Transcending Discord

if we have the right idea of what abundance is and what its source is, we will never lack an opportunity for being useful and helpful. But if we are ignorant of this fact and feel deprived or sorry for ourselves, we have closed the floodgates of the good which God is generously pouring out continuously.

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Work as a Spiritual Opportunity; part 1

. . .In a certain sense, looking for a job is a mistake. We are looking to be useful, to contribute. While it is intelligent to be concerned with what benefits we may derive from our employment, we must also be interested in what way we may benefit the company or institution we work for.

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Prayer can be thought of as a mental hygiene principle. Sanity depends on being in touch with Reality. Thus, prayer is an existential necessity. We are not talking here about religious prayer, which is mostly petitionary. We define prayer as a constant conscious endeavor to be aware of our place in Reality.

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Letting-be” is an existential term.  It originated in Taoism. Letting-be actually means: reverent, loving responsiveness to that which is from moment to moment.  It is a highly constructive, supremely spiritual attitude toward all life forms, not unlike Albert Schweitzer’s reverence for life.

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If "God" is a Typo

Instead of imaging God as the all powerful arbitrator who decides who suffers and who prospers, the “Good” would be understood as the dynamic principle of all life. Who could misunderstand that? Would we kill in the name of Good? There might be disagreements about personal good versus collective good but we won’t kill each other over it. Good can be defined so that there is no mistake.

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In Search of the Holidays

The fact we are unhappy when we attempt to be “happy” by partaking in “happy holiday festivities” points to our mental health. Within our awareness is the uncomfortable realization that we are participating in a fantasy.

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A Glimpse of the Eternal

In every life there will be at least one moment when ongoing grind of daily life blinks - revealing the timeless harmony of existence. In that moment a glimpse of true being is revealed; without words, without action, without description. Those who know this moment recognize it always, even in these clumsy words.

When the moment passes and ordinary life faces us again, our thirst is both quenched and heightened. The reality of completeness is complete, and, at the same moment, it has disappeared behind the open-mouthed monster mind on the search for something to have or someone to be.

After the glimpse, everything in the ordinary world is tainted with the recognition that it is a sham – a poor second to the glorious ever-present, yet ungraspable truth.

The bottomless pit of wanting is confronted by the infinite wholeness of being.

Albert Einstein described such a moment as “the religious paradise of youth,” as he recalled the recognition of universal harmony when he was first introduced to Hebrew teachings. As a young man, he wrote simple hymns he sang and prayed to himself while walking to school.

When introduced to geometry in math class, his view of God was challenged. While he did outgrow religious ideas, it seems to me that he was fueled by his naïve recognition of universal harmony to search for a mathematical and scientific language to understand it.

All of us are on the same quest through a unique route. For some the original “glimpse” may have been overshadowed by the traumas and tribulations of early life or possibly smothered in comfort and indulgence. Like looking for lost keys that “we know were left somewhere around here,” universal harmony seems lost just beneath the daily relentless routine.

Universal harmony cannot be lost – it is impossible – but our attention can get focused in other directions. And, as when looking for lost keys, the more agitated and anxious we get about finding them, or universal harmony, the harder it is to find.

Is it possible to find something that isn’t really lost? For that matter, is it possible to lose something that is ever-present?

Perhaps when Albert Einstein was singing his hymns to God someone else was thinking that he was wasting his time.

It reminds me of one of my daughters screaming: “Mom! I can’t find my sweater. . .” or whatever. Within 30 seconds of my coming into the room the “sweater” magically appeared – on the bed, under the bag, or on the floor of the closet. It became a joke as it occurred every time.

It wasn’t that something was lost – it was that she, or you or I, can’t see what is there when our minds are cluttered.

Are You OK?

We hear and say this phrase over and over again, especially here on the East Coast after Storm Sandy, but what are we really saying? 

Sometimes when the question is asked the answer is a superficial “everything is OK” in an attempt to relieve the anxiety of the questioner. Other times the questioner is overwhelmed when the answer comes back filled with troubles and losses that are unsolvable. Sometimes we “tune out” and ignore others rather than face the anxiety of not being able to help someone who is suffering,

In its most pure and universal form “Are You OK?” is an expression of love. Rather than a question, it is really a statement: “Even though it does not seem like it, all is well. We are with each other right now in this moment.” 

Love is a quality of being that is attentive. It is our capacity to listen in order to understand. 

Problems can arise with the question “Are You OK?” when it is translated into “How are you feeling?” or “What’s wrong?” Instead of a statement of assurance, it becomes anxious concern and an invitation to dwell in fear.

Even when we are frightened, the question, “Are You OK?” can be asked and answered with the awareness that one is reaching out to another with love and compassion.  Not necessarily with answers and action.

We don’t know what we will hear or what we will say. Beyond the thought that we “should” be able to help, have the answers, or know what to do, is the capacity to listen – to ourselves, to another and to Divine Inspiration. 

The truth may be that in that moment we do not know what to do or say or what action will be helpful. Knowing that we don’t know, and that we don’t need to know relieves the anxiety of thinking we “should” know. This allows love to listen. And if there is a helpful response beyond listening, it will become clear.

How can I be helpful?

There is a commonly heard adage that if you give someone a fish they will eat for a day and if you teach someone how to fish they will eat for the rest of their life. On the surface it seems intelligent and loving – provide tools and education then voila! A desperate situation is healed.

If we look a little closer we see the change from giving fish to teaching fishing as a paradigm shift within the “giver/teacher.” Yet, does the new paradigm go far enough? It still implies that one individual needs to do something to help another who nowhere in the story actually asks for help.  What if the “student” is not interested in learning to fish? What if they see the attempt to teach them to fish as humiliating and interfering?

All of a sudden a simple adage that has been accepted as wise puts us in another dilemma.  What does it mean to be truly helpful? Is it possible to ease the suffering of others?

Who is suffering here?

"We suffer from what we want and what we don't want; from what we think should be and should not be."

-Dr. Hora

The paradigm shift from giver to teacher is not enough as it is still based on what one individual wants for another. It is the suffering that sees others as suffering that needs to be healed.

When we find ourselves suffering from wanting the suffering situations in the world to change – we can focus on healing our own suffering. Instead of wanting the world to be the way we think it “should” be – we can turn our attention to “being the good we would like to see.” In Metapsychiatry we call this beholding. Seeing that in the broadest, infinite context everyone and everything is already all right – what we see with human eyes is all the ignorance blocking the view.

The enlightened first grade teacher who sees her students struggling with learning new skills does not see the struggling as a problem or an indication that there is something wrong with the child – she can see the beginning steps on the path of understanding taking place right before her eyes and she can appreciate the importance of the struggle that she is witnessing. She can then respond to what is needed to guide each student. That’s beholding.

We can continue to get better at “fishing” within our own lives in whatever form that may take. We can then be open to sharing the fruits of the “joy of fishing” with anyone who is interested.

Is Kindness Dead?

A movement encouraging “random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” began in the 1980’s in response to a series of events that were characterized as “random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty.” Suddenly it was “hip” and “legitimate” to consider a response of kindness and to express beauty over the more common habit of mere indifference and self-centeredness. There was a wave of inspired acts of kindness and creativity in unusual and unexpected ways to both strangers and friends. Many are still being inspired by this idea.

This demonstrates that a transformation in consciousness can come from a simple concept, received and recognized by a receptive individual. The process is quite simple. A good idea meets fertile mental ground and new possibilities are inspired where before there was only a habit of thought.

Certainly, the idea of “kindness” has been available as part of the human vocabulary of values forever. But, ho-hum, it’s just one of those abstract values anyone could define on a test, without really considering it as a value to turn to. When a specific application of “kindness” as a response in the face of frightening current issues brought it into public awareness, it became an obvious " I could be kind!" awakening moment to many.

Kindness and violence both originate as thoughts in human consciousness. Thoughts are just thoughts. They underlie how we see: the world, ourselves, and others. They form the mental climate determining our perceptions and in turn our responses to situations. We’ve been educated to them whether we are aware of it or not.

Enlightened spiritual teachings suggest that we are not our thoughts, but that we are the capacity to be aware of thoughts.

The “kindness” movement demonstrates that we can awaken to what we are thinking and choose loving and kind thoughts over thoughts that are angry, violent and cruel.

This is not something that happens by accident. It is something we are educated to.

Thoughts that are motivating what we feel, what we do and what we experience can be examined. And thoughts of harmony, peace, kindness and love can be cultivated.

While the “fad” of the “random acts of kindness” movement has quieted down, the underlying value has gone “viral.” A cultural wave of increasing “kindness” as an actual practical response to situations can be seen in daily living. I’ve noticed it growing in customer service providers, the caring from health care professionals, even the DMV, banks and post office service. Kindness, compassion and gratitude are currently very popular concepts in psychological, spiritual and self-help circles. . Perhaps it can even be seen more nationally in the movement to reform our criminal justice system and provide basic health care for all.

Violence and cruelty also continue to be part of the human mental climate fed with fearful thoughts. While thoughts are just thoughts – they do have consequences. Our actions are expressions of the thoughts we’ve been influenced by whether habitual or inspired.

If living with kindness and beauty is more appealing than living in violence and cruelty, you might consider the possibility to respond more often with kindness and seek to let your life be an expression of beauty.


Fear is the beginning of wisdom

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil. . .

The media is filled with frightening information. Violence and threats of violence are everywhere. The economy is struggling. Our leaders seem to be dysfunctional. It is easy to become frightened. Fear is uncomfortable. And, with the amount of fearful events reported every day an underlying fearful state of being seems normal. “Be frightened about your life, your money, your health, your family,” seems to be the constant mantra of the news and our friends.

To recognize that we are experiencing fear is to know that we are walking “through a valley of dangerous shadows” and this is the first step – the beginning of wisdom.

While it is not possible to just stop being frightened, it is possible to stop being frightened of fear. After all, it is just a very uncomfortable feeling – not the real stuff of life.

. . . I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.

Who or what is the "Thou" that is “with me” and not frightened of fear or evil? The "Thou" is the ever-over-flowing soundless voice of inspired wisdom.

Thou preparest a table before me in the midst of mine enemies.

Fear, the emotional and physiological reaction to being threatened, is the “enemy,” as living a frightened life is self-destructive. When frightened we cannot be aware of the “table of good” intelligent ideas laid before us. We cannot see the “green pastures" of good pathways through our problems we are being led to.

It is not panic that will safely guide us through difficult situations – it is creative inspiration that flows from Thou into us, just as the river feeds the trees.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.