Sunday, August 13, 2017

Love does not require sacrifice

As human beings we are very confused believing that love requires sacrifice. This may be true of conditional love of the ego but it is not true of the unconditional love of God.

What is not love is fear and the ego relishes fear. It is written in A Course In Miracles, "You believe it is possible to be host to the ego or hostage to God.”

More specifically it is written, “Your confusion of sacrifice and love is so profound that you cannot conceive of love without sacrifice. And it is this you must look upon; sacrifice is attack, not love. If you would accept but this one idea, your fear of love would vanish.” T-15.X.5:8-10

And so we fear the Love of God because we believe that God’s love demands the ultimate sacrifice, the loss of our ego whether through enlightenment or death.As human beings we are very confused believing that love requires sacrifice. This may be true of conditional love of the ego but it is not true of the unconditional love of God.

What is not love is fear and the ego relishes fear. It is written in A Course In Miracles, "You believe it is possible to be host to the ego or hostage to God.”

More specifically it is written, “Your confusion of sacrifice and love is so profound that you cannot conceive of love without sacrifice. And it is this you must look upon; sacrifice is attack, not love. If you would accept but this one idea, your fear of love would vanish.” T-15.X.5:8-10

And so we fear the Love of God because we believe that God’s love demands the ultimate sacrifice, the loss of our ego whether through enlightenment or death. Our willfulness, our belief that we can be the author of our own existence, keeps us from peace and joy.

Heather's mother, Joanne, told Heather repeatedly in so many words, "I'll love you if you get good grades, do your chores, keep your room clean, and stop fighting with your brother." Heather craved her mother's love and so felt guilty when she didn't please her mother. It seemed her mother always wanted something and whatever Heather did was not good enough.

Heather's older brother, Michael, told her, "Mom is a bottomless pit. Nothing you do will ever be good enough for her. Mom reminds me of the joke about the little girl who asked her mother why it was raining and the mother said, 'Because God is crying.' and when the little girl asked her mother why God was crying, the mother said, 'Probably because of something you did.'"

Heather didn't laugh much. She said, "Is God like mom?"

Michael said, "That's what they say. That's why I don't believe in God. What kind of God would want His son to suffer and die on a cross to appease His disappointment with His creations' mistakes? Why did He create them that way to begin with? The whole story seems screwed up to me."

"I don't believe in a God like mom," said Heather. "That would be a hell."

Michael said, "My God loves us unconditionally just the way we are. We having nothing to fear from my God."

Heather said, "I like your God. Can I believe in Him too?"

Michael said, "Yes, of course. It's up to you."

"Is there a church that believes in your God," asked Heather.

"No," said Michael, "but you can read about Him in a book called A Course In Miracles when you get older."

"I love you, Michael," said Heather.

"I love you too, Heather," said Michael, "no matter what."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

We are not our bodies.

People are not bodies. They are so much more. When we are preoccupied with the body we miss the divine spark within each of us. This is the teaching of A Course In Miracles.

And yet, we live in a society very preoccupied with the body. Advertisements bombard us with how to make the body look better, smell better, move better, operate in a healthier way. In this preoccupation with the physical, we overlook the spiritual, the divine spark which is hidden in each of us.

It is written in A Course In Miracles, "Limit your sight of a brother to his body, which you will do as long as you would not release him from it, and you have denied his gift to you." T-15.IX.4:4

John told me that he and his wife Judy rarely had sex anymore because Judy had gained weight after the last child, over 50 lbs. and Judy now weighed over 200 lbs. at 5'6".

"She's a good mom and a good wife, but I find her disgusting to look at and just can't get it up. I've told her she needs to lose weight and all she says to me is, 'I know. I'm trying.' But then no change. This has been going on for 2 years now. We were coasting until she found me looking at pornography and now she says she wants a divorce. Maybe it's for the best, but I don't really want to lose my family."

My heart went out to John but it seemed to me that he has a spiritual problem not a psychological problem. I wondered how I could help him. It seemed that John's values were out of wack. He is more influenced by his physical responses than by his spiritual understandings. I asked, "Do you like Judy as a person? Do you have fun with her doing things? Without friendship, there will be a terrible loneliness in your marriage."

John looked pensive and said, "I might have taken our marriage for granted and we were just going through the motions. Are you saying that I should focus more on enjoying doing things with her and overlooking her physical appearance?"

I replied, "How does that strike you?"

John said, "Like the right thing to do. If I did that I might be happier."

"Focus on the divine spark in Judy and let the rest go and see what happens," I suggested.

John said we would call if he wanted to talk again. When I heard from John a year later he told me that he and Judy were still together, happier than ever, and her weight no longer mattered to him. The funniest thing he said was that now that her weight no longer mattered to him she had lost 30 lbs.

And what is the moral of the story? Leave a comment, will you?

Monday, August 7, 2017

From whence comes joy and peace?

The Dali Lama when asked what the purpose of life is replied "happiness." Good answer but it begs the deeper question, "What will make me happy?"

A Course In Miracles gives the answer over and over again in its text. In section VIII of of chapter 15 in paragraph 2 it is written: "Hear Him gladly, and learn of Him that you have need of no special relationships at all. You seek in them what you have thrown away. And through them you will never learn the value of what you have cast aside, but still desire it with all you heart."

Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37  "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."

What we crave, deep down, is the oneness with God's creation of which we are a part. As is taught in 12 step problems in step one, we recognize and acknowledge that our lives are unmanageable, in step two that there is a power greater than ourselves that can restore us to sanity, and in step three we make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to our Higher Power as we understand it.

In the Christian prayer, the Our Father, we pray, "...Thy will we done on earth as it is in heaven." What do we understand God's will for us to be? This understanding is the benefit of discernment. We live our lives in open hearted ways forgiving our trespasses as we forgive others their trespasses against us. This is the path path to a happiness better named joy and peace.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Our dramas of suffering and sacrifice create our own hell

Andrea was insecure and this is what Greg loved about her. Greg believed that Andrea would love him because he could take care of her and make her feel safe. As Andrea felt more secure and confident, Greg became increasingly anxious and depressed. Greg went to see his doctor who told him he was suffering from depression and gave him antidepressant medication. The medication helped a little bit, but Greg still felt "off" as Andrea seemed to be doing well and didn't need him anymore.

Greg's doctor told him his neurotransmitters were not working properly and were flooded with Serotonin. Whatever the cause, Greg was not feeling much better and decided to see a psychotherapist. The therapist asked Greg after a few meetings if Greg thought that maybe he was suffering from a spiritual problem? Greg responded that he had no idea what the therapist was asking him. What kind of a spiritual problem could it be?

The therapist offered the idea that Greg was dealing with a sense of shame, a sense of innate defectiveness and inadequacy which he tried to overcome by taking care of, what Greg called "love", people so that they would love him back.

Greg acknowledged that this unconscious dynamic may be at play. The therapist then asked Greg where he thought this sense of inadequacy and defectiveness had come from? Greg said he had felt this way since he was a child and his mom and dad divorced when he was three and he missed his father and his mother started drinking and leaving him with a sitter to go out with other men. Greg said that he always wished his mom and dad loved him more and were there for him. He found that by being very good and trying to be helpful seemed to make his mom and dad like him better. Greg said that maybe his whole life was based on a belief that if he was nice to people they would like him so he has striven his whole life to be what his best friend called "being a people pleaser."

The therapist suggested that his whole life has been based on this belief that he is inadequate and defective in some way and that he would be all alone unless he was able to take care of and please other people. The therapist asked if this was the basis of his "love" for Andrea? Now that she was more secure and confident rather than being happy for her, Greg was getting fearful and depressed believing that Andrea wouldn't need him any more and leave him?

Greg started to cry and said, "I'm really messed up, aren't I?"

The therapist said, "Not at all. You are perfect just the way you are, you're just learning that Life wants you to be happy and have a high quality life just because you are alive and part of this wonderful universe."

Greg smiled and said, "Thank you."

The spiritual problem is one of shame which is the innate belief and feeling that we are inadequate and defective in some way. Further we think that it is only a matter or time and circumstances before this supposed fact comes to light and we are found out to be the shameful creatures which we believe we are. As Christians tell us we all our sinners if not for what we have done, at least because of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden for which Jesus died on the cross to assuage the anger of the Father God who is mad about our disobedience.

This belief in our sinful natures which requires sacrifice and suffering for exoneration and redemption is the Great Lie of the ego. The spiritual fact is that God loves us unconditionally and it is we, humans, who create our own guilt and hell because we have separated ourselves from the unconditional love of God by our willfulness and drama.

If we could overcome and rise above our own drama, we could create heaven on earth. Greg has created his own hell believing that he is unworthy and can only be whole if he sacrifices and suffers, what he calls "love.". Nothing could be further from the Truth and it is Greg's false spiritual belief which has placed him in his own hell. Heaven, however, is within his grasp once he realizes that he is okay and will be okay just the way he is. He is loved by his Creator.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

"Special relationships" is the mistaken belief that someone else can make you happy.

Do you think that loving another and being loved by another will make you happy? If so, you are sadly mistaken. The "give to get" dynamic underneath most relationships is the path to anger, resentment and shame. No other person can make you happy. If you believe this and act on this, you give your power away.

Ashley believed that she really loved Joshua and Joshua believed that he really loved Ashley but then Josh became concerned that Ashley might also like, if not love, Bradley. Josh asked Ashley about this, more like he accused her, and she denied it and the more Josh pressured with 20 questions the more angry and resentful Ashley got and started to believe that maybe Josh really didn't love her, he was only possessive and jealous. 

Ashley finally broke up with Josh because she couldn't deal with his jealousy, possessiveness, and accusations which made her doubt herself and her lovability. Ashley's therapist said that Josh seemed insecure and Ashley certainly agreed but it did not make her feel more secure and loving in the relationship with Josh. Both Ashley and Josh broke up bitter, demoralized, and depressed each blaming the other for the failure of their relationship.

What went wrong? The mistake was the romantic belief that the job of the other was to make him/her happy. When the other person seemed to fail in that expectation, there was no further purpose of the relationship other than to learn an important life lesson: that no other person can make you happy. He/she can't make him/herself happy. How could (s)he possibly take on the responsibility to make another person happy?

Jesus tells us that we should love God first in Matthew 22:37-38

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Could it be that Josh was jealous that Ashley loved God first rather than him and he, unconsciously, became enraged. Could it be that Ashley was not willing to alter her priorities in life and put Josh first?

"Special relationships" are the path to hell unless we turn them over to our Higher Power. The disciples ask Jesus about people who have two or more spouses on earth which will be your partner in heaven and Jesus answers in Matthew 22:30 "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven."

And so we are back, once again, to the distinction between conditional and unconditional love. As we grow and develop and mature we are called increasingly to unconditional love which is how our Higher Power, the Spirit of Life loves us.

For more click here.

Monday, July 31, 2017

What kind of life do you want?

Do you think that our fear of scarcity leads to most human problems? The dynamic created is the win/lose dichotomy. If I win that means you must lose and vice versa. This is the basis for all competition and war. This is the opposite of peace. If we are to ever achieve peace we must operate on an abundance/completion dynamic. Sharing and generosity is the path to peace and joy.

God is a sharer who desires and creates for completion. This is the basis of the spiritual life. Scarcity, competition, and war is the basis of a egotistical life. Which would you have?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fears and conditional love

Why am I so unhappy in my love life? My wife and I have been married 14 years and we have two kids. I don't think I love her any more but if I leave her she will be devastated and I'm worried about how all this would affect the kids. I have grown increasingly depressed. I find myself drinking more and looking at other women in a lustful way which I know is wrong. What should I do?

This is a very common situation and we live in a society which tends to psychologize these situations instead of seeing them as opportunities for spiritual growth.

Most people don't know what love is. They describe it as a feeling of euphoria which often is transient because the infatuation, the honeymoon, can't last forever. The failure to understand love at a deeper level leaves them confused and depressed.

As has been described earlier, at a broad level, there is two kinds of love:conditional and unconditional. On the ego plane, we believe in conditional love, "I'll love you if...." People think they need to earn love, or merit it. This kind of conditional love is not really love because what we deeply crave is unconditional love which is , "The worst about me is known and I am loved any way."

Our society believes in a God who loves His creatures conditionally. The bible is full of such stories of a judgmental God who exercises His wrath at sinful humans and yet Jesus, in the New Testament, presents us with a different God like the story of the prodigal son and the adulterous woman who loves us unconditionally.

Two definitions of love that are best are : to know the worst about someone and love them anyway. It's rare but sometimes we run across it most often between a parent and a child. The second definition is to care as much about a partner's growth and development as you do about your own, and to expend the effort to nurture, encourage, facilitate that growth and development.

Most problems in our human relationships are based on fear. We are terrified of being hurt, disappointed, betrayed, rejected, abandoned, attacked and so we think and behave in ways to defend ourselves and attack what we believe are the signs of that of which we are afraid. If we are aware enough, we recognize that the very things we think we see in the other that engender our fears is present in ourselves. This self recrimination and self loathing then gets projected onto the other with a vengeance.

It is not only important, but essential, for a person to be loving for the person to know that he/she is loved unconditionally by his/her maker, the universe, life. As Jesus tells us repeatedly, God not only loves us but loves us abundantly. When we know this, we can share that love generously with others. If we don't know that, then, yes, we can feel out of love because we have put ourselves there.

If we feel "out of love" it is important to find ways to take better care of ourselves so that we can feel more satisfied and fulfilled in our lives. With that satisfaction and fulfillment comes a generosity that engenders the ability to create unconditional love in our relationships.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Two types of love: conditional and unconditional. Which do you aspire to?

I thought my wife would make me happy, but after five years, I find myself seeking other women. I have been taught in my religious upbringing that this is wrong, but I can't help myself. My psychotherapist tells me this normal, all men do this, it is not unusual to become bored or disenchanted with a relationship when the honeymoon, inevitably, comes to an end. So what can I do? My wife is a good person and I don't want to hurt her, but I don't think I love her anymore.

It is written in A Course In Miracles, "To believe that special relationships, with special love, can offer you salvation is the belief that separation is salvation." T-15.V.3:3 It is not the job or purpose of a relationship with another person that that person make you happy. That person is having a hard enough time making herself happy, let alone taking on the burden of making you happy. Each person must ultimately take the responsibility for his/her own happiness not put the responsibility for that on somebody else. This idea that someone else will make you happy, is suppose to make you happy, is the path to hell.

The spiritual answer to the dilemma is that we are suppose to love everybody unconditionally.  The definition of the At-one-ment is when everybody loves everybody all the time. That is heaven. Anything less is hell. Unfortunately, most of us operate on the level of conditional love. I'll love you if.......

It is a challenging thing to love someone unconditionally and yet it happens, it can happen, when we ask the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Live, our Higher Power for help. In that holy instant when unconditional love occurs we have created heaven on earth and experience bliss.

Focus on your own growth and happiness and forget this idea that someone else will make everything okay for you. This is looking for love in all the wrong places and true love is not to be found in special relationships. Special relationships are part of the curriculum of life to help us learn about love, what it really is, and your disenchantment with the relationship with your wife is a golden opportunity for you to look inward and rise above your own desires for ego gratifications. The spiritual rewards of this path will far outweigh the temporary high of a new infatuation.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Projection of shame creates hell on earth

What is the basis of my fears that I am defective and inadequate in some way and it is only a matter of time before  people figure this out about me? At our roots we, unconsciously, experience shame, not of who are are, but of who we think we have become.

We have separated ourselves from the source of our being as we have developed our egos. We have separated ourselves to insure our physical survival and as we have developed we have realized that we not a body containing a soul, but a soul with a body which sometimes is not worth protecting and saving. The identification with the body is a road to hell. Not that our bodies are not important because they are the vehicles through which our soul awareness is realized, but undue attachment causes anxiety. As Bruce Cockburn sings in his great song, Last Night Of The World, "I learned not to trust in my body"

When bodies herd together to protect themselves from groups of other bodies we create hell on earth because at at spiritual level we are all one and to appeal to the herd for salvation is insanity.

Barry told me he believed in white supremacy and the problem in America is the "niggers". President Trump has told Americans that their problems are due to Mexicans and Muslims and if elected he will build a wall to keep Mexicans out and he will create bans and extreme vetting to keep Muslims out which will make America great again and keep Americans safe. Americans, out of their fears of "the other" elected him their leader.

Trump's  proposals promise to protect people's bodies while they destroy people's souls. It is written in A Course In Miracles, "For separation is the source of guilt, and to appeal to it for salvation is to believe you are alone. To be alone is to be guilty. For to experience yourself as alone is to deny the Oneness of the Father and His Son, and thus to attack reality." T-15.V.2:5-7

The At-one-ment is the cosmic consciousness that we are all in this thing called Life together. To project our shame on each other is the basis of sin and the cause of hell on earth.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Tao that can be spoken is not the true and eternal Tao.

Over the next several months, there will be articles on the Tao Te Ching among others. The book below is very good. When you buy books using the embedded Amazon widgets, a small commission, at no cost to the buyer, is paid to support this blog. Thank you for your support.

Tao that can be spoken is not the true and eternal Tao.
Names that can be named are not the true and eternal names.
Nonbeing is the origin of Heaven and Earth.
Being is the mother of ten thousand things.

My paraphrase of this part of the first section of the Tao Te Ching.

God is too big for any one religion and if you think you know who God is you are full of baloney.
You do not know what anything really means because these things you have made up.
The Force of the Universe we humans call Life which is the beginning of our awareness of heaven and earth.
Our dichotomous minds just make stuff up that we naively think is real.

Let your magnificence shine forth

Monday, July 3, 2017

Without the ego would there be chaos or love?

It is written in A Course In Miracles that we hold on to the past to be able to judge for "judgement becomes impossible without the past, for without it you do not understand anything." T-15.V.1:1

A little further it is written: "You are afraid of this because you believe that without the ego, all would be chaos. Yet I assure you that without the ego, all would be love." T-15.V.1:6-7

Does this mean I should forget the past?

Not exactly for as human beings that would be impossible and we would not learn anything and grow. What is suggested is that we forgive the past, we rise above it, and we do not let the past imprison us in the present.

As a psychotherapist sometimes I am asked, "Do you really believe people can change?"

I answer, "I would be a hypocrite and a fraud if I didn't believe people could change. Of course they can. I have been honored and privileged to witness miraculous change."

Anna and Mike came to see me after Mike had an affair. Anna, then our of revenge, went and had an affair too. They both decided to get back together. Mike told me, "We are so much better now."

Anna chimed in and said, "We went out for coffee and forgave each other and decided to start over again. It was wonderful."

They both are in their late 40s and had met in high school at age 15. They have been together 27 years.

"Start over?" I asked.

"Yes," Anna said. "We agreed to pretend that we just met."

Without history there is no judgment and with no judgement, there is a space for love to exist.

I love the bumper sticker "Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement." The best judgement is forgiveness which makes a place for love.

10 things to enhance your spiritual life

Sunday, July 2, 2017

What's your interior spiritual life like?

Secrets imprison our spirit and block the flow of energy in our relationships

Robert said, "I am tired of the secrets. I have kept them my whole life. I am scared of what will happen if they find out. I'd rather die than deal with the consequences. What should I do?"

Secret keeping blocks our communication with existence. Our spirit is made to hide in the corners and under the rocks. Our secrets diminish us and who we really are. Secret keeping is a sign of disrespect for others and most of all for our real self.

A sign of spiritual development is the release of secrets and a growing transparency. We become purer with nothing to hide.

I said to Robert. "You can tell me. I will keep your confidence and when you tell me your secrets we can talk about what, if anything, can be done."

Robert told me his secret and we both laughed about how silly it was. His secret was a lie he had told his grandfather and his uncle 40 years ago. His grandfather was now dead, but his uncle was still alive. I encouraged Robert to tell his uncle his secret just as an experiment to see what his uncle's reaction would be. Two weeks later, Robert and I met again and Robert was a new man. He was relaxed and happy with a grin on his face. Robert told me that when he told his uncle his secret of the lie he had told 40 years ago, his uncle laughed and said he had known all along that Robert had told a lie and his grandfather did as well. Robert said that his uncle hadn't wanted to confront him with his lie because his uncle wanted him to come to the realization that telling the truth would not change the love that grandfather and he felt for him, but this disclosure could happen when Robert became brave enough to overcome his fears of shame.

Robert laughed at his own folly of keeping his secret from those he loved for over 40 years for nothing but a life lesson about spiritual growth of monumental significance. Keeping secrets is a prison for our spirit of our own making. Purification and bringing darkness to light is what "enlightenment" is all about.

Quote of the day - Choose again

Jesus asks us in A Course In Miracles, "Would you be hostage to the ego or host to God?" T-15.III.5:1

Saturday, July 1, 2017

We shouldn't settle with too little when we could experience our magnitude.

It is written in A Course In Miracles, "Every decision you make stems from what you think you are, and represents the value that you put upon yourself." T-15.III.3:3

A little further in the same chapter Jesus says, "I asked you earlier, 'Would you be hostage to the ego or host to God.'" T-15.III.5:1

One of the famous verses in the New Testament is the one in Matthew 16:15 where Jesus asks His disciples "Who do you say I am?"

Deep down we all feel defective and inadequate in some way. Our biggest fear is that we are little, small, unworthy. This generates, usually unconsciously, a feeling of shame. We are embarrassed and live with anxiety about being found out, judged, rejected, and abandoned.

It is this deep, innate, sense of inadequacy and defectiveness, which creates our human problems as we try to cover it up, hide it, and attack others before they attack us.

If this entity of defectiveness and inadequacy is who we are afraid we are, we diminish ourselves and don't understand that we are loved unconditionally by the source of our being. We have chosen our defectiveness and inadequacy by separating ourselves from our divine source thinking that we can do things on our own only to discover, as is taught in Alcoholics Anonymous in the first step, that our lives are unmanageable and that we have to turn our life over to our Higher Power and follow God's will not our own.

Patty told me several times over the course of our weekly meetings for six months that she didn't love her husband because he didn't love her but some other woman he had told her he would rather be with. Patty had left for a while with the kids, but finally went back home where her husband continued to pay the bills. He had gone to live with his mother but slowly over several weeks he moved back in after spending a few nights with Patty. He said he cared about the kids but couldn't make a commitment to her and this made Patty, she reported, angry, sad, and confused.

I teased her and said, "Why? What's not to love? You are a good person."

She smiled at me shyly as if she couldn't or wouldn't accept that she could be loved by her husband. She was competitive, jealous, and hateful of this other woman whom she believed her husband loved more than her even though his actions didn't seem to match completely her worse fears.

I said to Patty, "If you don't love yourself, it's hard to believe that he could love you and if you think he does, it is only a matter of time before he becomes disillusioned and disappointed and leaves you for someone else."

She looked at me with a perplexed look and said, "You think I am the one with the problem?"

I said, "No, it's a problem for the whole family because it affects everyone in the family and friends as well, but the only person you can ultimately control and take responsibility for is yourself and I don't think you have a good appreciation of who you really are."

Patty started to weep and I said, "What ever makes you cry, let's talk about in our next meeting."

A Course In Miracles says that we accept too little when we should only accept our magnitude. We are, after all, children of God, and bringing our will into conjunction with God's will for us, we become an unbeatable, unstoppable, glorious dynamic duo with our Creator.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

When time stands still

What does it mean when we say, "Time stood still?" or "Where did the time go? I lost track of time?" We become aware at such times that for an instant there was no past and there is no future. As the Buddhists say, "Be here now."

When time stands still we experience a taste of eternity. We experience nothing other than pure awareness of being. This experience is the epitome of a spiritual state of bliss.

In psychology, there is the concept of "flow". Flow is complete absorption in the activity one is engaged in to the extent that there is a loss of awareness of space and time.

If there is heaven, this experience of flow is the closest we might come to experiencing heaven on earth where there is no time, no past, no future, only the eternal now.

Jennifer told me that there were moments when she forgot her past, didn't worry about her future, just experienced peace. I asked her when these moments occurred. She said that these moments occurred sometimes when she was listening to music, hiking along a wooded trail, and caught up in the exhilaration of  a run. I knew what she was talking about because I have the same experiences when I am writing, riding my motorcycle, and engaging in psychotherapy sessions with my clients.

In A Course In Miracles, these experiences of time standing still are called Holy Instants. Becoming aware of Holy Instants and allowing them to occur is a sign of spiritual development. May you have many of them and enjoy the peace they bring.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Peace that is beyond understanding

So many of my clients come to therapy complaining of anxiety. Their physicians have prescribed various medications and they don't seem to bring the relief desired. And so the question psychotherapists get asked is "can you help me?"

The common response to this question is to recommend a course of CBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or some other form of psychotherapy which are myriad. At a spiritual level these psychological approaches miss the point and may actually do more harm than good. Adding more knowledge and techniques for managing symptoms of anxiety can be somewhat ameliorating but don't really get to the root of the problem. At a spiritual level, the client needs less knowledge not more. The client needs to rise above their worries not find better ways of managing them which paradoxically makes their worries even more prominent as a focus of attention.

The spiritual strategy for dealing with anxiety is to "turn it over to their Higher Power". As they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, "Let go and let God." AA teaches the Serenity prayer, "Dear God, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Heather complained of her anxiety especially when she was trying to fall asleep at night and during the day when she was in groups of people. In exploring the factors that seemed to contribute to these feelings of anxiety and her attempts to deal with these factors we made a little progress but Heather still not have the peace and confidence she was seeking and both she and I were frustrated with her situation. Finally, I turned my frustration over to the Holy Spirit seeking guidance and I was inspired to ask Heather,"What is your interior spiritual life like?" Heather paused, seemed to look inward in a pensive way, and said, "What an interesting question." We went on to talk about her prayer life, her attempts at meditation (mindfulness), and she began to noticeably relax.

It seemed that Heather did have an interior spiritual life which had not been recognized and acknowledged before. In reflecting on her engagement with her interior spiritual life, her pervasive anxiety began to subside and she reported longer periods of peace.

It seemed to me that her recognition and acknowledgement and further engagement with her interior spiritual life allowed Heather to let go of her anxieties and trust her intuition of her inner Higher Power.

At the end of the day, when we die, we all have to learn to let go unless, as Bruce Cockburn sings in his great song, Last Night Of The World, "we all have to be pried loose." What ultimately are we afraid of? We unconsciously sense that we have cut ourselves off from our Creator and this separation creates anxiety and deep yearning we often can't clearly identify to go back home. Peace comes from remembering what we really are and in that re-membering we become one with the all which brings a peace beyond understanding.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

In the last analysis Love is all there is.

The Beatles got it right in their song, Love Is All You Need. In the last analysis, after all the drama, Love is all there is. We forget this and get caught up in judgment and strife. But underneath the insanity we create, we sense there is Love. It is true that Love is all you need, but more importantly is the awareness that Love is all there is. And so why do we fret and stew and suffer?

The Buddha taught us that suffering comes from attachment. A Course In Miracles teaches us that suffering comes from separation of ourselves from God and from one another. We forget our Source and in our willfulness even reject and resent our Source. In the drama that occurs with the creations of our egos we smother the awareness of our Loving Source.

In therapy when clients are describing their problems with me I will ask "What do you make of all that?" and they will retreat somewhat and say, "I don't know." and I will say, "Yes, you do." and they will look inward and come up with an answer or if they still resist, I will say, "Guess" and they always come up with something.

We do know deep down that our source is Unconditional Love which we have forgotten. Sometimes this awareness is so repressed that we have lost contact with it, but if we ask the Holy Spirit for help we become aware of the timeless wonder of the Love that is all there is.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Keeping it real is creating heaven on earth.

We live now in a media and digital age where "Fake news" is the accusation of the day when we become aware of anything we don't agree with. What is the truth becomes even more questionable. And so, the question "What is the truth?" becomes even more important.

 A Course In Miracles teaches that Truth is the existence of God's unconditional love which goes beyond definition. It says in the Course's introduction, "The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence, which is our natural inheritance." Can we give up our egos and get out of our own way? The drama of our egos are blocks to our awareness of love's presence and the truth.

In dissolving our egos or rising above them, we become mirrors of God's Holiness. God's love reflects off our beings as off a mirror. As Stephen Gaskin said one time, "In the last analysis all we have to offer others is our own state of being." What condition is your condition in? Is your condition authentic, genuine, sincere?

Lying, now called "spin," has become so acceptable that we have come to expect it from politicians, advertisers, proselytizers of all stripes, and even from friends and loved ones. Back in the 60s we would ask whether a person had his/her "shit together," whether in communicating with him/her we got "good or bad vibes."

My granddaughter said to her mother upon meeting the mother of her school friend in the mall, "Mama that woman is off. Isn't something wrong with her?" Indeed, the woman was very histrionic and full of hyperbole and my 8 year old granddaughter had picked up on it. At a young age, people know the truth.

And so, we might say that "truth" is very close to authenticity. People in California talk about "keeping it real." How authentic, how real are you keeping things in your life?

Today, when someone greets you and asks, "Hi. How are you doing?" You might try responding, "I'm great. I'm keeping it real." Being authentic, genuine, sincere, is mirroring the manifestation of God's love and creating heaven on earth.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Death and the spiritual life

Nothing can provide a spur to one's spiritual life like a brush with death. Facing one's mortality square in the face brings existential concerns front and center. Considering one's imminent death leads one to reflect on what one has done with one's life and what is left to do - the so called "bucket list."

For me consideration of the end of my life left me feeling full of gratitude and thinking of all the people I was grateful to and wanted to say good bye to. It dawned on me that getting to the end of one's life and being full of gratitude is the sign and largest criterion for what we call "the good life."

The "good life" is one, the philosopher's tell us, comprised of virtue. Has one lived a life based on honesty, kindness, compassion, effort, good work, appreciation of beauty, recognition of evil, and awareness of one's Higher Power?

A life of reverence is better than a life of cynicism although cynicism has its place. "Don't mistake my being kind for being a fool," is an important principle. However, love and forgiveness trumps everything else.

Facing one's imminent death focuses one's attention and priority setting becomes much more desired. What is really important? "Will this make a difference after I am dead for the world left behind" becomes the navigational North Star by which one can make decisions.

People have said that they never started living until they were faced with their imminent death. Nothing focuses one's attention as well on what is really important.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Do you sense what is below the surface?

We communicate with our head and our heart and sometimes recognize that what we think and feel does not accurately correspond with what is really going on. It may well be that it is in silence that we best commune with God, the Tao, the Source of our being, the Spirit of Life.

Do you sense what is below the surface? Does your getting in touch with this essence bring you joy and peace? What are your practices that facilitate your experience of this comforting presence?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Take responsibility for your own happiness

The purpose of life is to re-member the At-one-ment or the Atonement as it is called in A Course In Miracles.

We separated ourselves from the At-one-ment in our birth and have felt guilty ever since. We cope with our guilt by blaming others for our lack of happiness which only unconsciously compounds our guilt. Blaming is not the path to redemption upon which so many of us tread. Rather forgiveness is the path to redemption, first forgiving ourselves for our separating ourselves from God and secondly for blaming others for our unhappiness.

To blame and accuse others is not to understand the cause of our underlying unhappiness. "The inheritance of the Kingdom is the right of God's Son, given in his creation. Do not try to steal it from him, or you will ask for guilt and will experience it." T-14.V.4:1-2

For today, take responsibility for your own unhappiness and not only do not blame them but forgive them for your mistaken blaming.