Reconnecting With Your Soul's Desires

I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend. I have been in Greece for the past week or so. Although I have done a lot of traveling this year, my trips, although amazing, have been full of early morning wake-up calls and jam-packed itineraries. This trip was a true vacation, especially the last five days in Mykonos. I got up on my own accord and my biggest decision of the day was which beach club to explore. I enjoyed a wonderful beach read and basically flowed into each moment, one moment at a time.

 

Although most people like to stay connected when they travel, I reveled in the delight of disconnection.

 

Generally identifying myself as a person who loves structure and thrives on my ability to multi-task and accomplish so much in a day, I was shocked at how good I was at doing nothing! And I enjoyed it! Yet somewhere in between my third beach club and seventh Greek salad (yes, I was enjoying a feta-thon!), a very cool thing happened. As my life got quieter, I was able to hear a voice I hadn’t connected with in a while. I was able to hear the whisperings of my soul.

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Expanded Awareness and Success

Only about half of Americans tell pollsters that they still believe the American Dream is attainable. If the dream is the same as achieving success, perhaps there's a more optimistic way to think about the whole issue.

To have worldly success, do you have to be worldly yourself? Most people assume that the answer is yes. The poet Wordsworth may complain that "the world is too much with us late and soon," but modern life seems to demand total immersion in the race to the top. If you stop looking out for number one, no one else is likely to, and in a highly competitive workplace, there's only room for winners.

In earlier posts I've pointed out that the world's wisdom traditions don't agree with this viewpoint. The path to happiness isn't through obeying the demands of the ego-personality, with its constant focus on "I, me, and mine." But one must be realistic.

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What happens when your righteousness and mind trips disappear?

The predicament is that as you awaken you realize you have been the perpetrator of the conspiracy you’re caught in.

It’s not real paranoia, it’s not like, “They did it to me. They’ve got this terrible conspiracy.” You’re it. You are it. We are it. We are the conspiracy, and the interesting question is, when you extricate your awareness from being part of the conspiracy, what happens? A mature person isn’t in the conspiracy, and is not in the conspiracy even to the point of putting down the conspiracy. They’re just not in it, and then them not being in it, buying it, becomes freedom they are able to offer others, for them to also not get caught in it all.

It’s as if we meet through our prison cells.

To see the maturity of being able to extricate your awareness from entrapment in a role, and then, without violence, still fulfill the role, it requires coming from a different place.

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How can we balance solitude and socialization on the spiritual path?

Maharaji said to me, “Ram Dass, you shouldn’t be with people very much. You should be alone. You should take your food alone. You should eat alone. You should just be alone.”

So I went back to the hotel where all of the Western devotees were hanging out, and I put up a sign on my door that said, “Do not disturb,” and I stayed in my room. Two days later a couple that was with us had a fight during the night. The next morning they were with Maharaji and he said, “You were fighting? When? Well did you tell Ram Dass?” and they said, “No, he had that sign on his door saying DO NOT DISTURB!” He said, “Oh… you didn’t go to Ram Dass? He wasn’t there for you?” He said this and looked at me in disgust and I was about to say to him, “But you said I was supposed to be alone.”

 

In those conflicting messages I found a message, that at first you have to be alone by pulling back from people, before you can understand what the game is. Then, finally you see that the game is to be with people, yet always be somewhat alone.

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How Reality Is Made: The Play of Consciousness

It’s a peculiar part of being human that we have both a mind and consciousness but cannot tell them apart. The difference is that the mind is constantly in motion, producing sensations, thoughts, images, and feelings, while consciousness is the basic “stuff” of the mind, which remains unchanged no matter how active the mind is. By analogy, paintings are produced by endlessly combining colors in new ways, while “color” itself is unaffected. A painting can neither create nor destroy color.

 

This inability to know the difference between mind and consciousness has created a trap that we all fall into. We create something from the “stuff” of consciousness and then forget that we created it. The trap becomes obvious with something like a dictatorship, when an ordinary human being becomes a figure of total belief and worship. From outside the ideology, you can see the deception—the very people who feel powerless before the dictator in fact created him and then felt powerless before him. But similar deceptions in everyday life escape our notice, and in that way, we trap ourselves.

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What is our purpose on earth at this moment?

When you as an individual feel threatened, one of the things you do is feel power through a group identity.

You feel power through identifying with a country, “We’re Americans,” and all of what that represents. When the Jews faced the Holocaust, which placed the individual life so utterly at the whim of a dark force, the people, as millions of them were destroyed, increased their identification with the group rather than with the individual, because although that group was still vulnerable, it was less vulnerable than the individual.

 

It’s important that compassion exists in our hearts for whatever changes go down. We have to be able to deal with uncertainty, change, chaos and loss of power without the depth of the fear that makes us go into massive denial and massive violence to other human beings.

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What are some methods to help us inhabit the fullness of our being?

The interesting question is, “How do I manage this temple for consciousness? How do I take care of my body? How do I do it without being trapped by taking care of it?”

 

You will see that the minute something is wrong with you, if you’re not very careful your consciousness will narrow, until you’re busy being your symptoms. The minute you start to cultivate these techniques of mindfulness, you begin to see the game that you’re playing, the life that you’re living, the way it’s unfolding, the roles you’re in, and you listen more deeply into your life, so that you hear what roles are. What you’ll learn is that you have a unique karmic predicament and that will manifest in certain ways at each moment, and to the extent that you push against the manifestation, it takes a lot of juice. Ultimately what you’re doing is dancing deeply, but lightly. There’s no clinging.

 

The statement, “Hold lightly, let go lightly,” is to be in it without clinging. And to differentiate, it’s interesting because when we love somebody we want to possess them, we want more of them, we want to collect them, we keep wanting to hold on while we keep getting these old moldering dead butterflies in our collection. You know – old loves that were a moment of love, and then we destroyed them through possessing them – and the letting go of holding your interpretation of the moment too tightly.

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From Human Doing to Human Being – Part 1

Like Sisyphus eternally pushing the boulder up the hill, we can spend many moments busily trying to manage our life. This two-part talk explores how we can awaken from our non-stop doing, including the incessant inner narrative, and discover the mystery, love and freedom that arises in Being.

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Anandamayi Ma: Serving the Formless Through Forms

I’d like to share with you two bits of wisdom from one of my favorite saints, Anandamayi Ma.

For those of you who have been on our circuit together for years, you may have many pictures of her by now, because we usually hand out pictures of her. The reason I like these quotes is because they convey two different planes of consciousness, one of them in which she exists ‘in form’ and the other in which she’s ‘beyond form.’ In each of these, when she’s speaking, she’s speaking from that place at that moment, and it gives you a chance to hear, which is not so frequent, from a true ‘free’ being on different levels of consciousness.

 

So, when she is in the level of ‘form,’ she has millions of devotees and beings in her presence. For me, it was like being with a wild deer or fox or something like that, just an intimate, non-human connection, non-social.

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Spiritual Partnerships And Friendships

Spiritual partnerships are partnerships between equals for the purpose of spiritual growth. They are for intimate couples and anyone who intends to become emotionally aware, self-responsible, and inwardly secure.

 

Spiritual partners help one another recognize parts of their personalities that come from love– such as gratitudepatience, and caring – and cultivate them by acting on them consciously. They also help one another recognize parts of their personalities that come from fear -such as anger, jealousy, and righteousness -and challenge them by acting from loving parts of their personalities (such as patience) when frightened parts (such as impatience) are active.

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How can we add more dimension to our spiritual existence?

This is a great story: Every month a disciple faithfully sent his master an account of his spiritual progress.

In the first month, he wrote, “I feel an expansion of consciousness and experience my oneness with the universe.” The master glanced at the note and threw it away. The following month, this is what he had to say: “I have finally discovered that the Divine is present in all things.” The master seemed disappointed. In his third letter, the disciple enthusiastically explained, “The mystery of the One and the Many has been revealed to my wondering gaze.” The master yawned. In his next letter, he said, “No one is born, no one lives, and no one dies for the self is not.” The master threw up his hands in despair.

 

After that a month passed by, then two, then five, then a whole year. The master thought it was time to remind his disciple of his duty to keep him informed of his spiritual progress, so he wrote to him. The disciple wrote back, “Who cares?” When the master read these words, a look of satisfaction spread over his face, and he said, “Thank you God, at last he’s got it.”

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Seeing Basic Goodness – Part 2

Most of us long to trust our goodness, but get caught in stories of deficiency and striving to affirm we’re ok. These talks look at the block to realizing the loving awareness that is our essence, and the practices that help us see this essential goodness – in ourselves, dear ones and in those we might habitually consider different or “other.” Both talks include reflections that can help us appreciate the basic goodness that lives through these precious, changing forms.

Think of some of the people you like and are drawn to you.

Now attempt to look at each of them as if you were seeing them for the first time, not allowing yourself to be influenced by your past knowledge or experience of them, whether good or bad.

Look for things in them that you may have missed because of familiarity, for familiarity breeds staleness, blindness and boredom. You cannot love what you cannot see afresh. You cannot love what you are not constantly discovering anew.

Anthony de Mello
from “The Way to Love: The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello”  

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Miraculous Discoveries

I stepped out on my deck and was pulled into the moment of all that was taking place around me. It was the sounds that I connected to first. The squirrels talking loudly in their world. Our wind chime reacting to the breeze. Sea gulls chasing a much larger eagle through the sky. An ambulance too far away to hear, but I could see the flashing lights. It became obvious to me that we are surrounded by choices; choices of where to place our attention.

 

We can find ourselves fully experiencing the moment by accident, or by purposefully calling our attention to the moment. Sometimes we need courage. Other times we need healing to help us embrace awareness. I discovered my ability to fall into the moment by accident. Growing up I enjoyed sitting outside in the presence of animals. Nature and animals were one of the sweetest parts of my childhood. Both of these have helped me connect. They have both helped me heal. I have also learned that if we have suffering anywhere in the world, we all suffer.

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Seeing Basic Goodness – Part 1

Most of us long to trust our goodness, but get caught in stories of deficiency and striving to affirm we’re ok. These talks look at the block to realizing the loving awareness that is our essence, and the practices that help us see this essential goodness – in ourselves, dear ones and in those we might habitually consider different or “other.” Both talks include reflections that can help us appreciate the basic goodness that lives through these precious, changing forms.

“Saints are what they are, not because their sanctity makes them admirable to others, but because the gift of sainthood makes it possible for them to admire everyone else.” -Thomas Merton

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How Real Is the Soul?

Depending on which polls you consult, more than half of Americans and up to 67% believe that a person's soul goes to heaven or hell after death. This belief seems unusually strong considering that more and more Americans no longer identify with a fixed religion. "I'm not religious, but I’m spiritual" has become a common sentiment, and yet the idea of the soul continues to hold its place. One might even say it outstrips God as a matter of belief.

Look at how deeply embedded the word "soul" is in our culture, from soul music to soul searching. Once a word takes old, so does the concept it represents. To a pure rationalist, there's no reason to say that the gospels sung in African American churches are more soulful than a Beethoven symphony. When someone searches his soul, the psychological reality is that he is usually just consulting his conscience or weighing issues of right and wrong that came from childhood upbringing.

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The Temple Is You

Your physical form is not a throw-away container to be mistreated or ignored and then discarded at the end of your life with reluctance or relief. As the greatest mystics have said, your body is a temple. It is the holy shrine that houses God and your eternal soul and is to be treated with honor and gentleness. Perhaps even awe. It is an amazing gift to be alive on this planet at this time. At any time really. There is great mystery involved in our beingness, most of which we will never understand while we are in our physicality. However, we can experience that mystery as the miracle that it is in every moment of our lives.
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Why Did We Create God?

There is no denying that the different versions of God in world religions has led to historical violence and conflict, which humanitarians have tried to end by saying that there is only one God, implying that such conflicts are pointless. But is there only one God? The conflicting versions of God all attempt to grasp God in reality, so every version actually is God for that religion.

Atheists claim that all of these versions are fictional to begin with, but this misses the point. Human beings have experienced the spiritual dimension of life for as long as history can tell. The need for God grew out of the same need as modern science: to explain a fundamental aspect of Nature. The problem is that there is a gap between this need for explanations and the answers arrived at.

In this gap creativity went to work. The gods and God are human creations, constructs of the mind. Faced with unanswerable dilemmas the human mind went to work to fashion a supernatural dimension presided over by a ruler, or rulers, who stand in for rulers here on Earth, being human, emotional, unpredictable, beautiful, terrible, merciful, vengeful--pick any human trait and you can match it to some version of God worshipped now or in the past. The rational God of Thomas Jefferson's enlightened God is a projection of his ideal human portrayed on a superhuman scale, just as Jehovah, the complete opposite of Jefferson's God, was an idealized projection by ancient rabbis.

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What is Standing Between You and Who You Deserve to Be - Chasing Moonbeams and Butterflies

I have forever been looking “out there” for what was within me the entire time, or as one of my mentors told me, “What you are looking for, you are looking with.”

 

I have been writing since the age of four (I learned to read at age two) but whenever my mother would catch me writing, she would confiscate the papers and throw them away along with the admonishment that writers are losers and I would “never be a writer!” 

 

It has been said, “Follow your passion and the money will follow,” and I believe that. However, how many of you feel, or have felt like me, that you cannot be self-supporting by doing what you love.That has been an on and off process for me using a myriad of tools to get in touch with why that is.

 

I am doing what I love since I retired from my real career but not making any money and I have had to take a serious look at why?   It felt like I have always been simply chasing moonbeams, falling stars and rainbows looking for something but not knowing what.  I just kept writing.  One morning – before dawn – one of those moonbeams struck me upside the head with another memory.  It is definitely not a new memory but one which has always been just hanging out with me.  It is a sentence I frequently heard from my mother:  “Writers are losers.”  

 

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As We Evolve, Do We Need God?

By Deepak Chopra, MD and Anoop Kumar, MD

We recently participated in a public debate on the proposition "The more we evolve, the less we need God." The results were clearly in favor of the proposition against the stance we took. This was so amongst both the live audience and the online audience.

The cerebral cortex, the most recent part of the human brain to evolve, hasn't changed for more than ten thousand years. The writers of the world's ancient spiritual texts used the same brain as modern people, and since the world's religions revere these ancient texts, we accept that the Ten Commandments and the Four Noble truths of Buddhism came from minds whose processes we'd recognize today, however dissimilar the cultures of ancient Judea and India.

It must be cultural evolution that is relevant, and of course our modern secular culture has moved away from the age of faith. Rationalism seems to dominate our lives, and when we read of religious fanaticism, we feel that such issues belong to people living outside the reach of a modern secular society. Few people seeing news on TV of an attack in Paris or London feel an impulse to fight back by re-energizing their own religious beliefs. Being secular can easily feed the belief that one has evolved beyond God, religion, dogma, and the whole rigmarole.

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Namaste: Seeing the Truth of Who We Are

A gift of evolving consciousness is the capacity to recognize and honor the sacred awareness that lives through our own and all beings. This capacity is blocked by our identification with our “mask” or ego self, and not seeing past other people’s masks. In this talk we reflect together on some key filters of superior/inferior and good/bad that shape the trance of a narrowed identity, and then explore how mindfulness and kindness free us to inhabit the vastness of our natural awareness. We close with tasting the possibility of bringing the spirit of Namaste to ourselves, others and all beings.


Rumi writes: ““Are you searching for your true self? Then come out of your own prison. Leave the little creek and join the mighty river that flows into the ocean. Like an ox, don’t pull the wheel of this world on your back. Take off the burden. Whirl and circle, and rise above the wheel of the world. There is another view.”

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