Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Do We Have Free Will?

ego conditioning, unconsciousness, sandals, lake tahoe, free will, spiritual awakening
We all want to believe that we have free will. It sure seems like we make choices all the time. But how are we making those choices? How are we unconsciously evaluating what to even consider a choice?

For many of you who have done a lot of inner work, you know how much the unconscious ego inhibits your ability to even see choices. It's like being locked in a jail cell, and you're told you can go anywhere in the jail cell. The more unconscious we are, the more we don't even see the walls and bars. But for those of you who kicked down a wall or two, you really understand how little free will you've actually had. It's been ego programming much like a computer program. If a computer is programmed to only run Microsoft Word documents, then it can't run other programs until it is taught them. It is also taught to run Word in specific ways. It's free will is nil. The programs determine everything, and in many ways, our unconscious ego determines much of how we can live.

Fortunately, we can change many of our programs--our thinking, feeling, and experiential states. So clearly, there has to be some level of choice. Otherwise, we could never change ourselves.

Along with my thoughts, I've got a video from the World Science Festival with several experts talking about free will at the end of this blog post. I hope you enjoy it.

Constrained Free Will

Monday, November 28, 2016

Rising Up to Face Abuses of Power

train, Tahoe City
The realm of power abuse is far and wide these days. It doesn't take long to find something whether on the news, at your work place, at home, or even walking along the street when you see someone swearing at someone else over something inconsequential like who should go first at the stop sign. Truly, people are in a lot of pain if abuses of power can be so prevalent.

But let's take a step back to talk about what abuse of power is as well as where it comes from. In simplest terms, abuse of power is using your influence or strength in a situation to coerce, intimidate, or harm another. War is one of those penultimate abuses of power, but plenty of abuse of power happens in domestic situations all the time. The woman who is stronger in her emotions manipulates her partner's emotions through shaming. A man who is physically stronger beats his partner. An intellectual defeats another person's argument just to make herself feel good about being right. There are many kinds of abuses of power, and none of them are good.

Where does this all come from? I am sure many of you are thinking "the ego," and you are right. More specifically, abuse of power comes from pain within us. Pain gets visited on one person, so they send it along to another. These cycles of power abuse go round and round. But this is a game of telephone that has to stop, and we have to be the ones to stop it. The stakes are getting too high. The ability to harm others in a myriad of ways is getting easier and easier with advances in technology. And so we turn within to find out where we are holding pain and perhaps to find out how we are abusing others or even ourselves with our power.

Going Within to Face Self-abuse

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Online Talk: How to Let Go of Control

control, seed stalk, spiritual path, letting go
Many of us are taught that control is a good thing. So we try to control our bodies, finances, living situations, other people, and more. Of course, it's a tricky thing when we start controlling other people, and there are certainly others trying to control us. Pretty soon, there are a lot of hurt feelings and frustrated people in this growing tug-o-war that control creates.

Additionally, as you grow on the spiritual path, you begin to realize how little control you actually possess. If tomorrow you have nerve damage in a specific part of the body, then you can no longer raise your right arm. It doesn't matter how much your ego thinks you can control your body or that your thoughts can manifest whatever you like, that physical ability is now gone. This is a reality for so many things. We simply do not have control over most of life, and the places where we do influence things, we often use control like a blunt object with which to bludgeon situations and other people. It's best to just let go of control.

When you let go of control, you allow life to open up in front of you and to get out of the tunnel vision mentality of wanting things to proceed a certain way. It allows you to see more options and do the best you can with whatever situation life gives you. It is not a means to a safe and comfortable life; that kind of life is a fiction. Giving up these illusions about what a safe, happy, and comfortable life even looks like will further help you to let go of control. In general, facing your fears is where the nose hits the grindstone, and then you can start to see all the issues control was attempting to mask.

In having the courage to let go of control, life will change. But it was going to change anyway. You never had control over that, but in letting go of control, you have an opportunity to more fully experience life. You also have the opportunity to more mindfully guide life. Surprisingly enough, letting go of control brings us towards a greater power and influence in life than we could have otherwise imaged.

I hope you enjoy the recording.

How to Let Go of Control Recording

Date of Recording:

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


6 PM Pacific Time


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Additional Spiritual Reading

Here's a blog post about control if you need some reading to whet your appetite for this topic. Enjoy!

The Illusion of Control

Monday, November 21, 2016

How to Rebuild Your Life After Awakening

water, hot springs, river, nature
For those of you who have really come through the fires of inner change, this topic might not be a question anymore. You may truly and deeply trust the flow and see how rebuilding a life is nothing more than living in the moment. But then again, maybe you do still have some questions, so I felt like writing about rebuilding after a spiritual awakening for you.

However, far more likely is that some of you who have just awakened and just started burning up in the conscious awareness that you are think that you are ready to rebuild. You are not. If your awakening was yesterday or even three months ago, you probably don't even know yourself. You probably had a moment of awakened understanding and from that moment a certain kind of experience with different feelings and realizations came. But that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. If this is you, come back to this post in four or five years. In the meantime, think about what financial and physical situations you need to take care of yourself while transitioning over the years. I also encourage you to read this blog post:

The Shadow and Dispelling the Darkness Phase

For those of you in the aftermath of three to six years of intense inner change, you probably already have some things growing in your life. Other parts of your life may need active rebuilding. But what does rebuilding even mean in a world so temporary and ephemeral? What difference does it make what you do when everything is equally beautiful to you?

Let me see if I can explain.

Allowing the Awakening Fires to Die Down

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Is There a Multiverse?

jim tolles, multi-dimensions, multiverse, spiritual teacher, spiritual teaching, spiritual awakening
One popular topic for many people on the spiritual path and those who are interested in metaphysical inquiry is the question of whether we live in one universe or many universes. Many people wonder about how many dimensions there actually are as well as what are the essential building blocks of life.

However, I am not going to answer these questions. Generally speaking, my work is focused on helping people be here now in this particular universe. We seem to collectively struggle with harmoniously hanging out together, and so I think we need to master one universe before getting into any other ones that may or may not exist. Additionally, I think this realm of exploration can be an escape for some people to hang out in the fantasies of the mind rather than dealing with the practical realities of their particular here and now.

So, instead of me talking about the multiverse, I felt like sharing this fascinating video from the World Science Festival's YouTube channel. In the following video four cosmologists/astrophysicists talk about different aspects of theories surrounding the multiverse as well as the essential building block of all life (aka string theory). I think this can help ground your understanding in this topic. Plus, multiverse is a phsyics word, and I prefer to allow those in that field to maintain their definition of that term rather than giving it new connotations from my totally non-physics point of view.

With all that said, I hope that you enjoy the following video and that it enriches your understanding of the discussion around the multiverse.

Multiverse: One Universe or Many?

If you haven't seen the World Science Festival's channel before, I highly recommend it. There are videos featuring expert commentary about some enormously important and interesting topics. The videos feature experts in fields such as cosmology, physics, psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, and more. If you want to check it out, click on this link. Enjoy!

World Science Festival YouTube Channel

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

7 Tips for Mindfully Processing the U.S. Presidential Election

mindful action, voting, u.s. presidential election, spiritual politics, awakening change, spiritual awakening
This past U.S. presidential election cycle has been particularly base and disgusting. It seems to have pulled out all the stops in appealing to people's most basic fears and interests. To date, I don't remember any candidate in my lifetime discussing his penis in a debate. That, of course, is hardly the worst of the campaign cycle. With the election of Donald Trump, a good many people in the U.S. and around the world are deeply worried about the direction of this country.

I'm not going to sugarcoat this. There are some deeply concerning views that President-Elect Trump has espoused, and even if we take the most positive view possible--that it was all just campaign bravado to whip up his base of support so that they'd vote for him--there are very real repercussions of xenophobia and bigotry towards different minorities. It creates a permissive atmosphere where some individuals act or even commit hate-crimes against different minorities and groups of people because the President-elect has appeared to support these types of views and actions.

Additionally, there are statements like this regarding how to fight ISIS:

"The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don't kid yourself. When they say they don't care about their lives, you have to take out their families," Trump said.

Here's the CNN story: Donald Trump on terrorists: 'Take out their families'

This is a war crime as stated by the Geneva Conventions.

Geneva Conventions bar Donald Trump's idea of killing terrorists' families, as Rand Paul says

Later on, he seemed to backtrack a little on about doing this, but not much. His support of torture is just as concerning. It's more than concerning. Both positions are inhumane and barbaric.

If I wanted to, I could dig up a lot more troubling statements. Plenty of others already have, however, What I want to help you do is to mindfully process this election. (If you are new to this blog, processing means to work through the emotions, ideas, and physical sensations that get triggered by any event.) I cannot emphasize enough that the path of love is about accepting what is and embracing others instead of succumbing to fear. In succumbing to fear, we become increasingly permissive to all kinds of hate crimes and even war crimes. Or people act out hatefully and punitively against others. Neither will help us as a global community of human beings to create a more peaceful and loving world.

Thus, let us talk about what it means to embrace the path of love after the 2016 presidential election when it appears that others will not do so.

1. Go Within

Monday, November 14, 2016

Burning up in the Fire of Divine Grace

grace, divine grace, flowers, nature
Burning up our unconscious ego self is not appreciated in common everyday society. It's not like we're standing on the corner talking to our friend, Jiff, on the way to work, and we'd say, "Yep. I'm burning up a lot of ego today. Feeling really raw and hollowed out." And Jiff would say, "Oh yeah. I know those days. Be gentle with yourself, dude, and stick with it. You'll be clearer at the end of it."

Nope. Never heard that conversation outside of a few select friends in my life, and certainly, I never heard that conversation between random people on the street.

And yet, this is so utterly natural. There's nothing bad about letting go of our ego selves in anyway. Yes, it can be intense. But intensity will pass. Going into the intensity and breathing with it helps, but it can get really hot inside. You can really feel like you're in the center of God's fire. You are being burned up by divine grace.

Because this process of dropping the ego--this burning--is not well known, the tendency for many is to get out of the fire as soon as they can. It is particularly bad when someone first starts heating up, and it also is bad when a person moves from one type of issue or inner space to another (like moving from head issues to heart issues). That's when the unconscious ego rears itself up and says, "Enough is enough." I've seen this backing off when leaning in is required so many times. But you don't have to do this. Hopefully this spiritual awakening blog post can help you to choose to lean in and burn away all this old pain and find deeper spiritual freedom.

The Start of the Divine Fire

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Recording: The Freedom of a Meaningless Life

tree, Mt Diablo trails, hiking, nature
We spend so much time assigning meaning to things that go on in life. Some of what we assign meaning to is really just a description of phenomena. For instance, you watch a leaf drop from a tree, and you say that means gravity is acting on the leaf to cause it to drop. You may say that is a sign that the leaf is dead. This is a useful way to describe life.

However, there are many other meanings that we create that have nothing to do with actual phenomena or are incorrect assignments. A common wrong assignment of meaning is to say that a black cat crossing your path is going to bring you bad luck. This little bit of superstition is laughable to most of you, but human beings are constantly assigning meaning like this to all kinds of things. People assign meaning to actions of others in regards to if the person likes them or not. They assign meaning to different physical sensations and outcomes in life. Half-truths and lies get mixed in to the point that most of the meaning people create is sheer nonsense, which is why there is so much freedom in a meaningless life.

At the center of this craziness is the ego. The more you let go of your ego, the less you will attempt to make meaning out of life. This kind of mental game becomes less and less interesting to you as you rest in the beauty and purity of the present moment. As the categorizing and evaluating ego dissolves, you lose even the will to create meaning. It doesn't mean you can't think or notice actual phenomena like gravity. But the desire to say that certain actions or events have any specific meaning goes away unless it is useful. There's also less and less impulse to see any of the external world's events as being personal. So much of life is not personal, and in the space of clarity within you, it's so much easier to see that when you aren't projecting your ideas onto things. Thus, the mind becomes more and more uninhibited and free when it is no longer creating all this meaning and tripping you up in your ability to see and interact with life.

Please enjoy the recording of the talk on this subject.

Recording: The Freedom of a Meaningless Life

Monday, November 7, 2016

Be Here Now

present moment, spiritual presence, divine presence, natural presence, spiritual awakening lake tahoe
Be here now.

It's such a simple phrase with simple words. Not one of them is more than one syllable. Collectively, they have fewer syllables than "awakening." Yet for such a simple phrase, it causes such amazing consternation among many people walking the spiritual path. They may say, "What does that mean?" or "How can I do anything if I'm always focused on being present?" or "How can I plan for the future?"

In this way, the unconscious ego can be deeply triggered by this simple little truth, and it will go searching for all sorts of ways to keep your attention and continue to play its games.

The reality of this phrase--because it's not a concept at all--is a doorway into our own natural divine presence and intelligence. There is nothing stupid, ungrounded, or inept about it. We ARE here now. But that is rarely where our minds like to stay. They rather wander off to some imaginary future or past event, and in so doing, they miss the real living and the extraordinary life right before them. If times are difficult, then we need all of our attention here and now to deal with the difficulty. Wishing things would go away or change doesn't help us engage with them mindfully.

On this note, I felt like talking about this simple spiritual truth to help you understand how accessible it is and how much more happiness trusting in this truth can bring to you.

The Ego Mind's Endless Searching

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

An Interview With The Clearing About Awakening, Core Issues, and Addiction Recovery

healing core issues, spiritual awakening, addiction recovery, beach, nature
I recently was interviewed by Caroline McGraw at The Clearing--a non-12 steps recovery program. We covered a number of topics together about core issues, fundamental issues, tenacity, dealing with unconscious people, and so forth. I hope you'll take some time to watch it.

I can't emphasize enough how important it is to get to the core issues involved with addiction. You can think of addiction like this--most addictions are a means to self-medicating a deeper problem. If we are holding pain inside, we don't like that. So people turn to alcohol, video games, sex, drugs, work, and other things to avoid feeling the pain. By turning towards the pain, you can begin to investigate it and get to the core issue, which could be a trauma, the experience of being unwanted by your parents, or something else. Once you heal that core issue, the need for addiction can dissolve.

You can watch the whole video and/or read the transcript on the link below.

Spiritual Awakening: An Interview with Jim Tolles

Additional Helpful Links About Healing Trauma

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