Learning to Connect to Inner Peace

hands-reach-for-each-other-picture-id1031563504 Learning to Connect to Inner Peace

Question: Why do some people seem to exude peace of mind while I struggle to be calm? What is the source of composure, and how can I work to develop it within myself?

Guy Finley: For better or worse, the quality and content of your life experience is determined by what you are connected to.

The next time you feel yourself becoming agitated, simply notice to what you are connected. See how simple this is, if you’ll do it.

Here you are driving down the street and you start to notice that you’re feeling depressed. Or maybe you’re feeling anxious. That’s the first step: to see yourself, to be awake to what’s going on within you. Ordinarily, the nature that feels negative, the self that embraces that stressed state, looks to itself to explain to itself why it feels like that, which does nothing but forward the process. Now you have some new information. The reason that you’re in the condition you’re in is because of what you’re connected to. Period. And what you’re connected to in that moment is nothing but some self-limiting idea you have of yourself -- an idea that’s telling you who you are, defining you based upon its incomplete perception of life. For instance, in unheard whispers it claims: “Unless so and so approves of my actions they’re worthless, which means I am too.” Or, “If I lose that account, or relationship, all will be lost”… mistaken ideas delivering wrong conclusions, unconscious conclusions which become your tragedies.

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How can we begin to wake up in each moment?

wakingup-730x400 How can we begin to wake up in each moment?

A soul takes human birth in order to have a series of experiences through which it will awaken out of its illusion of separateness, in each moment.

The physical experience of being incarnated is the curriculum, and the purpose of the course is to awaken us from the illusion that we are the incarnation. Spiritual practices are tools to help us accomplish these goals.

You start from innocence and you return to innocence. A sage was asked, “How long have we been on this journey?” He replied, “Imagine a mountain three miles wide, three miles high, and three miles long. Once every hundred years, a bird flies over the mountain, holding a silk scarf in its beak, which it brushes across the surface of the mountain. The time it would take for the scarf to wear down the mountain is how long we’ve been doing this.”

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When You’re in Transition Hell, Is Everything in Divine Order? Your Choice

divineorder When You’re in Transition Hell, Is Everything in Divine Order? Your Choice

When you don’t get things that you want, many people will tell you “Everything is in divine order,” which loosely translates into believing there is a reason, a good reason, a beautiful reason for everything– but you lame grasshopper of a tiny, baser consciousness cannot yet behold why it’s just peaches and cream perfect that you’re in how shall we say it—HELL—and struggling to claw your way through your own black swamp– while someone else nabs their dream job, spouse, and home along the sunniest coast of Spain, and, yes, bless their hearts, tweets about it.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I’m in pain, it’s hard to see perfection in my life.

But then, and I say this grudgingly, that would be the point of having a spiritual practice or faith.

Spirituality is all about holding a perspective that it’s hard for your ordinary mind to see.  That’s why it’s an extraordinary path.

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Qualities of the Beloved

child-hands-formig-heart-shape-picture-id951945718 Qualities of the Beloved

Once you have drunk from the water of unconditional love, no other well can satisfy your thirst. The pangs of separation may become so intense that seeking the affection of the Beloved becomes an obsession. When we were with Maharaji, we were intoxicated with his form, the colors of his blanket, the buttery softness of his skin, his tapering, almost simian fingers, the long eyelashes that so often hid his eyes, the red toenail on his big toe. As with any lover we, too, became fascinated and enamored of every detail, although these cues triggered spiritual bliss instead of physical desire.

In their way intoxication and addiction are analogies for devotion.

Once you experience unconditional love, you really get hooked. The attraction is to that intimacy between the lover and the Beloved.


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Sublime, Ridiculous, Terrifying, and Blissful: It’s All Part of the Path

spiritualpath Sublime, Ridiculous, Terrifying, and Blissful: It’s All Part of the Path

So here’s the thing: I didn’t go to school for any of this spirituality stuff. I’m not a yogi from the Himalayas, a preacher in a pulpit, or a “spiritual teacher” with dollar signs in my eyes. The truth is, early in life my curiosity got the better of me and led me down some roads that resulted in years of heavy drug and alcohol addiction. These dark places ultimately brought me to a very real life-or-death search for something more: finding deeper meaning in life and waking up to the spiritual essence that imbues it all—from monasteries to stadiums, meditation to stage dives, skateboarding to serving food in a soup kitchen, and everything in between.

Wait . . . so by “everything,” do I actually mean every single thing? Why, yes—yes, I do, and I call this “Everything Mind”. So, what is Everything Mind? Well, I think a better question would be, “What isn’t Everything Mind?” We could start by saying that Everything Mind considers every-thing in our lives as part of the spiritual path. Our triumphs and heartbreaks, joys and suffering, the light and the dark—all are equally suitable teachers and lessons. Zen Buddhist teacher and poet Thich Nhat Hanh is famously quoted as saying, “No mud, no lotus,” which means that our best selves grow out of our darkest places—our pain and suffering. Experiencing life from the place of Everything Mind allows us to lay aside our fears of right or wrong thoughts and emotions. Then, we can begin to compassionately, and even humorously (at times), work with and through all of them with open and courageous hearts and minds.

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Higher Consciousness in Less than a Minute

elderly-hawaii-woman-practicing-yoga-picture-id884298208 Higher Consciousness in Less than a Minute

There are very old, rich traditions of higher consciousness around the world, and diverse as they are, they seem to have one thing in common: Arriving at higher consciousness takes time, perhaps a lifetime. Along with this idea comes other, closely related ones. Higher consciousness is exceptional. It requires intense inner work. Only a select few ever reach the goal.

The overall effect of these ideas is to discourage the average person from even considering that higher consciousness is within reach. For all practical purposes, society sets those apart who have become enlightened, saintly, or spiritually advanced. In an age of faith such figures were revered; today they are more likely to be viewed as beyond normal life, to be admired, shrugged off, or forgotten.

Much of this is a holdover from the merger of religion, spirituality, and consciousness. For centuries there was no separating the three. Most traditional societies developed a priestly class to guard the sanctity—and privileged status—of reaching near to God. But these trappings are now outdated and even work against the truth, which is that higher consciousness is as natural and effortless as consciousness itself. If you are aware, you can become more aware. There is nothing to higher consciousness than this logical conclusion.

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Everyday Immortality

everydaymortality Everyday Immortality

Questions of life and death, including the existence of life after death, seem to resist any firm conclusion. Most people tell pollsters that they believe in God, the soul, and the afterlife, but for all practical purposes we live in a secular society. The reassurances of organized religion no longer persuade millions of modern people, while on the other hand, there is a sharp rise in skepticism, doubt, and atheism.

Living as if we are mortal is the choice most people now make—for practical purposes, they live as if nothing existed before birth and nothing is likely to exist after death. Yet there is another choice rarely discussed, which one might call practical immortality. It rests upon a simple but life-changing decision anyone can make, the decision to identify with consciousness.

Right now everyone’s allegiance is split. We identify with our bodies some of the time and with our minds the rest of the time. If you run a marathon, go to the doctor for a checkup, feel attracted to someone else physically, or drag through the day for lack of sleep, you are identifying with your body. When you feel sad, have a bright idea, or argue about politics, you identify with your mind.

These may seem like obvious things, but it is due to split allegiances that death poses so much fear. If you think that life ends when the physical body ends, the prospect is rarely pleasant, and no matter how much spiritual literature you read, a mental conviction that physical death isn’t the end won’t resolve your fear. Everyone seems to agree that nothing can be known about the existence of the afterlife until we get there—or not.

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How does unconditional love help us rediscover our souls?

indiangirls How does unconditional love help us rediscover our souls?

Unconditional love really exists in each of us. It is part of our deep inner being. It is not so much an active emotion as a state of being. It’s not “I love you” for this or that reason, not “I love you if you love me.” It’s love for no reason, love without an object. It’s just sitting in love, a love that incorporates the chair and the room and permeates everything around. The thinking mind is extinguished in love.

If I go into the place in myself that is love and you go into the place in yourself that is love, we are together in love. Then you and I are truly in love, the state of being love. That’s the entrance to Oneness. That’s the space I entered when I met my guru.

Years ago in India I was sitting in the courtyard of the little temple in the Himalayan foothills. Thirty or forty of us were there around my guru, Maharaji. This old man wrapped in a plaid blanket was sitting on a plank bed, and for a brief uncommon interval everyone had fallen silent. It was a meditative quiet, like an open field on a windless day or a deep clear lake without a ripple. Waves of love radiated toward me, washing over me like a gentle surf on a tropical shore, immersing me, rocking me, caressing my soul, infinitely accepting and open.

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A Path with No Steps

img_0802 A Path with No Steps
“There is no way to peace.
Peace is the way.
—A.J. Muste

If you pick up a magazine or scroll through the internet these days, it’s likely you’ll encounter some kind of self-help article or program that features 4 Steps, 6 Ways, or 7 Secrets to magically make your life “work.” Instant wealth, health, peace of mind, and the perfect soul mate are yours if you just follow the streamlined advice provided. Even experiencing God can be reduced to a checklist of actions or strategies. Like this recent article I ran across online: “How to Find God: The Five Ways.” Really? God? Aren’t we losing something in this pared-down process?

The deepest experiences of life and God can’t be translated into short summation paragraphs. There is no Dummy’s Guide to the Cosmos (or if there is, there shouldn’t be). No fast lane to divine connection or a peaceful life. It is within awareness itself that God and peace are found. And awareness arises from slowing down and being present in each moment. The only action necessary is breathing consciously. When you pause and relax into the slow eternal rhythm of your own breath, you align perfectly with the center of your being, where peace and spirit always reside. And where the answer to every life question you could possibly ask resides.

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Kute Blackson's Soul Talk - Michael Bernard Beckwith: LIVING A SPIRITUAL AND AUTHENTIC LIFE

livingauthenticlife Kute Blackson's Soul Talk - Micheal Bernard Beckwith: LIVING A SPIRITUAL AND AUTHENTIC LIFE

The universe does not do do-overs, make mistakes or repeat itself, and it does not do meaningless acts. So who we are has meaning, value and is one-of-a-kind.

Success is an elusive concept. It is easy to feel unworthy or unsuccessful when comparing yourself to the rich and famous. However, celebrity and success are not necessarily synonymous. Listen to this insightful interview with Michael Beckwith, founder and spiritual director of the Agape International Spiritual Center, and learn how unlock the beauty, creativity and success in all areas of your life.

In This Episode You Will Learn:

  • Two things that stop people from fulfilling their potential.
  • The difference between Fate and Destiny.
  • The definition of Character.
  • How to achieve a greater sense of worldly success.
  • Two of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself in any situation.
  • The greatest challenges we face as a species.
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518 Hits

Why God is not a 911 emergency responder

emergencygod Why God is not a 911 emergency responder

Many times when individuals pray, they pray, asking God to solve their issues. Or they pray for God to grant them something they want. This is not the way in which God works. God is not a 911 emergency responder. 

We did not come here to solve emergencies


We need to remember why we chose to incarnate here on the planet. We need to remember that we came here to go to school. We did not arrive here to seek to acquire, to get, to hoard. Nor to compete with others. We came here to unfold, to grow, and to expand.

We came here to reveal the face of God in and through us and our lives. 

And so, we have chosen to come here to learn. Learn to surrender to, embrace and allow that which seeks to emerge from within us to emerge. So that we may forever become more although never less than who we used to be. We are here to be transformed by the continuous renewal of our minds.

Enter our challenge, called problems, emergencies or crisis by some. Each and every single one of them is a nothing but a Divine gift and blessing. That we may transform, grow and expand.

They are called into our experience in total agreement with the lessons we have come to learn. As we, through spiritual practice; meditation, affirmative prayer, high fellowship, and sacred study become aware of this - our problems and emergencies begin to dissolve and steppingstones to higher levels of awareness begin to emerge.

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The Power to Rise Again

green-tropical-palm-leaf-with-sunlight-background-picture-id941387804 The Power to Rise Again

“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.”

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Realizing Your Deepest Intention

dog-at-window Realizing Your Deepest Intention

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.

Mary Oliver


“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”

 

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How does labeling our experience take us out of the moment?

labeling How does labeling our experience take us out of the moment?

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.”

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377 Hits

A Reflection on My Family’s Holiday Tradition

christmastradition A Reflection on My Family’s Holiday Tradition
“Christmas is a holiday that we celebrate not as individuals nor as a nation, but as a human family.” — Ronald Reagan

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?”

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277 Hits

Divine Messages | Inspired Guidance

snowsilence Divine Messages | Inspired Guidance
A plow was loudly pushing the snow from our drive way. I waited in the softly lit hallway with the dogs. I had just finished my morning meditation and was not prepared for the noise of the blade bumping and scraping on the driveway or the loud engine running.

 
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.
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465 Hits

How can we release attachment to the rational mind?

rationalmind How can we release attachment to the rational mind?

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.

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The Power of Affirmation

embrace-the-morning-with-positive-affirmations-female-arms-picture-id898010126 The Power of Affirmation
Affirmations are our way of opening ourselves up to the best that we are, and to the best that the Universe and our loving Creator wants for us. Repeating empowering intentional affirmations gets us out of our own way, and removes the blocks, fears, and negative patterns set up by the ego. Through affirmations, we say, “Yes” to the goodness of both our authentic selves and the fullest potential of life.

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.

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599 Hits

Forty Ways to Determine Your Level of Inner Freedom

suns-rays-in-fog-through-branches-of-tree-picture-id588355606 Forty Ways to Determine Your Level of Inner Freedom

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.

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The challenge of aging in an anti-aging culture…

mature-woman-on-beach-looking-into-horizon-picture-id486858785 The challenge of aging in an anti-aging culture…

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.

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398 Hits

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