Are We Free?

Are we free, or are we enslaved?

Most people don’t realize that they are enslaved. It is so widespread that they think it is just natural to be paralyzed with fear. So the first thing is to know the difference between being enslaved and being free. Once we know that we can be enslaved when we could be free, then the question is, What is the next step?

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Questions? Doubts?

Here is a simple idea to discern what is good and healthy vs what is not:

Any idea, or system of values, or religious system, anything that impinges on individual existence, can validate itself or disqualify itself by its consequences for the health and fulfillment of the individual. . .

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How Can We Be Safe?

In what way can man find peace, assurance, freedom, gratitude, love, life in the midst of an epidemic of crime? Wherein lies safety?

Safety lies in understanding that the solution to the problem is not in society or in the police, but in consciousness. A certain quality of consciousness will create a predilection to victimization, and another quality of consciousness will create a sense of safety.

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What is So Great About Humility?

". . . humility, is not proud; it is dignified, inspired, intelligent, peaceful, assured, alert, responsive, and highly effective. It is not a form of behavior but, rather, a quality of consciousness. . . . If we could be truly humble we would never know anxiety."

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How Can I Get My Two-Year Old to Stop . . . ?

Children are influenced by three factors in parental consciousness: what the parents cherish, what they hate and what they fear. Therefore, healthy parenthood is impossible just on the basis of good intentions or self-sacrificing love. Parents can be loving, generous and devoted, and move heaven and earth for the sake of a child, but if they don’t understand these three elements in consciousness, they may be of little benefit.

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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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Who Is To Blame for Oil Spills and Other Disasters?

There is not one person or organization that can rightfully shoulder the culpability for this devastating event. As in all experiences that “go wrong” with suffering, heart ache, trauma and enormous expense, there is an endless wagon train of ignorance, arrogance, greed and ambition in many individual acts along the way.

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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.

What is my purpose in Life?

What is my purpose in Life?

The purpose of life is to live a happy, fulfilled, meaningful life in harmony with others. The joyful life is only possible when we come to know that we are essentially spiritual consciousnesses, a living soul – “in” this world as a blessing, not “of” it attempting to get love, happiness and fulfillment through others, through work, through pleasure or pain. This is the journey of soul existence we are all on. 

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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.

What is Prayer?

We can define prayer as an endeavor to behold what is real. It is an endeavor to connect with reality. What does this have to do with psychotherapy and healing? If we have reverence for truth and we appreciate spiritual values, then our life becomes a prayer. Life is then lived in the consciousness of what is true, beautiful, and good.

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Is It Ever Good To Obey?

The word “obedience” tends to elicit negative reactions, because of the connotation of human tyranny and childhood coercive experiences. But the obedience we are talking about here refers to the willingness to listen to and to be governed by impartations of Divine Mind, coming to us moment by moment.

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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.