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How can we add more dimension to our spiritual existence?

This is a great story: Every month a disciple faithfully sent his master an account of his spiritual progress.

In the first month, he wrote, “I feel an expansion of consciousness and experience my oneness with the universe.” The master glanced at the note and threw it away. The following month, this is what he had to say: “I have finally discovered that the Divine is present in all things.” The master seemed disappointed. In his third letter, the disciple enthusiastically explained, “The mystery of the One and the Many has been revealed to my wondering gaze.” The master yawned. In his next letter, he said, “No one is born, no one lives, and no one dies for the self is not.” The master threw up his hands in despair.

 

After that a month passed by, then two, then five, then a whole year. The master thought it was time to remind his disciple of his duty to keep him informed of his spiritual progress, so he wrote to him. The disciple wrote back, “Who cares?” When the master read these words, a look of satisfaction spread over his face, and he said, “Thank you God, at last he’s got it.”

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Seeing Basic Goodness – Part 2

Most of us long to trust our goodness, but get caught in stories of deficiency and striving to affirm we’re ok. These talks look at the block to realizing the loving awareness that is our essence, and the practices that help us see this essential goodness – in ourselves, dear ones and in those we might habitually consider different or “other.” Both talks include reflections that can help us appreciate the basic goodness that lives through these precious, changing forms.

Think of some of the people you like and are drawn to you.

Now attempt to look at each of them as if you were seeing them for the first time, not allowing yourself to be influenced by your past knowledge or experience of them, whether good or bad.

Look for things in them that you may have missed because of familiarity, for familiarity breeds staleness, blindness and boredom. You cannot love what you cannot see afresh. You cannot love what you are not constantly discovering anew.

Anthony de Mello
from “The Way to Love: The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello”  

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Miraculous Discoveries

I stepped out on my deck and was pulled into the moment of all that was taking place around me. It was the sounds that I connected to first. The squirrels talking loudly in their world. Our wind chime reacting to the breeze. Sea gulls chasing a much larger eagle through the sky. An ambulance too far away to hear, but I could see the flashing lights. It became obvious to me that we are surrounded by choices; choices of where to place our attention.

 

We can find ourselves fully experiencing the moment by accident, or by purposefully calling our attention to the moment. Sometimes we need courage. Other times we need healing to help us embrace awareness. I discovered my ability to fall into the moment by accident. Growing up I enjoyed sitting outside in the presence of animals. Nature and animals were one of the sweetest parts of my childhood. Both of these have helped me connect. They have both helped me heal. I have also learned that if we have suffering anywhere in the world, we all suffer.

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Seeing Basic Goodness – Part 1

Most of us long to trust our goodness, but get caught in stories of deficiency and striving to affirm we’re ok. These talks look at the block to realizing the loving awareness that is our essence, and the practices that help us see this essential goodness – in ourselves, dear ones and in those we might habitually consider different or “other.” Both talks include reflections that can help us appreciate the basic goodness that lives through these precious, changing forms.

“Saints are what they are, not because their sanctity makes them admirable to others, but because the gift of sainthood makes it possible for them to admire everyone else.” -Thomas Merton

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How Real Is the Soul?

Depending on which polls you consult, more than half of Americans and up to 67% believe that a person's soul goes to heaven or hell after death. This belief seems unusually strong considering that more and more Americans no longer identify with a fixed religion. "I'm not religious, but I’m spiritual" has become a common sentiment, and yet the idea of the soul continues to hold its place. One might even say it outstrips God as a matter of belief.

Look at how deeply embedded the word "soul" is in our culture, from soul music to soul searching. Once a word takes old, so does the concept it represents. To a pure rationalist, there's no reason to say that the gospels sung in African American churches are more soulful than a Beethoven symphony. When someone searches his soul, the psychological reality is that he is usually just consulting his conscience or weighing issues of right and wrong that came from childhood upbringing.

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The Temple Is You

Your physical form is not a throw-away container to be mistreated or ignored and then discarded at the end of your life with reluctance or relief. As the greatest mystics have said, your body is a temple. It is the holy shrine that houses God and your eternal soul and is to be treated with honor and gentleness. Perhaps even awe. It is an amazing gift to be alive on this planet at this time. At any time really. There is great mystery involved in our beingness, most of which we will never understand while we are in our physicality. However, we can experience that mystery as the miracle that it is in every moment of our lives.
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Why Did We Create God?

There is no denying that the different versions of God in world religions has led to historical violence and conflict, which humanitarians have tried to end by saying that there is only one God, implying that such conflicts are pointless. But is there only one God? The conflicting versions of God all attempt to grasp God in reality, so every version actually is God for that religion.

Atheists claim that all of these versions are fictional to begin with, but this misses the point. Human beings have experienced the spiritual dimension of life for as long as history can tell. The need for God grew out of the same need as modern science: to explain a fundamental aspect of Nature. The problem is that there is a gap between this need for explanations and the answers arrived at.

In this gap creativity went to work. The gods and God are human creations, constructs of the mind. Faced with unanswerable dilemmas the human mind went to work to fashion a supernatural dimension presided over by a ruler, or rulers, who stand in for rulers here on Earth, being human, emotional, unpredictable, beautiful, terrible, merciful, vengeful--pick any human trait and you can match it to some version of God worshipped now or in the past. The rational God of Thomas Jefferson's enlightened God is a projection of his ideal human portrayed on a superhuman scale, just as Jehovah, the complete opposite of Jefferson's God, was an idealized projection by ancient rabbis.

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What is Standing Between You and Who You Deserve to Be - Chasing Moonbeams and Butterflies

I have forever been looking “out there” for what was within me the entire time, or as one of my mentors told me, “What you are looking for, you are looking with.”

 

I have been writing since the age of four (I learned to read at age two) but whenever my mother would catch me writing, she would confiscate the papers and throw them away along with the admonishment that writers are losers and I would “never be a writer!” 

 

It has been said, “Follow your passion and the money will follow,” and I believe that. However, how many of you feel, or have felt like me, that you cannot be self-supporting by doing what you love.That has been an on and off process for me using a myriad of tools to get in touch with why that is.

 

I am doing what I love since I retired from my real career but not making any money and I have had to take a serious look at why?   It felt like I have always been simply chasing moonbeams, falling stars and rainbows looking for something but not knowing what.  I just kept writing.  One morning – before dawn – one of those moonbeams struck me upside the head with another memory.  It is definitely not a new memory but one which has always been just hanging out with me.  It is a sentence I frequently heard from my mother:  “Writers are losers.”  

 

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As We Evolve, Do We Need God?

By Deepak Chopra, MD and Anoop Kumar, MD

We recently participated in a public debate on the proposition "The more we evolve, the less we need God." The results were clearly in favor of the proposition against the stance we took. This was so amongst both the live audience and the online audience.

The cerebral cortex, the most recent part of the human brain to evolve, hasn't changed for more than ten thousand years. The writers of the world's ancient spiritual texts used the same brain as modern people, and since the world's religions revere these ancient texts, we accept that the Ten Commandments and the Four Noble truths of Buddhism came from minds whose processes we'd recognize today, however dissimilar the cultures of ancient Judea and India.

It must be cultural evolution that is relevant, and of course our modern secular culture has moved away from the age of faith. Rationalism seems to dominate our lives, and when we read of religious fanaticism, we feel that such issues belong to people living outside the reach of a modern secular society. Few people seeing news on TV of an attack in Paris or London feel an impulse to fight back by re-energizing their own religious beliefs. Being secular can easily feed the belief that one has evolved beyond God, religion, dogma, and the whole rigmarole.

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Namaste: Seeing the Truth of Who We Are

A gift of evolving consciousness is the capacity to recognize and honor the sacred awareness that lives through our own and all beings. This capacity is blocked by our identification with our “mask” or ego self, and not seeing past other people’s masks. In this talk we reflect together on some key filters of superior/inferior and good/bad that shape the trance of a narrowed identity, and then explore how mindfulness and kindness free us to inhabit the vastness of our natural awareness. We close with tasting the possibility of bringing the spirit of Namaste to ourselves, others and all beings.


Rumi writes: ““Are you searching for your true self? Then come out of your own prison. Leave the little creek and join the mighty river that flows into the ocean. Like an ox, don’t pull the wheel of this world on your back. Take off the burden. Whirl and circle, and rise above the wheel of the world. There is another view.”

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Is Wholeness the Secret of Well-Being?

Part of being human is that happiness is difficult. We are too complex for a cut-and-dried answer to work. There have been broad trends, however, over the course of time. Devotion to God, the pursuit of reason, getting rich, going to a therapist—all the possible avenues for achieving happiness have been explored, and in modern society each solution remains open. No one is locked into another person’s way to find happiness.


But that’s not the same as claiming that all of these various approaches have worked—there is a good possibility, in fact, that none has. That’s the position taken by a wide swath of teachers and guides, most of them classified as “spiritual,” who declare that living in the state of separation is the root cause of suffering. Separation is also known as duality, and so in recent years a new rubric, nondualism, has been used to embrace philosophers, therapists, spiritual teachers, and general writers who promote wholeness as the secret of true, lasting well-being.


In this post we’ll look at the nondual argument through an overview of how things stand in the wellness movement and particularly the evidence in biomedical literature that might offer scientific evidence for nondual claims.

 
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The Experience of God

God is everything. Yet within that everything, God has many aspects of being, from formlessness to form. At the center of the universe (actually before the universe became the universe) is just Source energy, pure potential. In some teachings, this is called the absolute, or “I.” It is the precursor to the Big Bang: out of nothing came something, out of absolute being arose relative being, or “I Am,” wherein God becomes relatable, experiential, as love, as consciousness. When we on the spiritual path feel divine love, when we expand into conscious awareness of something greater in our lives, we are experiencing the “I Am” at the soul level.

The next aspect is “I Am That,” in which we as humans identify completely with our physical forms, personality selves, or egos, and forget our divine connection. Forgetfulness is the common state for humanity at this time. In forgetfulness, we get caught up in all the polarities and dramas of human physical life on Earth. Our minds, emotions, and bodies are our primary experience, and the soul takes a backseat, often completely overlooked. This also is God, but it is God forgetting that it is God—something we all experience before we awaken again into the “I Am,” the love we came from.


In the collective awakening that is happening more and more on this planet, we reconnect with our souls, with the God within. This is the primary experiential focus for many of us who have incarnated at this time—to expand in awareness from “I Am That” to “I Am” and finally to “I.”

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What does it mean to see God in everyone?

Many years ago, back in the early 70’s, I had a Buick limousine that I had made over into a camper.

I opened the trunk up, and I lived there, and I was driving across the country. I started out from Boston and I had been in India. I had developed certain practices that I just loved doing and at the time I loved doing mantra, or just saying the names of the Beloved over and over again, “Ala, Yahweh, Krishna, Ram.” I would just take the names and keep repeating it, and I sometimes sit with beads and I could go into these extraordinary states of deliciousness.

I was driving across the country, and I wasn’t listening to the radio, and the car is big. It was like a tank, and it just went slowly. I had one leg tucked under me, and I was just driving along in New York, doing my “Hari Krishna, Hari Krishna, Krishna, Krishna,” just keeping enough consciousness to keep steering the wheel. I was doing this when I became aware of a flashing blue light, which might have been the blue light of Krishna, but it looked like a state trooper, so I pulled over and I stopped, and this being got out. He came up to the window and he said, “May I see your license and registration?” Turned out I was going too slow. 

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Celebrate the Spring Equinox!

Feel the Pulse of Co-creation

Happy Spring to all of us in the north, and happy Fall to my friends Down Under! (Although where I live on my farm outside of Toronto it looks like winter has come back- but heck I am hopeful!)  The Spring equinox is when the Light and Dark are equal and then a new cycle begins as the Light begins to grow and become more powerful. This time of year always triggers a shift in everyone just as Nature shows us new beginnings and new life so will the natural flow of seasons in our lives, our projects and our dreams begin to naturally evolve.

When new life begins to appear its natural to feel the same compelling drive within you too. I find it most apparent at the spring and fall equinoxes. Something just begins to turn on the magic so to speak.

If you slow down enough to tune into your inner awareness you’ll sense that urge to spring clean, to make space for new life , or in the autumn you’ll feel the call to clean up to make space to incubate new dreams.

This time of year we really begin to feel the pulse of co-creation, abundance and our infinite potential for prosperity. There’s an anticipation, a palpable energy that we can tune into that turns on a switch, like all of a sudden going from dim and hazy to bright and shiny.

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Your Soul's Awareness

Live as your soul, and trust in God. Live as God, and trust in your soul. One and the same. Your soul is God here on Earth within a physical form. God is in every physical form on the planet—every human being, every animal, every butterfly, every tree, every stone, every tiny grain of sand. There is absolutely nothing that is not Source energy. When we come to this greater awareness, we can be free of separation on every level. Separation from God, separation from others, and separation within ourselves. My mind, body, emotions, and spirit are all one. I am one with all beings everywhere.
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What's in a Name?

My aversion to the word God began in childhood because of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who regularly showed up at our door to convert us to Christianity. My father used to try to argue them out of their stance that only they knew who or what God is. They, of course, saw my dad as one of the lost who needed to be saved. This was my first experience with proselytizing. As adults, my parents had moved away from their Christian roots to a more “free-thinking” approach to religion. They felt that humans can never really “know” if God exists; it is a personal belief. So I was raised entirely outside of traditional religion. My parents took me to a Unitarian church once, but I wasn’t really interested. They always allowed me my own choices with regard to religious beliefs or practices.


So I had no spiritual framework other than Nature and my parents’ unconditional love, which I eventually recognized as God in its purest form. I remained suspicious of the rigidity of religion, as well as its patriarchal structure, for many years. The word God to me exemplified all of that. It wasn’t until I read Mary Daly’s book Beyond God the Father in my 20s that I began to open to a spirituality beyond religion. Mary asked her readers to imagine God as a verb not a noun—an active verb, neither male nor female. That fascinated me and enabled me to break through to infinite possibilities around the idea of God. The words Source, Divine, Goddess, Great Mystery, Universal Consciousness, Spirit all held meaning for me. I liked having many names for God, which is really unnamed energy anyway. It’s humans who want to name it.

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What is the significance of having (or not having) a guru?

I find that in this culture, every time I say I have a guru, I feel like I am holding up a red flag to people, because they say, “Well, I wouldn’t want that,” or, “Why don’t I have one?” or something else, so all I’m doing is creating suffering every time I mention it. It’s hard to have something you treasure so much, that you can’t share with people for fear of the impact it’s going to have on them. But I see that what I have to get rid of is my own reactivity to that issue. I am a member of this culture also, strange though it is.


The words that come to mind are that true surrender is no surrender, and the way it was put to me by one of my teachers in the old days, Baba Hari Dass was, “You can’t rip the skin off a snake. When it’s time, the snake sheds its skin.” If it’s a situation where somebody says,“Surrender to me” and you say, “Should I or shouldn’t I?” forget it. It’s not gonna work anyway, because even if you say, “I’m surrendering to you,” that’s ego saying, “I’m surrendering,” which is not surrender. There is a point where your surrender becomes just so obvious and absurd, that you’d be a fool not to – it’s not something where you decide, “I will surrender.”


It’s very interesting that my relationship to my guru is not one that my rational mind shows. In fact, the whole thing was very abhorrent to me in the beginning. When I met Neem Karoli Baba, the whole idea of a Hindu guru was absolutely absurd. I didn’t like Hinduism. It was day-glow paint and calendar art and I didn’t like it, you know… I liked the cleanliness of Buddhism. I mean I was really, you know, a Southern Buddhist. And here I meet my guru, you know, a big fat guy in a blanket, and what the hell is this all about? The fellow I was with was lying down touching the man’s feet and I’m sitting with my arms crossed standing there thinking, “I’m not gonna touch his feet.” You know, I mean, it was just, that symbol of the whole thing, and I wouldn’t do it.


An hour later it was all I wanted to do.

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How I Found Peace - Letting Go

My husband and I are in Santa Barbra for a week of Infinite Illumination, with Panache Desai. I have been looking forward to both the teachings and community. John was not completely sold on the whole idea of illumination. He confessed to having plans of an alternate experience if needed.


Just before the opening of the event we walked on the beach. It felt so good to just feel the sun and begin to get in a space that welcomes new experiences. We strolled for a bit before I decided to sit down and take it all in. My partner continued on.


Once seated, I discovered what had energetically pulled me; why I had stopped walking. There was a lone seal. It had recently suffered significant injuries and appeared thin. He struggled to move along on the sand. The water was slowly coming in. The seal worked hard to stay ahead of the rising tide.


More people stopped. Someone put a call into a marine life rescue center. The dark gray and white water neared the seal as we made eye contact . This image has stayed with me.  

Bliss and Bangs on the Head

Sometimes life is a joyful dance, and sometimes it just hurts, like a really bad headache. When things get difficult, you may feel that you are being punished for failing some invisible test of your character. Or, dramatically, that you are Sisyphus pushing a boulder uphill, only to watch it roll back down again. This is the human view, thinking we are in complete control of our lives and have made a mistake when things aren’t going well. In truth, we are not in single-handed control, and there are no mistakes. Everything that occurs in your life has been envisioned by God and your soul to bring you to greater awareness of the absolute perfection of every moment.

As we progress on the spiritual path, we gradually learn that sacred Source energy is present in every single experience. It’s in the goose bumps and tears of blissful connection to something greater as well as in the sudden harsh twist of fate that stops you in your tracks and diverts you to a new destination. It’s the hard stuff as well as the celestial celebration. It’s all divinely orchestrated Grace, designed to move you ever closer to complete alignment with your soul. It opens you to seeing that God/dess is present in absolutely every situation and scenario, in every person and event.

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How can we hold onto our identities more lightly?

When you take birth, you are extremely vulnerable. You’re at the whim of all the forces around you, so what you develop through socialization are techniques for your own survival as a separate entity. That survival comes from creating boundaries so that you don’t just get wiped out. Those boundaries as a little person, as a child, are enlarged by being a member of your family, where you have allies, and are now a part of a group. It becomes, “I have people that are gonna help me. We’ve agreed to help one another.” You know, not all the time, but I’m thinking more in physical proximity than in a psychological sense.


So we grow up feeling that our identity groups gives us power, while it’s also securing our separateness. You can see this within the bigger system of nation-states where there are these huge egos. What’s very interesting historically at the moment we’re living in, is that the sometimes multicultural economic structures are becoming more powerful than the nation-states. The nation-states are in deep doodoo economically, and the industries are doing great. So that the reference to, “I am an American,” while it’s great, is no longer absolute salvation for you, because there’s a whole other ball game playing here.


Now, the more insecure people get, the more they’re frightened by existing conditions.

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