Sunday, August 19, 2018

When it comes to spiritual consciousness are most Americans asleep?

The perennial psychology distinguishes between the states of human consciousness as asleep and awake. Most human beings spend most of their lives with their consciousness asleep. Steve Taylor describes the sleep state of consciousness in his book, The Leap, as having four categories of signs and symptoms: affective, perceptual, conceptual and behavioral. We will be taking these categories of signs and symptoms of a sleeping consciousness one at a time. In this article we will describe the signs and symptoms of the affective category. These signs and symptoms of the affective category are not in any particular order.

First, there is a feeling of separation and disconnection from the ground of our being, from a holistic appreciation of existence itself. The biggest problem according to social psychologists in our current times in spite of social media is loneliness. There is a sense of fragmentation. Of things not filling together and being connected in a harmonious ways. The biggest fear we all experience, manifested in a multitude of ways, is abandonment and neglect. Our biggest fear is being unloved. Our anxiety and level of alarm is always at at a low level. It is the back ground noise of our lives.

Second, there is what Taylor calls "thought chatter," the buddhists call "monkey mind," and the psychologists call "rumination." These constant thoughts keep us awake at night and even if we fall asleep exhausted, we wake up in the middle of the night, when the worries take us over again and prevent us from going back to sleep. We deal with this thought chatter by keeping busy and distracting ourselves with sensory excitement whether it is shopping, sports, sex, gambling, workaholism, religion, food, substances, and what we used to call "the hustle."

Third, there is what Taylor calls "abstraction" which he describes as "Rather than live in the world, we live in our minds." or what we might call in our internet age "virtual reality." Our own reality is depressing, boring, upsetting, and so we create and construct virtual realities to live and operate in. This is much more easily down in our internet age with compulsive use of social media and "surfing the web" in a mindless fashion to entertain ourselves or, at least, dull the pain.

Fourth, there is anxiety and discontent. The biggest psychiatric problem in the United States are anxiety disorders and depression for which millions of dollars of medications are prescribed per year. Taylor writes, "In our sleep state there's a sense of fear. Our separateness creates a sense of vulnerability and insecurity, of being threatened by the world and other people."  Our constant use of media, entertainment, and advertising magnifies our sense of vulnerability and insecurity. Mother Teresa said, The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”

Mother Teresa's comment that the U.S. is materially very rich, but spiritually very poor might lead one to the conclusion that most Americans are asleep when it comes to spiritual consciousness.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

How does a person awaken?

How does a person achieve enlightenment or awaken? According to Steve Taylor in his book, The Leap, there are three ways: a small number of people are born awake (They have been called "old souls"), some awaken gradually, and some awake in a miraculous moment often induced in a crisis.

The greatest number of people reaching enlightenment are probably in category two, the gradual awakeners. These are people who engage in spiritual practices such as prayer, fasting, meditation, community service in mindful ways, spiritual reading, etc.

Awakening has several associations in psychology such as emotional intelligence and Murray Bowen's concept of "differentiation." Both EQ and differentiation require self knowledge, self control, motivation, empathy, and social skills (interpersonal connections called in religious language agape or love).

The first two aspects of EQ: self knowledge and self control get the biggest focus in religious practices. Shedding the ego, undoing social conditioning, leaving the path of the ego to enter onto the path of the spirit, is the road to enlightenment.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Are you ready for the Truth?

We are all called to be teachers of God. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all constantly teaching by how we behave not by what we say. Stephen Gaskin said that in the last analysis all we have to offer another human being is our own state of being. So what state of being is your being in?

The Truth with a capital T will set us free. We are so easily enamored with our truths, small T, that we often don't become aware of the Truth with a capital T. For those of us who are aware of the Truth with a capital T, it is incumbent on us to share it. As Pope John Paul II said, "Never impose, always propose."

And so it is up to us, the Truth tellers, to propose the Truth with enthusiasm, energy, and joy. The Truth of Existence is always fun, enlightening, invigorating, and generous.

It is up to Truth to change the world, not the world to change the Truth. Many small truths don't make a right. Truth is found in right mindedness and truths are found in wrong mindedness.

Often, my truth is not the same as the Truth. The Truth is to be found on the path of the spirit which means we have to leave the path of the ego. Jesus tells the rich young man that if he would enter the Kingdom he would need to sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor, and come follow Him. It was too  much for the young man. He became sad and walked away. He, unfortunately, was not yet ready for the Truth.

Truth which is everything, when we are in our right mind, costs us nothing. It is free for the asking and taking. However in our wrong mind, the Truth appears to be very, very costly.

The Truth does not change or disappear. It is always there waiting for us to recognize it. When will be the time for you?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Has secular noise overwhelmed the silence of sanity?

Robert Barron says, "The secular establishment always prefers Christians who are vacillating, unsure, divided, and altogether eager to privatize their religion. That's the kind of Christianity the regular culture likes:utterly privatized, hidden away, harmless." p.107, To Light A Fire On The Earth.

In our contemporary culture, postmodernist philosophy teaches that truth is a social construction. Truth, small t, is a social construction, relative, situational, a figment of human beings creations on the path of the ego. However, Truth, capital T is about spiritual laws and this Truth is absolute and not of the making of human beings. One truth is found on the path of wrong-mindedness, and the Truth is found on the path of right mindedness.

In our secular world, no distinction is made between truth and Truth. This distinction requires a level of wisdom and understanding that most modern people don't understand. This lack of understanding generates much anxiety and fear. It is written in A Course In Miracles, "You have every reason to feel afraid as you perceive yourself. This is why you cannot escape from fear until you realize that you did not and could not create yourself." T-3.IV.3:8-9

The spiritual path is not about intelligence, knowledge, creeds, belief systems, etc. Spirituality is not cognitive. In order to ascend on the spiritual path one must "lose one's mind." As St. Paul writes, we have to become "fools" for Christ. True spirituality is a return to child-like innocence wondering at the Oneness of existence.

People on the  path of the ego don't want to hear about the Truth. It scares them. It means they would have to detach from the things that they think will make them happy. This is too much. The young man asks Jesus how to get to the kingdom and Jesus tells him to sell all he has, give the money to the poor, and come follow me, and the young man walks away sad.

People on the path of the ego who worship all kinds of idols don't want to hear about the Truth, they just want the Truth tellers to go away, shut their mouths, and keep their understandings to themselves. Unfortunately, they has happened more and more as the secular noise overwhelms the silence of sanity.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Agape or eros?

What does sex have to do with spirituality? Very little. Jesus and Buddha teach very little about it. Since we are not bodies with a spirit, we are spirits with a body, bodily functions are not a focus of healthy spirituality.

Unfortunately, sex is a pre-occupation, though, with religions. Probably because it is a powerful bodily drive like eating and drinking, defecating and urinating. Sexual behavior is something that religions can attempt to control people with.

Religions have made sex an idol. It is placed before their teaching about the love of the Divine. If religions can control the bodies of their members, they can subjugate and oppress millions of people and keep them captive to their control.

The spiritually mature have come to realize that the religious focus and control of sexual behavior is nonsense. Moral condemnation is further attempts to judge and separate not accept and join. With the focus on sexual behavior the Atonement is delayed and thwarted.

Sexual morality is a side show for religious circuses. Religions showcase sexual behavior that is titillating and tempting and focuses on  the very behaviors it is condemning.

Avoid the sideshow and stay focused on the importance of forgiveness, compassion, and agape.

At the end of the day, spirituality is about agape not eros.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

What are you?

You are not a body. The body changes over your life span. How could you be it? Look at your baby pictures; you are no longer a baby.

If we are not our body, what are we?

We are not a body with a spirit, we are a spirit with a body.

Same is true of other people. They are not bodies either. They are spirits within bodies.

Watch what one body does to another in war, in bullying, in physical abuse and assault. What is going on?

Bodies come in different colors, different shapes, different weights and heights. Some we judge to be beautiful, some mediocre, and some ugly.

Some bodies kill other bodies. In the U.S.A. black and brown bodies are assaulted, attacked, and killed by white bodies.

President Trump says that because he is a celebrity he can kiss, fondle, and grope bodies as he prefers. He says, "They let me do it." This has become our national standard. If you are rich and powerful your body can do what it wants to obtain pleasure.

However, the spirit becomes sad and is dispirited. The energy is very low and leaden. The spirit becomes demoralized when people are treated as bodies and not as spirits.

We recognize that something is wrong. Our minds have been lead down a mistaken path. We have become wrong minded instead of right minded. We have been robbed of our peace and joy. In this recognition it dawns on us that there is a better way and we begin our search for the better way to live our lives and engage with others who are called to a similar search.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Do you want to be happy? Do you know what it takes?

The Dali Lama has said that the purpose of life is happiness. The big question is, "What will make me happy?" The answer is to live a moral life full of virtue. People respond, "You can't tell me what to do!" And the answer is, "Of course not, it is not my intention to deprive you of your freedom. It is my intention to help you figure out what will make you happy."

Becoming happy is the outcome of implementing certain skills. As with any skill, a person could exercise it any old way he/she wants to, but will this willy nilly approach get the same results? We pay big money for tutors, for teachers to help us improve our skills because we have grasped that accomplishment takes deliberate practice. If you are to play the piano well, it must be practiced on a regular basis and a piano teacher can help.

If you are to live life well it takes a lot of practice and a certain amount of intention and reflection and a good teacher can help as well.

Many things on the path of the ego create obstacles and block our progress to happiness. Are we even aware of what thoughts and behavior will lead to happiness?

Osho makes an important distinction between pleasure, happiness, joy, and bliss. People seek sensory pleasure, but this doesn't contribute to longer term happiness let alone joy and bliss. The Universe calls us to bliss and few people know how to attain it. Sometimes the achievement of bliss requires the forgoing of pleasure. Feeling good and doing good can be two different things.

Achieving happiness and bliss requires discipline and awareness. In achieving a degree of happiness and bliss, wisdom accrues. Seek out and learn from the wise ones.