Missing the Mystery of Life: The Last Page of the Book

bookDo you ever read the last few pages of a new book, just to see?

For most of my past, I would read the first few chapters of a fiction novel, get really engaged in it, and then read the last few pages to see how it all ends.  Then I could just relax and enjoy the writing and how it unfolded.  Otherwise, I was too anxious and would wolf down every page to see how it goes.

I found that my approach to spirituality was a bit like this, too.  When would I become enlightened? How do I ascend? Am I falling behind? Who is the guru I need next? Or what teaching do I need now?  My mind was asking the questions from anxiety, and not letting truth surface.

“Be in touch with the part of you that is not afraid of the bigger questions of life, the ones that underlie everybody’s life.  What am I really? What is true in this world of illusion? What is real? What is authentic? What is reality? What is God?  Those deep existential questions that orient you into the mystery of being.  It is not necessarily satisfying if you get a quick and easy answer to these questions, from a book or a teacher; those deep questions that pull our attention into the mystery of being rather than trying to explain the mystery, and awaken our sense of wonder.  Sometimes we are taught to be oriented in a way of thinking that conceals our wonder and all we have is anxious questions.  What is going to happen? Is it all going to work out? All are a manifestation of anxiety.  Deep questions are questions of wonder.  They are looking for an experienced or a revelation, not simply an answer.”  – Adyashanti, satsang at Asilomar, December 2016

In meditation and spiritual practice, we reach into ourselves for an experience to the mystery.  For example, no answer or idea can fulfill you when you yearn for love.  You aren’t satisfied with a theory on love.  You want the experience of it.

I find now that I don’t run from the deep questions of life, the deep experience of being.  I am more aware that deep experiences lead to resolutions of these questions within us, often wordlessly.  We have a profound experience of being, a shift in our experience and perception of life.

Read the whole book, don’t skip the pages or devour them, and enjoy.

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Fun With…Deconstructing Facebook Memes

treat bad

Just for fun, I have started using the inquiry techniques from Byron Katie’s The Work on Facebook memes.  I had two come through my feed that are in direct opposition to each other, that inspired me to try this out.

The first says “If someone treats you bad, just remember there is something wrong with them, not you. Normal people don’t go around destroying other people.” The second one says “Never reject anybody in your life, because good people give us happiness and bad people give us experience.  Both are essential in life.”

Never Reject Anybody In Your Life, Because Good People Give Us Happiness And Bad People Give Us Experience. [QuotePix.com]

Is it True?

I am going to deconstruct the first one so this doesn’t take forever to read.  Is it true that if someone treats you badly, something is wrong with them, not you? Is it true that Normal people don’t go around destroying other people? My immediate psychological knowledge of mediation and doing investigations can surface proof that if someone treats you badly, there are many possible sources of why that is occurring.  My spiritual knowledge tells me that these types of things are co-created.  I also would be curious about what is normal, and how another can destroy me.

Can you absolutely know it is true?

Since I can argue against a few assumptions in the meme, I do not believe that this could ever absolutely be true.

How do you react, what happens when you believe this thought?

If I believed that something was wrong with other people, I would be less empathetic.  It would entrench me in separation. It would lead to ways I could judge others and justify it.  I would feel like a victim.  I would begin searching for normal people, who may be people who have the same woundedness as me or see the world with the same beliefs I do.  I would close off from other options.  I would feel defensive.

Who would I be without the thought?

Ironically, I would be a bit like the second meme.  I would be open to how this experience is happening for me instead of to me. I would be free.  I would know I have the opportunity to change my experience.

Turnarounds

Possible turnarounds of that thought could be:

  1. If (I feel like) someone treats me badly, something is wrong with me (my view of the situation).  How do I know this is true? When I have used curious questions to understand others or what they have done, I don’t experience it the same way.  When I have used non-violent communication, the situation has often turned out to be about needs.
  2. Others treating me badly is not in my control.  My problem is how I experience or view it.  How do I know this is true? I know that I cannot control others.  I have found techniques like not judging an experience as good or bad can completely change my emotional experience.
  3. Normal people DO go around destroying other people.  How do I know this is true? Normal is a word that can subtly be used to control how the world is supposed to be according to your world view.  As a leader, sometimes we make decisions that will mean people have to change, or they need to leave the organization – essentially destroying them. No matter what the specific circumstances are, two world views clashed – and that is common and therefore normal.  This sentence is inherently dangerous and controlling in some ways.

What happens when you do turnarounds?

For me, I find that eventually my beliefs are the source of my pain.  My thoughts are the source of pain.  If I view the world without my thoughts or beliefs as a point of reference, there is an openness, a peacefulness and an incredible freedom.

Can Facebook Be A Spiritual Practice?

Facebook-createLike many people, I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook.  I joined it 9 years ago, first as a place to share pictures of my new baby with my family, and over time my use of it has evolved into a forum for social interaction and sharing of ideas or events.

Many people can tell you how social media is a time waster, a sucking hole that takes away from the richness of our real lives and relationships.  It can be used to promote some of the worst qualities of our society.

My question is: can Facebook be a spiritual practice?

In a satsang I recently heard, Adyashanti spoke about personal identity and how we create separateness in a way that resonated for me.  The question of study was “Who are you if you do not reference any thoughts?”. When I contemplated that, my experience was briefly one of Being-ness.  I felt what it means to say I Am. My mind took over too quickly, but I was left with a sense of what it would mean to let go of separateness.  I feel a desire to return to that feeling, nurture it, expand it and never be in a space of separateness again.

Fast forward about 10 hours later while I am on Facebook: a former school mate posts a video that goes against many of my non-violent values and beliefs.  I delete the post.  I send out a Facebook question about how others handle it when someone posts something you are strongly against.  I engage in non-violent dialogue with others who think it is no big deal, or that there is nothing I can do about it.  I feel strongly that I have an ethical responsibility to do something and begin posting counter-stories all over my feed.  I begin posting memes with quotations like “The only thing evil needs to flourish is for good men to do nothing”. I contemplate deleting people from my Facebook account who do not share in my “vibration” and therefore are not attracted in to my current life.  I remind myself that there is a reason why we lose touch with people in life and feel satisfied that I have set up a strong boundary between me and everyone who is not me. Temporarily, I feel the happiness of the righteous.

Then I wondered what Adyashanti would say about what I had done.  I imagined he would note that I had created a great story to justify my differences with others. That story of differences was energized as far as possible for me to define a separation from others, justify it, and turn away from even being curious about if our differences were real. I could feel myself realizing that as much as I earnestly claim a desire for oneness and awakening, my energy and story had moved me in a different direction.

I do not beat myself up over that.  Doing so would be replacing one story with a new one.  I feel peace in the idea of releasing this pattern.  I feel peace in opening a new possibility for myself.  I celebrate that this whole thing has led me one step closer to letting go of an illusion keeping me from knowing awakening and oneness in me as a truth right now.

So, Facebook, I will contemplate how to incorporate you into my practice, and be a place of love every time I go on.

 

When I Let Co-Dependency Sneak In To My Romantic Life

We don’t start out co-dependent.  It isn’t a natural trait.  It is something we learn, and that is modeled to us.  It is a way we learn to survive and cope sometimes too. “The Codependent has adapted their behaviour in order to get their needs met in a setting where someone they cared about was unable or unwilling to take care of themselves and their own problems. After progressively taking on the care taking role the Codependent somehow forgets to look after their own needs and deal with their own problems. As a result even if they physically break free from the person who is dependent on them they take their Codependency forward into future relationships.” – Basics of Codependency

at least you are all comfortable: I started dating when I was 13.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I had good filters back then.  I would begin dating someone, and fairly quickly, know that I did not feel like it was the right relationship.  I would feel icky when I was with them.  And so I would end the relationship.  Often, the man would hang on, or hang around.  I would begin to feel guilty.  Who was I to hurt this man? or the next? or the next? I dated many men for short periods of time.

Obviously something was wrong with me.  I was not good at commitment.  My standards were too high.  I was judgmental.  I needed to be more accepting, tolerant and open to love.

It did not occur to me that I was exercising good judgement.  That I was respecting myself.

These Modern Dames are the strong independent women who refuse to be a victim of anything. They hold their fate in their own hands. They refuse to be a Damsel in Distress or play off the victim card as a way to receive “equality” without the accountability of true equality.:

““There’s a side of him that’s so loving and caring. When he hugs me and doesn’t let go, and how we laugh…we’re so good together! And then, sometimes, he acts so strangely. He withdraws. Then he’s back…I don’t know what to do.”

We give so many chances to people who aren’t worthy of it.

We overlook problems and let things slide.

We make excuses for non-excusable behaviors.

We give a lot of bad things a pass because of the apparent good ones.

Why?

Because someone has a kind and affectionate side, too?

Because they tell you nice things and sometimes make you feel special?

We miss seeing the forest for the trees.

If a person has a loving side but also a jackass side, it should be a huge red flag for you. Their inconsistency should sound a massive alarm.

When dating someone, look at the bigger picture. You need to see the good and the bad—the complete deal you’re getting. Before that, decide what part of the deal is unacceptable to you and you won’t turn your head away from.

Not calling you, treating you with disrespect or neglecting you should definitely be on that list.” – Elephant Journal

Instead, I learned to accept being treated disrespectfully by people, and to find ways to explain away their behaviour.  I was proud of how tolerant and loving and accepting I had become. It was a sign of spiritual growth, wasn’t it?

And so, in three significant relationships, I allowed myself to be treated disrespectfully, felt the pain, and added to it by judging myself for not doing a better job at accepting him.

That is not to say that any of those men were bad people, or that I blame them.  Only I can be responsible for my boundaries.  Only I can be responsible for how I allow others to treat me, and how I respond in a relationship where my needs, wishes, and value are not respected. I know that each man might find a partner who does not find those behaviours that were problems for me to be concerning in a different relationship.  

What are my boundaries in relationship? I find myself echoing the same ones in the article.

“Boundary One:

I never play games

I am done with playing games, calculating who called who first, how many times, playing hot and cold, he wants me but he’s making me wait, he’s cool, one day he’s “all in” and the next one “out”…

I will not show interest in any man who doesn’t show genuine interest in me.

The moment I recognize he’s playing games, he’s out.

Boundary Two:

I will be treated with respect

I want a man who proves that he respects me as a person and as a woman. He respects my feelings and my needs. He listens and treats me with respect. Not only that; he also respects his word. He respects our agreements and values our time together. When he says he’ll be there, he’s there. Any sign of disrespect makes me nip the relationship in the bud.

Boundary Three:

I have zero tolerance for Casanova behavior or me being “the other woman.”

No, no, no and no. I will not look at you ogling other women, flirting on every corner, or having 30 different female friends who are all your “super-close friends” (but whose names you barely remember) and with whom you’re very physical, touchy and tender.

Yes, I want you to treat other women with respect too—but not with an “I’d like to bang you” respect. There’s a clear difference between the two, and we women see it.

Oh, and yes—you already have someone? It’s complicated? Please, throw my number away.”

I am incredibly valuable.  More importantly: my life is full and rich.  If you do not add to my life, I don’t need you.  I will not be in a relationship out of need.  I do not need you to complete me.  I have in my life only those who I want.

My Value Is Not In My Body

To you I sway like sweet waves of honey,and though the way my hips move to unheard music has you hypnotized,there’s more to me than curves to trace with your hands.

My value isn’t in the skin underneath your fingertips as you reach out to touch what tempts you.

Lingering there will not collect my worth, and you cannot kiss me enough to make it known to me.

I do not find value in your arms,

comfort, yes,

arousal

yesss

oh yes

but my space in your bed is not my worth.

Nor is my space in your heart.

Love me.

Please do.

Love me for my body

and the way it fits in the grooves of yours and the way we glide together into each parcel of space.

Love me for the familiar scent of my

skin when you

close in on my neck.

Love me for the heart that

is pressed to yours

and the love you know it has for you—

not because I have told you

but from the undeniable richness of

our colliding energy,

the way your bones know the elixir

of their own marrow.

Love that it is safe here

in Us

and our unwavering honesty—

never has anything we cannot see

or touch

been so true.

Love me for the way I tease your mind

with my thoughts,

and how our dueling perspectives

amplify our senses.

But know that no amount of

attraction will detail my worth.

That while you place value on me,

and I on you

this love is not an exchange.

I do not give you my body,

touch my lips to yours,

feel my bones quake

because to be held by you

makes me worth something.

Your approval

is flattering and

your agreement

fiercely connecting

but I am not validated by it.

I am worth just as much with any of that as with nothing at all;

you see,

my value,

is in my Self

and the purity of my being alive at all—just as yours

should be to you.

An Empowered Woman is a woman who is in tune with her Wild Soul and lives from her heart. She values her intuition and knows her medicine is a powerful force to be reckoned with. She rediscovers herself in her conscious reconnection to the Divine. She transforms from the inside out and is a light of hope helping inspire other women's creativity and spirituality. She lives in her uniqueness as a Modern Day GODDESS...:

Ecstasy Is Within

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I layed on the massage table, practicing shifting between Self and No Self. In no way due to something I was doing or was being done, I experienced a moment of ecstasy.

It wasn’t physical, like an orgasm.

It wasn’t a substance induced altered state of consciousness. 

It wasn’t energetic. With my practice, I can gather energy, expand its flow and augment experiences.

This was a moment of ecstasy.  A moment of joy so big it could not be contained. It burst forth from me to everyone. Timeless. 

The massage therapist didn’t know it happened. There was no perceptible change in the physical world.

It happened.

It may happen again. Or it won’t. 

I won’t try to get it back. I don’t need to.

Now that I know ecstasy is within, it is simply true.

Truth and Beauty: How Stories Point Us to Divinity

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Ode on a Grecian Urn, J. Keats

Like many other people, I love to talk about the most recent developments on Game of Thrones.  I have a little “fan club” among my circle of friends. We text about what happened.  We discuss it over tea.  We predict what might be happening and what patterns are being woven. We search the net for more ideas to share with each other.  And we do it all over again each week.

It is fun.  It is exciting to let the mind play.  It provides energetic experiences as we replay what we saw, what it meant, what it could mean.  But, of course, we know it is a story.  We are discussing a story and enjoying the energetic experience that goes along with this. Drama is fun.  It is beautiful.

I heard Adyashanti tell a story of a monk who agreed to raise a child born out of wedlock that was not his.  The mother told the community it was his, to diffuse the social consequences.  In time, she claimed the child and told the community she had lied.  The community started to gossip and rile up.  The monk told them that at this moment, she was doing the right thing.  The time to be mad was over – in the now, she was being noble.  But, the community wanted the ego drama. They wanted to focus on beliefs like “She lied” and “She whored” and “She defamed a noble man and let us do it too”. They didn’t think about things like the needs of the child, or the growth of the woman, or the gift the monk had made in his kindness.  That would not fuel the ego drama – it would be more Truth, and that does not make for good ego drama.

To me, there are two types of stories: ego drama, and stories that point us to underlying truth by connecting us to beauty.  When we are enamored with the pull on our soul from a piece of art, or a beautiful play or movie, what we experience is moving past the Egoic Self, in to the Truth. We are connected to Divinity, and may even be experiencing Unity.  I have read books that took me out of this world, and made me cry, or laugh.  I could not stop reading them, and dreaded seeing the ending approaching – because my experience would be over.

Why do we love great stories? It is not a coincidence that spiritual teachers have used stories to teach.  Whether it is the Bible, or koans, they exist to take us out of egoic mind and move us past self.

In life, when we connect with another person’s story from the heart, I believe we are moving past ego drama to allow the beauty of the story to lead us to truth.  Even stories that are about struggle can have beauty to them.  And in that beauty, we begin to glimpse the essential truth of being.

Image result for truth is beauty

 

3 Things That Happen When You Stop Believing Your Own Thoughts

“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years”. – Byron Katie
image

What happens if you stop believing your thoughts?

1. You stop feeding drama with thoughts and words

One of the first things I noticed when I stopped believing my thoughts was that I was no longer replaying painful scenarios in my head over and over. I wasn’t anticipating conversations with people and deciding how they should play out.

I found it was much easier to let go of my day. It became easier to be curious about things that happened in my life. I could ask how an event brought me closer to awakening. I stopped believing my story, which was usually told with all my conclusions rather than the observable experience.

2. You stop blaming or judging.

When I stopped believing my thoughts, I realized that right or wrong were also thoughts and beliefs. I could stop beating myself up for not living up to standards (thoughts) I held for myself. I could stop trying to be perfect – defined as always being right and honorable and loving.

Then I could stop judging others. I could look at the belief triggered by another instead of blaming the other. I might still be unable to go to their world but I didn’t need to judge, be angry or afraid of what they could take from me – like showing me I wasn’t perfect according to my definition – and therefore not deserving of love.

“Placing the blame or judgment on someone else leaves you powerless to change your experience; taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgments gives you the power to change them.” – Byron Katie

3. You no longer suffer because you want something different than what is

The biggest source of suffering comes from resisting what is, and comparing it to what you wish. When you stop believing your thoughts, you stop creating an alternative to what is. You realize that what is happening is exactly as it should be, and it has always been this way.

“I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.” – Byron Katie

The best part? You can relax. You don’t have to control everything and everyone. The universe becomes a loving place instead of a human version of Whack a Mole, with unexpected impossible challenges.

Little by little, you release a bit more and become more aligned with what’s true.