Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Calling All Spiritual Community Builders

This blog post is calling out to all of you community builders. You are the ones who naturally bring people together. It is your gift and perhaps your calling. You've been doing this for as long as you know, and it is something that simply comes to you. You may also still be a spiritual community builder even if you haven't already been doing it. It may be a dormant gift waiting for you to take the initiative to do something. To all of you, I'm writing today on a matter of the utmost urgency.

The State of Spiritual Segregation
There is perhaps no worse space of segregation and ongoing discrimination than between different religions and spiritual communities. There's no need to name names, but too many groups think that their way is the right way. And it doesn't matter if it's a New Age group or traditional religious group or whoever. The basic feeling and idea is that whatever you have is the right way, and what someone else is doing is wrong. At best, it's an idea that others can do whatever they like so long as they don't bother you.

But spirituality embraces all--and that includes all religious and spiritual groups. To this end, I encourage those of you who are community builders to build and continue building groups that embrace all faiths. Personally, I think it's important to let go of holding on to any one religion as the basis and to do your best to incorporate all. But I do expect that in each region, there will be proclivities towards certain types of spiritual practices. So perhaps, one group will have practices including Islam, Buddhism, and yogic practices. Another may be a mix of Judeo-Christianity and psychic energy work. It doesn't particularly matter to me what it is. What is important is creating greater space for diversity, inclusion, and mutual understanding.

You Have to Understand Your Way Through This
Right now, a lot of people don't want to understand other spiritual practices. And it's not important that you believe exactly what someone else believes. I don't think anyone ever really does because we are all unique to ourselves and our understandings. But it is important to learn how to loving accept people with different views within your community as opposed to giving them the cold shoulder and wondering why they are coming here and why they won't think and behave like everyone else. It's been really frosty in a lot of communities if you don't tow the religious/spiritual line. That must change so that we can embrace the whole of spiritual beliefs and embrace all of human community.

Not Creating a Jim Tolles Fan Club
Just to be exquisitely clear, I'm not interested in setting up Jim Tolles Spiritual Groups. That's not what this post is about. This is about learning how to set up spiritual groups that can accept and integrate multiple faiths into their setting. Every place and every group, as I mentioned above, will have tendencies towards different practices and belief systems. As a community builder, you'll have a lot of influence over what spiritual talks, works, and practices you share. But you will have to listen to your community to find out what works for the majority while at the same time making space for the minority to stay involved and not get lost underneath popular sentiment. If for any reason you care to share my blogs at these things, that's cool. But seriously, I'm not interested in having a whole bunch of people devoted to me. I'm interested in how you learn to be authentically devoted to yourselves.

Step 1: What Would You Like to Do?
At the center of this will be you, so you probably should find some inspiring works or practices that you'd like to share on a regular basis. Maybe you'll share YouTube clips from inspiring teachers like Mooji, and then you have a group discussion afterwards. You could do this weekly, once a month, or any other timeframe you like. That's the great thing about being the spiritual community builder; you can decide these things initially based on what you can give. Perhaps you feel like setting up a weekly meditation. You can do all kinds of meditations--guided or not. You can have walks in nature for those of you who are very in touch with the land and feel your sense of spirituality really rooted there. There are lots of ways to do this, and I encourage you to give it a try even if it seems like no one in your region would be interested. You don't know until you make the space who really wants this nor how many people will show up.

I also really encourage you to break out of the sit and lecture paradigm that has gone on before. People need to be engaged as well as be allowed to explore all the amazing wisdom that's in the many different spiritual traditions.

I'm a Resource
What I really am is a resource for spiritual community builders. I'm an idea man, and occasionally, I may even be persuaded to do a talk (thanks to Skype, I can literally do it wherever you have an Internet connection). But mostly, I'm here to encourage you to do what you are already called to do. Don't wait for someone else to build these communities. The time is now. So many people are waking up, and they really, really, REALLY need a safe, nurturing and understanding place to go. I'm not saying that there aren't those places already (and if you are already a community builder, feel free to contact me to let me know what you are up to). What I'm saying is that we need even more. We need them in every quadrant of the world. They won't necessarily be big. These groups may only have a couple people, or good heavens, they may get really huge really fast. People are starving for safe spiritual places where they don't feel like they're being judged and condemned. Creating these places is a sacred trust, but as I said, if this is your calling, you will know how to do this and be able to find all the resources when you need them, including me.

Building Spiritual Community for the Next Wave of Spiritual Awakening
I know a lot of people have been talking about spiritual awakening in recent years, but I'm telling you that my sense is that this is just the tip of the iceberg--the very edge of a greater wave. More waking up is coming, and a lot of people with even less idea about what to do or what spirituality is are going to be hurled out of bed. They're going to need you. They're going to need what you can offer. They need all of us. So if this is your calling and this blog post really resonates with you, it's time to get started.

I've already set up a spiritual community page on this blog to collect my suggestions and resources for you, and if you want to talk with me directly, please do so through my contact form and put "Spiritual Community" in the title. Together, we can help dissolve the unnecessary spiritual segregation that has gone on and help build the sacred spaces of tomorrow.

Today's lovely photo comes from my student, Jenn.

Monday, June 25, 2012

What Is Transcendence?

The concept of transcendence is another widely misunderstood concept. As I always encourage you to do, reviewing and changing your definitions can be one of the most spiritually liberating things you can do in the realm of the mind. If your definitions are too small or skewed by your ego desires, fears, and so forth, then there's no space in your mind to appreciate the truth. Hence, I've got more than a couple of blogs offering my definitions to hopefully inspire you to re-create your own. Here are a couple before I dive into transcendence:

What Is a Spiritual Teacher?

What Is God?

What Is Intuition?

Becoming Better Than Everyone Else?
So, let's start with some of the false ideas and perceptions around transcendence. One idea is that you'll somehow be better than everyone else. This is an idea totally out of ego, which is always in a horse race to be ahead of someone even though it doesn't understand the horse it's riding or what the race is. No. You won't be better than anyone else. You will be just the same as you always were even when you thought you were better, smarter, stronger, richer, prettier, or something else.

Next up: You will never feel pain or face adversity again when you have achieve spiritual transcendence.


God, I wish that one were true, but we're not here to avoid or ignore certain aspects of life. Now, there's no doubt that there's a lot of our own internal mental garbage that we can clean up and be free of, but life will still bring difficulty, sleet, and higher taxes. =) You can't get away from them. You can only chose your reaction to them.

Transcendence: Choosing Your Actions
I think the best way to define transcendence is as a conscious ability to choose how you respond to any situation. Many of you may already think that you are doing this, but I challenge you to really look at yourself and your feelings. Look at any ways where you react to something and then later you have to clean up a mess caused by that instant reaction. When I'm talking about reactions, they primarily are driven by fear, aggression, or some other response that is at heart self-protective. The space of transcendence doesn't think in this way. It doesn't exactly think. It's very intertwined with intuitive knowing that allows you to see a bigger picture, and from this greater awareness, you can choose your actions. From the ego state, you would choose something that you think would get you the best result or would get you away from uncomfortable feelings. From the place of transcendence, you have a sense of what is the right course of action, and this one may bring more discomfort or less. It just depends on the situation.

The Egos Tantrums May Continue or Subside
However, just because you've achieved some level of transcendence within you, it doesn't mean you are ego-free. Personally, I think this is another great myth that has grown up in spiritual circles. People think that they can get rid of their egos. But all an ego is is a set of preferences, a personality, and a point of view cultivated by your upbringing. There is no doubt that the spiritual path will change some of that, but still, you will have those things. And that's perfectly fine and natural once you understand yourself. Understanding yourself is part of awakening and transcendence.

In another way, transcendence is like going to a new floor in the building. Awakening is the elevator. But you still live in a building (the Earth), and you have certain rules to this world that you will have to abide by (living in a body, interacting with other people, and so forth). All these things make an ego a useful tool. But right now, it's set to autoplay, and it's being fed a lot of nonsensical rules (you should make lots of money; you need to be beautiful/handsome by cultural standards, etc.). So it's erratic and out of control. The space of transcendence allows you to see where you are out of alignment with love and kindness. From there, you can re-construct your ego just as you created it, but now you can do so consciously.

And Stuff Will Still Be Difficult
Life won't stop giving you hard times. If you don't have food, you will not feel good. The space of transcendence means you won't turn this into a story about how the world is tormenting you specifically. You won't blame the government, global warming, Republicans, Democrats, Terrorists, or anyone else. You will simply accept the reality of your situation and take steps to address it, i.e. get more food. You are very present-minded in this space, and transcendence is a space of love. In this space, a lot of the big spiritual words like Love, Truth, Beauty, God, and so forth all combine. It is a melting of boundaries, and it leads to feelings of interconnection. But being interconnected won't always feel good. Sometimes, you'll feel connected to some pretty crappy stuff. People who feel very connected to the Earth don't feel good at times because of how much bad stuff has been done to the planet. With this comes the reality that we also need to know how to be smart with our energy and not just plug into the many levels of pathos and pain out there. There is so much pain in the world in general, that you could cry constantly for the rest of your life to grieve  what has been done to so many.

Coming Into Stillness: The Path of Transcendence
As I write this, I realize that transcendence is just a different term for the awakening path. It's just not a term that I use often precisely because of the confusion around it. People think they can avoid or ignore stuff through spirituality, and that's what they consider transcendence to be. More than a few people join monasteries or become single and abstinent to be "transcendent," but they are only running from society and relationships.

And in truth, they are really just trying to run away from themselves. Which is why your greatest teachers will often be the things and places that make you the most uncomfortable. Your relationship with your spouse can be an amazing teaching tool no matter how difficult because your partner undoubtedly will show you all the hot buttons/issues you still have. Ultimately transcendence is about walking through the fire, not away from it. Where there is nothing left that can ignite within you, then the fire won't be a problem anyway more, will it? That, in a nutshell, is transcendence.

The picture for transcendence comes from my student, Jenn.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Reviews of Everyday Spirituality: Cultivating an Awakening

The following are reviews of my ebook, Everyday Spirituality: Cultivating an Awakening. If you've read my ebook and would like to write a review, please feel free to email me through my contact page.

A Profound Reminder for What Awakening Is
The year I became aware of reality was the year my life changed. In 2012, I had realized the changes that had begun taking place not only within the inner body, the physical, but the spiritual plane as well. If I may conclude from my experiences thus far (as they are not yet over) is that… life is beautiful. This spiritual awakening has been one of the most beautiful experiences ever, but it has also been very painful, as the soul has been tremendously over due to release pain that have been stored since long ago. It was the pain and the willingness to forgive that troubled me and had me seeking for guidance. Months after months of researching and typing in the same thing into the Google search box, I had finally found what I had been looking for: The Spiritual Awakening Process (BLOG website) created by Jim Tolles. After reading several of his blogs I came across his E-book "Everyday Spirituality: Cultivating an Awakening."

His book explained everything I had hoped it would. To had finally found helpful information was truly a blessing. This book has been helping me understand why we go through certain situations in life. It has also helped me accept the struggles to be part of this journey. Jim is very straight forward in his work and extremely helpful and quick to provide answers as much as possible. My intentions to turn to "Everyday Spirituality: Cultivating an Awakening" written by our spiritual friend Jim Tolles, was not to replace my belief system but to learn about someone else’s experience as a reminder to the soul of how important it is to remain faithful to oneself and God, and to understand that indeed there is a new way of life; and it all starts within. Thanks to Jim Tolles and his incredible E-book, I have more insight to what the Spiritual Awakening is and its purpose.

-- Yaxara S.

Excellent Guidance for a Spiritual Awakening
I found Jim Tolles’ book "Everyday Spirituality:  Cultivating an Awakening" to be a very pragmatic, balanced approach to a life event that can send you very off balance, indeed. Though dealing with the awakening by focusing on the day-to-day stuff of life might initially seem counter-intuitive in that often we feel we’re most interested in learning quickly about what’s happening behind the scenes in the "big" picture, I think it may be just the thing you need to guide you through this very amazing period.

The book is divided into several main topics: Spirituality Basics, Connect, Heal, and Awaken. It is within this basic framework that Mr. Tolles shares beneficial ways of dealing with these different stages in light of the important parts of "you" that will need to be addressed as you move through awakening. I highly recommend this book along with Mr. Tolles’ blog.

-- Lisa W.

Changing You Forever and for Better
Everyday Spirituality: Cultivating An Awakening by J. Tolles tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Any doubts you've had about yourself, religion, or spirituality will be put to ease after reading this wonderful work. Our society has programmed us to believe in certain things that are down right painful. What a relief to learn that those painful beliefs are lies. How freeing it is to discover how truly powerful we are. I highly recommend this book to you, your children, to your parents, to their parents. Every human being living on this planet would benefit from these powerful words. What you'll learn from these pages can change you forever and for better.

-- Missy S.

A Down-to-Earth Spirituality eBook
I love this book. It's written in a very down-to-Earth, conversational style with a lot of humor mixed in. I appreciate its practicality, addressing so many of the issues that arise during awakening. I have not encountered another book that really deals with the nuts and bolts, down in the trenches realities of awakening. By validating my experience, it's helped me to relax into it.

-- Laura L.

Getting Needed Spirituality Help
"When I saw the ad for your e-book, I knew intuitively it would be good to have. I know I'm in an awakening process, and I know I need a lot of help. I'm not big into ordering online, so I figured I'd have to spend 30 bucks. Maybe it's on sale for $25. But for 4.99...5 dollars? The table of contents is worth that.

Sometimes a topic will come to mind, so I'll look it up. Other times when I feel I want to work on myself, I'll scan the content page till something pops out at me. I've read it through only once, but it's the ability to stay on a course that is numbered that I like. I've read some pages a few times. Very helpful."

-- Bob K.

Wished She'd Had the eBook Years Ago
Your ebook is unique because of the structure of it, and please stick to this kind of structure in any future book you may write. I so wish I had discovered your ebook when I first started my spiritual journey 3- 4 years ago when I had to research all over the world to get all the information on metaphysical processes, tools, levels and spiritual laws.

-- Pallavi K.

A Terrific, Life-Affirming Book!
Jim Tolles' "Everyday Spirituality:Cultivating an Awakening" reaffirms and leads one through the steps to achieve a sense of spirituality in everyday life. It helped me reaffirm many things I had been feeling about life but was unable to express and gave me new tools to understand and deepen my understanding of what this crazy, wonderful thing we call life is really about. I recommend it to anyone and everyone. Let go, read it, and discover yourself!

-- Paula A.

Down to Earth Spirituality Book
Everyday Spirituality: Cultivating an Awakening is a book that explains truthfully the ups and downs that you may encounter with spiritual awakening. It has helped me to understand the different phases I’ve been in, and it helps to know that it’s all normal. Jim Tolles is so generous and gifted in sharing the intuitive teachings that he has received that it feels like he’s talking directly at you when reading it.

This book is so easy to read, is well structured, and is very down to earth. For only $5, this book is more than worth it. Thank you so much Jim!

--Christiane G.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Coming of the Great Master: Part 2

Following the Spiritual Path into the Unknown
Here is the conclusion to the spiritual allegory. If you haven't read part 1, be sure to click on this link to the first part of "The Coming of the Great Master" before reading the rest so that you'll understand the whole story. Enjoy!

After many hours, the Believers find a gathering in the poorest section of the Village. Standing in the middle of the circle is a radiant woman in a beautiful black-trimmed white gown.

"Who is this that you are all staring at? Who is this woman?" the old man in the yellow robe demands.

None of the other villagers reply, nor does the woman turn as she continues to weave patterns with her hands over the head of a villager.

"Come now. What is this all about?" the old woman in the red robe shouts. "We are looking for the great master. Where is he?"

Slowly the woman finishes her work and turns to face them. In shock, they realize that this was the girl in rags who'd once come to their door step.

"Well come on. Answer the question," the man in the orange robe says in exasperation.

But she says nothing. Instead, she looks deeply into his eyes. So deeply that he has to look away, but even in looking away, he feels her penetrating gaze. He feels it cut through his robes until he feels naked and exposed. He begins to plead, "Stop. Oh please stop."

And then she turns her gaze to the others, until at last they can recognize her.

"Great master," the woman in the green robe states near tears. "We did not know."

She turns back to the crowd.

"When I came to your doorstep seeking shelter, you sent me away. When I came to your doorstep seeking food, you sent me away. And when I tried one last time for a little new cloth to keep me warm, you shut the door once more. And now here you are offering me things for which I care not. Tapestries, jewels, fine foods…what are these to me and God's work?"

The luminous radiance of the master expands, extending around the crowd, and the Believers begin to perceive their folly.

"But we built you a great house," the old man in the yellow robe whines.

"Yet you bankrupted your Village and forced your people into shanties. No. I will never live in such a monstrosity."

"But we have filled it with food and sweet meats," the old woman in the purple robe pleads.

"While your people starved and famine came, food rotted in your cellars. There is no sustenance there that could sustain me."

"But dear master, what of the beautiful clothes we have for you to wear?" the woman in the red robe asks.

"As you can see, I have no need of those anymore. Because while you strayed from your faith and got lost in things and demagogues, I was provided for by the very people you are here to serve."

The master turns to Blind Ethel. "This dear one found space for me to live, and because of this, I have given her back her sight so that she may see more ways to house yet more who are in need of it. It is my gift in repayment for her generosity when she had nothing to gain and little to give."

Then the master turns to the Farmer by the Mill. "And this fine man found food in his empty cupboard for me while feeding his wife and six children during these difficult times. So I have blessed his lands, and food has become bountiful once more in his fields and gardens. It is my gift in repayment for his generosity when he had nothing to gain and little to give."

Then the master turns to the Tailor by the River, beckoning him to come to her. Since birth he had been a deformed man, and every task was a great burden. But to everyone's astonishment, he is no longer deformed. His face has aligned properly again, and his club foot is normal.

"And this dear tailor clothed me when I had nothing but rags. To him, I restored his body. It is my gift in repayment for his generosity when he had nothing to gain and little to give. And yet his gratitude is so great that he tailors his clothes not just for me, but for all, and because of his gratitude and offerings, traders have come bringing new wealth back to this dear Village."

The Villagers murmur excitedly, and the Believers cry out, "All hail the great master!"

But she cuts her hand through the air. "No. This is not about me. It is never about me, and that is part of where you got lost. Instead of building a house made of kindness and charity, you built a house of ideals and hardness. In all the ways you rejected your community in this pursuit, you squandered your money and starved your village. You took clothes from their backs and forced them into poverty to build your great temple."

Greatly crestfallen, the Believers turn to walk away.

Seeing their repentance near at hand, the master calls back to them one last time. "But if you truly are to be Believers and to do the work of God and his people, then I give you a task. Tear down that great temple, and give away all the things and possessions there in. Trade your colorful robes for rags, and take down your candles. Keep these last things for you will need their light to guide you in your travels across the lands. Because if you are to walk the path of Spirit once more, I ask you to go see who will take you in, who will feed you, and who will clothe you. When you find those who do, come back to me so that I may offer them a gift from my great house, which has ever sheltered me in all my journeys."

With those words, she touches her hand to her heart, and at last, the Believers understand.

Today's picture of the "spiritual path" comes from my student, Jenn. 

Click here for an interpretation of this spiritual allegory.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Coming of the Great Master: Part 1

Here is my latest spiritual allegory.

In a quiet Village somewhere, there was once told a prophecy of the coming of a great spiritual master. The story was passed on for many generations until one day a gathering of true believers deemed that the coming was near at hand.

"What should we do?" asks a bearded man in a blue robe.

It is a good question, so the believers discuss it for many weeks in great length until an elderly fellow in a yellow robe decries, "For any great master, he should have a great house to live in."

To which the others whole-heartedly agree, and they go about collecting the money and materials to build this monument to house the greatness of the coming teacher. They search high and low for the best materials, the finest woods, the purest metals, and they bankrupt the Village twice in the process. But at last, a beautiful temple stands within the Village confines.

And the Believers congratulate each other on its stained glass, great hallways and rooms, and its massive doors. But on the inside, there are no paintings or mandalas or statues or tapestries.

Very distressed, a woman in a red robe cries out, "How can we have a master in so empty a place? We must fill it up with things worthy of him."

So the Believers seek out the finest craftsmen and most skilled seamstresses to paint, sculpt, sew, and draw many wondrous works. Soon enough, the halls are filled with splendorous paintings and statues and drapes from these great artists and crafts creators. But during this time a great famine has come upon the land. Times are now very difficult. The Believers gather daily to commiserate, saying, "We hope the master comes soon to help guide us through these difficulties."

But even amidst these difficulties, the Believers realize that there is nothing to nourish the master and no clothes for him to wear. An elderly woman in a purple robe wails, "Oh how could we be so forgetful? The master must have food to eat, wine to drink, and something to wear."

Quickly, they act to fill the pantry even though they don't know when the master will come. The Believers find many great and sumptuous meats and sweets. They find tailors to sew beautiful, ornate robes like theirs, and the great vineyards send amazing wines to quench the master's thirst. And even as the food spoils and goes uneaten or moths damage the clothes, the Believers make sure that everything is replenished during their long vigil for the great master.

At last, the Believers feel that they are ready when a man in an orange robe and a woman in a green robe both exclaim, "What if he comes at night?"

Momentarily confounded, they worry that the master will get lost in the dark and will not find his way to the great house. So they commission thousands of candles to ensure that light will always illuminate the great temple. So each night, a great light shines out on a land where harvests have dwindled and many homeless now wander. The difficult times become even harder, and the Believers pray even more ardently greatly saddened to have seen their beloved Village fall into such disarray.

Then one day they hear a knock at the door.

Excited and overwhelmed, they rush to the door, lining up in order to greet the master. But when they open it, there is only a poor girl dressed in rags.

"What do you want?" the yellow-robed man demands.

"I am looking for a place to rest," she says. "May I rest here?"

"No. This is the house of the master whom we are waiting for. You will have to look elsewhere."

"And where should I go? I am new to these parts, and it is getting cold and late."

The old man sighs. "Try blind Ethel's half-way house down the lane to the right. She may have a spare cot for one such as you."

"Thank you," the girl replies and leaves.

Meanwhile, the Believers are very discontent. "How can we have such people in our village? What would the master think?" the woman in the red robe asks.

The others shake their heads, but there is little money in the Village to address these things. And their remaining resources are focused on the temple and keeping it ready for the coming of the master.

The next day, they hear another knock at the door just as they've re-stocked the pantry to replace the spoiled food.

Quickly they line up again to greet the master, and the elderly woman in the purple robe opens the door. But once again the Believers are disappointed as it is just the girl in rags who has returned.

"You again? What do you want this time?" the elderly woman asks.

"I wanted to see if you had some bread to share with me. I smelled something delicious and thought you might have extra," the girl replies.

"No, my dear. All the food here is for the master when he comes."

"Well, if you have none to share, who might?"

The Believer wrings her hands in frustration. "Oh. I don't know. These are difficult times for everyone. Try the Farmer who lives by the Mill at the end of the lane. His family is large. They may have more food."

"Thank you." And the girl walks away.

Even more frustrated, the Believers ponder the sorry state of their Village. So much misfortune has descended upon them even as they'd spent so much time and effort preparing for the master.

"Oh this must be our lot to bear," says the man in the orange robe.

They nod in silent agreement and vow to continue to shoulder this burden.

Several days pass and once again, there is a knock at the door. The hearts of all the Believers leap. They dash to the door without lining up and fling it open. But once more, it is the same girl in rags.

"Hello again. As you can see, my clothes are nothing but rags. Do you have anything that I can wear?" she asks.

All at once they proclaim, "No! The clothes here are only for the master."

"Then is there some place where I might go to get some for free as I have no money."

The Believers grumble and pass hard looks back and forth. Seeing that the girl won't take the hint and leave, the woman in the green robe says finally, "Try the Tailor by the River."

And they slam the door shut. They hope that the third time is a charm and that they'd finally be done with her.

Sure enough, she doesn't come back, but over the coming weeks word spreads about amazing healings, bountiful crops, and beautiful clothing. Outsiders begin to come to the land again in search of these things. The marketplace fills up with food, fine garments, and tapestries.

The Believers find their faith renewed.

"Surely, it must be the master come at last," the woman in the green robe says. "Let us gather up our gifts and invite him to this great house."

So they gather up many great and beautiful gifts, collect excellent wines, and fill bags with sumptuous delicacies. They go out and search. 

Discover what the Believers find out in the conclusion in Part 2 on this link.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Chance Encounter With Love

It doubtlessly won't surprise many of you that I've been writing stories since I was a child. Here's my latest spiritual allegory that combines all this spiritual wisdom juju that is flowing through me with the structure of a story. Enjoy!

A Chance Encounter With Love
Love lingers her lips on my brow. A bead of sweat pops out from my skin in anticipation of her next moves. But Love goes no further. Her hands hold my face as her thumbs run along the many lines, creases, and folds of skin. Her green eyes gaze intently into my own.

"What are you seeking, " she asks.

"You," I say.

She smiles in response, but shakes her head. She pulls my head to her breast and whispers into my ear, "You are seeking a fantasy. A mental contrivance. But I will never be that fantasy."

Love pulls away from me to leave, depart, and be whisked away by whatever currents of life and fortune she so chooses. But I am bold this time, and I reach a hand to her wrist just at the beginning of her turn towards her departure. With a slight tap upon her skin, she pauses.

"Please stay, dear Love."

She hesitates. Hesitates because the grasping she'd expected and had planned to evade was not there in my hands this time. She wavers because she's watched many of my tirades, pursuits, and passions from afar, waiting until such a moment as this. She knew the kind of player I'd been, so she'd kept her distance until two weeks ago when we ran into each other at a bar--literally. Her walking out, having delivered something to a friend; me walking in, looking to "make" a friend.

It was not love at first sight though. It took longer. It was just a sudden, unexpected collision that altered something. Like two meteors colliding in space. The trajectory of both has to change. Unless, I suppose, one meteor is super huge or something. Like a super-meteor. And maybe she was a super-meteor and nothing in her course has changed, but I know that mine has.

"If I stay, what does that mean?" Her look slides to the side to evaluate me from the corner of her eyes.

"I don't know, but if you go, I do know what that means," I reply.

Love teeters on a wire, it seems. Strung out in two different directions, her desire to be free is caught by her desire to be held.

"But what of your past?" Love asks. "I can't meet you there."

"Then I will be here in the present for you. The past has nothing left for me." I stand to embrace her, but she retreats.

"And what of the future?"

"What of it? We will build it...together, you and I. And it will grow the fruits that we both plant today."

She smiles and waves a knowing finger at me. "Ah, such sweet sticky words. You've used them before to ensnare others. But will you continue to drive me towards that fantasy of your own fulfillment? Will you make me into that ideal that I can never be?

"Oh, no. I can love you as you are."

"Oh really? And will you stay with me even as I am hard, tempestuous, and cruel?" Her green eyes harden like agates that bore into me.

I falter as that gaze delves deeply into me. I begin to see Love in her fullness. I see a side that had been hidden from me that is full of knives, saws, and heavy hammers, hanging from her belt.

Shocked, I ask, "Would you be so cruel to a lover?" My voice shrinks from her, disappearing into barely a whisper.

She steps forward. This time I give way. "I would be as loving as I am cruel, and yet that momentary cruelty would only be used in service of love."

"Oh! You are a vile temptress." I laugh spitefully. "You are a trick. You are not love at all. You are her shadow here to punish me for my past after all."

"I already told you. I have no interest in your past. It is you that carry it and run to it. Even now, you are running to it, and I cannot meet you there. I am no mindless torturer, but you cannot see this."

She turns abruptly and cracks the door open to slip out of my life.

"Wait!" I catch her at the threshold. "What is this harshness? Why do you bring it?"

She leans back into me and whispers, "I bring only what is needed. Have you not seen what you have brought?"

Love turns me towards a mirror in the corner of the room. She rubs her hands across its dusty surface to remove the haze. For the first time, I see the chains, the armor, and the many wounds upon me. A patchwork of defenses and decay cover my body.

I look to her again and see Love anew. I see a hack saw to cut away the chains to my family and unhealthy relationships. I see a hammer to pound open the armor that is crushing my chest and my body in its grasp. I see a scalpel to cut away dead flesh and re-open wounds to better dress and heal them.

"Oh," I say in recognition. "Oh."

"Yes, my dearest one. You can see me now. And this is just the beginning if you are to become my beloved. Can you submit to this love? Can you let me open you?"

I return to the mirror and feel the weight and pain of the wounds and the metallic nature of my mind crushing me. I feel the heaviness of expectations and past abuses. I gasp, and for the first time, I see the trap I have been in without Love.

"Yes. Yes I can," I say.

And with a single stroke, Love crashes her hammer upon my chest and sets me free.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Spiritual Teaching Hiatus In Progress

Some of you may have seen my note on my contact page, but to let more of you know, I'm taking a hiatus from email replies and creating new connections. I expect to get back into the swing of taking on new spiritual students, holding webinars, and so forth around mid-July. For my current connections and current students, I am still maintaining all those sessions.

For those of you who are interested in connecting with me more, please stay in touch in one or all of the following ways.

1. Sign up for my FREE monthly newsletter on this link.

2. Like Spiritual Awakening Process on Facebook.

3. Sign up for free to receive my blog posts to your email inbox.

  • On the left hand side, there's a place to "Subscribe via Email." Input your email address, and then be sure to check your inbox to click on the confirmation email. If you don't confirm, then you won't start receiving the posts.

I appreciate your patience while I take care of myself within my own process, and of course, I encourage everyone to check out my ebook, "Everyday Spirituality: Cultivating an Awakening." Available to download for a small contribution, it has tips and thoughts on everything from your constant chatter to your sexuality to healing a broken heart. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Believing in Yourself

Finding Our Way to Our Spiritual Roots
Truly believing in yourself may be one of the rarest gifts that people ever offer themselves. It's rare because most of how people believe in themselves is through ego. For instance, you're a computer engineer. You believe in your skillset in this area because of external validation from years of doing it "right." However, you may not actually believe in your skills at all. You may secretly be afraid of making a mistake and finding out that you're not a very good computer engineer after all. What's worse, maybe you didn't even get into this field because you love doing it. You got into it because you were considered "good" at it and because it could make you a lot of money. So in this scenario, despite thinking that you believe in yourself, you actually don't.

And that can be a very humbling realization.

Peeling Away Ego Layers to Get to the Core
This topic is so expansive and so deep that there's no way one blog post can hit at it all. In truth, we live in a society that has taught us not to believe in ourselves despite the many stories and movies that say that we should. Instead, what society has told us is to believe in certain social stories and to believe that we can achieve those stories. How many movies play out the theme that we have to persevere until we conquer the bad guy to become a champion or we have to date enough other partners until we find the perfect one? The framework that's being set is half the problem. Certainly perseverance is important, but it has to be coupled with following your heart. Maybe you don't need to have a life romantic partner. Maybe you don't need to be conquering other dudes or need to be considered a champion of anything. Look at all the stories that pulling the strings on you to start peeling away the layers of ego.

And if you don't even know what's in your heart, you're that much more lost and easily manipulated by social lies. I can't tell you how many people think that following their hearts isn't "practical" because it won't make "money" and other such nonsense. Some of you who have followed your heart and made a living at it know how much of a lie this is, but unfortunately, social conditioning runs deep. Countless people every day don't follow their hearts and instead follow the path that they think will be safe or get them the most social approval, which is at best a very watered version of ego-love.

The Humbling Realization That You Don't Know How to Believe in Yourself
Walking the spiritual path will make you humble one way or another. It does this by continually knocking the pins out from underneath your ego. You can choose to do this as I did, or you can wait until life does it for you. And ultimately, your soul and life are working together to get your attention, and while it won't be a conscious choosing of this kind of sacred destruction, you are involved in any situation involving you. It sounds redundant, doesn't it? But how many people think that life is just "doing bad things" to them? How many people live in the constant victim mode that says, "The world just hates me?" Of course not. You hate you. And it's no more evident than in the fact that you don't follow your heart and are trying (and failing) to achieve what society has told you should achieve. And lucky you are if you are failing because now you can see a problem. If you're unfortunate enough to have mild success by society's rules, you can end up caught up in the game for your whole life. There are another set of you who are so successful that you achieve all the things that you are told to achieve, and then you realize that it's not making you happy. At which point, you may:

a) immediately create new goals to ignore this truth
b) get into substance abuse to overcome this unhappiness
c) have an awakening and turn towards the spiritual path (perhaps similar to scenario a, but it's a start)

Digging Down to the Roots
But if you are ready to figure this out before your deck of cards collapses, then you're moving in the right direction. The spiritual path isn't the easy way out. It's the way through. It's the way through pain to embrace your bliss. It's the way back to your heart. But before you can really start to believe in yourself, you have to find out what love is. Do you know? You can't go to far on the path if you don't know. As I'll talk about in an upcoming blog, spirituality isn't a mental game, and transcendence doesn't mean running away from the dirty, ickyness of life. It means you're going to be right in the middle of it, so you might as well get a shovel to start digging into it.

As you go, you're going to face a lot of assumptions about what love is. You're going to face your assumptions about yourself and your worthiness for love. Because ultimately, people don't believe in themselves for a number of reasons, and one of them is that they don't feel worthy of love. More specifically, people don't feel worthy of their OWN love. Isn't that horrible? The one person whom you'll be around your whole life doesn't think that you're worthy of love. The good news is that you're also the one person who can change that. You're the one and ONLY person who can change that. And that's a liberating thing because no matter what a lover, child, parent, co-worker, spiritual teacher, spiritual friend, or anyone else feels towards you, you can always have your own love.

Rebuilding All Your Definitions
In many ways, you can't go too far without redefining everything. As you look at your assumptions, you're going to find out that they're wrong. You are worthy of love. You are worth believing in. You can follow your heart and be taken care of heart, body, mind, and soul in this lifetime. In every way that a part of you fights these truths, you've found the lies. They'll take on different voices. They may be the voices and faces of other people in your life (most often your parents), but make no mistake about it: the person perpetuating these lies is you. You have to own that. You have to own that you are your own worst tormentor. No matter how horrific something was in your life that has brought about such internal scarring, you are the one carrying on that terrible event and allowing it to inhibit your ability to love yourself and live a life focused on love. These too are big realizations, and if some of these are resonating for you and tears are coming unbidden to your eyes, that's okay. It is all part of the process of being humbled. It is part of healing and clearing.

To use another metaphor, the spiritual path is a major home renovation. Everything is getting torn out, and a new foundation needs to be poured. You're not going to be able to keep anything that isn't real. This leads to letting go of a lot of relationships, which tends to be one of the most difficult parts that many people tell me about. I can confess that it hasn't necessarily been one of my favorite parts, but I always tell people that when someone leaves your life, more space is made for someone else to meet you and potentially in a way that is more healthy for you. Or it may allow the next difficult life lesson to come to you. Both are important as you move towards wholeness and really believing in yourself.

Taking Action and Forging Into the Unknown
The truth of living life is that we never really know what will transpire from the actions we take. Some people are so afraid of the unknown that they cling to whatever seems familiar. But familiar misery is bondage of the worst kind. It's why so much pain has been allowed to fester in hearts and minds of people around the world. People would rather cling to the familiarity because they associate it with safety than to forge out into the unknown. People are afraid of failure and the social disapproval that comes with it, but I ask you, what difference does social approval mean if you totally love yourself? When you are no longer running on empty and when you are full of true love (not the ego-love that believes it's the greatest thing in the world), what difference does the eyedropper of social approval make?


Can you see why it all starts at your heart? From that space of deep love, you can conquer your fears. It most certainly won't be quite in the way that you expect, but it is the gift and opportunity that you have in this lifetime. You can't wait. You have no idea how much longer you'll be alive. Don't take your life and this moment for granted one second longer. Everything is so transitory that the only thing that truly matters is love because in the next moment, you've let go of this corporeal shell.

Techniques for Letting Go of Fear
Before I end this post, I'll offer a few techniques to let go of fear. They shouldn't be anything you haven't heard from me before if you've been reading this blog for awhile. If you are new, I encourage you to check out my spirituality ebook or my starting out section. Either will get you going pretty quickly in how I think and discuss spirituality.
  1. Do what you're afraid of. I'm not letting people off the hook today. If you're reading this, I don't want you sitting around thinking. I want you to take action. Face it. See what the fear tells you and look at it squarely in the eyes. One of my students was talking about having a fear of heights, so she went out skydiving. However, I'm more interested in daily fears that confine you, so starting small is just fine. Ultimately, all of life is built upon small actions and moments anyway.
  2. Drawing strength from like-minded company. It's good to have a few friends along to help face the fear. Unless your fear is around being alone, having a few people to help you face whatever it is can be a great way to get over the hurdle.
  3. Make it stick. After doing what you're afraid of, the next step is to help it stick. Journal out your feelings and your discoveries. Talk to a close friend about these findings. Then look at where else in your life this fear has inhibited you. Make doing those things part of your regular practice of completely overcoming this fear, so you can see its many faces and influences and help it to dissolve from your life completely.
The Long Road of Re-writing Social conditioning
It can be a long road to re-write this social conditioning that has you not believing in yourself and that tries to get you to believe in an ego-self that plays by specific rules. It doesn't have to be long, but I encourage you to have determination and perseverance as you dig more deeply into yourself to find out what your heart truly wants to realize in this world. It's the start of believing in yourself, and it will be totally worth it because you are totally worth it.

Today's lovely, deeply-rooted picture is from my student, Jenn.
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