enjoying, and celebrating our moments. We have such a short time on planet earth. When the negativity bias rules, we get very loyal to our anxiety, mistrust and vigilance. We cannot inhabit the fullness of our lives.
Is it possible to experience the clearest vibration our soul can achieve, while in our human form. Do we have the capacity to fully connect, such as in a Near Death Experience. Maybe we don’t need to die, to experience that magnitude of awareness. What if it’s as easy as our awareness slipping out of our body and returning to a state of Grace. When we are ready, we shift back to the human form.
I like to think we always have the capacity to experience our highest form. I imagine the state of Grace is free of fear and we are able to love ourselves and others and everything completely. I know Grace is always with us.
A young boy shared with me the age of his grandparents. He was surprised that his Great Grandmother outlived his Grand Father. He shared how those that cross over, watch their own funerals. The boy then began telling me about reincarnation. He shared how each of us have many lives. We were hiking through snow and bright sun, talking about reincarnation. I asked him if he has had past lives. His response was no. He believed he would certainly remember them. He thought if he had past lives, they would involve wars or fires. I am sure he has experienced many lives, possibly some as a great teacher. Our conversation will be long remembered by me and probably already life.
As a life coach, I work with people in all stages of life. I have found that true transformation holds both challenge and success. I love it! Each one of us can a create a life we love!
Recently I caught up with Mary; we currently work together monthly. She is living proof of a life gaining momentum towards peace. In the past two years she has almost accomplished her professional goals. She is also healthier; much stronger and balanced.
With that being said, lately, she was feeling overwhelmed. We discussed her current work, home, and love life. She is managing to balance her busy life, and has accomplished a tremendous amount of positive change. She has gone from crying on the bath room floor because of a failed marriage, to becoming a courageous independent woman.
She has gone from having no clear idea of how to support herself, to becoming a professional in her chosen field.
How often have you wondered “what’s going to happen?” and gone to see a psychic, astrologer, or intuitive to answer that question. I used to be that professional that would peer into the future to tell you what I saw. I actually built my reputation on that talent. In fact, there was a time that it wasn’t hard to do. Not many people were interested in self-evolution or creating their own reality. Most of us didn’t even know we could! Futures could be predicted because we moved at a slower pace.
Light workers, playfulness players keep trusting. Each thought, feeling, and intention you exude in colorful miracle, musical sincerity, sweet scent of many flowers and plants, into this world has repercussions far beyond. The lilies in the compost are loud singers to the listening ear, bright and here.
We learn from contrasts on planet earth so each appearance of reality is either a celebration of the good, or invite into greater creation of the good. Hallelujah!
The dogmas that stop the flow are simply guidelines for people in developmental stages requiring these rules of learning, prior to surrendering into the sun. Patience for all.
This talk continues the exploration of what causes our distrust of ourselves, others and life, and the pathways to realizing and trusting who we are. We explore the steps of awakening from limiting beliefs, dissolving the resistance to direct embodied presence, and discovering the space and tenderness – the formless dimension – that is indivisible and whole.
One of the expressions of an awakened heart-mind is a basic trust in reality. These talks explore the severed belonging that gives rise to mistrust, and two primary pathways to realizing and trusting the indivisible field of loving awareness that is our source (a favorite from the archives).
I remember being in India as a renunciate and thinking, “Well, the thing that has obsessed me for the last 25 or 30 years is sex.” I mean, since puberty until I was sitting there, I thought, “My god, think of the amount of time I have spent thinking about sex… Will I get enough? Who is it? Will you? Won’t you? Can I? Can’t I? …Do I really wanna spend the rest of my life doing that?”
The game of powers is always very simple: Don’t use them. The minute you get a power and say, “I’ve got this power, I will use it,” then you’re stuck again. A new attachment, a new ego trip. Don’t use them, rather let them be used through you.
Join Soulspring for conscious insights...
...on all things life, wellness, love, transformation and spirituality...
PLUS! Get your FREE Guide: 12 Mindfulness Practices to a Peaceful Mind