Dead Poets Society

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“Before death takes away what you are given, give away what there is to give.”

-Rumi

 

Death has an interesting way of affecting people; it requires a vigilance of negative thoughts, as well as a means to express yourself to work through it.

This past weekend, I found out that a long-time friend of mine was killed in a motorcycle accident. This hit me pretty hard, and for the rest of the day after finding out about it, I didn’t feel like myself.

On the following day, I found out about Robin Williams’ death. Obviously because I didn’t know the man personally, it wasn’t nearly as heartbreaking.

Since then, I have found myself expressing my grief in a way I have never noticed myself really taking an interest in – through poetry. Although I enjoy reading poetry occasionally, especially Rumi and a few others like Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson (I also particularly like books like the Tao Te Ching), I normally don’t write poetry myself.

Trying to convey the sadness that comes from death doesn’t come through in prose, however, a more expressive language is require. Therefore, I have been finding myself using poetry lately, which is something I noticed recently.

Up until now, I have been using poetry to express my grief about losing a friend, but because this blog is meant for a wide audience promoting spiritual growth, I developed a poem about how the mind operates, and how meditation helps us cultivate the types of thoughts we choose to nurture.

Although this poem isn’t specifically about the death of anyone, it is particularly relevant when dealing with an issue as severe as losing someone close to you. Without meditation, your thoughts have permission to run free, ruling your mind as opposed to serving you.

I have heard it said before that when you don’t have time to meditate, is the time when you really need to meditate. During a grieving process is another time when it is especially important to meditate.

But who wants to meditate when they are rushed, or when all they can think about is the death of another?

Not me! That’s for sure. And yet one of the first things I did after finding out about the death of my friend was to meditate.

Sure, all I could think about was sadness, and all I wanted to do was escape my mind by distracting myself through any number of different means. Poetry has been a constructful means to work through my grief though, rather than something destructive (which I am still dealing with).

By meditating, I was able to become so much clearer about what was going on inside me. It gave me some distance from my thoughts and emotions, and I was able to see them more clearly.

Now that I have adequately set the stage for my poem, I will present it shortly. I ask that you are generous with your criticism, as I am not an experienced poet. Without further ado, here it is:

    The mind is like a garden,

    Unconscious thoughts are weeds,

    They thrive with neglect.

    Picking the weeds is meditation,

    They cannot live with conscious effort,

    The garden can then be filled with flowers.

Perhaps my prose is better than my poetry, but hopefully you get the idea. Naturally, I will explain my thought process with that poem here…

If we compare the mind to a garden, it is easy to see how the thoughts we have would be analogous to the plants we have inside the garden. Weeds are the thoughts that sprout up when we neglect our garden or mind.

In order to have the type of plants we want in the garden, we need to first plant the type of plants we want, and we must also guard against plants sprouting up that we don’t want.

If the weeds in the garden get out of control, they will compete with the others and steal their sunlight, water, and soil. Eventually they may starve the other plants, and we will be left with a mess.

Meditation is like gardening for your mind. By meditating, we are choosing the thoughts we wish to have. We can choose what thoughts we wish to “feed.” What we feed will grow stronger, and by that process, we are able to give attention to the positive thoughts we want, and starve the negative thoughts that don’t serve us.

There are two key components to meditation, and I briefly mentioned them in my Pulitzer Prize worthy poem. “Conscious effort” is the phrase I used, which implies two things must happen:

First, there must be an awareness, which means you must be looking for it. Just like with gardening, if you don’t know the weeds exist, you can’t do anything about it.

The second component to meditation is the work that you put in. Again, to bring this back to the garden, if you know the weeds are there but you don’t go pull them, they are just going to continue to grow and spread.

Meditation and gardening both require conscious effort. Without either the consciousness or the effort, the mind and the garden are going to run wild.

Let us cultivate the kinds of thoughts we want to grow, and we will have a beautiful garden we can be happy to live with ;)

 

“Never say goodbye, because saying goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting.”

-Robin Williams (as Peter Pan)

I’ll Be Your Guide

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For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while now, you know how much I love to use everyday situations to demonstrate some deeper spiritual truth. This will be no exception, because the other day while I was driving around with my friend, I came up with an analogy I would like to share with you.

My friend was driving, and I was sitting in the passenger seat. We were driving back from downtown Boulder, CO, to my apartment complex a few blocks away.

He has been to my apartment before, and he knows his way around the city, so I wasn’t concerned about him finding my place. The way he chose wasn’t the path I would have taken, because it wasn’t the most direct, but in general he was on the right track.

The metaphor I want to incorporate into this blog is the following: In this situation I was sort of like his Guardian Angel, because I knew where he was going, and how he needed to get there.

Personally, I prefer the term “Guide,” to Guardian Angel, because I think that is more accurate. From what I understand, we all have both Guides and Angels that follow us around and help direct us depending upon the circumstances in our life.

The difference is that an Angel has never incarnated into human form, and therefore has more advanced abilities is some respects because they don’t have a soul in the same way we do, and they are more “pure.” But they are also limited by their lack of experience in corporeal form, and don’t understand suffering in the same way we do.

Guides, on the other hand, are just like us, because they are generally our friends from past lives. Usually they are still incarnating in fact—they are just taking a “break” between lifetimes, to help guide us.

Sorry to diverge from the analogy I am attempting to present, but I thought it would be useful to explain my understanding of the difference between Angels and Guides. Perhaps your definition is different—how would you best explain it?

Back to the point … I was both metaphorically being a Guide for my friend, as well as quite literally guiding him. It is intriguing to compare the similarities between how a Guide operates, and how I was behaving in this real-world situation.

In this analogy, the car would be analogous your human body; while my friend with his body and mind, would be more like your soul.

As a Guide, they are “hands off,” so to speak. That means they aren’t going to just hop in the driver’s seat, and start taking complete control of the car. In this case, I wasn’t going to start driving either, but I would offer any assistance my friend needed to get to our destination.

I sat back enjoying the ride, and even though my friend took a few turns I may not have, I knew where we were, and exactly where we needed to go. There are many different paths we could have taken, but all of them ultimately leading to the same destination.

There was no need to offer guidance to my friend, because he was heading in the generally correct direction. He hadn’t asked for any help at this point either, so I felt no need to push my guidance on him.

Guides behave very similar to this I believe, because they won’t push their way on you if you don’t ask for their help. They may give subtle hints, but generally if you aren’t too far off track, they aren’t going to push their views without your request.

At the final turn before arriving, my friend did at last ask for directions. It was fairly simple—all he needed to know was whether he should turn right or left. Obviously, I answered him, and we arrived exactly where we needed to be.

All this time I was able to take a relaxed attitude towards this entire trip because I had information that my friend did not possess: mainly, exactly how to get back to my apartment. Similarly, our Guides have information we do not consciously hold, because they know where your soul wants to go, and how to best get there.

We do not ever have to take their advice, because there are many paths that all lead to the same destination. Guides would prefer we find our own way, as opposed to being told exactly how to do it. We will not learn as much, or have as unique of an experience if that was the case.

Sometimes when we get lost, however, we need guidance to get back on track. Guides are happy to oblige, but with our own free will we must ask for help.

They may hint at directions without our specific request, but they will never decide for us. Their hints may become less subtle as we diverge greatly from our path, but they will never “jump into the driver’s seat.”

This is both our blessing and our curse—our life is ours and ours alone to live and decide what to do with ;)

To Give Is to Receive

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“For it is in giving that we receive.”

-St. Francis of Assisi

 

Rationally, your mind isn’t going to accept what I am about to tell you. The only way I can think to introduce my proposition is with a metaphor, but the only way you will learn the truth of what I am saying is to put it into practice for yourself.

This past weekend I attended a Reiki workshop hosted by Susan Chiocchi in Boulder, CO. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Reiki, let me quickly define the term from Susan’s website, http://www.reikicolorado.org/

“The word Reiki is of Japanese origin. ‘Rei’ means spiritual consciousness or divine wisdom. ‘Ki’ means the universal life force that is inherent in all living things. Also referred to as Chi (China), Prana (India). Lung (Tibet), Bioenergy (modern west) and Biofield (NIH).”

Basically, Reiki is a form of healing where you use your hands to allow the ‘Ki’ to be transmitted to the person being healed. There are different techniques that should be followed, as well as certain sacred symbols that you sign with your hand while doing it.

While at the workshop, I found myself thinking about how when you give a healing, you also get a healing. This may sound counterintuitive to some, so let me explain further…

I came up with a metaphor that may help illustrate this point, and allow it to sink in. Picture washing your hands with soap and water–this should be simple enough for most of you—now let us dive into the specifics.

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“One hand washes the other,” as the old saying goes, and this is precisely the point I am going to make. Imagine your right hand is the healer, and the left hand is the healee (person receiving the healing). By now, you might already see where this blog is going, but wait … there’s more!

Dirt and grime on the hands would be the discordant energy requiring the healing, which could be showing up as sickness, an injury, or whatever form is manifested. The running water is Spirit, chi, or the Life Force that flows through everything.

Rubbing your hands together is the act of healing, while the soap is the specific form of healing you have chosen. Just as you can choose many different types of soaps, you can choose a variety of different healing modalities.

I hope that this is becoming clear to you at this point; it is impossible to wash one hand without washing the other, just as it is impossible to give a healing without receiving a healing. As you “clean” the other person, it is no accident that you are also “cleaning” yourself.

This is a basic law of the Universe; what you put out into the Universe, you receive back (much like a boomerang). The quote from St. Francis to start this blog may have seemed like religious preaching that has no practical significance, or perhaps you thought it was just an idealistic thought that wasn’t literally true.

Now do you see how it is factual, and how easily it is to apply in every aspect of our life?

Don’t take my word for it, go try it and see if it works. This doesn’t work only for healing methods, but for anything you can think of in your life.

 

“I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.”

-Khalil Gibran

 

When we ask, “How may I serve?” as opposed to selfishly asking, “What’s in it for me?” the Universe will respond in-kind by paradoxically serving us. It makes no rational sense, especially in this cutthroat world where we feel that to get ahead in life we need make sure we aren’t taken advantage of.

Gains made this way will be short-lived, however, and we will soon find ourselves worse off than when we started. This is the basic premise of Karma. If we operate from a sense of giving instead of receiving though, we will find that we have everything we could ever ask for, and more!

(To schedule a long-distance professional Reiki healing with me, you can contact me at Dean.Hurtt@gmail.com.)

Drink or Drown

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Will you make the choice to drink the water, or will you let it drown you?

This blog is going to be metaphorical, but everything made-up represents some aspect of your life experience. I invite you to consider it carefully, for there is going to be more to it than I will make specific mention of.

Imagine there is a fish bowl sealed to your head, similar to an astronaut’s space helmet. Much the same as NASA would design one, your fish bowl is made of a type of plastic that is shatter and bulletproof.

The plastic is clear all around, comparable to a fish bowl. It is sealed air tight around your neck and can’t be removed, but it doesn’t strangle you. At the top of the bowl—directly above your head—there is a small opening that will allow air in.

Air isn’t a concern yet, however, because this helmet, just like a fish bowl, is filled with water. Now that I have adequately set-up the metaphor, we can begin to explore the options for what to do next, and what all of this means to you in your life.

The choices are fairly simple in this analogy; you can either:

   1.)  Drown

      A.)  By not breathing

      B.)  By inhaling water

   2.)  Drink

   3.)  Tip Over

Let me explain these options in turn. The first choice you have is to drown by one of two methods: You can either suffocate by not breathing at all; or you can try to breathe, inhaling water in the process, and drown by having water get in to your lungs.

Drinking the water is a possibility though, because there is only a limited, finite amount in the bowl. As long as you finish drinking the water before you experience hypoxia, you will then be able to breathe through the small hole at the top of the helmet.

Alternatively, you could also tip the bowl over, and drain the water out through the hole. Once drained, you would be able to breathe as well.

Perhaps by now you are starting to see how this is a metaphor for life, or perhaps you are wondering why on Earth I decided to share this thought experiment with you!

In this analogy, the helmet on your head represents your physical existence, otherwise known as life.

Life—as beautiful and wonderful as it is—is limiting, just like the helmet. You also can’t take it off whenever you would like (unless you have an out-of-body experience I suppose).

Another thing about life is that is alters your perception, just as looking through a fish bowl would slightly distort anything you were looking at.

Every option I gave earlier for how to deal with the helmet attached to your head also represents a choice in life, so stay with me here. Remember, there were two ways of drowning: One was to not breathe; the other was to breathe in water.

By not breathing at all is analogous to not taking action in life. This would essentially be giving up on life, and not doing anything. This is a very real choice that we have, and I believe everyone does this to some degree whether they would like to admit it or not (I know I personally sometimes don’t want to do anything).

Life requires action, and if we give up entirely, we will eventually die. There is also another option though, so let’s discuss that.

It is possible to take action and try breathing, but still dying by inhaling water in the analogy. This demonstrates ignorance, because it would take a fool to try breathing in the water.

Similarly in life, we can ignorantly try to “breathe in” the wrong types of substances to sustain life. Any number of substances could be used represented here; for example you could take too many drugs (prescription or otherwise), excessive alcohol or smoking, eating far too much junk food, etc.

Even generally considered so-called “good” things would suffice; such as exercising excessively, getting too much sunlight, or anything taken to the extreme.

All of this stems from ignorance—not knowing the right choice for you to make—and this is the second way of drowning in the fish bowl.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have two ways to survive. It should be noted now, however, that in real life these choices aren’t mutually exclusive. By that, I mean it isn’t going to be only one choice that you make—it is likely that there will be a portion of each option included in one’s life.

Let us explore the first way of surviving, that of drinking the water. By drinking the water, you are taking action; and by not breathing it in but instead drinking it, you are not making an ignorant choice.

This option represents the path or service, or action in the world. For those of you familiar with the Martha/Mary dichotomy from the Bible, this would be Martha’s choice, because she served Jesus and was “saved” by her self-sacrifice (whether this was literally true isn’t important right now—it is meant to illustrate a point).

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There is another way, however, and that is to tip the bowl so that the water can then pour out the top. This represents a change in perspective, not requiring action as much as thought.

Instead of service to the world, this would be analogous to gaining wisdom in the world through wise teachers, sacred texts, and hopefully my blogs :)

Both of these options would eliminate the water, and allow you to breathe again. They are meant to demonstrate “enlightenment” in the world (whatever that word actually means), because you will then be breathing in a different way (or seeing the world in a different way).

There are two paths to the same destination, but as I said earlier, it is not going to be strictly one-or-the-other. Instead, there is going to be both, just to varying degrees depending on the individual.

For me personally, I prefer the path of wisdom—which do you side with more?

I am not entirely sure where the idea for this blog came from, but these are the types of things I like to think about. Every single thought in life can be taken to represent something higher than the surface meaning.

Layer upon layer exists simultaneously, and it is only our perception that limits us from the Infinite. It is there; all around us, all the time, but our human consciousness limits it like a fish bowl trapped around our head.

Open your mind to the endless possibilities that exist around us omnipresently, and the world will reveal its true majesty ;)

 

“To see a world in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

And eternity in an hour.”

-William Blake

Silence

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“Before embarking on important undertakings sit quietly calm your senses and thoughts and meditate deeply. You will then be guided by the great creative power of Spirit.”

-Paramahansa Yogananda

 

Here I sit now – calming my senses and thoughts – about to begin this blog. This isn’t just some random quote I threw in to give further authority to my words. I practice this every time I write.

In fact, for just about everything I do these days, I will calm my mind with some form of meditation. Initially, meditation for me began as something I did for 5 to 15 minutes at a time, perhaps once in the morning and once at night (if I was lucky).

Eventually, meditation becomes a constant process, however, and you are never out of a state of meditation. But first, you must silence your head adequately enough to notice the gap between the torrent stream of thoughts.

 

“Be silent or let thy words be worth more than silence.”

-Pythagoras

 

Perhaps Pythagoras is merely a mathematician to you, and the main thing you are familiar with is his theorem. Nevertheless, Pythagoras was actually a highly advanced mystic who went through many of the world’s great mystery schools of the time.

He may be famous for geometry today, but at the time, he was known for his high level of consciousness. Therefore, when someone like him says to be silent, I personally take heed of his call.

This statement may be confusing to some, because the lack of worth placed on silence these days. Speaking is a conversation filler, and other people will often become uncomfortable if someone isn’t constantly talking.

Cell phones haven’t helped this problem, because when someone starts to become bored, the first thing they generally do is pull out their mobile and start checking their texts, emails, or social networks.

Start noticing when you take out your cell – are you bored, anxious, or is there a reason you really need to check it? Try limiting your mobile phone usage; it is an addiction for many, and I can promise you will enjoy your life more if you use it less.

If we constantly distract ourselves with conversations from different media, we will drown out that small voice in our heads that intuitively knows what is right for us. If we never listen to it, however, then it atrophies like a muscle that sits unused.

 

“Let us be silent that we may hear the whisper of God.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

This is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors. I actually have this stitched on fabric and framed on my wall at home. These 12 words have an infinite amount of wisdom in them, and if you have been following my blog for a while now, I’m sure you have seen this quote before.

What exactly is it talking about though?

I began to allude to it in the previous section, but let me expand on what exactly the “whisper of God” is.

First, I must stress that there are actually two separate voices in your head. This may sound schizophrenic to you right now, but I don’t expect you to take my word for this – start to notice it in your own life.

There is the egoic mind, which is what we are accustomed to listening to. This is generally considered the “voice in your head,” because it is so loud and obnoxious.

It runs almost constantly throughout the day, and sometimes even worse at night when you are trying to go to sleep. Meditation’s purpose is to still this voice, so that you can begin to discern the second voice that has always been there (and always will be) with you quietly nudging you in the right direction.

 

“The memory of God comes to the quiet mind.”

-A Course in Miracles

 

An excellent book that I highly recommend in the aforementioned, “A Course in Miracles,” which this quote was taken from. Both Emerson and ACIM are saying essentially the same thing: Silence is the key to hearing God.

This is the second voice in your head that I was referring to earlier. Some might call this voice “intuition,” “Spirit,” or any number of other names. The name isn’t important, however, what matters is learning to listen.

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”

-Ram Dass

 

There is a Native American story titled, “Two Wolves,” to read it in its entirety, I have provided a link here: http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/TwoWolves-Cherokee.html

The basic premise is that a boy is conflicted between two metaphorical wolves; one of them is fear, and the other is love. His grandfather wisely tells him that the wolf that will win is the one that he feeds.

As it is with the “whisper of God,” and your ego; if you feed your ego with constant thinking and action, it will continue to prevail. However, if you feed your mind silence, then the other voice will start to come through stronger. The choice is up to you!

 

“All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”

-Blaise Pascal

 

Pascal makes a bold statement here, but I am in agreement with him. Perhaps if you’ve been considering meditation for a while now, but didn’t see the payoff, hopefully this may give you the nudge you’ve been waiting for.

For me personally, meditation was one of the hardest things I ever undertook. Nevertheless, looking back, I realize that it would have been even more difficult to never have started.

My mind was constantly running, and I couldn’t stand it any longer. I really couldn’t live with myself, especially when it was just me…alone…in silence…

Synchronically I came across a book about Buddhist meditation, even though I had never consciously considered anything like that before. I began without any kind of a teacher, just one very simple book.

Eventually this lead to many other spiritual endeavors, but it all started there. This one little book about meditation literally saved my life.

Looking back, I am so grateful to have found my spiritual path – yes, it was one of the most difficult undertakings of my life, but without it I would still be the same miserable person trapped inside his head.

I now hear God speaking softly to me every day, and I don’t need any sacred book to tell me there is such a thing called God, Buddha, Source, Allah, Brahman, or whatever other name you want to call it.

Because really those are all just names – trying to describe something ineffable and incomprehensible – God can only be grasped in silence ;)

 

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence.”

-Mother Teresa

Judgment

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“Why do you behold the speck in your brother’s eye but do not consider the beam in your own eye?”

-Matthew 7:3

 

This quote from the Bible raises an intriguing question: Why is it easier to see the shortcomings in others, than it is to see them in yourself?

Conversely, the opposite is also true; the greatness in others is more easily recognizable in others, than that which exists in yourself.

If this Bible quote isn’t clear at this point, let me clarify one thing quickly before we proceed. It is referring to a “speck,” as in a speck of dust, or something very tiny. The “beam” is meant to represent something larger, like a beam of wood.

In different Bible verses, they use the term “log” and “splinter” instead. I chose this one, however, because it is one of the more often quoted and recognizable. Yet I was still able to include the other terms that I actually prefer also.

 

“If we judge others, it is because we are judging something in ourselves of which we are unaware.”

-John A. Sandford

 

Now let me bring up the second thesis to this blog. The first point is that seeing something in someone else is easier than viewing it in yourself.

The second point I would like to make is that when you see a trait in others, it exists in yourself as well.

This may be more difficult to accept, especially when taken to extreme examples. The first premise is simple enough, and I imagine none of you would argue.

My second proposition may take more convincing though. Perhaps another quote to tie these two ideas together would help at this point.

 

“Faults, mustard-small, of others, ye see well; your own as large as belfruit, ye see not.”

-Mahabharata

 

Don’t get caught up in the foreign language of this quote. “Mustard-small” refers to a mustard seed, which is an extremely small seed, and is actually referenced quite frequently in the Bible as well.

A “belfruit” is obviously a fruit, and it grows in southern Asia, particularly India, which is where the Mahabharata was written. It is about the size of a coconut, so it is a relatively large fruit.

So here we have again another quote from a sacred text, separated by massive amounts of time and space from the initial Bible quote, and yet they seem to be saying essentially the same thing.

The reason I think this ties the first two quotes and premises I already introduced is the following: If it is true that it is easier to see something in others, then it follows that something could exist in you that you are almost completely unconscious of existing.

Therefore, it is perfectly plausible that when we judge others, it is actually a judgment of something that we are unaware of existing in us.

 

“Anything that you resent and strongly react to in another is also in you.”

-Eckhart Tolle

 

Throughout my teenage years, I was a vehement atheist. I thought that anyone who was religious was deluded, and I would debate with them regularly.

Looking back with some perspective, I can see that was because there was a part of me that wanted to believe in religion, but couldn’t rationalize it with the scientific knowledge I had.

Since then, I have found much more of a synthesis between science and religion, and I can see how both of them are correct in a way.

I no longer get mad at people who are extremely religious (or scientific, which has become a “religion” in its own way). I have come to terms with where my judgment was coming from.

Once light is shed on our unconscious beliefs, we have the choice how to respond to a situation, as opposed to habitually reacting and letting our unconscious rule our lives.

But first we must become aware of the judgments we have been conditioned to believe. Once it is brought to the surface and becomes conscious, we have a choice what to do with it.

As long as that stuff stays buried under the surface, it will automatically control us without our permission.

 

“The fault of others is easily perceived, but that of oneself is difficult to perceive; a man winnows his neighbor’s faults like chaff, but his own fault he hides, as a cheat hides the bad die from the player.”

-Dhammapada

 

Is there any need to explain this ancient quote at this point? I am sure you are starting to get the idea…

The key point I want to bring up here is that we hide our own faults from ourselves. This is precisely what I was referring to in the previous section.

No one else is doing it to us; therefore, we have the power to change any time we wish.

Our greatest teachers are the people around us, because as it has been repeatedly stressed in this blog thus far, it is easier to see qualities in other people than in yourself.

Any time you find yourself reacting to a quality in someone else, take a moment for some self-reflection, and try to find where that judgment is coming from.

When you realize that you too, in fact, possess that trait to some degree, then it won’t hold the same unconscious power over you any longer.

This is such good news it cannot possibly be overly stated – when you judge others for anything – take it is an opportunity for you to grow spiritually as a person.

Your entire world perspective will be changed by this one small notion! Think about it for a moment…

Our greatest enemies can become our greatest teachers, because they have qualities in them that are so blatantly obvious to us, and yet we have been ignoring inside our own consciousness.

Don’t judge yourself if you haven’t been doing this – instead take this opportunity to shift your perspective and live more consciously ;)

 

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

-Carl Jung

Writer’s Workshop Wisdom

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For as long as I can remember, I have had a burning desire to become a spiritual author/teacher. I assumed it would “just happen” for me, because it was meant to be.

I’ve ignored many opportunities because I didn’t think I needed to bother with small steps. It was going to happen, and I knew it, so why waste my time?

But that is what life is: the step you can make in this moment, not some distant dream.

Far too long I have been waiting for someone to “find me” and immediately recognize the latent talent in me. Now I am finally beginning to realize I need to “find myself,” before the world is going to recognize anything.

Fate is like a treasure map, it may help guide and direct you, but if you don’t take the first step you’re not going to get anywhere – even if there is a chest of gold waiting for you with your name on it.

 

“Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice: It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

-William Jennings Bryan

 

This past weekend I attended a Writer’s Workshop put on by Hay House publishers, and not waiting any longer for destiny is one of the biggest lessons that I’ve came away with.

Granted I have been taking some steps when I want to in order to actualize my dream of becoming an author, like blogging for example, but these steps are usually when it is convenient for me and I see an immediate payoff.

There have been countless chances I’ve passed up because I didn’t feel like they were necessary, or I didn’t feel like doing them at the time. I knew I should take advantage of them, but I ignored my intuition.

Now I am starting to carpe diem (seize the day) when I am being presented with opportunities that I know are good for me. Yesterday, the first day after the workshop ended, I started taking small steps I wouldn’t have normally taken.

Today, I am blogging about all of it – another step – let’s hope this momentum continues, and I don’t forget the lesson I learned.

 

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

I’ve decided that it is far too painful to live with the worry that I won’t live up to my potential, rather than the relatively small risk it takes to put myself out there in situations I might otherwise wish to avoid.

Ignoring that small voice inside you that whispers what is best for you is the worst kind of suffering.

I tried silencing it for far too long; sure, I would listen to it sometimes when it suited my egotistical needs, but that doesn’t satiate it.

Intuition never goes away I’ve learned, and rather than being able to quiet it by ignoring it, all that happens is that it becomes even LOUDER.

Additionally, it not only becomes louder and more pronounced; it starts showing up in all aspects of your life, usually when it is most inconvenient.

For a long time, I was able to pacify it by occasionally listening to it or numbing my mind to it with any number of means, so that I would be distracted enough to not have to hear it anymore.

The voice still stands, however, and now I am listening. Not only because there isn’t really a choice anymore, but also because I’ve found I am so much more happy and satisfied when I do.

It isn’t a matter of coercion any longer, I want to follow it where it leads me, because I’ve discovered that it never leads me astray.

Similar to a dog that misbehaves, my ego has lead me down the wrong path far too long, chewing up the furniture and shitting all over the carpet.

This may feel like freedom to the ego, but it is suffering for the Spirit.

When the dog (or ego) eventually discovers that by listening to the master (or Higher Self) is actually rewarding in-and-of-itself, and following the animal nature only leads to pain, this is enlightening.

Old dogs can learn new tricks, and this doggie just found himself behaving properly, so that he is being rewarded with a tasty bone ;)

Anger

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“How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.”

-Marcus Arelius

 

Although this blog is going to be about how useless holding on to anger is, I am not going to tell you that you should never experience anger. In fact, I’m not going to tell you to do anything, because that would imply some level of judgment.

Anger has its place in this world, but I feel like the vast majority of us are addicted to it unknowingly. We continue to feel angry well after the cause of it has left, and we only cause our own self further harm.

Eckhart Tolle tells a great story in his book, The Power of Now, about how he was at a park watching two waterfowl fight with each other.

They had their skirmish, but afterwards each of them literally “shook it off” by fluttering their wings, and then went about their business as if nothing had happened. Eckhart mentions how he thinks the birds were literally releasing the negative emotions by physical action, and I concur.

We as humans unfortunately aren’t trained as well as the animal kingdom in some respects, and so we clutch to anger as if our lives depended on it.

 

“To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.”

-Confucius

 

One of the reasons humans tend to grasp to anger is because it is a part of the story we tell ourselves about our life. Animals don’t have this problem, so they live much more spontaneously, rather than remembering the past or anticipating the future.

By continuing to remember something that may have caused you anger is worse than useless, it is damaging to yourself and peace of mind.

Whatever was done to you or someone else, you create additional and unnecessary pain by holding on to it. Forgiveness is key, not because you’ve been told to forgive others by just about every major religion and philosophy, but it is the key to your happiness.

Experiment with yourself and see if this isn’t true. When you find yourself thinking about something someone did that made you angry, see if it helps your state of mind or solves your problem.

A great time for many people is in traffic while driving. The next time someone cuts you off, or forgets to use their blinker, take note of how you are feeling.

Allow the anger to come up in the moment, but don’t identify yourself with it. Watch it pass as clouds floating through the sky.

Our emotions are transitory, but our mind likes to hold on to them.

 

“Indulge not thyself in the passion of anger; it is whetting a sword to wound thine own breast, or murder thy friend.”

- Akhenaten

 

For me personally, the single greatest thing I ever (unknowingly at the time) undertook was beginning to play golf. This may sound funny, but I assure you I’m completely serious – let me explain…

Golf is a sport that you are only ultimately competing with yourself. Although I was on the golf team and have played in numerous tournaments, it didn’t really matter what the other players I was competing against did.

You only have yourself to blame for a bad round, and it is easier to start to notice your anger when there aren’t other people involved, because we usually like to blame someone else initially.

How mad I used to get at myself! I can remember on more than one occasion throwing a golf club, or smashing them against the ground a number of times.

Pretty quickly, I realized my anger was doing absolutely nothing for me, and in fact, was actually disrupting my game for the rest of the round if I couldn’t let it go.

For golf, as many other sports, you have to be focused and in the moment, not thinking about how the last shot went.

Another aspect of golf that helped me get past my angry tendencies is that you are out in nature, walking around a beautiful course. It is hard to stay mad in the wilderness, simple as that.

Along with the exquisite scenery, golf also gives you a lot of time to think between shots. It is very meditative in this aspect, and beating yourself up between shots becomes tiresome.

As you start to become aware of your anger, and start to realize it isn’t constructful, that is the “beginning of the end” of anger, so-to-speak.

Simply becoming aware changes everything – awareness breeds further awareness – and you start to notice your anger sooner and sooner.

While taking that walk to the next shot, it would sometimes take me the entire walk until I realized I was repeating the same angry thought the whole time I was walking.

Nevertheless, as this happened more-and-more, I would gradually become aware of the anger quicker.

Eventually, I got to the point that as soon as I was starting to get angry, I would notice it, and just let it pass through me. I would “shake it off,” and enjoy the peaceful walk to my next shot.

These days I am a very calm, peaceful person, and it takes a lot for me to get angry. But when I was a teenager, anger used to disrupt my life in all aspects, not just golf.

Although golf may not be everyone’s path to anger-realization, perhaps you can find your own path to walk now ;)

 

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds, on the heel that has crushed it.”

-Mark Twain

Lucid Dreams

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This past week I went on a vacation with my girlfriend, Michelle, and her family to Hilton Head Island, SC. We enjoyed plenty of beach fun and ocean activities, but this blog isn’t about what happened to us while we were physically there.

We both experienced lucid dreams while we were there, on two separate nights. It had been a while since either of us had a lucid dream, much less consecutively.

For those of you who don’t know, a lucid dream is where you become aware that you are dreaming while you are still in the dream. I would imagine most of you have experienced this at some point if you’re reading this blog.

Usually for me, a dream becomes lucid when something out of the ordinary happens (not that my dreams aren’t unusual as it is) and then I find myself questioning what is going on.

Another lucid-activator for me is when I’m having a bad dream, and I want to get out of it. I would like to discuss this briefly, because I think it has waking-life implications.

If a dream is pleasant, it is much more comfortable to stay asleep. Why would you want to wake from a wonderful “vacation” in your mind?

When a dream is unpleasant, however, there is an impetus to get out of it. This is true for life as well, which is why I want to discuss this now.

I believe most spiritual seekers start out their search because there is something wrong with their life. The conditions may vary greatly, but there must be some dissatisfaction in order to desire to “awaken” from this reality.

This is certainly true for myself, and the majority of people I have spoken with as well. The only exception I can think of is when someone has a mystical experience that changes his or her outlook on life.

What started your drive towards the spiritual path you are currently on??

Although my life has always been quite lovely when looked at from a physical perspective, my mind has driven me crazy over the years with its incessant running.

This drove me to take up meditation in order to calm it, and from there I started exploring Buddhism, and then every other religion I could find after that…

If my life had been heavenly with no complaints what-so-ever, I never would have bothered trying to change anything. But because I couldn’t stand my mind any longer, I was willing to try anything.

Meditation has been very successful for me, I should mention now, as has studying various religions. Never do I feel more at home than when I’m studying a sacred text, or philosophizing with friends, teachers, or students.

It all began because I was uncomfortable, and I knew there had to be something better out there for me. As the movie “The Matrix” says, it was like there was a “splinter in my mind,” and I wanted it removed immediately!

I’m still working on removing that splinter completely, but I know I am on the right track ;)

Another thing that I would like to mention about the lucid dreams both Michelle and I had, is that both of us flew around.

Flying is something I pretty much always do when a dream becomes lucid – I can even remember being a child and doing this. No one taught me how, or even told me that you could fly in dreams; I just always knew you could fly.

Michelle had something happen in her dream that has happened to me many times though, and that is when you start doubting that you can fly, you start falling, or can’t even get off the ground to begin with.

One thing I have always thought was true since I was a little kid was that if you knew with absolute certainty that you could fly in waking-life, that you would be able to.

I personally believe ANYTHING is possible, and it is just our doubts that limit us.

I’m curious, what are your thoughts on this??

Walking on water is not only possible for someone like Jesus, but for any one of us.

In Matthew 21:21, it states, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, ‘Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea’; it shall be done.”

While I certainly don’t believe absolutely everything in the Bible, I think this is certainly true. It isn’t metaphorical, Jesus is literally saying any one of us can move a mountain into the sea just by willing it.

The key is to know with every fiber of your being that it can be done though. You can’t have even the smallest doubt, or else it won’t come to pass.

Perhaps some of you are thinking right now, “Well, if this Dean guy knows he can fly and move mountains, why doesn’t he”?

Well, there is a difference between intellectual knowledge, and experiential knowledge. I may have a theory that I can fly in waking-life, but there is still doubt in my mind because I’ve never done it, and I have never seen anyone else do it either.

Now I would like to conclude this blog by opening it up for comments from all of you. I would like to know two things, although anything you feel like talking about is welcome as well ;)

1.)    What started your spiritual journey, pain or pleasure?

2.)    Do you believe anything is possible in waking-life?

 

Ignorance

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“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is I know nothing.”

-Socrates

 

Although upon first reading this it may appear to be a contradiction, it is actually one of the more profound statements any philosopher has ever made.

Socrates is not to be taken lightly; he may have “played the fool” from time-to-time, but his ultimate purpose was to get people to think for themselves.

This is one of his more famous quotes, and I can remember reading it when I was younger. It didn’t make any sense to me at the time, and it wasn’t until I discovered his wisdom for myself that I actually began to fully comprehend the gravity of this statement.

While I may not be able to sufficiently explain to you what this quote is attempting to express, hopefully I can at least point you in the right direction so you may find it for yourself.

For most of us, when we are young we think we know everything. I am guilty of this myself, and am certainly not one to point any fingers.

I can empathize with those who think like this though. In addition, because I went through this myself, I feel like I can somewhat explain what it is like to “come out the other side.”

 

“The greater our knowledge increases the more our ignorance unfolds.”

-John F. Kennedy

 

When we are young, we may think we know quite a bit, but that is because we have no idea how much there actually is to know.

There are many examples of this in life – one such example for me was beginning to travel the world.

I had grown up in a relatively small suburban city, and my parents never traveled much, so my home state was largely the extent of my experience traveling.

Therefore, I thought I knew quite a bit about my neighborhood, and naturally, I also assumed I knew about the rest of the world.

It wasn’t until I joined the military and started traveling all over the world that I realized just how small my hometown was, and how big the world really is.

The more I learned about the world, the more I realized how little I actually knew. This is precisely Socrates’ point!

Ironically, the more you learn, the more you realize you really don’t know much. Coming back to Socrates’ quote years later, I was struck with how profound it really is.

J.F.K. is making a similar statement above, which shows how Socrates is the wisest man in the world. Socrates had such great knowledge and wisdom, that he knew how ignorant he utterly was.

It is the mark of a great person to recognize how little they know. Those with the least knowledge tend to be the most confident, which is unfortunate to say the least.

 

“True wisdom is less presuming than folly. The wise man doubteth often, and changeth his mind; the fool is obstinate, and doubteth not; he knoweth all things but his own ignorance.”

-Akhenaten

 

Oh Universe! How you love to play tricks!!!

As I was posting this quote, I looked up Akhenaten to get a little more background on him. I wanted to show the diversity that we have: a Greek from the 5th century B.C.E., a US President from modern times, along with an ancient Egyptian.

While looking him up, Google showed me in an oh-so-kind way that I had misspelled his name. Google asked me, “Did you mean: Akhenaten?” Yes Google, I did…

What a perfect example of Akhenaten’s quote – I almost feel his presence with me now, trying to pass some of his wisdom along to all of us. The background information now seems irrelevant, as I have just been shown a much greater lesson.

I am willing to change my mind, and although this is only a minor example, it demonstrates perfectly how humility must also play a part in wisdom, in addition to be willing to change.

When we are so confident that we have found the Truth, we won’t allow new information to enter our consciousness. This is called “selective bias,” where we seek out confirmation for we already believe, and ignore that which contradicts us.

Both science and religion are guilty of this I believe. Religion is probably more obvious to most of you how this operates, but certainly is not the only one.

Science has become almost as dogmatic as religion – becoming so certain they have the correct answers. Not all scientists themselves are guilty of this, and by its very nature, the scientific method should remedy this selective bias.

However, because humans interpret science, it is skewed through their own lenses, much as religious texts are.

I don’t mean to insult science or religion – I think both have a vital role to play in the world – it is we as humans that need to be willing to admit when we are wrong.

 

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”

-George Bernard Shaw

 

The Truth can only be found with an open mind. When we are so attached to our beliefs, Truth cannot find a foothold.

Change is the only constant in this world, and we must be willing to embrace it, or we will remain stuck.

I know for certain that I don’t have all the answers, and the more I grow as a person, the more I see I have changed just about every belief I ever held.

The elephant in the room is that WE are the only obstacle to the Truth ;)

 

“Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

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