“With awareness, we awaken to cure what is not meant to be endured and endure what cannot be cured, and from this place, we live in the moment, where suffering is optional.”
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” -Maya Angelou
Did you notice that Maya Angelou did not say when you know better, you will do better? She said, when you know better, do better. Yes, it is a subtle difference but an important one. Just because we no better does not guarantee that we will do better, does it? If that were the case, the world would be very different than it is today.
You would think as a moral and civilized society that we would? Yes, I know there are times when we do. However, many times we do not, right? Have you ever wondered why that happens? Surely you are curious enough to wonder, aren’t you? It is easy to point figures at the government, some other person or entity, but have you ever asked yourself why don’t I do better when I know better?
For example, you know you should not eat that dessert or a particular food, but you do anyway. You find a way to justify it, just one more time, which turns into ten more times.
We all know that staying healthy requires exercise, but many do not take the time. Saying, I am too busy to exercise, I will start tomorrow, or perhaps you begin for a few days or weeks and then quit. Why did you stop? Was there a valid reason, or did the mind make one up for you?
Then there are problems like racism, the environment, and a host of other movements and issues that we may personally feel needs to be addressed. Still, we have yet to do better either collectively or individually.
We know when we have done something wrong, but we make excuses. It is not a big problem, so why should I trouble myself. Yes, we are masters at not doing what we could but instead opting to do what we want, no matter the consequences. I am sure that you could add to what I mentioned above; it seems endless to me. How about you?
Would you be willing to pick one thing or area in your personal life and do better? Where do you know better and yet struggle to do better? Pick one and make a permanent change for the better. You are more than capable of following through this time, so make it happen. When a thought comes in, or the mind tries to distract you from doing better, say no to the distraction. You will not regret it, so start now.
I had a dream the other night that I was teaching people how to go home. No, not the physical place where we live, but a more profound place. A place that we all have experienced.
Going home has a particular meaning in the Christian faith and perhaps for others too, where after we die, we go to be with God and our loved ones who have passed away. I do not want to speak about a belief or the afterlife. I want to talk with you about the here and now.
We have all experienced the loss of time, deep joy, or a feeling of happiness that was so strong that the rest of the world disappeared. At least it seemed that way. Perhaps it happened while watching a sunset or spending time with your family or a lover. Maybe it happened during meditation, prayer, or just taking a walk. You may notice it can happen any time while doing anything or nothing at all. These experiences happen when we are immersed in oneness; when we let go of our identity with personhood and the ego is no longer in charge.
I called it an experience, but in truth, it is not an experience, it just seems that way. What you think of as having experience is the recognition or remembering of your authentic nature. We have identified so strongly with the life of personhood that we no longer feel, see, or remember our oneness. It is still there, always, and forever. However, the mind says that it requires effort to get back to it, that it may not be possible in this life, that it is separate from us or some other story that keeps us searching instead of being. And we have been so conditioned to believe what the mind tells us, that we follow its direction without question.
Therefore, whether you believe it is possible, takes effort, can happen instantly, or could take a long time, first, realize these are all just thoughts. Start by asking yourself this question. Do I know with one-hundred percent certainty that this thought is true? This question will bring clarity if answered honestly. Therefore, ask yourself this question around any thought that pops up. You will find it useful anytime, but especially so when you perceive the thought to be negative.
Simple right? Yes, of course, it is, but beware, when you go up against the cunning mind, it can be challenging. However, if you are willing, pay attention, and remember to ask the question, you will immediately begin to see benefits.
Our society has traded…
LOVE for indifference
LOVE for hate
LOVE for anger
LOVE for resentment
LOVE for _____________
Without LOVE, COMPASSION, KINDNESS, and EMPATHY, we become a society of unconscious beings who put their wants and needs first. Living life this way leaves us feeling lonely, empty, and sad. We look to get more material things, wealth, and power to gain a false sense of security. We struggle with everyday life, feeling there has to be more to life, never realizing that what we seek cannot be found externally.
For those who have the courage, the willingness, and an unbending intention, a more profound journey takes place, one that will bring more balance between our external and internal worlds. We cannot find this balance by just seeking more knowledge or using our intellect alone. It cannot be found by going to church, the synagogue, mosque, or other worship places, without continuing to do the work after leaving these hallowed halls.
Once again, we must connect with the tenderness of the heart, just think of small children, how open and joyous they live. How quickly they let go of their upset. The brash and hard exteriors we have falsely created to protect ourselves only leads to conflict, hurt, and suffering. You only have to look around to see this, feel it, and hear it everywhere across the planet.
You have a simple choice that, for many, will be hard to make. However, at some point, whether now, on your deathbed or somewhere in between, a choice will be made. Just remember that not making a decision now is a choice.
When enough people begin to go inward and explore self-inquiry, everything will change for everyone. Will you be one of the courageous beings who steps towards your True-Self? Or will you continue to hold tight onto who you have become?
Many believe that God resides outside them, a place they call heaven. People say when I die, I will be with God, or when a loved one has passed, they are now with God. Well, I say that God is within you, within everything you see, feel, and touch. If you are always looking for God outside yourself, you will never know lasting happiness or peace, because it will always come and go. If you pay attention, you will see that nothing in personhood is stable, and I know of only one place to find stability.
It is not until you begin looking within that you will find your true nature; that you will find your True-Self. Start self-inquiry today and find your way back home now, not later, or someday when the body dies. Discover the peace and stability that is always with you.
If you are an atheist or have other beliefs than in a God, you will also find this peace and stability through self-inquiry because when we know ourselves from this fundamental place, we discover the truth.
Begin to reconnect with the heart of consciousness by connecting with your physical heart first. Place your hands on your chest and feel the heart beating. Let go of any thoughts, feelings, or physical sensations that pull your attention away from being with God’s pulse, the Universe, or Divine Creation. Pick the label or word that works for you. Do not allow the mind too step in and distract you. It might say this is too simple, or it will not work, or I do not like this word or label. Watch the subtle way it creates an uncomfortable feeling in the body and all the other ways that it tries to take your attention. Come back to the beating heart and feel the peace that is greater than any distraction the mind can create.
Do this anytime you find yourself in worry, stress, or anxiety, whenever you want to feel the peace and stability of your True-Self. As you begin to experience this, you ground yourself in the present moment and your experience of personhood shifts. You will again remember what you have always known and forgotten. Come back to this simple practice throughout the day, if only for a moment. Anchor in the truth, so the mind’s ability to distract you will be weakened. Discover this through direct experience and not from a place of knowledge. Watch the mind say yes, I know this to be right and then send you in another direction. Do not try to stop the distractions; this is another distraction. Do not identify with them, and then they will have no power over you. The mind will not stop trying to distract you, so let those distractions be an opportunity instead of a problem. Let them be a beacon, the guiding light, your wakeup call back to your True-Self.
“I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens. I’ve been knocking from the inside.”
Do you ever get tired of all the blaming that goes on these days? It is the fault of the liberals or the conservatives, which is not the reality. If you cannot see that both parties are to blame, that the root of the problem is not a political party, but some of the people that make up that political party, then you are blind to the truth.
If you think all the good and right people are on this side and not that side, you need to wake up. Belonging to a particular political party does not make you a good person or right. Belonging to a specific church or religion does not make you a good person or right.
We are good people when we love one another and treat everyone equally and with respect. We are good people when we are kind, compassionate, and empathetic. We are good people when we make good choices and learn from our mistakes. We are good people when we dare to do better because when we know better, we should always do better. Of course, as we see in the world that does not always happen.
So let’s start learning from our mistakes and start doing better. Doing better will not be accomplished by pointing figures at one another but by questioning where we can do better personally. Instead of expecting someone else to be different, we need to take a closer look at ourselves.
You can complain all you want, and all it will do is cause you to suffer, worry, and live in fear. Stop thinking that your way is the only way. Start to quiet your thoughts long enough so you can feel some peace again and realize we are all in this together. If you cannot give love, then show some kindness. If you cannot be kind, then be patient. If you cannot be patient, then say nothing. Get support, ask for help if you need to, love yourself first, will make it much easier to be a good person.
If you are a white person and you believe you are not a racist, that you were not conditioned in some way by your past or you overcame your conditioning about race, then the words on this image should ring true.
Can you know what someone else or another race has experienced in their lives without having experienced it for yourself? You cannot. You can only imagine you do. You only have to look at your own life and troubles to know this is true.
You can acquire more knowledge, but knowledge does not translate to experience. However, it will increase understanding, empathy, and compassion, which is sorely needed now. Therefore, educate yourself, especially about white privilege. Do not just think you already know what this is, because too many only ignorantly think they do, and many more do not believe it exists.
We must stand up for what is right, for human decency, to look with our eyes at the truth and see. To feel in our hearts what we know to be morally wrong.
To allow any group or individuals actions such as looting and burning to sway our support for the greater good is a lapse in judgment and moral character because who is to say that you might not be next because of your skin color, beliefs, or religion. Do not think you are not vulnerable because of your white privilege.
One could say, it is always easier to social distance and maintain six feet of ignorance, than it is to risk getting up close and seeing the truth.
We hate before we understand or know.
We do not take the time to understand or know.
We express anger before we understand or know.
We make judgments before we understand or know.
We make assumptions before we understand or know.
We stand in righteousness before we understand or know.
We disdainfully look at others before we understand or know.
We sit on the seat of white privilege before we understand or know.
Do we have to understand or know before we show compassion, empathy, kindness, or love?
What can you really understand or know? The truth of someone else’s experience cannot be known if we have not shared the experience. We cannot know someone else’s suffering if we have not carried their burdens. It can only be imagined, and that is not the truth, that is not reality. It is more comfortable to sit in judgment than to understand or know.
Human beings are souls of the Divine creator, no matter their religious beliefs, skin color, country of origin, or any other difference your mind points to, or says this person is not like me. Does everyone have to be like you to be accepted by you? Does everyone have to look like you, walk like you, talk like you to be approved by you?
When fear arises in you because of these differences, what do you do with that fear? I know the fear feels real to you, but do you need to be afraid? What if your fear was an indicator to take the time to get to understand and know, to see this person, their religion, or country on a deeper level, what would you find out? Would you find that perhaps at the core of their being, they are no different from you? Would you find that they want the same things for their children you want for yours? Would you find that they practice their religion for the same reason that you do? Would you find that many teachings in their faith are the same as yours? How would you figure this out unless you take the time to understand and know?
Sharing and feeling the burden and pain of others is genuine compassion.
It is time that our differences are no longer seen through our conditioning. We cannot allow our senses to be the guiding force of our reactions; we must respond appropriately from a place of understanding and knowing.
We must wake up and reach deeper to connect with our oneness, our sameness, and not just our differences. We must take time to understand and know what others are going through before we react from a place that does not reflect the truth of their experience. What would we find if we make this effort? Are we willing to try, or is it too hard? Would the world change if we did? Would we finally understand and know.
Despite everything that has happened to you in this life, including everything that you THINK you did wrong, you survived it all. Take that in and be with it. You are a survivor! Remember that truth when times feel difficult. Know that you are more than a survivor, that you can come out on the other side and thrive.
You are still here to talk about every event, at least the ones you remember. Just how many do you remember anyway? I raise this question because I guarantee that you have forgotten many more difficult times than you remember. There is value in noticing this: they are gone from your present experience and no longer disturb your state. What has power over you right now that you can see or feel in your life?
Notice that everything in personhood comes and goes. That includes the good, the bad, and yes, even what you thought was insurmountable.
The mind may keep ruminating over an issue, and I would ask, is this something that needs your attention or not? It does not matter if it happened five minutes or five decades ago, because once you identify with it in the present, it has the same power to distract you and change your state.
How much of your time is spent thinking about unnecessary things while overlooking what is necessary? You have a choice in these moments to breakdown or breakthrough! Which will you choose?
How many of your challenges can you look back at and see that they taught you something valuable? That the experience empowered you and put your life on a completely different trajectory for the better? If this did not happen, then look to see if you have an unresolved issue, or perhaps you are continuing to ruminate over something that is no longer an issue, and you need to let it go.
I repeat, know you are a powerful person. Recognize that you are a survivor, but you are more than that. Please remember that no matter what is happening in your life or how you feel about it today, it will shift, it will change, because nothing in your life of personhood lasts forever.
Something extraordinary takes place when our thoughts become quiet, and we listen deeply to someone else share their truth, their pain. When our thoughts remain silent, and we feel a direct connection or oneness with this person, healing can happen. Genuinely listening to someone else is a benefit for both parties.
However, if we are forming a response, or think we know what they need to do, we will not allow the space for healing to happen. If we want to interject our thoughts or experiences before the other person is done sharing, we break this transformative connection. We are no longer deeply listening. At that moment, we lose our chance to be there wholly for that person.
Helping them is rarely about finding a solution, but being present and holding space so they can feel safe to share their truth, without judgment. Even a single thought of judgment may be seen or felt by the other person consciously and is always transmitted energetically, causing a blockage to wholeness.
Anyone can become a deep listener. Just know in the beginning, you will see your thoughts arising, and you must be careful not to get distracted, or to identify with them. Therefore, while learning to listen in this way, please know that you do not have to be perfect because any sincere attempt to listen to someone in this manner will be met by grace. Something special will take place for all involved. After some time and through awareness, your ability will naturally develop and evolve on its own. You may even find people whom you do not know sharing their truth with you. Your presence will become a brighter beacon of light and a blessing to all those around you. Remain steadfast to your intention, and you cannot fail.
Therefore, the next time you find yourself in a position to hear someone’s truth, try deep listening to be present with him or her. In fact, use it all the time because it connects you with your True-Self, and you will have a direct experience of the power of presence.
At some point, each one of us feels hurt in this life. I have not met anyone who has escaped the emotional disturbances of personhood, and whether we choose to blame someone else for this pain or not, our suffering is real.
One of the many benefits of spiritual maturity or what some would call waking up is knowing that we are not our hurt or pain, that we are something more significant. Life in personhood is always changing, and it is not stable or reliable. This knowledge alone will not change anything for you, but it does open the door to having a direct experience of your True-Self, and that will change everything for you. It will transform your relationship with life as you know it now.
Up to that point, we can become confused about our feelings and experiences or misinterpret them. However, once we stop identifying with every thought and feeling that arises, we can begin to differentiate between the necessary and unnecessary—an essential step towards addressing what needs to be taken care of and living life with greater peace and joy.