Friday, November 27, 2015

The World as a Mirror (Continued)

It's like you are my mirror, my mirror staring back at me.
I couldn't get any bigger with anyone else besides me.
And now it's clear as this promise we're making.
Two reflections into one. 'Cause you are my mirror,
my mirror staring back at me. (Justin Timberlake, Mirror)

You hear that often in our community, "my family doesn't get me", or perhaps, "my work environment is not caring enough". I don't want to say that these statements are necessarily wrong, I would just point out that we subconsciously attract the people we are with. We are part of a movie and surround ourselves with figures that are meaningful for our soul development. So if they have a message for us, why not listen? 

Don't get me wrong though, sometimes annoying people encourage us to move on to bigger and better, so there are definitely times to cut our losses and move away from people who steal our energy and peace of mind. However, if we withdraw from people we love we most likely overlook something. And if we end up moving all the time, or simply withdraw to the highest corners of Tibet to be bored in a monastery, we may be running away from the homework we still have to do.

I have written a lot over the years on spirituality, but somewhere along I realized that my most important audience was perhaps me. I write with someone else in mind, but always, at the end of the day, realize that the wisdom helps me the most. Similarly, all frictions and tensions in the so-called real world have a spiritual meaning and can help propel us to our destination. Let's ask ourselves, what does the persistent questioning of my loved one imply for me? Or how can I change personally if there is constant tension at work?

Yes we are waking up, but we are also projecting. Did it ever occur to you that we may have signed up for the beautiful world of spirituality because there is something inside that we haven't quite worked out ourselves; perhaps it is that tension, that refusal to look into the dark corner of our soul that could explain our craving for love and peace of mind. Well, never mind what may have started our Homecoming journey, the important part is that we are here and now to enjoy it. We have come far, but just imaging how potent we get when we take the extended hand of our brother as we realize that he is I. The world is our mirror to lead us Home.  

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Heal Your Mind

It is in your power to make this season holy, for it is in your power to make the time of Christ be now(A Course in Miracles)

People fear Alzheimer's as they get older. As it is so often the case, genetics probably has an important role to play here too, so for some the uphill journey to avoid this disease is harder than for others, but we also have have a choice in this. Healing of your mind is possible, and today is a good day to start.

Have you ever noticed the dull eyes of some dispirited people? Actually you would be surprised, sometimes this includes some seemingly successful people. Their status looks impressive from a distance; they always appear to say the right thing, and they apparently have it all. Yet, when you take a step closer, you see that somewhere they lost the sparkle in their eyes. They look tired - exhausted by the war within. They are at risk of checking out, of falling asleep at the steering wheel with their eyes wide open and the foot on the pedal.

When you observe life closely, you can spot a difference between being depressed and having dull eyes. Life can be tough at times, it can wear us down. But each and every time, when the storm has passed, we always come back with a vengeance. It is as if all of life's energies return from zero to a hundred in just a few seconds. Having dull eyes tells a different story altogether: something inside has broken, yet one continues pretending that everything is just fine. This brokenness has nothing to do with life's ups and downs; it is a reflection of being conflicted at a much deeper level. The soul knows that no matter what - up or down - we will never be at peace unless we overcome the internal conflict altogether.

Alzheimer's is essentially a disease with the purpose to forget. A spiritual journey heals this subconscious desire to go to sleep with every step we take along the Way. Conflicts are presented to us, and we are given the chance to choose again. Essentially, that is what the Way does, giving us a chance to heal the past and launching us on a new trajectory for the future. The Way is designed to cut out every conflict of interest until all that is left is a pretty straight-forward "yes" or "no" to life's seemingly confusing questions. 

A spiritual path can't protect us from pain, but it will give us back that zeal to live; that sparkle in our eyes that we lost somewhere. Are you ready to sign up for the Way? You travel light on this spiritual journey. A Tao traveler is someone without an agenda, without expectations, without regrets, and with only one goal in mind, to take yet another step next to Her.

Why do many people lose the Way as the decades go by? Why does their hair turn grey, and their skin eyes lose the shine? It is the apparent conflict that life presents that wear us down, the battle of the ego with life's confusing figures and events. Wrong choices, misguided perceptions of trade-offs; lost passions and and a purpose that simply has gone off-track. Often these missed steps are relegated into the subconscious, because the truth - in the eyes of the ego - is simply too ugly to look at. 

The feeling of having sold out somewhere makes our eyes dull, but we can reverse that process by re-connecting with the Way today. It doesn't matter how old we are, every step of the journey we can turn around. Our choice is always the same, even though the movie plot appears to be changing over time: choose love over everything else and the most important step in the healing process has been taken already. 

Take a look around - a brother you never properly perceived before - is extending his hand, ready to provide you with a fresh start. Take this invite to dance with life and look at everything with new eyes. A journey starts that redefines everything for you; makes it simpler and more straightforward. While you are letting go of a let of all the complicated stuff, it doesn't make you naive in the eyes of the others. To the contrary, your focus is on one matter only, and it happens with the focus of a laser if it has to. Your radiant energy will pull more people in your life than ever before. Simply say "yes" to life and love, and experience how all the clutter in your mind disappears. Heal your mind, here and now! It is the season to give it a try. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Day Existentialism was Born

There was once a philosopher who concluded an essay with the remark ... "we are all one".

The writer gave his note to the publisher and since in those days computers weren't yet invented, the editor gave the pamphlet to the type setter who got it ready for the printing press. Yet somewhere along the process something got messed up, and an "l" got dropped. When the typesetter looked at the last sentence all he saw was ..

"We are al one." 

The type setter naturally thought that there was an error with the spacing, so he changed it to "we are alone"; and that is how Existentialism's first pamphlet ever got printed. How symbolic, when you drop an "l" - for love -  our lovely state of Oneness becomes a lonely place indeed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Day When God Answered

You had the power all along, my dear.
(Glinda, The Good Witch)

Did it ever occur to you what Moses must have gone through when he had led his people out of Egypt, only to find himself trapped between an incoming army and impenetrable waters. He raised his magic wand all right, but nothing happened this time around. It seemed like the magic powers had left him for good; still, he took the hand of his sister and together they jumped into the waters. Behold, the sea parted!

The 19th century Indian mystic Sri Ramakrishna once said, "Who cries for God these days!" Unfortunately we tend to think of God only when catastrophe hits us, when we find ourselves just like Arjun in the Bhagavad Gita on the battlefield of life, in a war that we don't want to fight. To our surprise, God answers then when we ask. Actually, She always does; it is just that otherwise we are too busy running after whatever it is that we think is meaningful to us, so that we neither have the time to ask, nor to listen.

Sri Ramakrishna once put is this way, when little children sit in the garden and play with their toys, Durga Maa will be happily doing something else. It is only when the boy throws down his toys and starts screaming instead, that is when She will run over. 

You are a spiritual traveler and you are taught the Power of the Holy Now in your daily interactions. You have a Conservation with God every step of the Way.  Life throws stuff at you and you react instinctively, "left, right, right, left", but in all this you experience the peace of the Psalm 23 traveler: "The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want!". When the mind becomes still you just feel the connection, and you are dancing with the moment. Fear has no meaning on a spiritual path.  

Along the Way, it is not your agenda that matters, it is Hers. And you have learned over and over that you don't even understand what to root for anymore. She is in charge and you simply enjoy being with Her. Keep walking - you'll get the hang of it all. And if you need some guidance, just ask. Today may well be the day when God finally answers.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Beating Addictive Habits, Once Again

A habit cannot be tossed out of the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time. (Mark Twain)

A new year is approaching and with it, for many of us anyway, come some new or repeated New Year's Resolutions. We quit smoking only to find that we are gaining weight. We curtail our alcohol consumption only to find an emptiness on a lonely Friday night that we never quite experienced that way. We scale back on our shopping trips, cut our credit cards or our coffee consumption only to find that we are really depressed.

Do I need to go on? You probably can fill in the blanks for yourself.  Don't be upset, just accept the challenge; try your best to change your habit if you expect to benefit from it and just see what happens. With every demon we tackle, with every attempt to take a look under the hood, new spiritual insights come our way, and new, healthier habits will be formed. With every honest attempt at self-improvement, we take in fact a step closer to the Self. 

They say once we still our mind, all the cravings will be gone as well. Yet, how exactly do we do that? Sometimes the way to beat the inner restlessness is all about reminding ourselves who we truly are inside. We spend time with nature, do meditation or yoga; we exercise or simply hang out with old friends or our four-legged friends; just maybe the solution is as simple as  working on something that is truly meaningful to us. Whatever pathway it is that gives us this inner peace and silence, we have to find it!

But then there are also the occasions where we take our first meditation class and feel great, only to find that the positive impact is waning after the second or third session. So what is going on here? Often the process of beating an addiction or a bothersome habit is simply about finding out what is still wrong inside. The restlessness and emptiness that we tried to cement over with our pleasure trips reflects in fact an inner imbalance that we first have to discover and resolve. So instead of wishing away our nagging feelings we should welcome them as harbinger of the necessary change. And if that all sounds a little overwhelming, relax, life is preparing you perfectly for the change that is in store for you.

A spiritual path is the process of understand everything that is going on within. Do we live a passionate and purposeful life? Is there something of the past that we still carry around and haven't healed yet? Are we really bold enough in setting our goals?  Addictive patterns are often a subconscious drive to put our mind to sleep because we don't want to face something that scares us. All of us we have to do some painful soul searching along the Way; the whole point of the spiritual journey is to awaken us from our self-imposed sleep. The solution to the problem is actually quite simple: walking the Way encourages us to fall in love with life yet again. It lets us experience the magic of life just as we experienced it as a child, with open eyes and arms wide open. 

So where does this discussion leave us in the end? Well, let's try one more time to beat that habit that always bothered us. After all, isn't that what we do every day along a spiritual path anyway, putting our best foot forward? Everything is interconnected - our thoughts, our feelings, and the events and people that come into our life. Let's drop a first domino when we make a necessary change and let's see how many others fall with it. Life is working hard to catapult us to the next spiritual level but we have to do our part too. This note started out with one of Mark Twain's priceless observations. The gist of his argument is right, but we don't have to drag anything. Make a change today and let life carry you to your desired destination one step at a time.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

On Abundance

It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got. (Sheryl Crow, Soak up the Sun)

Abundance is not really related to how much we own. On the contrary, it is much more about how content we are, and grateful about what we already have.  When we focus on what we don’t have instead, we feel mentally poor already.  

In the same vein, how we feel about ourselves depends on what we focus on. And this focus can be illusionary. When we are greedy, when we look out at the horizon for the gold that apparently glitters on the horizon, we completely lose sight of the wealth that surrounds us. In the extreme, the corporate goal-getter, the womanizer, or the billionaire who keeps on accumulating assets, are in a way simply insane. Always hunting after the next prize while trampling on the wealth that is at their feet.

So you could say that some of the folks who are rich are in fact poor, while some of the poor are in fact rich. Your attention is what truly matters. Take our body as yet another example. We may consider ourselves fat as we zoom into our curves. Others may tell us we attractive; that they love our figure and our beauty, but we zoom instead into the supposedly missing six-pack that we just saw in the photo-shopped magazine this morning. With it we are losing confidence and give credence to the internal nay-sayer. 

How we look at ourselves decides the reality we live in. What kind of life do you want to experience?  You decide!

By Christian and Su Zhen 

Life Artist

Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else. (Leonardo da Vinci)
A German friend of mind once called me a "Lebenskuenstler", which literally translated means "life artist". The other day I asked a British native whether there is an expression that captures the meaning "artist of life", and he replied that only expressions like Bohemian or philosopher come to his mind. 

I was never good at art. I was never neat, and struggled with the technique of painting, yet I too wanted to express concepts with the means at my disposal. But then, I received the final blow sometime in 5th grade when my art teacher remarked that the air plane that I had drawn looked like a penis. Oh well, I moved on to other things and didn't miss art much.

But then some time back I discovered synchronicity. I realized that the Law of Oneness is not an abstract spiritual claim, it is something that you can discover for yourself and see in front of you every step of the Way. You suddenly realize that the dimensions of life we grew up with are just a facade, and that there is something infinitely more beautiful hidden beneath it. You become just like Leonardo da Vinci, someone who sees life with a different set of eyes.

But then, waking up to a new dimension of life isn't always a pleasure cruise either. It is a process of letting go of the old and opening up to something new. A period of back of forth is natural; it will take a while until you have entirely embraced the new Way of experiencing life. In a similar fashion, being an artist sounds so romantic, but if you knew at what personal cost the artist give birth to some of her best creations, you would better understand the struggles a spiritual traveler has to undergo as well. 

The German expression "Lebenskuenstler" describes someone who has made it. Someone who goes with the flow and somehow, no matter what, always lands on her feet. That is the impression of the "life artist" that I would like to leave with you too. Being a spiritual travelers, has its magic and its perks. Don't focus on them though; focus on the next step along the Way instead. That's what a painter does to. You create the masterpiece, admire it, and then move on to the next project. Our journey is about going Home; everything else is just be a beautiful byproduct along the Way.

Why don't we introduce the expression "life artist" to the English dictionary as well. Hope you will join us experiencing life with Leonardo da Vinci's eyes and become one.