“The Meaning of Life”

22 04 2015

It does not seem to me that our purpose in this world is to have a good time.  I seems that there is a much deeper purpose to our lives. Everyone I know has suffering in their lives of some kind.  I meet a lot of people and they all suffer in some way.  Now a rare few of them are past their suffering and living a different quality of life than most of us.  Some of my teachers fall into that category but not all.

Buddha said “Life is Suffering.”  referring to our attachment to things being the way we want them to be.  When we accept things they way they really are without imposing our own desires on them we reach a level of freedom and we suffer less.  There are other levels of attachment we can resolve in ourselves to attain more freedom and less suffering.  And maybe this is why we are living these lives to work through the things that cause suffering in our lives.  What I know is when we work through  a difficult relationship or a life issue that is causing us pain then things loosen up in ourselves and life gets a bit easier.

We are constantly challenged in some way.  I think these are challenges to grow and become more of ourselves, more solid in our being.  We face the challenges and resolve them and there is a payoff which is more freedom in ourselves and more joy.  Joy does not come from the things we do or people we spend time with, we can take joy in those things but joy is an internal game.  It comes from within.  Just as our suffering does.  One reason I do not resist the hard life challenges is that I want to move through them as quickly as I can.  I would rather have a very hard year or two than 10 years of nibbling at the edge.  I also realize that when that challenges is over and I have integrated it all and reached a new level of awareness about life and myself, that something new will come around and shake my life up again.  This is because I am ready for a new level, and we do not seem to just decide to work on the new level of awareness we are facing but life needs to confront us with the new challenge that will bring us to the next level.  There will always be a new level to challenge us.  But as we resolve these challenges in ourselves we find that we suffer less.  The next challenge although unique does not bring the level of suffering it would had we not resolved past opportunities.

Some people feel they have a life where everything goes wrong and they are always challenged in some way.  This is usually because they are not resolving the current issues they are facing so life serves it up in a variety of ways to get the point across to us.  There is a point.  It is not random life events.  If we are constantly challenged there is something we need to work on within ourselves and resolve so we can grow.  If we do not face the issues that are confronting us we stay at that level, we do not attain freedom, we do not grow and we suffer even more.  Life will break us again and again to get it across.  Realize that all those things that happen outside of us that we consider happen to us are really internal processes on how we perceive ourselves and life.  If we feel everything is happening to us and we have no control then we suffer more.  Feeling helpless is one thing and we all face this at times, being helpless is different it is  a position we have taken and life will grind it out of us until it no longer exists within us.  It will grind us down to a fineness where our positions no longer work fur us and we have to give them up.  I would rather face then and resolve them and make the grinding process a shorter one.  Face our positions consciously or unconsciously but we will face them.  Consciously is better…

We must face life and everything it throws at us, or our suffering will be overwhelming.  This is our purpose here, to grow through life challenges and resolve our suffering, to give up our positions and our identifications.  To move toward freedom within ourselves.

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The Goddess Broke My Heart (Pt 2)

22 04 2015

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” ~ Louise Erdich, The Painted Drum

This is what I refer to when I say “The Goddess Broke My Heart.”  Life, our friends, our choices, our circumstances will break us.  It is all designed to strip us down to our core beingness.  The more we resist our true nature, the more pressure is placed on us.  We are wounded more, we are torn down, and we struggle against life.  We do not embrace our challenges we resist.  Not only does this resistance create more suffering in ourselves but it also holds us back from the realization of the truth.  We fight back, we wallow in pain, we push the pain away, we numb ourselves through alcohol, drugs, sex, relationships, food, shopping, or entertainment.

In the past few years I have made it a practice to actually embrace the challenges that life sends me.  I just accept the new circumstances of life.  This does not mean that I am not affected but I am not resisting.  I may go into deep fear, or other reactions that truly do not serve me but I do not resist.  This started many years ago when my practice brought me to a place where I felt the pain of all humankind.  I could feel it all, all the time and this lasted for months or weeks.  (The genesis of this blog came out of that experience).  And in that time I did not resits any of what I was feeling.  I accepted it and whatever it brought to me.  There were deep learnings in that period for me.  I can still access the pain of us all if I quiet my mind and sit with it for a moment.

As I have said over the past few blog posts I have been facing a dept of disturbance like to other in my life.  I have had so much happen.  My life has been shaken down to the core in many ways, and at the same time, although I have had anxiety and fear, I have not resisted.  I have worked to mitigate circumstances but that is taking action when action is needed.  But I have not resisted, not fought it, I have accepted it and taken responsibility for the circumstances I have faced.  The past eight months or so have been a difficult time for me.  Far more difficult than anything I ever expected to face.

Life has broken me again, in a far deeper and profound way then ever before.  I have had many moments of awareness, insights, and deep learning.  It has been life altering.  I have also at times felt the depth of my true nature, the part that is never threatened by anything.  The unshakable part of me that cannot be touched by the circumstances life throws at me.  Sometimes I have been lost in the emotional turmoil.  My body had been in the emergency mode of a constant flow of adrenaline.  And I have not resisted it.  I have accepted it all and felt it all.  I have welcomed it all, and at the same time I have attempted to learn and grow and make adjustments that would serve me and life better than my old choices and ways of doing life.

This is one reason life breaks us, to let go of the old patterns.  The destruction of so many parts of my life have served to make room for something new.  These changes may not be apparent to those around me but they are deep and profound.  Life has broken me down and forced my hand to change more than any other time in my life.  I feel the seeds of a totally new life.  Not in a physical sense, not like I will sell my house and move to an organic farm kind of way; but in a deeper way, in a way that is at the core of what and who I am, and how I see the world and others.

The Goddess Broke My Heart and in that breaking she has laid the seeds of renewal and another life that was unforeseeable before my heart was broken.  I have surrendered to the heartbreak and the change and the newness of what is next.

 





Realization

6 03 2015

I was considering my most recent post “What is Me” today.  I had a realization that the reason it has been so hard for the past six months or more is that I have changed a lot of the past several years.  Things that would be hard five years ago would not really phase me now.  Things that were hard ten years ago would not even register.  It seems that to get my get my attention things had to go very deep.  To be real to me, it  has to be a very serious situation.   I am stronger than I have been in the past, and I am more at peace (usually).  To really strip me down the the core for the next phase of development, whatever that is – things need to be serious enough to shake me to the foundations.  And this is that shaking…

I am ready for the shaking to stop now and for the rebuilding to begin.  I have learned so many things from all of this.  Things on the personal level, the business level, the spiritual level.  There are many lessons for me in all of this.

One big lesson is to take action when I know what action I should take.  There were changes I needed to make and I knew I needed to make them but I put them off or did not want to do what was hard.  I set things aside.  This is where the merely annoying and nagging was not enough to get my attention or to make the needed changes.  I know that the changes were going to cause a great disturbance in my life and in some other lives.  By not taking that action I have caused a reaction that goes very deep.  It was all taken out of my hands.  It was the thing I needed to do but did not face or confront.  I can be good at not confronting what needs to be confronted.  I like a peaceful life that moves along and things get handled as they come up.  The thing is that even though I knew I needed to make those changes I was personally doing well.  I was at peace, I was busy with the things in life I wanted to be busy with, I was in charge of my life for the most part.  And I was happy.  I was on cruise control in a way.

And then a cascade of events, all out of my control, took place; and life changed completely in just a few months.  The end result of those events is really the same as they would have been if I had made the changes that I knew I needed to make.  The difference is, instead of a controlled change over time it was a unstoppable force of nature that recreated my life and business.  It was not gentle, it was not controlled and it was a confluence of many factors and forces.  It caused a restructure in how I have done things, and a total change in business in certain business practices.

I am in awe of how many areas of my life are wrapped up in this wave of unstoppable change.  I cannot think of one aspect that has not been involved in some way.  I have rethought so many parts of me, and so many ways I have done things, and so much of life.  I am remembering myself as a young person these days.  There is a lot I have healed in myself from that time, but there was also a part of me that accepted people easily.  I think that I did not feel accepted myself and therefore, accepted others who were fringe dwellers.  Ah, the fringe dwellers of our society.  The seekers, the nerds, those that do not fit in with societal ideas of what we should be.

I think in this process not only are there changes going on but a reclamation of an earlier version of myself.  A plunge into a more innocent me.  It is strange – there is only one me but on another level, there seem to be many versions of me.  The me I was thinking of was in high school, then there was many version of me in the Army for so many years.  Who that really knows me now can really envision those version.  I cannot really even envision them.  Then all the post Army versions of me…  Through all of that there is a real me that does not change and is.  And from this place feeling stripped down to a core that me is apparent, and also I am in touch with all the version of me that I have experienced.  Strange to feel I have experienced me in so many different ways over the years.  It feels long and sometimes hard but it also is a flash.  It is one life in an eternity.  I just happens to be my present now.  This now is intense and raw and full of so much juice.

There is more change coming, it is the nature of this existence.  Everything is temporary.  This will all change.  Some day I will be gone and not long after that people will no longer know who I was in this life.  It all changes it all ends and it all evolves.  There is nothing to hold on to.  There is nothing to grieve.  There is nothing to lose.  It is all energy, constantly shifting, changing, and converting.  Breathe, any struggles will pass.  Learn what you need to learn from whatever life circumstance you face.  Breathe lean into it.  Live if fully.  Feel it fully.  Know that nothing in this life threatens the one that you are.  Nothing…  Embrace it all.  Change and growth are our constant companions…





What is Me?

27 02 2015

This past few months have been some of the toughest I have faced in my life…

It is so easy during difficult times to get caught up in life and the situations being faced.  The mind goes to fear, and hurt, and sadness, sometimes anger, and a feeling of things are not fair.  And all this can pull us off our path and our realization of what and who we truly are.  Of course just like we are not our thoughts, or our emotions we are not the life situations we face.  But these life situations are strong.  They can go down the root of feeling we will not survive.  But what is this thing that won’t survive.  That is not us.  It might be this body we inhabit, but most life situations do not threaten us on that level, a may be the lifestyle we created but that is certainly not us, it may be obligations we have to others or agreements we have made, but those are not who we are; they are words or understandings between us and other people.

It is strange that a situation, whatever it is can shake the foundations of our life and we feel threatened.  What we are cannot be threatened by anything, and yet we dive in deep with life to further delude ourselves that we are threatened in some way.  That everything is falling apart.

The situation I have been and am facing has caused profound learnings and changes in my life.  I feel I have been stripped bare to the core (at least I hope this is the most stripped down I can get).  And this process did not start with the most recent couple situations but has been going on for a year.  It has been a purge that has taken me down to nothing.  It has been a huge challenge, it has changed the way I look at many things.  It has shaken my sense of security.  I have lost long term friendship and financial stability.  The fear has taken me over for periods of time that are far too long, weeks and months.

And under all of that, there is a way that none of it matters.  It is only the background, the play I am in with many other players.  I am still me no matter what I am facing in life.  My responsibility is to live as well and ethically as possible.  To not cause harm to others or myself.  To live with love and openness.  These things have been pushed back by fear and other emotions but I have done my best to meet all obligations and responsibilities I have.  And in a way those things are still not ultimately important.  In 100 years no one will remember me, nothing I did will be considered important.  in five years the people who were involved in the situations of the last year will not be thinking of me, they will be facing new situations, new challenges, and other life issues as will I.

I think I am an optimist.  I always think in five more years everything will be settled and set and I can relax from that place.  It has been an ongoing five more years for a very long time.  I realize that I am a person who will always face challenges.  I will always have something that needs to be done, created, expanded, or reinvented.  This is my nature.  I do not do easy, I do not do enjoying the ride.  I do life the hard way.  It seems my nature to face one challenge after another, and if I am not challenging myself then a challenge is created for me to overcome.

And still none of this is my true nature.   If I could go through these challenges without losing my sense of me it would all be easier.  I sometimes let life circumstances give the illusion of my being threatened.  The true sense being able to relax would be to not lose myself in the difficult times.  To let the knowledge of who and what I am come forward and not be subsumed by emotions and thoughts of failure and unworthiness.

How can any life circumstance have anything to do with my worthiness? Or my true nature.

Through the experiences of the past year I have lost sight of Me.  The one.  My beingness.  This is not how I want to go through life.  The challenges will come, that is obvious.  The question is, will I let them crush me or will I continue to know that I cannot be threatened.

There is a way we are limitless.  I have been struggling with that lesson for several years now, and I may talk more about it in another blog post.  The limits are in our minds, and the expectations of those around us.  We hold ourselves small in so many ways.  We struggle through life, fighting to survive in many different ways.  This is not our true nature but it is what is expected of us.

Begin to explore the limitless one you are, and do not let life circumstances make yo believe you are less.

Meditation on your true nature and discover the one without limits you truly are.





Fear of Spiritual Growth

14 01 2015

There are many barriers to moving through the stages of spiritual growth.

One of them is the fear of what that growth might mean in our lives.  There can be a fear that there will be a fundamental change in a person’s life.   That a growth experience will be such that living as one once has will no longer be possible.

There is a fear that a current relationship or all the relationships in a person’s life will change or be destroyed by a growth experience.

There is a fear that we will fundamentally change on a very basic level in  a way that we do not even know ourselves anymore.  That we will be unable to function in life, or unable to work anymore, or unable to relate in the same way we did.

And that brings up another fear.  That our present employment is not longer possible for some reason after a growth experience.  That we cannot no longer tolerate the work we do, or the way we are treated on that job.  What if we lost the ability to support ourselves in this modern world.

There is a fear of not being able to function socially anymore.  What if we cannot related to people in the same way, or we cannot tolerate the company of others, or we must isolate, or have much more time alone than we ever had before.  What if we do not need relating in the same way or at all.  What if the normal relating we have done in our lives begins to feel superficial and meaningless.  What if conversations about the weather or the traffic or politics or work are no longer stimulating.

There is a fear of no longer belonging or fitting in.  What if a growth experience pushes so far outside the norm that we are rejected by others.  Our peer group does not get us anymore or we don’t get them.  This is similar to what happens when someone in a group of single friends gets married and they drift away from the group as their priorities change and grow.  It also happens when a couple has children and their old friends do not.  What if this growth experience makes you the outsider in your old peer group.  Or your family, or your work setting, or the grocery store.

There is a fear of what I have to give everything up and move to a convent, or ashram or a temple or a cave or another country like India.  What if I lose everything to have this growth experience.

And there are many more…

All of these barriers are the mind stopping your for attaining a growth experience of some kind.  Our mind does not like change and a spiritual growth experience is not just change but it is a threat to the our mind.  Change means risk, and our mind is all about survival.  What if I do not survive in some way?  Our mind fears a loss of control, a loss of the familiar, a loss of security, and a loss of knowing what is next.  The issue with a spiritual growth experience is that the mind cannot anticipate the benefits or consequences of the experience.  The actual experience is beyond the mind.  It is something the mind cannot get to.  It cannot be thought into being, it cannot be reasoned to a conclusion that makes sense.  It is in a sense stepping off the cliff into something that the mind will never understand, but the benefits are becoming more of who or what you really are.  And that true nature is beyond the mind in a real way.  The mind will never comprehend the true nature.  If it could many more of us would be living from that place.  If we could think or reason our way into it, many of us would achieve great depth in ourselves and in our lives  There would be a wave of these experiences and a profound change in the world.  But our mind cannot get us there.  We must meditate and do other practices that allow us to get around the mind, to slip through the cracks of our thoughts and to breakthrough into a growth experience.  To do this we must push through the fear of the growth experience and continue our practices.  Not let the fear stop us from further growth, further evolution.  The only way to truly change the world is to grow and evolve.  To allow change within us, to have those deep experiences and not let fear of them stop us.  When you hit that fear, feel it and recognize it and continue anyway.

Everything in your life may change from these kinds of growth experiences.  It may all change, and be different.  Certainly you will change and become different over time, with deep practices and consistent personal work.  Welcome the change.  Know that discovering your true nature may make everything different.  All those fears listed above and more may be the result of your pracrices, and discovering your true nature is not just desired but necessary in an ultimate sense.  There is another reality, and it is you.

 





Upcoming Meditation Retreat

4 12 2014

 Meditation Retreat – February 19th – 23rd, 2015

3 Day Partner Assisted Meditation Retreat

This meditation retreat is a modern answer to the question, “Where can I go to directly experience the true nature of life, others and myself?” With one foot rooted in the ancient tradition of Rinzai Zen and the other in the modern dyad process of communication, the Enlightenment Intensive is a three-day retreat capable of producing deep spiritual awakenings at the core.

During the retreat you are asked to set aside all distractions and engage in a monastic lifestyle in order to free your energy and attention for the practice at hand. Your practice is to contemplate a question such as ‘Who am I?’ and communicate to a partner what has occurred. You choose a new partner for each 40-minute period. Throughout the day you have breaks for walks, rest, meals, and lectures. Other questions you may work on are, “What am I?”, “What is Life?”, and “What is Another?” This journey of exploration, healing and awakening reveals that our deepest truths may be found within ourselves and through our honest interaction with others.

The retreat uses a dyad format for contemplation that is generative—the energy builds between dyad partners, as well as everyone in the room, creating a synergetic generation of the very energy mentioned in Zen literature needed to break through into an enlightenment experience.

You can learn more about the Meditation Retreat at:  http://www.masterstudiesinstitute.com/meditation.html

You can now enroll using paypal.

Please join us and discover your true nature.

 

 





Fear…

30 11 2014

I have heard so much about fear.  I know a person who feels that when we feel fear we should dive in and really feel it.  Now I agree we should allow ourselves to feel our emotions.  We should feel them at depth and not push them away, but I see fear as different.

In the past few months I have gone through a period of being frozen with fear, to the degree that I had panic attacks.  This lasted for weeks and it was a very hard time for me.  I could not seem to do anything.  I could not function, or move forward or change the situation.   It was that fear for my existence kind of fear.  Very intense…

The truth is when I began to move my thoughts along from that place of holding the situation in the forefront on my mind and my life it all started to change.  The thing about fear is that it is the anticipation of some possible future pain.  Even though a present moment situation caused that intense fear in me it was my thoughts of what was to come next, or what was the final outcome going to be that had me in such an intense state of fear.  I could not seem to move my mind.  It was probably the most intense situation I have faced in many years.  I caused myself a lot of suffering by staying stuck in thinking over and over, what if…  I had a whole list of what ifs in this situation.

The only thing I could do to change my anxiety about the whole thing was to change my thinking .  The situation was the situation and I could not change that (although I could have taken some actions and changed that from developing) but staying in those thoughts was a very painful place to live.  Eventually, I just had to accept things the way there were and know that the outcome would be the outcome and things would eventually be different.  They may be different better or different worse but it would all change.  It is the nature of our lives.  I finally put it all aside which helped me take certain actions and begin to shift things in myself and in my life.  The situation is not completely resolved.  There are still far reaching ramifications and the outcome is uncertain, but I am at peace.  I am am not riding my fear like a bull through the streets.  I have put that aside, come to acceptance of what will be will be.  I will do my best and hope for a positive resolution.

Going deep into the fear did not help me in anyway.  It froze me in place and caused havoc in my being.  As I put it aside and become unattached to the outcome and stopped thinking about what might happen.  What might go wrong.  All the outcomes that do not work for me.  There was a shift and peacefulness in me.  I am again quiet, and happy and feeling that all shall be well.  If it is not then that is another obstacle in life but it does not threaten my being in any way.

Fear does not serve us and it comes directly from out thoughts about either what happened in our past that we did not like or from thinking about what might go wrong in the future.  Of all of the things we have considered might go wrong in our lives how many of them have come to fruition?   We spend a lot of life energy on considering the possible bad things that might happen.  Let all of those thoughts go.  Not only does it tie up our life energy but it actually increases the possibility of negative outcomes.   What we focus on we get more of…

What do you focus on.  Do an exercise for a week and if you find it helpful do it longer.  Get a journal book and every evening reflect on the day.  Write down three things that were negative about the day and three things that were positive.  Do this every evening.  Over time notice your thoughts about your days as they pass.








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