We Can All Do Better, Start Now

“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.

Going Home

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.

Time to Understand and Know

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.

The Necessary and Unnecessary

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.

In Difficult Times

We are meant to be fundamentally changed by challenging times and events; to transcend our old identity.

Pain and suffering will occur to the extent that we resist what is happening. However, when we can see these circumstances with a pair of fresh eyes, a new perspective, we will suffer less, and for some, it will be possible not to suffer at all.

You do not want to end up being the same person that you were before these events happened; otherwise, you will become more anchored into the conditioned-self, leaving you no better off than you were before they occurred. Always remember you are walking in Consciousness or God and not just your body.

The Real Cause of Our Pain and Suffering

The mind and our conditioning tell us that we should never suffer, feel pain, or have difficulties; that the perfect life is problem-free, and this becomes our belief and pursuit. Many religious people think and are taught that if they find God, all their problems will go away, and the spiritual seeker often believes that enlightenment will free them from all of life’s complications.

Is this your experience? Can you tell me that this is true, that you have escaped the challenges of life through these pursuits? Following this concept of freedom, when presented by the mind, will only keep you trapped in an endless quest. You will always feel that you are getting closer to your desired destination, why it’s just one more step, the mind will say. Yet somehow, you never seem to arrive.

If we want to be free, then we must awaken from the mind’s blinding influence. We must be willing to take a step back from what it is saying for a moment because real freedom comes when we allow all of life to flow through us. We cannot continue to follow the false narrative that the mind presents, where there should be no pain or suffering at all.

We must allow and feel whatever arises, to embrace and experience it. Being mindful when resistance appears, because whatever flows will go, be transmuted, or transcended. Whatever we resist will get stuck and persists.

Take a step back, become the observer of your thoughts, and watch how the mind frequently influences your life. Then let your unrest awaken you to the present moment and your True-Self. Let feelings and facts destroy the imagined storytelling of the mind and be open to receiving grace and the guidance of your True-Self that is always available to everyone.

Believing the Story

If you observe your thoughts, you will find they lay the foundation for your unhappiness. The mind creates a story through them about your circumstances and your life that you come to believe. Once belief sets in, dissatisfaction will arise.

Let fact destroy the fiction of this story, and it will disappear. Watch as your mind comes up with justifications and creates another narrative to keep you trapped in this seemingly endless cycle, a habit that has become so ingrained in your life that it goes completely unnoticed. Without awareness, it will continue to bring discomfort to your life and physical body. You have every ability to stop this cycle of self-abuse and wake up to your True-Self.

The Ego and Political Post

Be careful when you read the following. Your ego may feel threatened by my words, and it may want to strike out, or it may feel attacked. However, if you slow your thoughts down and listen to them, or notice how you feel emotionally and physically, you may begin to wake-up and see just how ludicrous or ill meaning they are.

Social media political posts are nothing more than the expression of our ego. It does nothing to change the course of political opinion. It alone will never alter the mind of any person who has the opposite beliefs. In fact, it only agitates them. To verify this, you only have to look at how you feel when you read a post that disagrees with your politics or beliefs. What thoughts do you have when this happens? Does your body become tense? Do you become angry, anxious, or frustrated?

Making these kinds of posts only satisfies your egos desire to be right, feel powerful, or make yourself feel better in some way. Then these very same desires cloud your ability to see or hear the truth.

The only way to change what we do not like in life is to engage life in more meaningful ways, and when it comes to politics, voting is at the top of the list. Therefore, if you are one of those people who post political information regularly on your page or elsewhere, ask yourself, what is my intent? Is it to show everyone I am right? Is it to feel powerful? Or is it to make myself feel good, or some other ego-driven reason?

Could you spend that energy in a different way to have a more significant impact? If your answer is no, then, by all means, continue to make your posts. However, if it is yes, then I encourage you to engage with life in more essential ways. Because I can assure you, your posts do not make a significant impact on your life, the country you live in, or the world. They only feed your ego.

Living an Awakened Life Becoming Zero

I remember when I was growing up that calling someone a zero meant that he or she was useless or worthless. Now here I am decades later writing about becoming zero but from a loftier understanding.

You will notice with a little bit of awareness that everything in personhood comes and goes, including the body. Life is not stable from the perspective of the person. One moment you can be upset, the next laughing and then the next anxious. When we take pause, this can be noticed, but it is something that usually is overlooked or ignored, not by choice, of course, but by habit, a habit that took shape so the mind could remain a controlling authority.

Let me tell you with one-hundred percent certainty that becoming zero is the most stable state you can experience. However, I do not expect you to believe me; but instead, I want you to experience it for yourself because it is only through having a direct experience that you will come to see the truth.

When you are curious, you learn, and when you are desperate, you discover. The mind wants to learn and will have its own interpretation of what becoming zero means. It will put up roadblocks every chance it gets to distract you. Therefore, it is up to you to use your awareness to awaken to these distractions and stay focused on what is evident.

What do I mean by becoming zero? It means you do not have any attachment to your thoughts and feelings. Please do not misunderstand me; I am not saying that you should not think and feel. Of course, you will. However, you will do it by choice. In other words, your thoughts and feelings will not control you and operate unchecked. They will still come and go, and you are free to pick them up at any time. Moreover, it certainly does not mean that somehow your life will be dull or boring. In truth, just the opposite will happen.

Can you feel the freedom that comes with having command over what causes your psychological suffering?

Remember, a thought, feeling, or emotion has no power over you until you believe it. I can have a thought that says this is amazing, and someone else might think it is awful. When we believe something is amazing, we feel good, and if we believe it is awful, we suffer. I am sure you can access countless instances of this in your life — for example, a new relationship or the break-up of one. Therefore, without belief, a thought, feeling, or emotion has no power, and therefore it will pass like a cloud floating across the sky.

Now, this is very simple to do. First, we create some space between our thoughts, feelings, and emotions by not believing in them automatically. We begin to notice or question what arises. This is accomplished by bringing awareness to them and becoming the observer. It is from the position of the observer that we create the space we need to stay unattached to what comes. As long as we are watching and not grabbing hold of the thought, feeling, or emotion, there will be some space creating a moment free of reaction, which will lead to stability. You will feel a sense of freedom in this space.

Now I did say this was simple to do, and it is; okay here comes the but, the challenge happens when things start to bubble up from underneath, i.e., conditioning, beliefs, feelings, etc. You have years or decades of automatically going with your thoughts, feelings, and emotions; it is a habit. To break the habit, you will need to come back to observing as the mind distracts you repeatedly. And it will try to distract you because you are taking your power back. Remember, nothing will stick unless you believe in it. You break the habit of attachment by becoming the observer.

There is no need to struggle. If it feels hard to do, then notice that that is a thought. Step back into the observer position, and the hardness will soften, letting go with ease. Any struggle signifies that you are attaching to a thought, feeling, or emotion created by the mind to distract you.

“The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.” -Blaise Pascal

Start here first, and do the best you can because the smallest step toward your authentic-self transcends the mind and brings about tremendous transformation.

 

Your Habits, Conditioning, and Narrow Focus

We have become so narrowly focused on all the things occurring outside of ourselves, that we feel a loss of control in our lives. Of course, this kind of thinking leads to anxiety, stress, worry, and fear. These types of psychological problems are becoming all too common for us these days.

External problems can appear to be the same to specific groups of like-minded people and not as problems at all to others. That is because of each person’s conditioning, and the beliefs created out of that conditioning. In other words, it is how we think about things that tell us whether or not it is a problem.

The conditioning we receive is instilled at such a young age, much of it before the age of seven, that it is never questioned. This conditioning becomes the foundation that we build on to become who we are now and what we believe. When enough people believe and think the same thing, it creates what we see in the world. That is because we make choices based on our beliefs.

Could we have been misled or built our views on incorrect information? Is there more to us than what we see with our eyes and think with our minds?

If you narrowly focus on one thought long enough, then it can become the truth for you, and then all your choices going forward will be based on that new belief. This unreliable information then makes us think things that are not true. For instance, I am not good enough, I am not smart, or I will never be happy again.

Many have come to the point where they are at the mercy of their thoughts and feelings. At times, they find that their thoughts and feelings are overwhelming. There seems to be no way to be free from them, which again creates more anxiety, stress, worry, and fear.

When you slow your thoughts down by paying attention to them, and you begin to question them, you can start to discover and unravel your conditioning. Self-inquiry like this will lead to freedom from your conditioning and creates a very different life than what you are experiencing now.

We unconsciously attach to our thoughts and habitually follow them. These thoughts arise spontaneously without any conscious effort on our part, and you can see this taking place with awareness. They are not based in fact but often accepted as fact. They are born out of our false foundation. It will require effort for most people, particularly in the beginning, to break these habits, to uncover their True-Self, and to shed the skin of who they have become.

Know that anyone can be free, no matter what your mind and thoughts tell you. The challenge is not to believe what the mind tells you and not to be tricked by its subtle and cunning ways. This is because you are more than your mind and body. The only way that this idea becomes a reality for you is to have direct-experience of your True-Self. Otherwise, your mind will use this lofty concept to keep you a prisoner, and you will be lost in a maze of thoughts leading down a path with no way out. Rest assured, in my words, that there is always a way with awareness.