The Long and Lazy Road (Part 2)

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The process of growing into our fullness demands that we deal with reality in a blinders-off fashion. Having the openness to inquire about its substance, we discover far more of value and truth than we otherwise would have by demanding that reality conform to the dictates of our mind. Essentially, these distortions of reality are what come to form our assumptions. Refusing to look beyond the prism of our own knowledge and experience, we forego wonderful opportunities for learning that when integrated into our being, are likely to open up new avenues of constructive action.

Perceiving the world through the narrow lens of the ego, we fail to question as much as we should. Arrogant in our perceived ability to decipher circumstances, and not wanting to appear stupid or weak by asking questions of others, we are held captive by our pride which isolates us from sources of new knowledge and progress. In most, if not all circumstances, there will be people in our immediate environment who have the knowledge and information that we can utilise to generate better results in our area of influence.

Eager and willing to share what they know, all we have to do is ask. An act of humility that allows us to bridge our knowledge deficit, it is what each of us is capable of doing when we disassociate from the ego, which would have us believe that we do not need the help of others who, in one way or another, pose a threat to our identity. The tale that the ego tells, it is responsible for so much of our implicit reluctance to open ourselves to the knowledge of others. Not wanting to experience the vulnerability that true learning requires, we succumb to the perspective that falsely assumes the predominance of ego in those who endeavour to assist us.

Harbouring also the fear of rejection, we choose the safest option of not asking others for those things that will bring us clarity. Pessimistically convincing ourselves that we will receive a ‘no’ response, we don’t even entertain the possibility of them meeting our request, and receiving the missing pieces of the puzzle that we are trying to solve. In my experience, people with expertise in a particular area are open to sharing the knowledge and information that they have, if they are approached in the right way. This means respecting their time, knowledge and privacy, and being forthright about how you intend to use the information that is being conveyed.

Even in the event that they do shut you out, that is far from the worst thing that could happen in the circumstances. Often it will be the case that the same knowledge or information is available from another source. Your task will then be to search that alternate source out. Persistence in this task is key. Requiring the kind of committed action that is the antithesis of laziness, it is what will enable you to breakthrough with a solution, while others remain stuck in the dark because of the assumptions that they have not challenged.

The reactive nature of assumptions that are followed blindly, guarantees that they will not be nearly as effective as the proactive inquiry which is characteristic of leadership. Being the ‘leader’ of my class who was responsible for my students learning, I didn’t serve this function when I assumed that they knew what the terminology meant. To lead them effectively in that learning situation, I should have asked them up front if they knew what the terminology meant. The revelation would then have empowered them in a way that is not possible when the reality of what we are faced with is being obscured by our chosen assumptions. Equipped with an accurate understanding of that terminology, these students would have been in the position to lead others in understanding these same concepts. Having this conscious awareness perpetuates leadership. Thus, I believe, it is our responsibility to nurture this within ourselves.

Learning from that classroom experience, I will still have to exercise caution in coming to malformed conclusions. The temptation to assume is admittedly very strong. Ever present in the moment that we engage in thought, we must take care to ground ourselves first so that we can be guided by truth in fact, and not a false self-serving version of reality that paints our circumstances not as they are, but how the ego wants them to be.


Volumes of Insight (Part 2)

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Having journaled for some time now on those things in my life that evoke fearful thoughts, I have come to see quite clearly that my fear based projections are self-created. Born out of my ignorance to my true nature as a spiritual being, these fears are what I have learned to neutralize by bringing my conscious attention to them. Pouring the voice of our fears openly and honestly onto paper, they have nowhere left to hide. Cornered by our courageous expression, the basis of these fears are inevitably revealed as false to the mind that had allowed the ego to betray its confidence.

Like the intruder in a dark room that is apprehended when light is introduced to the space that had kept them hidden, we purify the mind of destructive influences when we learn to stop being controlled by our ego based thoughts, and give ourselves the freedom to observe them objectively. Journaling is a wonderful vehicle for this because the journal allows us to remove our consciousness from the facets of self that we express in it. Getting this all important distance, we can look penetratingly at our psychology without being defensive, manipulated by guilt or judged by an external source. Not feeling compelled to pick up our weapons to defend our shadow as a result, we can start the healing process of correcting our misconceptions and finding integrity through our woundedness.

Before we can deal with the ‘broken’ parts of ourselves, we must come to identify what those broken parts are. Articulating them with the written word, we bring these neglected shards of self to a place where they can be reconciled. Put out in the open through truth, they are given a chance to breathe deeply, as we are. Distanced from the pent up resentments that stem from our long held denial, we can project a new energy towards these shadow dimensions that alleviates the suffering which we would have otherwise experienced. Being that of the conscious and clarifying spirit, its loving insight is abundantly offered to facilitate our growth in each present moment as its light is shone upon the illusions of our mind.

All too often, our judgments towards our negative thoughts are what keep us stuck in our hurts. Adding strength to them, these protagonists in this self-destructive pattern reinforce the ego identity which does not care for our growth. Standing in the way of our evolution, these judgements suppress the spirit which is the essential voice of non-judgment. Judging ourselves harshly, we deprive ourselves of the gift of self-love. Emerging from our willingness to detach from the ego, this inner directed form of love is not what we allow to manifest when we remain imprisoned by our distorted assessment of our lived experience.

To put a twist on the Albert Einstein quote that I detailed in Part 1, never can we heal our suffering with the same level of thinking that created it. Ruminating about our suffering in the company of the ego, that suffering grows more intense. Strengthening our relationship with the source of the problem, we are blind to the means of rising above it to find a solution. To grow beyond where we currently stand, we must open the window of our mind for the spirit to enter. Being a voluntary action, we must initiate the movement, and it would not be wise to sit idly by and wait for the spirit to forcibly enter, for invasive tactics are not its way.

The spirit, with its abundant generosity, is always offering us its gifts, but whether we choose to receive these gifts is up to us. Writing in a journal with an authentic intention to evolve, the spirit works through us. Giving us insight into who we are, we receive its gifts as we act on what we learn. With this, it is useful to understand that by itself, recording our life experience on paper serves no valuable or higher purpose, unless we integrate the teachings that emerge from the reflective process into our daily being.

Only those who search will discover the treasure that is wisdom. Living inside of us, the spirit is the key that we can never be dispossessed of, despite the ego’s protestations concerning its existence. With the curtain of denial being the barrier to our bliss, it is what we must have the audacity to part and walk through if we are to live a full life in spirit. What is real cannot ultimately be denied. Without a guise, it speaks to the heart. Not fearful of truth, it awaits revelation, through our engagement with life and the fertile pages which bring richness and meaning to this unfolding relationship.


A World Beyond Wishing (Part 2)

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When it comes to our intention, honesty and awareness are paramount. Without them, we are liable to confuse what we want, with that which we are taught to want. Many have fallen into this trap, and many others will continue to, not because they are noxious people, but because they are afraid of looking in the mirror. Not wanting to confront their confusion, with this denial they also limit their potential. Linked with their intention, it is their highest potential that is blanketed by their insistence that they can find themselves by getting ahead in the world.

The purest intention that we have within, is not one which is concerned with that aim. Shallow in its promise and ability to deliver the fulfilment that we seek, our prosperity is conditionally withheld when we need the world to validate the path that we have chosen. Shifting our intention to conform to external standards, our true voice remains suppressed. Lurking in the shadows of our being, this abandoned ally echoes the waves of discontent that curse the lives of so many who are deaf to the call of the universe.

This call is one that communicates a simple yet profound lesson in harmony and prosperity. What it teaches is that the point of balance lies in matching our intention with the intention of the universe. What this means is:

  • living life from a spiritual perspective that values truth, authenticity and courage above falsehood, pretension and fear;
  • eschewing a duplicitous existence, for one that is more integrated; and
  • giving ourselves to the heart, which better allows us to give ourselves to the world.

In matters of intention, these things make all the difference, for we cannot know authenticity and purpose in action, if our mind is blind to the heart and its vision for the spirit’s flourishing. The more integrated we become, the greater is our mind’s ability to perceive this vision and move towards it. The essence of aligning with spirit, it represents the process of complementing the universe with the state of our being.

Doing this in every conscious moment, we work to break our habitual pattern of conforming to the ways of the world so that the ego may be fed. The ways of the world are not necessarily evil but are unconscious, and partaken in absentmindedly. Distracted in mind, we are distant in spirit, and our intentionality suffers as a result. Out of touch with our purpose, the ego’s ability to influence us grows to the point where we come to mistakenly believe that its will is our will also. Only when we travel far enough along the ego’s path of destruction, do we think to stop and contemplate whether it is worth living a life that is not in harmony with our highest intention. We may not articulate the conflict in this way, but when you break the problem down to the basic level, it evidences an infidelity against our intention that manifests itself in intense suffering. The block that prevents our union with spirit, the hope in evolving past this divided life, is our ability to choose and embody love, truth and wisdom in our actions.

The more intentional we become, the less the ego likes it. Losing power when we centre our awareness on our higher intention, the ego feels that it is dying because of the intense fear that it has of being displaced by something more real and permanent than itself, whether we call this God, spirit, universal energy or the source of life. This is why the ego fights so hard to consume our mind, and distract us from our purpose. Supporting it in the battle with our heart, we are deprived of precious life energy when our worldly ambition burns brighter than our spiritual intention.

The secret to releasing this energy and channelling it in the direction of your dreams, is to surrender to the nature of your calling. The realm in which you are most free, it is the same place where you are most passionate about life. What is passion but loving energy unrestrained by a spiritual purpose that yearns to be fulfilled one day at a time.

Take steps this day to become acquainted with your highest intention. Ask your heart what it intends for you, and still your mind so that love becomes the language that it speaks. Serve others with your thoughts, words and actions that embody and express who you are in the world beyond this one. A world beyond wishing, it is where all of your dreams are destined to come true.



A World Beyond Wishing (Part 1)

It is not enough for things to be planned – they still have to be done; for the intention to become a reality, energy has to be launched into operation ~ Walt Kelly.

What is your intention? Having the power to determine what form your life will take, is it exercised in a way that gives a voice to your spirit and its creative capacity for flourishing? In many instances, when we think that we are being authentic in the pursuit of our deepest desires, we are really only quenching the superficial desire to conform to an external standard of behaviour and accomplishment.

The ways of the world are very influential to those who have not the purity of intention within themselves. What I mean by this is that if we do not hold in our mind the vision of what we truly want, the vision that we will come to hold will be the one that the world imposes on us. A disastrous consequence of living unconsciously, it tells the tale of many a person who has given up their power by choosing not to set their course in the direction of their dreams.

Understand here that a dream is not merely something that we wish for. When we dream about that which we were born to become, we glimpse our innate potential, which we have the ability to make a reality when our highest thoughts are backed by determined and wise action. Being full of power, it is our dreams that make life worth living. Moving steadfastly towards them, we combine our pure intention with the passionate energy that enables our flourishing on the path to our destination.

Seeing our vision begin to materialise as we journey along, our belief grows to reflect the infinite nature of our potential. Nurturing this belief, we move from strength to strength within ourselves and in the world. With our external manifestations mirroring our internal harmonisation, this holistic integration is what brings forth the joy, peace and prosperity that make for a successful life in spiritual terms.

Wishing, on the other hand, is impotent. Weak in the intention that fails to sustain it, wishes hold very little potential for fulfilment because they are not backed by the belief that what is wished for is able to be achieved. Lacking this crucial element of manifesting what we truly desire, the act of wishing is marked by fear and naïve hope that inevitably produces the subsequent despair that we experience upon realising that what we have wished for, is unable to be claimed.

Usually, what we wish for is disconnected from our ability to meaningfully influence outcomes. For example, we may wish to win the lottery, but how much power do we really have to affect this outcome. We buy a ticket and wait around for our numbers to come up, but how effectual is this approach? Would it not make much more sense for a person to figure out what course is aligned with the call of their heart, and set their intention in that direction?

Abundance in all forms can be realised as a consequence of doing what we love. This dream is not beyond anybody’s reach, but until we come to know this for ourselves, we will continue to languish behind the false belief that we can get something by giving nothing of ourselves. This scarcity centred and passive mentality is at the root of so much of the suffering that we needlessly endure as we search for solutions to our self-created problems. Beginning in the mind, these complications stem from our unwillingness to search our hearts for the intention that is authentically ours.



Normal but not Natural


My premise for this piece is that fear, while it is a normal part of life, is actually unnatural to life. Upon first reading, this might seem like an illogical or contradictory statement to make. You might ask, how can something be considered a normal part of life, and yet be unnatural to it? Let me explain. When I state that fear is a normal part of life, what I mean is that it is a common aspect of our lived experience. If you were to ask most people about something that they fear, you would receive a response. A lot of people fear failure or rejection. Others fear things in their environment, like spiders or an economic depression, and as has been well documented, our most prevalent fears as human beings centre around death and, of all things, public speaking! Fear then is an obstacle that we must confront, and hopefully overcome along this life journey that each of us are on.

An important aspect of evolving along this life journey is confronting and overcoming these fears, and when we do this, we grow closer in our relationship with true self. With this comes an enhanced ability to love, serve and express the wisdom which teaches that fear needs the false ego self in order to exist. A great spiritual truth is that perfect love casts out all fear. This perfect love is the foundation of who we are and what we are ultimately evolving towards, but until the time that we get there, the ego mind will have us relate to the world with an element of fear. Why does it do this?

Primarily, the ego creates the experience of fear as a means of controlling us. Seeking to preserve its influence over our life, the ego teaches us that we are limited in power and vulnerable to the influences of the outside world. As we listen to these messages and begin to internalise them, we live in a way that is disconnected from our spirit, and what we are capable of being and manifesting in its light. Choosing not to identify with this higher part of ourselves, we strengthen our identification with the lower ego self and the negativity which sustains its existence.

An example of this is the fear of taking the steps to follow a calling. Believing that if we take a vocational risk we won’t have the means to sustain a living, or make a meaningful contribution, we deny the promptings of our spirit, and the alignment that it is seeking to effect with our talent and passion. Reasoning with the ego mind that the idea of pursuing our bliss is stupid or far-fetched, we settle for a comfortable existence that conforms to the dictates of our ego identity, even if this brings us great suffering in the form of discontent, regret and self-loathing.

Here, I think it is necessary to challenge the view that fear is hard-wired into us as human beings. The argument as presented is that fear is a natural physiological response to stimuli that protects us from threats presented by the physical world. The essential flaw in this position is that advocates for it have confused a natural survival response with a fear response. For survival purposes we have evolved with this fight or flight response to external stimuli that could pose a threat to our physical existence, but it should not be implied into this physiological response that we are fearful of the external stimuli in question.

If one was to stand on the edge of a tall building, the survival response might cause them to move back from the edge to mitigate against the risk of falling, but it can’t be said that as a result of that movement, the person is scared of heights. Nor is the fear of heights a universal phenomenon. The fact that some people do not possess this fear shows that fear is a learned or chosen response to particular stimuli. I raise this not to start a debate about the subject, but to challenge any beliefs that you may hold about fear being natural to life.

A great quote reinforcing this point comes from actor Will Smith who says that, “Fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.” With this in mind, think of all the individual and collective decisions made during the course of history that have been motivated by this illusory fear. In spite of journeying in that darkness, we have endured and are still striving to improve the quality of life on this planet. Such is the natural light and power of the human spirit which inspires hope, and cannot be dispelled by the inferior force of ego.


Burning Boats and Chasing Rabbits

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Living our calling demands our commitment. Requiring us to step off a comfortable and beaten path to take a new direction, this aspect of the journey can feel very risky and induce our strongest fears and doubts. This is particularly the case when we are uncertain of what the future will hold, and can’t see clearly where this new path will lead. If there was ever a time in our lives when we need faith, this is it. The faith that I am talking about here is not only the faith in the source of our calling (God, spirit or whatever else you might wish to call it) to travel the path with us, but also the faith in ourselves to not wilt, but rather to grow and thrive in our element. Evoking the warrior spirit within as a part of this process, we have to trust that despite whatever obstacles or opposition we may face along this true path, we can fight and persevere to overcome these barriers, and realise the type of life that we only thought possible in our dreams. When I talk about the warrior spirit here and fighting obstacles or opposition, I am referring primarily to the battles that we must undertake within ourselves to transcend the limitations that our small ego self wants to impose on our life. Too often we become consumed with fighting battles with others in the external world, without realizing that getting on the path to our calling is not to be found there. Taking those first steps is an internal movement that is precipitated by the decision that we will no longer settle for a life that is not in alignment with the true desires of our heart.

Here, my mind turns to the powerful story of Alexander the Great, who when he arrived on the shores of Persia to invade that land, ordered his army to burn the boats that they had travelled on. Acutely aware of the reality that his army was overwhelmingly outnumbered, he realised that victory in the forthcoming battle was dependent on his men being fully committed to that end. Not having the boats there to provide an exit strategy, the ultimatum that they all faced was win or die. As history now tells us, Alexander’s bold challenge to his men produced the desired result.

While our life circumstances won’t be as dire as the scenario faced by the Greek army, the reality remains that in many areas of our lives, we lack the commitment to produce the results that we ultimately desire. Instead of holistically focusing our energies on what we are called to do, in our work, family and other relationships, we disperse these energies in an ineffective fashion. Perhaps we spend a lot of time keeping up appearances with acquaintances, without giving the time and care to our true friends or family members whose presence in our life sustains our being; or in the work context, instead of positioning ourselves in work that is aligned with our calling, we may just settle for doing work that we don’t really care for, or only dedicate a small amount of time to this calling, while giving most of our energy to this ‘day job’.

In saying this, I am aware that there are pressures that we all face to pay our mortgage and put food on the table, but this doesn’t mean that we need to neglect our calling to our work, family and other relationships in the here and now. There is never going to be a time in our lives where our calling will deliver to us conditions that are perfect and final. Growing through challenges and responding dutifully to the needs of the moment are a natural part of the spiritual life. As the Buddhist saying so beautifully expounds, ‘Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood and carry water’. In this moment, the commitment that you need to make is to get on the path to living your calling. Even if when you do this, not much on the surface of your life looks like it is changing, it soon will if you remain committed to the process. Think of this moment as a building block of your life. With the energy that you possess in it, you can choose which block to use and where to place it, with a view to creating something beautiful that reflects who you truly are and the purpose that your life is meant to serve. None of us are so helpless in this task unless we choose to be by remaining ignorant to the presence of spirit in our life.

One of my favourite sayings from Confucius is that, ‘The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither’. Other than being a lesson in focus and commitment, what I take from this wise saying is that having one of something that we want is infinitely more valuable than the hope of having two of something that we will never possess. As this applies to living our calling, we can learn to adopt a less is more mentality where we can have what we truly want, not by chasing after more of what the world tells us that we should have, but by simplifying our life to preserve what we need to take the only journey that really matters.