Zen Professor

A Path to a More Fulfilling Life

Tag: psychological self

The Flowering of Human Consciousness

The level of our consciousness is determined by how much we are influenced by the psychological conditioning of our ego. The more we recognize this mental conditioning and act independent of it, the higher our level of conscious awareness. In turn, we will be able to act from our authentic self, rather than from the place of the fearful ego.

Years ago I woke up from a dream that could be considered quite disturbing. However, I was surprised to find that I was not gripped with fear, as would typically be the case in a dream such as that. In the dream, I went to a party where many friends and family had gathered. My former wife, her parents, and my daughter were all there. My brothers and sisters and close friends were there as well. There were also several strangers present who seemed to be friends of my former wife. Near the end of the dream another friend and his wife showed up. I greeted them both with a warm hug and everything seemed to be going well.

Out of nowhere my former father-law suggested I go. He said, “You are making people really uncomfortable and you should leave.” I was shocked! I had no idea why he would say that. As I questioned him, the exchange became heated. Soon, many others were chiming in and they all seemed to be supporting my former father in-law. Then my former mother in law came over and joined in. She was adamant about how strange I was acting but she was being vague with her observations and I couldn’t figure out what she was trying to say.

Consoled By Friends

Next, an unfamiliar woman approached and was much more specific. She said I was using strange words and discussing weird concepts. Everyone seemed to be turning on me. All except for a couple close friends and my older brother, whom were all attempting to console me. For some reason, my former wife seemed to be the least judgmental and condemning of anyone.

After talking to the small group that was supporting me, I began making my way through the house, attempting to decide if it would indeed be best for me to leave. Everywhere I turned complete strangers told me how weird I was acting. One man that was more belligerent than most screamed at me and told me I was a freak. The man pushed me up against the wall and I punched him in the face as hard as I could, sending blood splattering on the adjacent wall. Then another man grabbed me from behind. I flipped the man over my shoulder and threw him hard on the ground, creating a thud from the floor and a loud crack from the man’s back. Soon others began attacking me from all angles and I became engulfed in a sea of people who were hitting, punching, and kicking me.

A Dream in a Dream

I used all my might and broke free from the group and started heading for the door. As I was about to leave, another stranger accosted me. We became engaged and were about to fight as well when the stranger put me in a dream like state. So now, I was in a dream in a dream!

In the dream I was shown hellish sights. I saw visions of people on racks being tortured by demons. I saw victims of accidents with mangled bodies and limbs torn from their torsos. I saw bodies stacked on top of one another as if they were nothing more than a pile of manikins in the back room of a department store. A hazy cloud loomed blood red as if there were a curtain placed in front of my face, veiling me from a clear picture of the gruesome scene.

Hellish Dream Produces No Fear

Suddenly I awoke from both dreams. Although the nature of the dreams would have typically evoked fear, this one did not and I tried to go back to sleep and pick up the dream where it left off. This demonstrated to me that I was not fearful, as I would never have been interested in returning to a dream such as this in the past. However, this dream was different and I knew it. I felt there was a message to be received and I didn’t want to miss it.

I was not able to go back to sleep that morning so I went down stairs and began to contemplate the meaning of the dream. I believed the reason I wasn’t fearful was due to the fact I was looking at it from the perspective of a witness, rather than as an actual participant. I did feel a part of it, as if it was happening to me, but I also felt a part of myself watching it happen, like it was happening to someone else.

Dream Characters: Different Parts of Personality

It seemed to me that this perspective was inspired by my desire to eliminate the ego from my life. It was as if my past ego was fighting for survival. To me, all of the people confronting me were representative of different parts of my personality and they did not like this “new person” I had become. They wanted to get rid of the new me because I was making them uncomfortable. Therefore, the fighting was between the new personality I was creating for myself and all of my old personalities that I was attempting to let go of. Out of the sheer desire of survival, these parts of my personality were fighting back.

One aspect of the dream that really stood out was that even though most of the people in the dream were saying the same thing, I refused to believe any of it. Another aspect that stood out was that I verbally sparred with many, but only physically fought with strangers. Although it was close to becoming physical with family members, it never came to blows. Perhaps these parts of my personality were closer to my true nature, or the authentic self that I so often talk about. It could be that the “strangers” were the parts of my personality that I most wanted to rid myself of, such as Jeff the worrier and Jeff the control freak.

The Symbolism of a Flower and Consciousness

Then I noticed something quite startling. I looked toward the window in the dining room and my eyes came upon a bouquet of flowers sitting on the window seal. The flowers had died over a week ago and I simply hadn’t gotten around to throwing them out. However, now there was one large white flower standing out amongst the dried carcasses of the rest of the tribe. To me, this lone flower was a symbolic representation of the “new” self that was emerging from the carnage of the “old” self that was gradually being shed. It was as if the Universe was confirming my take on the dream that it was a figurative representation of the ego trying desperately to survive.

When I gazed at the flower I immediately thought, That’s the new life that’s beginning to blossom, the flowering of human consciousness, the life of my authentic self. I got up to investigate the flower closer, as if the mind couldn’t believe it had really happened. Sure enough, right in the center of the old decaying flowers was a single fresh bloom sprouting out, stretching just beyond the reach of the dead.

Symbolism Is No Mere Coincidence

I was certain that, like so many other of the symbolic messages I had been receiving, this too would be considered to be a coincidence by most people. However, I knew that it was more. Too many messages such as this had been sent my way and there was no way that I could believe they all happened by chance. I could even hear my own ego telling me it was a coincidence, but I chose not to listen to it, as I had already discounted the voice of the psychological self, knowing its propensity to error.

I now heard the voice of the psychological self more clearly and accepted it for what it was. It was as if the mind, the logical part of it at least, was attempting to reason with the self. However, the authentic self was one step ahead of the ego. I went over to check the calendar, knowing that I had purchased the flowers on Valentine’s Day as a gift for my daughter. When I checked the calendar I saw that Valentine’s Day was over three weeks ago! Although it was not impossible for one flower to survive that long while all others died, it still added credence to the idea that it was a message from the Universe confirming my analysis of the dream.

There was another, more profound aspect that stood out about the message from the Universe. The flower was not only a fresh bloom, but was also pure white. This added to the symbolism of the message as white represents something that is wholesome and new. It seemed to exemplify the freeing of the authentic self as the psychological self died around it. And much like the blooming of a flower, consciousness has been rising ever since.

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How to Eliminate Negative Thinking with Presence

Once, while on a walk observing the wildlife in the neighborhood, I was reminded of something written by Eckhart Tolle. The author suggested that humans are the only animals on the planet who know what negativity is. He stated, “The only animals that may occasionally experience something akin to negativity or show signs of neurotic behavior are those that live in close contact with humans and so link into the human mind and its insanity.” This is actually easy to witness when we watch people with their pets. Often times the pet takes on the same neurotic tendencies of their owner. It takes presence in mind and body to remove such tendencies.

Tolle also told of an experience he had while watching two ducks. The ducks were swimming toward one another and when they crossed paths they reared up and opened their wings and engaged in a brief tussle before moving on. The ducks then flapped their wings vigorously before settling back into swimming gracefully as if nothing had ever happened. The author related this to how we act as humans. We tend to hold it inside and build up tension rather than release it like the duck. Then, when we do release it later after it has had a chance to fester, we release it in unhealthy ways.

The Importance of Feeling Before Reacting

After recalling the story, I considered the importance of observing feelings before reacting. By observing the feeling we gain control of the mind. We start directing it rather than having it direct us. After all, how many times have we found ourselves analyzing things to death, only to recognize in the end that it was the simplest answer all along? The idea had already helped me to analyze my own thoughts and feelings more before acting on them.

I realized that if I could gain control of the mind by becoming aware of the feelings before it begins trying to explain them, then much emotional pain can be averted. Typically we hear information and react immediately to it. We start asking ourselves all sorts of questions about it. We start asking, “How does this sit with me?” Immediately, we begin to judge it. We want to know if it belongs in our life. We become accustomed to react with our psychological self before our authentic self even has a chance to observe it. This is what it means to re-act to something, and it leads to many errors, first mentally, then physically. We begin assuming things and making up scenarios in our heads. Before long, we have completed the entire story before even getting another person’s perspective, or our own!

The Art of Presence

To be present, we must continually be aware of our thoughts and feelings. When a powerful emotion, previously labeled as negative, arises, we can use it to snap back into Presence. It is the inner guide saying, “Be alert!” Then, after becoming very alert and present in the now, we can act from the place of the authentic self. When we accept what is, every moment becomes the best moment. It has to. It’s all there is!

We can practice being present, while at the same time, release any stored energy from previously unprocessed emotions. To do this, we must stop occasionally and ask ourselves, “How am I feeling right now?” As the feeling in the moment is recognized, we can adjust the thoughts accordingly. We can recognize when we are feeling ‘bad,’ and after centering the attention on the feeling and allowing it to pass, trace the feeling back to the thought that created it, and then intentionally change the thought.

Presence in Action

For example, let’s say that a man finds himself feeling depressed but he has no reason why. First he can sit for a moment and feel the feelings and begin asking himself where is it? Does it have a shape? Is it moving? He can simply turn all attention toward the feeling itself without attempting to trace it’s origin. Then, after fully processing the emotion, he can trace the feeling back to the thought that created it. It must be remembered, however, this is much easier to do after processing the emotion, because the mind will be much more transparent without the cloud of emotion coloring the lens of perception. Then, if the thought that led to the depressed state was that the man is alone and has nobody to love, he can change the thought. He can say to himself, “I am a being of light and have the capacity to love anyone, anywhere, anytime. I know that this love will be returned as the love in me is the same as the love in everyone.”

What the man chooses to say to himself matters not. The only thing that’s important is that it’s the opposite of the thought that created the unwanted feelings of depression. To be able to easily change the thought, we need only to meditate on the fact that we are not the thoughts and can choose to change them at will. Soon, we will come to believe this truth and it will become much easier to utilize the method of recognizing feelings, processing them, tracing the feeling to the thought, and then changing the thought to what is wanted.

We Must Not Lie to Ourselves

Of course it’s still important not to lie to ourselves. In having a negative experience, for example, we must not try and convince ourselves it was positive. We must consider what good may come from the experience. In this way, we are training the mind to look toward the positive and away from the negative aspects of life. This is what is meant by move toward the light. We need only continue moving toward the light of the authentic self and away from the darkness of the psychological self. After all, feelings are the Universe’s way of communicating with the authentic self to show what It truly is, whereas thoughts and emotions are Its way of showing what we are not. Therefore, what we must do is surrender to the guidance of the Universe.

Perhaps the greatest part of surrender and acceptance is that we must accept and forgive ourselves first. Only then can we learn to accept and forgive others. By so doing, we surrender to the Reality of All That Is and the only thing remaining is peace. Anyone can actually reach this place. All it takes is complete acceptance and forgiveness of everyone and everything. Those who reach this state are given the title of enlightened one.

Heaven and Hell are Here and Now

Many interpret the Bible to mean that heaven and hell are places we go after the death of the body. However, to me, Jesus was explaining how to experience heaven on earth. A person who is enlightened lives Jesus’ teachings, and will remain in a state of bliss, which is heaven on earth. In contrast, an individual who is trapped in his own mind and has committed atrocities against humanity is in hell now, in the present moment. Even if that person presents an image of one who is normal and happy, in his mind and body he is most likely torturing himself over what he has done. That is God’s wrath. It occurs within the human mind and continues “throughout eternity” because he carries it with him for the rest of his life.

This is where forgiveness comes in. Forgiveness can come to anyone for anything through awakening to the present moment. Once we realize the truth that God is in everything and everyone, and we truly are One in every sense of the word, the sins are forgiven and the mind and body are now free of the pain and suffering endured in the time before becoming awakened, allowing forgiveness to take place.

To learn more about presence see my book on the topic, which can be found here.

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Deeper Teachings From “The Lord’s Prayer”

The Lord’s Prayer is often interpreted literally. But I believe it is speaking to consciousness. When it states, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name” it is directing our consciousness to center on the One (the Uniting Force of the Universe and everything within It) and ready It for the prayer. This is similar to meditation when we make the sound, “Ahhh…” What we are doing when making this sound is preparing the mind for communion with the Source Energy. It is considered the “sound of God” and when we center attention on this sound, not only are we hearing the sound of God (The Absolute, The One, Source Energy), we are feeling the vibrations of Source Energy, helping bring us into the present moment.

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The Meaning of Socrates’ Allegory of the Cave

Once, I went on a walk through a park in my neighborhood. It was a still mid-morning and the sun cast a shadow on the sidewalk from the trees that lined the path. The huge evergreens that bordered it seemed to protect the park from invading forces. In the center, there were many multi-colored deciduous trees with shades of green, brown, and red, and the flowering buds displaying the newness of spring took me by surprise. At one point I stopped and stared at a bee investigating one of the new found treasures. It was darting in and out of a white flower rising from a shrub that was not yet in full bloom, moving from the flower to a closed bud merely promising to bloom and back to the flower once again, as if it was asking, “What are the rest of you waiting for?”

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