Hiatus

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Thanks for continuing to visit this blog! I realize I haven’t made a posting in quite a while – a month or so – but I have no intention of quitting. Unfortunately, I have been extremely busy with a number of projects I am working on, and have been forced to take a hiatus from blogging. I am starting my return, however, so please don’t despair and lose hope!

If you are curious, I recently started a new job as a “social media strategist” for 12 different companies. That has taken up most of my time, but I am also working on another big project. I am editing a book that is going to be published titled, “The Last Alchemist.”

When I am finished editing that book, I need to get back to working on my own book, titled the same as this blog, “Mysticism in Suburbia.” There was a writer’s workshop I attended this summer sponsored by Hay House publishers, and with that I am allowed to submit a book proposal to them. Normally you would need an agent to submit a book proposal to them, but because of this class, I am competing with other authors for a few prizes, which include publishing deals. This is due towards the end of December, so I still have some time.

Once I am done with the book proposal, I am going to be teaching a weekly spiritual class at a church in Colorado, Unity of Boulder. It will be based off my book, and I plan to take a few chapters each session and explore them in detail for the students. This will start sometime after the new year, and will last for a couple months.

If anyone has any suggestions for any of these projects, please feel free to offer them here! I hope to hear from you soon, and I will try to put out a blog a week for the next few months while I am working on these interesting developments ;)

Be Bullied

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While watching three kids play on their bikes and skateboards, one of the kids fell down, and the other two started laughing at him. Afterwards, one of them even said to the kid that had fallen down, “You’re a bitch.”

I’m sure we have all experienced this to some degree in our lives—probably much worse. But as it was happening, I couldn’t help but think that although I haven’t had anything like that happen to me for a long time, I found myself wanted to save him from the other two.

Growing up doesn’t mean that you will necessarily escape bullying, as most adults will tell you. It is possible to grow out of it, however, and I believe this is possible for anyone, no matter how badly they are bullied.

This is going to be the main thesis for this blog: It is possible to end the cycle of bullying, and I am grateful for the people who helped teach this to me (by picking on me). I rarely experience any type of bullying in my life any longer—this wasn’t always the case, however, as I used to be bullied almost constantly as a kid.

This helped me grow into the person I am today though, and I hold no grudges against those who picked on me, especially in school. In fact, if I could send a grownup version of myself back in time, I wouldn’t change a thing.

There was actually a very specific incident where I ended the cycle of being picked on—I can remember it like it was yesterday, even though it was over 10 years ago.

It happened while I was in training for the US Coast Guard. Military people tend to be even worse about picking on each other, and a few of them recognized a weakness in me, and were going to exploit it.

For the first couple of months this went on, and I remember thinking, “Not this again…” Today I’ve realized that lessons in life will continue to repeat until you’ve learned what you needed to. It is similar to being held back in school, and having to repeat the same grade again.

I hadn’t learned my bullying lesson, and so it was showing up again in my life—this time even stronger. Well, one day I had enough! I was being made fun of in front of the entire class, when something just ‘switched’ inside me.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a story about me snapping and beating someone up (or worse). It was actually quite civil. All that I did was finally get the courage to stand up for myself, because I was tired of the old pattern repeating in my life.

There was no way I could have made myself do this, it just happened, and once it did things have never been the same for me.

As I was being made fun of in front of everyone by one person in particular, I started to do the same thing he was doing to me. I had always been too shy to fight back, but I knew that I had to take some action to correct my habit of accepting bullying.

So I started making fun of him in front of everyone. I think he was surprised, because I had always just taken it.

Needless to say, as I started returning his insults, the classroom started to immediately shift. They started laughing less at his jokes, and they began to laugh more at mine.

By the end of the conversation, that class literally applauded me for the show they had just seen between me and the other guy. I hadn’t intended on doing any of that, I just wanted to fix the bullying in my life.

After that day, I became really good at comebacks when people would insult me. And if there is one thing a bully doesn’t want to encounter, it is a victim who no longer views themself as a victim, and is confident enough to stand up for themself.

Funny thing about this story, the guy who had been picking on me in the Coast Guard actually ended up becoming a good friend of mine. We even continued to joke with each other regularly, but it was not one-sided any longer, and we both actually enjoyed the back-and-forth banter.

Looking back on my bullying experiences, I can see that this friend of mine was an angel disguised in devil’s clothing. He helped me through a terrible phase of my life, which I couldn’t seem to break.

With some perspective on my life now, I am truly grateful for the seemingly awful things that were going on in my life. Not everyone can say this, and I completely understand if reading this you don’t feel the same way.

All I can offer is my experience, and hope that one day each of us can see how subtly, yet wonderfully designed life is ;)

Life’s a Dance

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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Picture yourself dancing with a partner at a festival or gathering. Seems simple enough, right?

Now imagine you have closed your eyes, and somehow forgotten you had a dance partner. The dance continues because it is routine for you, but you now think you are dancing solo.

There are times that you feel as if you are being spun around in circles, or that you are being flung about wildly. Your dance partner no longer exists to you, however, so you don’t understand why this keeps happening to you.

Not surprisingly (for those of you who regularly read my blog), this is a metaphor for life I wanted to share today. Life is the dance, and we are the dancer—what does that make the invisible partner though?

A myriad of words could be used to describe what the dancer is, but let us first explore this metaphor more thoroughly before I attempt to answer that question.

Let us picture this scene once more: You are dancing a fairly complicated and active dance with a partner. This dance has been rehearsed by both of you before, but something goes terribly wrong.

By some form of temporary amnesia, you forget you have a dance partner; they are either invisible to you, or you refuse to open your eyes to see them.

Imagine the confusion this would create as the dance continues. Your partner is throwing you around, but you don’t know where this force is coming from because you can’t see it.

It would likely create a great deal of frustration on your part, because it would be nearly impossible to figure out what is happening to you. Even if you couldn’t see your partner, however, there would be indirect means of determining their existence.

Let’s explore what this means for you in this life…

We are, in fact, just like the dancer that continues the dance while forgetting they had a partner. Life will “throw us curveballs” sometimes, and we blame life as opposed to looking at ourselves.

Life is not something forced upon us, helpless to external circumstances. Rather, we are the dancer creating the dance, with a partner we blame when we don’t understand what is going on.

Our partner is merely acting out what we rehearsed though; we just suffered temporary amnesia of their existence.

 

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,

Love like you’ll never be hurt,

Sing like there’s nobody listening,

And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

-William W. Purkey

 

So back to my question: Who or what does the invisible partner represent in this metaphor?

Hopefully you’ve already come up with your own interpretations, because thinking for yourself is the greatest gift anyone could ever teach you. If you haven’t thought about it yet, take a moment to consider what the dance partner could represent given your belief system.

Although it is likely “God” is an answer that came to a lot of you, I would argue it isn’t. Let me explain … by labeling the partner as God, it resolves you of responsibility for your life.

God is not in charge of our lives in the way people generally think. We have been given that gift— sometimes a curse—but we are all “Gods,” we just don’t realize it.

The dancer in this analogy is not God therefore, it is our higher Self. We rehearsed this dance before starting this lifetime with our Self (with a capital ‘S’), and yet we panic or get angry when the dance seems to get out of control.

We forget that we have a partner though, which always has our best interest in mind. If something is happening in your life right now that seems to be too much to handle, remember this: This is the final performance of the dance—we have been rehearsing this, and we know everything we need to.

Treating life as if it is something you chose will give you the confidence to continue the dance, even when you can’t remember the entire sequence of movements.

When the time is right, you will remember ;)

Golden Rule

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“Zigong asked, ‘Is there one word that one can act upon throughout the course of one’s life?’ The Master said, ‘Is not reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.'”

-Confucius: Analects 15:23

 

Five hundred years before Christ, Confucius transmitted the Golden Rule, “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”

Some people take issue with the way the quote is worded because it is a negative quote—in the sense that he is saying to NOT do what you would NOT want done to yourself. By a simple power of deduction, however, one can realize that the opposite must necessarily be true as well.

 

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Luke 6:31

 

This is the more recognized Golden Rule from the New Testament, saying essentially the same thing. Practically every religion and philosophy since the beginning of recorded history has espoused this idea in one form or another. In this blog, I will be interspersing a few more quotes from various religions to elucidate this message.

 

“Do to all men as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourselves.”

-Muhammad

 

There is one thing that these sacred texts fail to mention, however, and that is what happens when you follow through with the advice. It actually seems selfish, but when you give people the respect you wish for yourself, it makes YOU FEEL BETTER!

This may seem counterintuitive if you’ve never explored this idea, because our society teaches us that in order to feel good, we need to get ahead in life—not help others get where we want to be.

 

“Do not do to others what you do not wish done to yourself; and wish for others too what you desire and long for, for yourself—this is the whole of Dharma, heed it well.”

-Vedas

 

I have a real-life analogy for how this works, which will hopefully illustrate the Golden Rule on a less abstract level, and make it more practical.

When I first began working out at a gym, I really didn’t enjoy it. I did it because I knew it was good for me, but while exercising I didn’t find it much fun. After completing the workout, I would feel much better, and be happy that I had gone through with it though.

Similarly, when we first begin treating people as we would like to be treated, it may not be enjoyable. We may even resent the other person because we are judging them, and feel like they don’t deserve to be treated with kindness.

Once we are finished interacting with them though, we will likely regret if we didn’t treat them well, and will feel good if we have treated them respectfully. This is the beginning of learning how it is wonderfully selfish to abide by the Golden Rule.

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To bring this back to the working out analogy, I found that the more I exercised the more I started to enjoy it in the moment, and not just feel good once it was done and over with. I started to get excited even before going, whereas before I was begrudgingly completing the workout because I knew it would be good for me.

If any of you have been through this before, you know exactly what I am talking about. This doesn’t have to begin and end with exercising or treating people right; it can apply to eating healthy, learning a new skill, or anything else you can think of that you know is right for you.

 

“All men shrink from suffering, and all love life; remember that you too are like them; make your own self the measure of the others, and so abstain from causing hurt to them.”

-Dhammapada

 

What I really love about the Golden Rule is that it isn’t a strict law with a regulated procedure that everyone must follow. Rather, it encourages you to think for yourself, and treat others as you think they would like to be treated.

Only in a benevolent Universe would it be possible to help others and have that make you feel better about yourself. Call it God, Dharma, Source, or whatever name you want for All That Is, the Universe is interested in seeing you (as well as everyone else) succeed.

Far too often we feel like it is an “Us vs. Them” mindset, where in order to get ahead in life, we have to cut others down.

What if when one of us prospers, we all prosper? The reverse would necessarily be true as well—when one fails, we all fail.

This certainly makes me think twice before I act rashly, and attempt to harm someone else in any way; I hope it does for you as well ;)

 

“That which is good for all and any one-

For whomsoever—that is good for me.

What I hold good for self, I should for all.

Only Law Universal is true Law.”

-Zarathustra

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

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