Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Moment when the "I" was in Awe

The problem is that ego can convert anything to its own use, even spirituality.
(Chogyam Trungpa)

We often feel spiritual, but just as Chogyam Trungpa's quote indicates, sometimes we are and sometimes we aren't. The sense of "I" is often delusional about its true motivations. The notion of spiritual "self-improvement" is popular because it gives us something to focus on, something to improve upon, something to look forward to, and something that makes us feel good about ourselves. Yet, whether this approach brings us any closer to GOD is the question. Either we are connected with the SELF in the holy now or we are not. So what is there to improve upon?

The "I Am That I Am" moment that the Bible refers to when Moses sees the burning bush is that moment when time stand stills. In a weird way the "I" ceases to exists in the holy now. It melts away in the awe of GOD's PRESENCE.

A spiritual path is an holding on to something metaphysical. You can call the FORCE that we are experiencing metaphysical, the Holy Spirit, or synchronicity. It is the burning bush of sorts that Moses saw. Spiritual traveling is experiencing life in an ever-lasting satori moment. When the "I" is too distracted to experience itself, we are HOME. 

So if you want to be with GOD, you either head into the meditation room, or be consumed by life. Wherever you are, the "I Am That I Am" moment is at your disposal.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The ABC of Spirituality

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
(Revelation 22:13)

The Bible states that everything started with a simple word, and the Hindus claim it was the sound of Om. Om stands for Omega in the Greek alphabet. GOD is a hard concept to get our arms around. For the lack of a better word, AllThatIs is the Alpha of the Greek Alphabet. The SOURCE where it all began, where it always was, and where is always will be. 

Few of us have had a personal conversation with GOD, yet many of us have see glimpses of HER and receive many divine signals every day. Everyone, spiritual traveler or not, speaks GOD's language - love. When we spiritual travelers think about our relationship with GOD, we contrast the often spiritually misguided ego with our inborn GOD connection, the SELF. The western ideal of spiritual enlightenment is that we can choose to take conscious steps towards GOD, as long as we are mindful of life's many interferences. It is the notion that the perceived "I" has a choice. It can choose its narrow-minded agenda, or it can choose GOD. The Buddhists, in contrast, would echo what is written in the Bible as well, "Be still and know that I AM GOD". That is, only in perfect stillness can we have a true GOD connection. Every other experience, they would argue, is distorted by the human mind. 

The usage of the word ego is not that old, and it literally translates as "I" from Latin. Sigmund Freud used it in his famous ego, id and super-ego framework. He had a notion of a scientific humanistic enlightenment, crowding out irrationality and external beliefs from our objective perception of ourselves and the world. There was, of course, no room for spirituality in his approach. In contrast, spirituality was considered a distraction in our quest for scientific enlightenment, either deeply buried in our irrational fears and hopes, or externally forced on us by society's spiritual beliefs. The spiritual community then struck back with a vengeance and declared the ego the trouble-maker, the force of restlessness and mis-creation, whose agenda is way too often on a collision course with SPIRIT. 

Yet, today's spiritual approach shares the mindset that prudent spiritual practice can watch out for SPIRIT's agenda, can keep the ego in check so to speak. When you think of our spiritual concept of advancing towards GOD, it really is the notion of a choice. We are born human but we gaze at the stars. We have access to that silent VOICE that is often drowned out by the endless chatter of the ego. If the ego becomes the deluded part of the "I" that temporarily forgets that we are in fact "I AM THAT I AM", then we need to get in touch with our AWARENESS, and CONSCIOUSNESS that reminds us of who we truly are. The Hindus have a nice metaphor of the intellect as a horseman trying to keep three horses in check that want to go in different directions - mind, emotions, and body. 

We DAO traveler would argue that the world we live in is the fourth horse that can keep the others in-line, giving the charioteer the opportunity to sit down and enjoy the ride. We would argue that there is nothing to improve upon. Either we are with GOD here and now, or we are not. There is nothing to do, just look around for HER metaphysical world. The choice in which direction to head is automatic. We just follow HER lead. We might be half blind to spot the WAY, but as long as we at least keep one eye out for GOD's many MESSENGERS, we have, mostly, a happy ride to look forward to. 

The ABC of Spirituality  

SPIRIT                                    Ego

AWARENESS                         Agenda
Bliss                                        Blues
CONSCIOUSNESS                Choice
DAO                                        Distraction

When we follow the SPIRIT's ABC, there is little to do besides being AWARE. We experience bliss along the Way, and when we don't, we know that we need to take another look for HER stretched-out hand somewhere else instead. CONSCIOUSNESS is that GOD-connection, that "I AM THAT I AM" moment that is always at our disposal in the here and now. The DAO is the metaphysical world that GOD provides all the time to show us what is truly important for us.

The ABC of the ego focuses on what we can do to overcome our nature instead. It is the conscious working towards SPIRIT. We reflect our agenda as we go through lifeWe examine the lessons learned when we feel blue. We reflect on our choices and try to eliminate all distractions. We are vigilant towards our ego, and remind ourselves of the SPIRIT's mission instead. 

Many roads lead to Rome as they say. Follow the path that appeals to you, and that appears useful as you face life's challenges. Just remember, either you are with GOD here and now, or you are not. There is only the "I Am That I Am" moment. Everything else is the ego talking.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Everlasting Satori Moment

are no
HOLY books
found in

My favorite author in the SN community, davidWELLENS, recently wrote there are no books in HEAVEN. "Why", I asked, "I could see myself writing down all of GOD's beautiful theorems even though they are kind of obvious in HEAVEN, just for the beauty of it". Yet, his conjecture it is probably true. When you already know everything, what is there to say, and what is there to write about? 

Is the right hand ever thanking the left for being so cooperative? No, it is just an automatic interaction that we don't think about. And thinking about it in hindsight just seems weird. The point of the matter is that thought, as beautiful as it is for some of us intellectuals, is likely a mere distraction from what is. ONENESS is, one needs to evolve as a conscious human to awaken to it.

Has it ever happened to you that you saw something so beautiful and so overpowering that all thoughts simply stopped at that magic moment? The insight was there, as was the mesmerizing feeling of beauty, yet all thinking stopped. That's what HEAVEN is likely all about - an "everlasting satori moment".

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

On Being Down and Out

Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength." (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

My first girl-friend and I were together for some seven years. One day she simply announced that she had fallen in love with someone else. I remember the feeling of rejection to that day. It actually wasn't so much the lost love that I minded so much. No, the worst feeling was the awkwardness of admitting the fact that I had been dumped to my family and friends. It was simply tough for my ego to swallow rejection. But you know what, after a few days the pain had subsided. I mostly kept to myself for a while, got more serious about exercising, and then went out with someone else who made me realize for the first time what a true romance and passionate sex was really all about. So in hindsight, the days when we are down and out are just that, days!

I remember a couple of times too when my career was on the line. It was a feeling of immense insecurity. Every word that someone might have said or not at that time got evaluated. Every gesture and action got examined and replayed backwards in my mind. In those days my productivity slumped because my ego felt attacked, which is exactly what you don't want to happen. But I had no choice, I was paralyzed as a deer that is caught in the headlights. Still, miraculously, I survived, and soon afterwards started thriving instead.

How hard is it to keep going despite a feeling of alienation and job insecurity? Well, it is hard, but what choice do we have? I sometimes think back and wonder how much better my career might have fared had I known then what I do know now. When the going gets tough, the tough get going, just as Arnold Schwarzenegger reminded us.

I consider it a hallmark of a spiritual traveler to just keep going no matter what feelings might bubble to the surface, because deep down inside we know that this scared and emotionally hurt figure is not really us. The other day I stepped into an investor's office and he told me how someone had come and took his art-work away and put it into another's colleague's office, without replacing it with some new piece of art. I could only laugh when I heard this story, and remarked, "well, that's not a good sign". He shrugged his shoulders. You could see in his face that he only has his next investment trade to worry about. That is the attitude of a fighter. Rain or shine, headwind or tailwind, put your best foot forward and let what has to happen happen.

Susan Jeffers once titled her book, "Feel the fear and do it anyway!" Yup, experience the insecurity, but keep going. Do not listen to all the conspiracy stories your brain comes up with. They are mostly not true, and they pull you down. Keep telling your story and then see whether perceived reality is catching up with you.

To go back to the introduction of the beginning, my mother once ran later into the girlfriend who had dumped me. She said to my mother that she would only have stood in my way given that she felt that I was going places. That certainly was a new side of the story I hadn't considered before. Or take my work as another example. I had always presumed that my boss didn't like me very much at the time when I was struggling, yet one day an investor told me that she had fought hard for my promotion, so it must have been others who stood in my way at the time. Again, whether you succeed or fail, whether someone opposes you or mentors you, do your job, try your best and stand up to your fears. Just imagine, if you can deliver when the wind is blowing in your face how you will be running instead when the tailwind is coming back.

It is natural to be depressed when you feel unloved in certain situations. Just be careful with your interpretations of what the root-cause might be. Perhaps the WAY prepares you for something bigger and better. Be mindful of expressing anger. Just tell yourself that you may not know the entire story until the transition is complete. Until this day though, keep your eyes on your goals and the ball. You will be fine!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

On Will-Power

Be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods.

Many of the people I work with have a will-power that seems out of this world. Professional athletes and soldiers have our kind of stamina. It is the ability to hold the line under extreme pressure, or the drive to advance against incredible resistance. Many of my colleagues have done this for a long times, decades even. Surprisingly, many of them still look quite young despite having been in the pressure cooker for so long. Most of the investment folks I work with have a curiosity and a competitive spirit that just keeps them going.  

When it comes to will-power, one investor in particular seems to top them all. I was once on a trip to Tokyo when he had just arrived after a 14 hour flight from Boston. It was already past 7 pm, but with incredible will-power he forced himself to stay up and go out with his colleagues for dinner that night to beat his jet-lag. Looking at him, it seemed like he had matches in his eyes to keep them somehow open.

I have been incredibly determined to get what I want all my life, and perhaps that was the reason why I chose the investment profession. Being among the top professionals in the world has only furthered my drive, determination and will-power. The work-environment I have been facing has in fact been a perfect preparation for awakening to the WAY. Many spiritual travelers see spirituality as a ticket to be happy, peaceful and loving. Well, these are symptoms of being connected to the WAY, but to reach this stage is a full-contact sport. A spiritual journey mandates an ongoing vigilance not to allow the self to take the SELF for a ride. 

Being determined is a necessary condition for making it as a financial strategist, it is not a sufficient one. Being flexible is the other requirement. Just sticking to will-power can lead to stubbornness, and the big learning opportunity both in my profession as well as on my spiritual path is to be flexible as well as determined. Again, my work has been a perfect preparation for the WAY. We are mindful our self when it interferes with the SELF, but we are flexibly adjusting our journey to bring the self and the SELF into harmony.

A spiritual traveler is both, determined about her goals and dreams, but flexible about how to get there. Actually, along the WAY we don't even have to be determined most of the time. We just drift along a route that is as easy to spot as 1-2-3. But on the days when the sky seems cloudy, and the options seem confusing, only the trust that everything is on-track and the determination to carry on can get us through the tunnel. The quote from above sums it up best. Be determined about your goals but be flexible about your methods.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Meeting the Blue Lord and the Christ along the Way

Three spiritual belief systems have shaped my awakening, the Tao Te Ching, the message of the Blue Lord in the Bhagavad Gita, and the gospel of Christ. All three spiritual master pieces capture DIVINITY, yet differ in their approaches. How can they all be right? Is one better than the other? Use them as needed would be my take-away, and discover GOD in all of life's manifestations.

Tao Te Ching - Resting at the Center of the Circle of Life

Therefore the Master acts without doing anything and teaches without saying anything. 
Things arise and She lets them come; things disappear and She lets them go. 
She has but doesn’t possess, acts but doesn’t expect. 
When Her work is done, She forgets it. That is why it lasts forever.
(Tao Te Ching)

The Tao traveler simply awakens to the fact that the world as we perceive it is a veil, driven by subconscious actions and karmic debt. There is in fact reference to that insight in the Bhagavad Gita as well. The Master of the Tao Te Ching rests at the center of the circle of life and lets it spin. It is a beautiful perspective, as it is mostly our birth-right to step out of life's hustle and bustle while enjoying it, leading it, influencing it, and enjoying it at the same time. 

The Message of the Blue Lord - Arjun's Wake-up Call

The whole world becomes a slave to its own activity, Arjuna;
if you want to be truly free, perform all actions as worship.
(Lord Krishna, Bhagavad Gita)

The Bhagavad Gita in fact stresses all three spiritual insights - the world as maya, the duty of the spiritual warrior, and the universal principle of love and service. Yet the story starts on the battlefield called life when Arjun doesn't want to fight a war he is entangled in and Lord Krishna reminds him of his duty to do his job, whether he likes it or not. The Blue Lord tells us to use the sword to root out evil if it is our dharma to do so. GOD has created life's stage to help us to work off our karma and find our SELF. Sitting it out when it is our job to show up only furthers our misery. So if you find yourself like Arjun in the battle field of life with no escape, do your job and then move on.

Universal Love - GOD's Message for Us

I am here to be truly helpful.
I am here to represent HIM WHO sent me.
I do not have to worry about what to say or to do,
because HE WHO sent me will direct me.
(A Course in Miracle)

Why to battle a war of good and evil if we can heal the situation we are in instead? The message of the Christ is that we are the healer of life's wound, that life becomes wholesome once we claim our heritage as a Daughter of God. In fact, I have experienced countless situation when love transcended all tensions and problems. Life responds magically to the spirit of healing. 

I was sitting in the car thinking about this note, and the question whether we can always choose love over the sword. Often I see spiritual travelers being dragged in a battle of good and evil when they could simply side-step it altogether. But just as these thoughts crossed my mind, my older son had an anger fit over seemingly nothing. It was then that I understood that this choice - to be part of the battle of good and evil or to transcend it - is merely a reaction to life's demands. What good is it when you go out and save the world in the name of love while your son gets into bar-fights compensating for your transference of holiness?

We all have karma to live through - stand up to evil you must, leave the endless war of good and evil behind you if it is none of your business, and heal life by representing SHE WHO sent you. Life has been created for us to come HOME. Let life show you the WAY.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Oneness - the Invisible Thread

I watched pornography on a sleepless night a while back. All my energy had been depleted by a trip around the world beforehand, and this period was also a time of wild financial market activities and political changes that wore me down. The "dark night of the soul" episode was my way to express all the destructive energy running through me. But then, I fell sick the next morning. Apparently, I had undermined my own immune system with this attack on my SELF. It was a strange malade, after a few hours of lying in bed and writing a few spiritual essays I was back to my old self. On that day I had a few meetings at work that others jumped in for, so it seemed like my little walk to the dark side didn't have much consequence.

One meeting was more of a catching up with a friend than actual work. I go on regular walks with this colleague once in a while just to catch up on life and things. Due to my sickness that day the meeting got rescheduled for a later week. When the day approached I really looked forward to our walk. It was a beautiful fall day and I hadn't seen my friend in a while. But when I tried to pick him up I saw him talking with a different colleague, so I went back to my office waiting for him. After a while I lost my patience and decided to catch up with a different colleague instead. While I was sitting in his office, the woman who had been talking to my friend "coincidently" saw me and informed me that my friend still wanted to go on our walk. But when I went to pick him him up yet another colleague had marched into his office and took up another 30 minutes of his time. Later that night my friend apologized for missing our walk, and that evening he fell sick himself.

All that is karma, you might say. We missed our first opportunity to meet because of my nightly escapade so it seems only fair that he misses the rescheduled meeting by giving preference to colleagues who needed his input that day. But I have a hunch that there is more to the story. My friend fell sick that night because these ad hoc meetings caused havoc on his already stressed immune system. I have always felt that in some weird spiritual way that we both heal each other by hanging out with each other. I titled this note "Oneness" because it seems as if our fate-lines are linked by some invisible thread. 

My friend has to let go of his power games, whereas I have to step up my self-assertion at work. Together we are in fact whole, while on our own we both need healing. The one advantage we spiritual travelers have, we can see connections between people and events that few others would pick up on. I hope my friends figures out one day that the intrigues and power games are for him what is pornography for me, highly lethal energy fields.

When it comes to my own lesson, I have to take better care of myself. One lesson learned is to cut out these ambitious travel schedules, as I am no longer cut out for them. The other lesson is to cut out the conflicted energy I experience at work. The lure of sexual fantasies is a power game. Work is an excellent opportunity to express authentic power, so I might as well step it up a bit there. Or to put it more colloquially, when you feel something is missing in the bed room, make sure you are performing in the board-room at least.

Be aware how you express yourself, and how life interacts with you. We are all bound by "Oneness".  We are all connected by an invisible thread, and we are all each other's mirror. What lessons has life in store for you?