Monday, December 29, 2014

We Are All One: The Law of Interconnection

The spiritual path takes us unequivocally towards several important truths. One of which is that we are all one.

This is not a new saying. I'm sure many of you have heard it before. I'm sure many of you have used this phrase, but to really know this from nose to toes is a whole other thing.

In a spiritual awakening, someone is thrust into this truth and feels the profoundness of it. However, people rarely abide there completely. So there tends to be a lot of bouncing in and out of that state of awareness. In a spiritual awakening glimpse or opening, someone many briefly experience this truth, and then that moment passes. As such the individual in this scenario tends to think of the associated feelings and experiences as the only way to feel oneness. But it isn't. Because oneness embraces all states of awareness, all experiences, and all feelings.

However, the glimpse or the yo-yoing of awakening are powerful. A glimpse can suddenly cause someone to start their journey to understand life and to begin to question things. Of course, the awakening more or less thrusts the individual into a process of deep healing and growth that seem to arise of their own accord. It is a powerful thing to touch this space of oneness and begin to appreciate the truth: that we are all interconnected.

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The Truth and Illusion of Connection

The truth of interconnection is that we've always been connected to one another and to all of the universe. The lie is that we need to do something to get connected again. In all the ways that we feel cut off, that cutting off is caused by us. It is our thoughts, fears, assumptions, karmic pain, unacknoweldged physical pain, and so much more. Pain, itself, is not separate from our life. We are as much interconnected to pain as we are to pleasure. The Divine never comes along and says there is no pain in this world. The Divine never says that if we are feeling pain that we have failed on the spiritual path. The Divine embraces all. That is the nature of oneness. Nothing is left out. No one is going to a separate place called Hell for being bad. No one is placed above anyone else. The ocean of consciousness embraces all of us equally.

That is precisely its power.

That deep encompassing embrace naturally dissolves away our illusions. Again and again, when we try to cling to an illusion (especially in awakening), the pain of that holding on is felt, and the pain of resisting our own interconnection and oneness is felt. Anywhere that we resist what life is, we are doing so from the illusion of the individual. While we have this lovely ability to play in a seemingly "independent" life as a human, we are deeply and ultimately connected to all things. Our choices are much smaller (and bigger) than we understand.

Dropping More Deeply Into Oneness

Most people don't know how to navigate the truth of oneness. As such, some people are overwhelmed by touching the truth. It seems like too much of a fairy tale. The major issues of security and fear of death are illuminated in countless people on the spiritual path. And most people would rather cling to their fears than have faith in the grandness of oneness. To be sure, it's not a certain place. Oneness doesn't bring human certainty. There is no certainty in the realm of duality, because in duality (the world we actively live and believe in where we are all separate beings), there is constant change. Connecting to oneness does not stop that constant change. Instead, it helps us to clarify the currents of duality we are in and how we chose to be in them. It gives us the awareness and perspective to get a sense of where we are going.

For instance, connecting to the profound love and joy of oneness shows us all the love that we have inside of us. The striving for external relationships and events to make us feel good gets illuminated as not only illusory, but counter-productive. If you already feel good, you don't need anything or anyone else to feel good. From this perspective, someone with a sugar addiction can see that they've only been eating the candy, ice cream, sugar-filled coffee, cake, cookies, and so forth to feel good--to feel loved. This person has the opportunity to stop this unhealthy behavior because they have the perspective to see that they've never been cut off from love. That's part of the gift of dropping more deeply into oneness.

If someone drops deep enough into that space, then sometimes that type of change happens over night. They just stop eating those things. However, it is much more common for someone to go back and forth between old unhealthy habits and the truth. Typically if the person is sincere on the spiritual path, it gets harder and harder to backslide (See more on this topic here: The Spiritual Backslide). As awareness comes forth in the body, the body will start to feel less good about eating these things. It may start to feel physically sick, which is how the body often speaks with awareness about food. It was always speaking in this way, by the way. But the body tries to adapt to whatever situation or nourishment we offer to it.

Connecting More Easily to Others

Because we are all connected, I am you, and you are me. That means if I am living from love, there's a general pull to help you live more from love because you are me. If I am living more from unconsciousness and pain, there's a pull to bring you into more unconsciousness and pain. It's why us spiritual teachers talk so much about taking care of oneself to help the world. The unconscious and self-avoiding ego wants to SAVE THE WORLD! This type of individual, however, needs to save him or herself. By dealing with their issues, this person changes the energy and the kind of "spiritual gravity" around them. It kind of is a force of nature (hence why I'm calling this a "law" of interconnection) to drop more deeply into true love. This space of oneness naturally moves us in certain ways, and we move the ocean of consciousness in certain ways. If enough droplets get together, they form a wave. And you don't have to try that hard. You just be you.

But how many of you really know who you are?

It's why I sometimes ask my students the unenviable difficult but oh-so important question: Who are you?

Who Are You Revealed

In oneness, you cannot hide. Connecting to all of life naturally wants to pull you into a certain alignment. It's like being a piece of puzzle finally fitting snuggly where you belong. Sometimes the ego understands. Sometimes it doesn't understand. There are so many cultural lies we believe in on top of our experiences, family karma, and so forth that many people don't understand how perfectly suited they are to where they are. They don't understand how life is moving towards wherever they need to grow. But it does do this when we stop fighting the ocean (Just imagine trying to bail out the ocean to change its tides by using a child's plastic bucket).

In oneness, you accept your talents and faults. All is illuminated. Because much of the unconscious ego likes to hide in the shadows, this tends to be really intense for people. The more a person is aligned with unconsciousness, the more upsetting connecting to the truth can be. They get to see their errors brightly lit in Divine neon lights. For some people, this kind of spiritual awakening leads to intense sickness and pain because that is what is there. And that is what must be detoxed.

All the while, oneness embraces this detox. That's why I like using ice metaphors. The ice may separate itself from the ocean. But it is still fundamentally water. No matter how much you separated yourself from the truth of oneness, your essence is still the same as all of the universe. You can and ultimately will be transformed back into that purest form just as the ice melts back into the water. Along the way, you are fully revealed in who you are and--in the human sense--what really matters to you in this life.

Not a Phrase for Silly Spiritual Slogans

We are all one is not a phrase for making us feel good. More often than not, when people use it in that way, it is to avoid the bad feelings, the sense of separation, and whatever else someone is hiding from. As I said, oneness takes us directly back to the source. This takes us through all of our pain and troubles that have been cutting us off from the Divine. Going through pain is not going around it. We generally have to re-experience it to let it go (although not always). In facing our internal darkness, we are also embracing it. Because much like oneness, we have to embrace all of ourselves. Nothing is left out. When we have left out nothing and no experience or trait within us is resisted, we become truly free.

From that freedom, life as a human being opens up to its fullest. We see the depths of terror, pleasure, delight, and torment here, and we embrace it all as it is. This is a profound space, but the more of us who move from this space, the more naturally the whole of us will move from this space. And if you want to change the world away from terror and torment, then the first and only place to truly change is to go that changeless space of oneness within you.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Return of the Ego

letting go of ego, fall leaves, nature photo, spiritual awakening, spiritual path
I want to start out by re-emphasizing that we'll always have an ego so long as we're in a human body. It is not an inherently bad thing. I define the ego as a lens to process immense amounts of physical, emotional, energetic, and mental information. That lens helps us to decide what is useful and what is not. An itch at the bottom of my foot can be ignored. A sharp stabbing pain means that I should see what I stepped on.

However, there are many unconscious layers of the ego, and that's what we're after. We want to root out all the parts of ourselves that we don't know about. These are social rules, old karma, past life junk, personal beliefs, family patterning, and so much more. At the beginning of someone's spiritual journey, all of this is invisible. Ironically, it's also hidden in plain sight, and as you become more conscious, these seemingly hidden issues become hugely apparent. But this type of sloughing off goes in layers too. So we rub off one layer of old skin only to find another layer of issues underneath it. It can seem endless (it's not). And we do need to be dedicated to uproot all of the issues so that we are aware of them. Otherwise, these dirty old roots will grow up a new unconscious ego, which often acts like it is somehow newer and better. But in truth, it's still playing out the same old hidden issues and agendas.

That Spiritual Ego Thing

Monday, December 15, 2014

Spiritual Power Tools

spiritual power, spiritual tools, spiritual nature, spirituality, spiritual awakening
When I talk about spiritual power tools, I'm really talking about your spiritual power tools. These are the tools that turn the wheel of your growth, healing, and spiritual awareness. You don't need to do much with a spiritual power tool. It's not like a weeklong kundalini yoga intensive. That's a general power tool that many people are using (without much awareness unfortunately) to charge up their energetic systems. It's powerful, no doubt. Even so, some people can still use such a tool and have little to no abiding effect from it. However, were you to discover and use one of your spiritual power tools, the effects on you can be quite profound. You usually don't need to use them very much, and some of you may even still be afraid of them. If you've already found one or two, then you know what I'm talking.

But since most people won't know what I'm talking about, I'll discuss some of the traits of a spiritual power tool and the importance of being mindful when using one.

The Right Mindset

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Spiritual Teacher and Spiritual Student Relationship

spiritual love, spiritual teacher, spiritual protection, nest, birds, spiritual students
The spiritual teacher and spiritual student relationship gets some attention in conversations and spiritual blogs, but I felt like offering my thoughts on this topic. I think it can't be emphasized enough how powerful of a relationship this can be, and like any powerful relationship, a lot of things can get stirred up in both people. So if you are a spiritual teacher, healer, or other spiritual helper, you have as much to do and be mindful of in this relationship as the student.

Many of you helpers already know this, but for those who are beginning or who are thinking about embarking upon this journey, you will get to listen to me talk even more about the importance of your own self-care. When you are working with students, it's a space that's expected to get messy, and it's important that you don't drag your mess into the room. It's better to cancel a session than to go into it if you're really off-balance, but more on this shortly.

As for students, it's like I said; this is a very powerful relationship. In addition to all the other work that you may be doing, this relationship will often be a focus of your self-work. You may be asked to learn how to open your mind more to things you don't like to hear, feelings you don't want to feel, and even physical sensations you don't want to feel (Think about if your teacher is having you do a fast or going on a rigorous hike for self purification). The human instinct to attack/avoid anyone perceived as creating pain or discomfort can often get focused on the teacher, and this is unskillful to say the least.

So these are some opening thoughts about the spiritual teacher-spiritual student relationship, but lest I forget, this can also be the most profound and loving relationship of your life (for both parties). And because of that, we need to be mindful and dedicated to knowing ourselves to truly unlock and appreciate the fullness that is available in this relationship.

Choosing a Spiritual Teacher

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Spiritual Awakening and Holidays

spiritual awakening holidays, spirituality, holiday, spiritual christmas,
Spiritual awakening is a big light bulb that illuminates all of life, and the holidays and their myriad of cultural illusions, beliefs, obligations, and myths get illuminated much like everything else. For many of you, you may suddenly be wondering, "Why am I doing this?"

I'm not writing to say that any holidays are bad, but there certainly is lots of unconsciousness around them. People don't really know why they hand out candy for Halloween in the U.S. or what flying reindeer have to do with the birth of Jesus. But since everyone else seems to go along with it, we do too. Then the light goes on, and we have to look. We can't close our eyes anymore, and it strips away a lot of meaning to these events. We may come to question the whole thing, which is actually quite healthy. Once you've really looked at the thing, you know consciously what you are going along with and what you are supporting. And if you want to reclaim the holiday in a way that is meaningful to you, then you can.

But first, let's start illuminating some of the myths and cultural stories we have around some holidays (at least those holidays here in the heavily Christian-focused, United States--I encourage those of you in other countries and with different religious backgrounds to apply the same rigor to your holidays).

Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly Because Why?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Numbing Yourself to Life and Over-stimulation

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As a whole, Western Society is heading down a very strange path. On the one hand, we have learned how to numb ourselves to pain. We numb ourselves in a variety of ways so that we can't hear thoughts we don't want to hear, feel emotions we don't want to feel, and can't sense physical pain that we don't want to experience. Many people also learn to numb themselves to their psychic awareness so that they don't sense energies, see spirits, and learn things about others and themselves that they don't want to know about. In essence, this is a very powerful set of practices meant to cut ourselves off from ourselves, and that leads us naturally down the path to hatred because rejecting parts of ourselves is the nature of hatred. And when we hate ourselves this much is it really that hard to understand why people do mean, jealous, greedy, and hateful things to each other?

But the story has gotten worse. After all the numbing (and I'll go into some ways that we do this shortly), we get upset that we feel nothing. So now that the pain has been buried, we start trying to feel again. But it doesn't work right. We're numb. So we over-compensate. We seek out drugs, alcohol, and sex to get a variety of feelings through sometimes intense forms of stimulation. We seek out experiences including high-state spiritual experiences to make ourselves feel good. We seek out those mythical soulmate/perfect romantic relationships. We seek the perfect do-gooder type job to help everyone else but ourselves. The list is really quite extensive. But you can see where this goes. You can also see the flaws, can you not?

This kind of over-stimulation doesn't feel like over-stimulation at first. You can only begin to realize it as you unnumb and work through pain, which is what a lot of this spiritual awakening blog is about and which I intend to go into greater depth in this particular spirituality post.

Noticing How You Numb

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