Grace: The final frontier

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The knowing smile of a meditating yogi. The sparkle in the eye of a seeker who has reclaimed her prize. The loving touch of one who has tasted God’s love. These are the external signs of a person who is under the influence of Grace. Grace is considered the fifth universal principle after creation, sustenance, dissolution, and delusion. Grace reveals everything to you. It is the action that pours from your “inner guru”, your inner teacher. Every time you come to understand something, it is through grace that you understand. When you finally learned to read, do math, play an instrument, or accomplish an advanced posture in yoga it was grace that allowed you to be in a space of knowing and understanding. When you realized that listening is more important than speaking, it was grace that lead you to this deeper understanding. It is the same when we apply the power of grace to our “spiritual” practice and understanding. How deeply you drink from the Source and understand is dependent on how completely you surrender to the process of grace in your life. Grace leads to revelation. It leads to revelation of what is good and bad for you, revelation as to what you need in life, and revelation about how you should live your life. This all happens from within.

Grace is an inner phenomenon. It only happens when you look within yourself and question your actions and mental proclivities. It happens as a response to your desire to surrender to Life Itself. Grace is what carries your from the state of ignorance to the state of knowledge. Grace is always given freely and always frees you from your own trappings.

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Becoming the Teaching

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Today I am going to discuss a teaching that is attributed to Buddha. He once said, “One day both the teacher and student pass away and only the teaching remains.” The truth is all things that have birth will experience death or dissolution back to its original state. This goes for all the people you idolize and love, including yourself. This is not pessimistic thinking, it is the way of things (the Tao). Being okay with the natural order and process of life is one of the first steps to reclaiming your peace. Embracing the “real” amidst the transient will help you with this process.

So, if both the student and teacher pass away leaving only the teaching, then what is the teaching? Lets first look at the two primary motivating factors of human behavior and thinking. Everything a human being does is to avoid pain and suffering or experience happiness, joy, and love. The alcoholic is trying to avoid the pain of a past experience or find happiness through drinking. The banker thinks happiness lies in acquiring wealth. Some people believe happiness lies in creating children and a family. The despot thinks happiness lies in ruling other people and gets drunk on power. Others think happiness lies in hobbies like surfing, sky diving, and skiing. These things do provide a temporary experience that most would call happiness or joy, but we are in the rarified air of absolutes. The reality is that happiness lies within each one of us and it is dependent on nothing. When you are absolutely still within you will experience joy that exists just because it is. This happiness comes up when we engage in activities or experiences we enjoy, but it is not dependent on these external transient phenomenon. It is always there within us. Joy is a byproduct of love, and love is your natural state of being. Therefore, love is the teaching. Think about it, is there any good reason not to be loving? With all the human emotions, why is love the strongest and most natural? Love transmutes all of your lower emotions. Love is truly your saving grace. Love is there within. It is given freely and will save you from such untold suffering if you surrender to it. Love is eternal. It is the only part of “you” that lasts, so why not embrace it?

The teaching of any great teacher will be the sermon of love. I am not talking about love tainted with attachment, the love of self, or the love of romantics. I am speaking of love in its natural, unfettered state. I am speaking of the love that gives without expecting, embraces unconditionally, and gives out of abundance. The love I speak of is truly free. It has no attachment nor desire. When you align yourself with such love you will experience freedom and you will begin to experience what is beyond birth and death. When you begin drinking directly from the inner well, words will not suffice. You have the power to do this here and now, just be still and look within without fear or attachment.

As the teaching states, “one day both the teacher and student will pass away”…but this is not a problem when you begin to understand the teaching. The essence of your being is love so why not be love? No one can do this for you. When you become fed up with your mind, your habits, your excuses, and your own bullshit you will decide to make the transformation. The greek word for butterfly and soul are the same. It is psyche. This is because the transformation of the caterpillar into the butterfly is the same as the human soul. The inner process of transformation is hidden and only the individual experiences it. 

So why not become immortal today by surrendering to love? What do you have to lose? What do you have to gain? Is there any other way out of the process of life and death? Is there any other way to mitigate the fear of death that arises from the ego?

Love will save you. I promise.

Meditations on the Ego

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The most profound question a human being can ask them self is “Who am I?”. What lies between You (the one posing the question) and the experiential answer to this question is the ego. You cannot truly know yourself until you have become free of your ego. So, lets take some time to understand just what the ego is, how it manifests, how it communicates, and what it is not. Your ego is something you created. It is your self-centeredness. It is that voice within that feels defective, tells you your worth is based on your past actions or your possessions or the opinions of others. Your ego is the source of all of your suffering. Your ego blames, it judges, it pines for attention, it tells you that you have been victimized by life and its circumstances, and it pats you on the back when your self-righteous anger steals your inner peace. Your ego is heavily invested in your attachments, your possessions, and what you get versus what you give. If you give, it is your ego that expects recognition as payment for your good deed thereby squandering your good karma. Greed, jealousy, anger, self hatred, anxiety, fear, and desire all find their source in the ego. Your ego is invested in your belief system and will fight tirelessly to maintain this temporary “house” that it has build with spiritual power that it has usurped from your true Self. The ego fears change, the unknown, and anything that it perceives as a threat to it. This is because the ego is deluded into thinking that it is separate from everything else. The good news is that it has been mortally wounded by Love. Your ego will not survive this phenomenon you call “my life”. The ego recoils at the prospect of death because its’ existence is on the line, but death means nothing to your true Self which is beyond both birth, death, and identification to anything outside of reality. 

The language of the ego consists of attack, defense, and blame. It is the ego that feels slighted by another person’s words or actions and in return holds onto resentment. The ego knows nothing of grace, forgiveness, love, and acceptance. These four Spiritual attributes become poisoned by a cunning ego. Have you ever found yourself mentally rebutting everything someone is saying when you should be listening? That is the ego defending its perspective or belief and preventing you from listening. True communication and healing cannot happen when neither person is being heard.

The ego cannot change but through the love that comes from within when you surrender to your higher Self. You are responsible for how your ego behaves, no one else. You are responsible for propping up and then defending your belief systems, no one else. You are responsible for transmuting your own ego into the “servant” of your house instead of letting it run amuck like it owns the place. The best way to deal with your ego is to meet all of its habits, behaviors, tantrums, and rants with love. Love is your true nature. Love is the inner philosopher’s stone that changes base metals into gold. 

If you truly long to be free, you will surrender everything you think is “yours” because everything you place before the Truth will keep you from the Truth. The idea of “yours” is derived from the ego. The ego makes statements of possession, not Spirit. Find out what you have brought with you into this life and the only thing you take when you leave the body. Then you will begin to experience peace and see the ego for what it truly is. No one can do this work for you. You must drink directly from the well.

The Myth of Control

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The idea of control is a human creation. It pervades our belief system and many of the individuals who make up our society. When we begin to explore the idea of control in our own lives we begin to see how futile it actually is. Control represents a static state, continual activity or vigilance, and an erroneous idea that we are the true masters of our fate. Control epitomizes both mental and physical action. This is in direct opposition to Being. Being allows you to open up to all possibilities. Even the act of trying to control things closes us off to Being and life. Being allows you to breathe and let go. Being is freedom. Control is a self imposed prison. No one has ever attained peace through control. Everyone who has ever attained lasting peace accomplished it through Being.

Control is especially prevalent in so called ‘spiritual’ communities and people. It is expressed through ideas like ‘controlling the mind’ and ‘controlling the breath’. Controlling your anger and eating a ‘perfect’ diet and the idea of perfecting yoga are all expressions of control. People frequently use an amalgamation of control and ‘spirituality’ in an effort to find peace. If any glimpse of peace is found through this process it will be fleeting because control requires action as well as a ‘doer’ bound to their action. These things must be given up in absolute Being. The belief in control can only be used as a stepping stone to the realization that you don’t have control. If you doubt this then ask yourself how you plan on controlling any aspect of your own death? Pondering and reflecting on one’s own mortality is one of the best was to realize the futility of control. When you realize this you will begin to experience true peace. Abandon control, action, beliefs, attachments, and desires and be free in Being.

Surrendering to Love

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Surrender is a difficult process to undergo because most times we misunderstand it. Many people equate surrender with giving up, losing, or subjugation. This definition applies to situations that are worldly and transient by nature. This definition also involves the concept of ‘me’ and ‘another’. This leads to a sense of resistance to the process of surrender. However, the process and desire to surrender to your higher nature has more to do with accepting everything as it is, perceiving your Self as it is, and reclaiming what is rightfully yours. Surrender is coming to a place in your life where your consciousness has been developed to the point where you choose the Life principle (Love) over your mortal vessel and your emotional attachments. This is done, of course, without forsaking the body or any aspect of your being or experience of life. Surrender is opening yourself to your infinite nature. It is being empowered with the ageless wisdom that you are connected to everything and your essential nature is immortal and cannot be contained by a concept, belief, time, or space. Who in their right mind would cling to a sinking ship and place all their hopes in it, thinking that it will get them to their destination safely? This is what we do while in the slumber of delusion. We cling to the body thinking it is us. We cling to the attachments we have created. We expect the idea of what we think we are to live on forever. This is insanity. The only thing that is forever is That which is beyond creation, sustenance, and dissolution or death. When you really choose to surrender to Love, which is your real nature, Love will rescue you from the suffering and insanity you have created for yourself. It wakes you up from the sleep of delusion and you begin to withdraw your support from the erroneous notion that you are your ego, your body, your role in life, your gender, your race, your title, and your thoughts and emotions. You witness these things, but they are not you. Love grants you liberation through the wisdom of understanding when you make the conscious decision to surrender. This is why it is said, ‘Die before you die.’ through meditation.

Meditation is the practice of being. Meditation is concentration on your nature. Meditation is the precursor to realization. Meditation is falling into love without reservation, fear, attachment, or expectation. Before sitting for meditation you should be very clear with your intention. What is your goal? Why are you meditating? Are you open to transformation? What is transforming you and who is being transformed? What are you being transformed into? Are you fearful of  transformation and change or  are you fearless? Are you open to change and growth? Is there a greater desire in your heart than mukti (liberation) and the desire to bear witness to your true nature? These are all questions you should ponder in order to deepen your understanding. Remember, the ship is sinking and there is only one place to take refuge. The ego tells you to put off this query and that you have all the time in the world, but no one is promised tomorrow. All anyone truly has is now. Do not be afraid of this fact. It is the nature of things and therefore not a problem outside the mind’s ability to make it a problem. Surrender also entails steeping your mind in the love you carry within the heart. Doing this repeatedly through the practice of meditation will bring peace to your life and stillness to your state of mind. All of the benefits you receive from meditation are a direct result of the love that is found within you. This process is sacred and can be accomplished by anyone because you cannot be separate from yourself. You truly are what you are seeking in life. Do not doubt this, but do not take my word for it either. Be the seeker. Drink directly from the well. Look directly at the Sun within. Make the experience your own. Become what you are seeking. Everything comes to rest when you go through the process of ‘thinking about’ to ‘meditating on’ to the ‘realization of’ That. The witness to this process is what you seek. Tat Tvam asi, ‘Thou art That’. Use meditation and all the love you can bare to realize this and be free.

Happiness as it is

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Through the ages it has been stated that true happiness is dependent on nothing. This in fact is true. The happiness that lies within the heart is independent of all worldly activities and attachments. In stillness and solitude it resides like a diamond deep within the earth. As your senses flow outward, your awareness is taken away from this eternal joy that you brought when you entered this world. Most people engage in all manner of activity trying to emulate this great joy. The problem is that the joy of activity is dependent on the activity itself. This leads to a transient happiness that is as fickle as the mind. When you learn to disengage from the outward flowing senses and turn your awareness inward towards its source, you begin to experience that endless joy within your own being. It surpasses the happiness of wealth and relationships. It demands nothing as it gives as freely as the sun. It is as comforting as a mother’s embrace and as limitless as the sky. Because of its existence you are able to live. Remember the saying,”Man does not live on bread alone.”? This teaching points us to the truth being discussed here. Your life is a product of Life itself, not atoms, molecules and proteins. Matter is enlivened by the life principle. Whether you call it chi, shakti, vital force, spirit, love, consciousness, the beloved, tao, etc. it does not matter. The words vary but the experience the words point to is universal. This is not a new notion. It is recognized by all people and ancient teachings around the world.

So, take time in the day to honor this life giving force that has been there as you have taken every breath. Befriend your inner light and learn to experience happiness as it is.

 

As Time Goes By

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As time goes by, what are you doing that is within your power to change yourself for the better? We tend to question what needs to change outside of ourselves in order to be happy, content, and at peace. What an egocentric and immature way to approach our “problems”! Outside of your mind there are no problems. We have experiences and it is through the filter of our mind and ego that the baggage of attachment, judgment, blame, emotional pain, and separation are attached to these events and become “problems”. Essentially one who has this perspective is saying,” I am so important that the Universe has to change in order for me to be happy.” Otherwise, I am going to sit here, cross my arms, and make a fuss until I (my ego) get what I want. Chronological time will not dictate whether you approach life in this manner or not. I have seen children, adolescents, adults, and elderly people act this way. That said, we are all doing the best we can with what we have. The reality is that we do not have the power to change the behavior of others or how things in our life play out. We do have the ability to change our inner, habitual response to others and life situations that occur. How often do we tell ourselves, “If only people were less annoying, if only the weather was nicer, if only I had a better or more lucrative job, then I would be happy”. The Universe is constantly changing and shifting. Everything is happening here and now, simultaneously. If we have the expectation that this living divine process of life must occur in our favor in order for us to feel important or be at peace, we will be waiting a long time.

As an alternative to this egocentric approach, try letting go and surrendering your “emotional habitual reaction” or sense of self-importance the next time something happens that doesn’t occur in your favor or does not meet your expectation. Just let it go. Go with the flow…of life. Question your internal reaction. Why does anger come up? Why did those words, or that situation change my mood and pull me away from my sense of peace? Shine your inner light of consciousness into the darkness and onto your internal habits. Ask for guidance and grace from within so you can be free to approach life situations with more ease, understanding, and gentleness. No one can do this work for you. You are the only one responsible for how you feel and how you interact with other people and handle situations in life.

Use the reality of your mortality to check yourself. Bring your awareness back to the fact that your limited life is expiring as time goes by. Use this fact as a tool to help you change through life, not be abused and hardened by it. Be fearless in your approach to this transformation. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. As time goes by, learn to change by becoming softer, gentler, more loving, and filled with grace and peace. This will only happen with your desire to change and your full participation in the process.

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