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A Path to a More Fulfilling Life

Tag: peace (page 1 of 4)

Forgiveness Is Key to Letting Go of Pain

The other day the phrase to error is human, to forgive is divine came to mind. Indeed, everyone makes mistakes. But only those who are ready and able to let go of the pain are able to forgive. Forgiveness is a Divine act. And we must get the ego out of the way in order to truly do it. But we can use the ego itself to be free of it. This is where the phrase fake it till you make it comes in.

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Inner Conflict Is Present at Birth: A Quiet Mind Helps Resolve It

Did you know we are born with inner conflict? It begins in infancy and occurs between the primitive infant and his or her inherited psychological pathways. In the East the general ideology describes this energetic tension as karma.

Many people believe we are born as a blank slate. This is especially true in the West. Although it is true that our psyche is heavily conditioned during infancy and youth, it is not true that our energetic body is bare and unresponsive. All one needs do to see this is observe the vastly different temperaments of infants, before they have a chance to be conditioned by their care takers. In other words, our souls enter this life experience with a pre-established energy pattern. Gary Zukav wrote:

“When you understand…that the experiences of your life are necessary to the balancing of the energy of  your soul, you are free to not react to them personally, to not create more negative karma for your soul.”

The word “soul” is often misunderstood because it is such an esoteric term. It is our inner being, our core self, and we cannot perceive it with the five-sensory personality that experiences the physical plane of existence. But we can “feel” the pulls of our soul. This is where intuition comes in.

The Power of Intuition

I’m sure everyone has experienced intuitive moments at some point in their life. But that is no guarantee they have chosen to follow it. It’s the part of us that somehow “knows” what to do and what not to do. It is our soul attempting to guide our personality to make choices that lead to learning while incarnate here on Earth. This is how the soul evolves.

Our “soul” is the conscious intelligence that attracts energy in the form of atoms and molecules which give shape to our physical body. When we fail to recognize the energy of our inner being the conscious intelligence (or “Light”) is unable to shine through. Then we operate on the earth plane from the limited ego. In turn, we fail to hear the soul speaking to us through intuition. The personality comes from the place of fear because it knows it will die when the body ceases to exist. The inner being comes from a place of love because it knows it will never die. Which place do you choose to come from?

Learn to Quiet the Mind

This is where meditation comes into play. When we take time to quiet the mind and body we can learn to hear the messages of the soul through the intuitive processes. This doesn’t necessarily mean we must sit quietly with our legs crossed and eyes closed, trying to concentrate on the breath. Although this is how meditation is often depicted it is not the only way to quiet the mind. We can also go for a walk in the woods and listen to the sounds of nature. Or we can sit by a lake and become mesmerized by the stillness of the water. Or we can merely take a mindful walk around our neighborhood.

The point is there are as many ways to quiet the mind and body as there are people on earth. This is where our differing personalities come in. The personality of each individual pulls him or her to follow the promptings of the soul. But one can only be guided by intuition by learning how to follow feelings as well as thoughts. However, if one fails to recognize the promptings of the soul out of a belief that the individual personality is all there is, then he or she reacts to life experience from a place of fear. In this case, negative karma is created that the soul must then eventually become free of. 

As we develop our mind and body this inner conflict is either dealt with or buried deep in our subconscious. If it is repressed it will cause us to act in ways that can mystify us. Have you ever heard your mind say something like, what was I thinking!? Or, why did I do that? 

Opportunities to Face Inner Conflict 

Throughout our lives we encounter experiences that offer us the opportunity to face these inner conflicts. For example, we might have an interaction with someone close to us that causes an emotional outburst. If we blame the other person for our inner conflict we will simply reinforce the limited belief system that was instilled during child rearing. However, if we can sit with the emotional reaction without acting on it, and without blaming the other, then we can process the energy that was present at birth and conditioned as we grew up. In turn, we can free ourselves from both the inherited karma and that which was acquired early in life. 

The key to all of this, as with so many other things in life, is presence. It is crucial to learn to be still and present in the moment, especially during tumultuous times. When we practice presence in simple situations, such as waiting in line at the market, or driving or riding in a vehicle, then we will be better prepared to act from that place in times that it is most needed, such as during an intense interaction with another individual. 

To practice presence in simple situations just notice when the mind begins thinking about past or future. For example, when waiting in line you might start thinking about everything that needs to be done after you leave. In that moment, say to yourself “thinking.” Then wait and notice what the mind does next. You will be pointing out to yourself that you are aware your mind is somewhere other than the here and now.

The Power of Presence 

When this practice becomes consistent you will train your mind to give more attention to the silence between the thoughts. As you continue this simple practice you will change the baseline attention from being lost in thought to being present in the now. Being wrapped up with past and future thinking is where suffering occurs. Being in the now is where peace is found. 

One thing I would like to add is that I am not saying that thinking is bad or unhealthy. I am saying that there is a time and place for everything, including thinking. We can set aside a time to plan for the future without taking away from what we are doing in the moment. We can do the same with reflecting on past experience. This is where journaling can help. 

Self Reflection is Crucial 

I recommend setting up a time to write about anything that bothered you during the day. Notice whether you are pushing the blame or owning your inner disturbance. Write about what needs to be done to create the kind of future you would like to experience. Here it is crucial to keep all attention on what is wanted and how it can be achieved, without giving attention to the potential roadblocks. In turn, all your vital life energy will be directed toward what you aspire to, rather than what is not desired. 

In short, give more attention to the feelings in your body than to the thoughts in your head. Find ways, through your own personal exploration, that helps calm your inner being, such as meditation, going on walks, spending time in nature, playing a musical instrument, etc. The more your mind and body is calm the more you will hear the promptings of your soul. We have a choice. We can either take control of our own mind, or allow it to be conditioned by others. I prefer to have control of the wheel that steers my life. How about you?

For more of Jeffry’s writings please the the Zen Professor Book Store.
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Self Development Isn’t Always Easy

The process of self development can be a slow, tedious experience. Other times it can happen in leaps and bounds. The most powerful meditation I have ever experienced occurred a little less than a year ago. First, I had a short but nice meditation. Then, I went on an hour long walk. I connected with Father Sun twice while I contemplated my personal sun ray. When I got home I decided to meditate again. I was laying on my back with my hands crossed over my chest, but soon I felt the desire to put my arms out by my side and totally surrender. I thought of Jesus and felt energy in my ajna chakra, or third eye. Then I thought of Paramahansa Yogananda and felt energy in the middle chakras. Finally, I thought of the Buddha and felt energy in the muladhara, or root chakra.

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Give Up the Need to Be in Control to Find Peace

When we let go of the need to be in control we find peace. We can simply surrender and let the Universe be in control. It is anyway, whether we resist it or not. Consider that we are living on a giant rock which is, in it’s core, molten lava, spinning through space at thousands of miles per hour and reliant on the energy from the sun millions of miles away. Still, we believe we are in control. The only thing we control is how we react to life. This doesn’t mean we can’t ask for what we want; it simply means we must be okay with the answer no. It also helps to give up the desire for things to be different than they are.

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4 Keys to Attract What You Want

We are co-creators of our reality. In the following paragraphs, I have provided examples of how to use 4 Key actions to attract a life we want. Believing in possibilities, focusing attention on what we want, choosing our words wisely, and visualizing what we want are important aspects of co-creating.

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The Direction of Attention Creates Our Inner Reality

There is a Zen story that depicts how the direction of attention creates our inner reality. Once there was a man who had so many children living in his farmhouse he could take it no longer. He finally decided to go see a Zen master and ask for his advice. The man went to the master and said, “Wise one, I am at my wits end. There are so many children living in my house that I can’t find a moment’s peace. What shall I do?”

The master replied, “Invite your mother and father in-law to come live with you.”

The man was surprised by the response, but he believed in the wisdom of the master and he didn’t know what else to do. So, reluctantly, he invited is wife’s parents to come live with them. However, the house became even more crowded and he and his in-laws disagreed on how to raise the children so the man felt more stress, not less. He went back to the master and told him of his dilemma.

When the man asked for advice as to what to do next the master replied, “Invite your children’s aunts and uncles to come live with you as well.”

Again the man could not see the logic but he followed the advice anyway, hoping the wisdom of the master went beyond his own recognition. However, rather than helping the man to find peace, he felt more stress than ever and again he went back to the master for advice. He said, “Master, I have followed your advice and brought in my wife’s relatives and there is less space than ever. I can’t get a moment’s peace. What shall I do?”

After putting his hand to his chin and pondering it for a moment the master replied, “Bring in all the animals from the farm.”

The man thought that sounded crazy but he still believed in the wisdom of the master and followed his advice. A short while later the man returned to the master more exasperated than ever before. He said, “Good Master, I have followed your advice to the letter and things continue to worsen. I have invited my wife’s parents to live with us. I have invited her brothers and sisters and all their children. I have brought in all the animals from the farm. There is no longer any room in the house for anyone or anything else. I am at a loss as to what to do. What do you suggest?”

Without hesitating the master said, “Remove all the animals and ask your in-laws to leave.”

So, the man did as the master had suggested. First he went home and he removed all the animals from the house. He then asked the aunts and uncles to take their children and leave. Then he asked his mother and father in-law to leave. Suddenly, the house seemed so big and spacious that the noise of the children was like music to the man’s ears. He had finally found his peace.

Turn Attention Toward the Space That Unites

The moral of the story is obvious when we look at it from the perspective of perception. Before meeting with the master, the man’s attention was going toward the noise and behaviors of the children. His attention was not on the space but on the objects of the space. However, once he had a different point of reference, he changed the direction of his attention from the objects to the space. Suddenly, there seemed to be much more space than before and peace was to be found there.

The message behind this story appears to be two-fold. First, the direction of attention creates our inner reality. Second, we must focus on both what is and what is not in order to get the entire picture of our current situation. A wonderful poem that illustrates this idea can be found in the Toa Te Ching in which Lao Tzu wrote:

We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel; But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends. We turn clay to make a vessel, But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends. We pierce doors and windows to make a house, And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends. Therefore, just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not.

See the Entire Picture

Lao Tzu is reminding us of the importance of seeing the entire picture. The moment we get pigeonholed into looking at life in bits and pieces, the more we support, in our subconscious beliefs, the idea that life is full of random chaotic events. However, when we zoom out and see the big picture, it becomes clear that life is far different than this. Everything is intimately connected to everything else. Nothing happens independently. It is merely the mind’s tendency to pull out sections of reality and evaluate its meaning in a reductionalistic fashion. When this is done information is lost. In turn, our understanding of the object of perception becomes limited.

The Bible often refers to this idea when it suggests to “meditate on God” or on “God’s word.” The problem comes when one assumes “God” to be an external source of energy. I don’t think it can be overstated that our interpretation of what “God” is is imperative to our understanding of the concepts being discussed. How good could advice be if we choose to only listen to a portion of it? For example, if we are told to invest our money into real estate, and we choose to invest but we invest in the stock market and lose all our money, did listening to a portion of the advice help us?

For some practical advise in using present moment awareness to find peace, see my book: Peace: The Art of Mindfulness to Eliminate Stress.

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The True Meaning of “Wrath of God” and Karma

Whenever the topic of forgiveness comes up, people often turn to the Bible. But how they read the passage is largely dependent upon how their minds have already been conditioned. If we were to read the verses with the authentic self, rather than the psychological self programmed by society, we would be taking a spiritual perspective rather than a worldly one, and all we would find is love. But when we read from the psychological perspective, we turn attention away from forgiveness and toward justice.

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Using Thoughts to Get What You Want

One day when I was a teacher, I had a surprise opportunity to practice what I had learned about directing thoughts. As soon as I walked in the door I noticed a red light flashing on my phone, indicating there was a message. At that time in my life I no longer coached basketball, so messages on my phone became almost nonexistent.

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How to Avoid Conflict and Resolve Issues

Once, when I was a teacher, I experienced valuable life lesson on how to avoid conflict, as I had a student test my resolve. The student, I’ll call “Laura,” had been tardy to class often and I had been following my standard protocol. However, on this day Laura took it to a new level. Never before had a student continued to be tardy after I had followed all the steps created to deter their late arrival, including a verbal warning, followed by a written warning, detention, and finally, office referral. Laura had already reached the referral stage and was still continuing to show up late, including on this particular day.

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What is God and How do we Call on the Power?

God is unnameable, and therefore, in order to understand It, all we have is metaphor. The following excerpt, from my book The New Season: Journey Toward Enlightenment, is an example of such an allegory:

Isha got up and walked toward Jarred. Once again he placed his hand on Jarred’s head and the lights went out. When Jarred opened his eyes he shook his head in disbelief. In front of him, about three hundred yards away, were thousands of men who were heavily armed with swords and shields. The men were lined up in rows that stretched as far as the eye could see. He looked down and saw a sword in his own hand, along with a heavy metal shield in the other. He found himself banging his chest with the butt of the sword. The metal made a loud clanging sound against the gold plated chest armor he was wearing.

Jarred felt sweat dripping from his armpits and the heat underneath the heavy armor was almost unbearable. When he looked around he saw hundreds of men dressed just like him, screaming at the top of their lungs. He felt a rush of adrenalin flood his body. He had never felt such power. The stench of body odor coming from the soldiers was like nothing he had ever experienced but it didn’t seem to bother him.

He heard the roar of trumpets behind him and the men in his battalion screamed louder. He found himself hollering along with them and his body, or rather, the body he was in, felt like it was about to burst with energy. Suddenly, the entire group of men, including Jarred himself, started running toward the endless rows of the enemy troops. They were heavily outnumbered but he felt no fear, only a primal rage he had never experienced before.

Their enemy marched toward them in single file lines. Jarred could see men off in the distance turn and run. Why would they run? After all, their army must outnumber his ten to one. Moments later they were close enough for him to see the whites of their eyes. Was that fear he saw in their faces? How could they be afraid of so few warriors?

His battalion tore through the first several lines of defense as if they were running through crepe paper. Men began falling right and left. He could feel his muscles strain in his arm as he swung the sword violently through every man that got in his way. His other arm moved spontaneously from side to side, blocking the thrust of the opponent’s weapons as each swung wildly in an attempt to fight back.

Jarred’s group continued to move forward, leaving bodies strewn on the ground and creating a path through the middle of the opposing army. By the time they made it through the first pass, half their enemies had either fled or been slain. Jarred’s group turned around and paused before another loud boom of trumpets went off. Then they let out another terrifying scream before charging back through the enemy again. The result was similar. This time, however, the rest of the opposing army turned and ran. The entire battle was over in a matter of minutes.

The Ego God

Jarred found himself sitting on the couch in Isha’s apartment once again and suddenly he understood. In the Old Testament, when it talks of armies using trumpets to call on God to support them in battle, what they were actually calling on was the collective consciousness of the men. Isha referred to this as the ego god, because it imposes the limit of form on Limitless Source Energy. They had been trained for war their entire lives. They were conditioned to believe their greatest purpose was to die in battle for a worthy cause. And what better cause than to serve God’s purpose?

Jarred could now see that the trumpets were used to generate great strength from the men. Because they believed God was backing them, they had substantial courage and mustered up the strength to scream a war cry so terrifying the opponents cowered in fear. Here were hundreds or even thousands of men who had been raised to believe in an all-powerful God. They were conditioned to believe their purpose in this world was to be a warrior and fight for honor. They were then conditioned to believe that the sound of the trumpet summoned the “Lord” to their side. Because they were facing death, their attention was tuned even more toward what would keep them alive, namely, that God would help them to overcome what appeared to be insurmountable odds.

With all these men thinking the same positive thoughts a tremendous amount of energy was tapped into. The energy was then directed toward their opponents in battle. With the collective consciousness of the men all in tune with one another, their power was great. So great, in fact, armies outnumbered ten to one were able to come out victorious.

Calling on God’s Power

The men were able to collectively call on “God’s” power and perform what would later be called a “miracle” victory. Many give God the credit and rightly so, but not in the way they think. God is not a separate entity that creates a miracle independent of the people who witness it. God is the miracle! And the miracle is created through the men. After all, God cannot create a “miracle” for us to witness in the physical world without us any more than we could create a miracle without the power of God, simply because someone must be there to witness it and label it a “miracle.” This is what is meant when it talks in the Bible about giving all the credit to God. Nothing can be done without God, of course that is true. We are not separate of God; rather, collectively we, along with everything else in the world, are God!

Jarred now understood what Isha meant when he said we are a manifestation created by God so that It can experience the physical world through our bodily senses. What that means is God is in each of us and, in essence, what we do we do totally for God. It is God who experiences life through us. This is why some have said there is no good or bad, only what is. Everything we label as good or bad is a label we give it. Therefore, when we no longer see or feel it in physical form, not only does it no longer exist, neither does the label that became attached to it.

Coming from this perspective one can see how God cannot perform a miracle without us to witness it and label it as such. Of course, if God cannot perform a miracle without our physical bodies then the opposite is also true. Our physical bodies could not do a thing without God’s “permission,” so to speak. Our bodies are directed by the consciousness of our being, which is God. As long as we are in tune with the authentic self, our soul, we are listening to and following the will of God. However, if we are listening to the psychological self, or ego, we are not following the will of God; rather, we are following the will of the self. Following the will of the self is what brings on suffering.

Free Will is the Direction of Attention

This is where free will comes in. We have the freedom to choose the direction of our attention. We can direct it toward the accumulation of worldly things and be egocentric, or we can direct it toward the joy of experiencing form as it unfolds naturally in front of us and be God-centric. In the former we focus on form, in the latter we focus on the experience of form. When we focus on form we suffer because form changes constantly, hence, we experience loss. However, when we focus on the life force beneath the form we do not suffer because there is no loss, only transformation. Therefore, we experience growth through the eternal expansion and continual renewal of life.

When we are not in touch with the authentic self we become separated from Source Energy and suffer, because we get lost in the physical world. We become the form rather than the formless. We go from place to place thinking of nothing other than; I want more money, a new car, more clothes, more food, more friends, more lovers, more children, more people to like me, and a host of other “mores” in the physical realm.

Staying Connected with Source Energy

The problem with this is it is a backward way of thinking. In order to stay in touch with the authentic self and stay connected to the God Source, we need only think of what we want from all these “mores,” such as more love, more joy, or more peace. This is why Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is within. If we keep attention centered on these internal rewards, our physical world will begin to align with our internal world. In other words, if children bring us joy, then we will have more children, or find ways to be around children and experience the joy they bring us. If a spouse is what brings us love and we stay focused on love, then we will act in loving ways and attract a spouse who brings us love. If nature brings us peace and we stay focused on peace, then we will find ourselves in nature often and we will experience peace.

So many people look to the external world to bring them internal happiness but it cannot be long lasting. It cannot last long because the physical world is temporal. Form comes and goes, therefore, so too will our experience of joy be fleeting if we look to find it in form. Instead, if we find joy in the transformation of form, the unfolding of life before us, then we will experience permanent bliss because the one thing that is constant about form is that it will change. Therefore, we must embrace this change.

One might go into mourning after the death of a spouse and keep her awareness centered on missing her husband. She continues to mourn while thinking in this way. This is not good or bad. It simply is. Then, one day she begins to turn her attention toward the happy memories shared with her spouse while they were together. The more her attention stays centered on the love shared, the faster she is able to come out of the mourning. In contrast, the more she centers her attention on what’s missing, the longer she will mourn the loss.

This is why some people take longer to mourn the loss of a loved one than others, and some never come out of it at all. They focus all their attention on missing the person and never get around to thinking about the love that was experienced. Or, when they do recall the love shared, they immediately return their attention toward missing the person and the negative cycle continues. This is also what is meant by the idea that we will suffer until the suffering is no longer necessary.

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