Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Shift

Why do we change jobs and why do we change careers? Personal growth is about outgrowing desires. You literally transcend them and move on to the next spiritual level. In the past, status and power may have mattered to you, but after working long and hard - and after being beaten up a few times despite your best efforts - your notion of success may have shifted somewhat. Relationships suddenly matter more; mentoring and seeing the younger generation succeed become more important to you. And then one day you retire from your old career and your perspective entirely changes yet again.

"Been there, done that" is a holy mantra in my opinion. The shift is complete in one dimension of your personality structure and you move on to other personal quests that are still important to you. So from that perspective, no matter what you do, life tends to prepare you for undergoing this "been there, done that" moment. That's  quite an uplifting message actually. So you can stop complaining about the past and how you could have been so much better off had you not done a particular mistake. You did what you did for a subconscious reason; so even your so-called "mistake" was probably perfect for preparing you for the shift that is about to take place.

While most desires tend to drop off as you engage with them because life shows you what truly matters to you, addictions are the exception to this rule. An addiction is a desire that just gets kind of stuck. No matter what you do, no matter how hard you run after whatever it is that gets you high, it actually only strengthens its grip on you. In this case - after many years of wasting your time and undermining your physical or psychological health - the shift simply consists of stepping away from it for the very reason that there is no alternative. Addiction is a demoralizing trip to get to spiritual awakening, but making a decision to stop can be pretty powerful shift too. Many recovering addicts report that they gain a new level of intimacy with God as they leave behind their compulsive nature.

Life is perfect as is - for everyone and at every time. This is probably a hard pill to swallow but it is true as long as your goal in life is spiritual development. One note of caution though: please don't drop your existing relationships and work out of the blue just because it feels right. Listen to your environment and be guided in your decision by the voices of people you care for before you make any drastic changes. When the "been there, done that" moment really comes you will know it and the world will be smiling the day you graduate to your higher calling.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The World as a Mirror (Revised)

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

Our friends love and accept us, they rarely give us advice or remind us of our shortcomings, but when they do, we better listen. Unfortunately it is hard to embrace this philosophy; how much easier would it be to just decide that our friends are just temporarily deluded. Yet, when discover that with every encounter someone in fact holds up a mirror for us, we get a priceless chance to break out of our old patterns.

And if we struggle with the friendly advice of people we care for, how much harder it is to react to our so-called enemies. Yet, people who are angry at us often reflect something about ourselves that we hide inside. Their anger fit in fact gives us a shot at getting it out of our system. The same is true if we are mad at someone; most likely we overlook something about them; a new perspective, an alternative story of who we are and who they are. When we feel anger inside, we should always know that we are violating our  spiritual nature at this moment. Chances are we could choose love by adjusting our perspective just a little. Unfortunately, change is hard to come by. How much easier it is to just be angry instead!

We spiritual folks need to remind ourselves that we are on a demolition course to advance. We aim to break down our artificial self-image, which is an inconvenient and tiresome job. In fact, we never could do it on our own. The ordinary folks down the street will always tell a story of black and white, in and out, friend and foe just because that's the easy way to do. We - faced with identical struggles - have made it a mission to be more flexible that that. We are not saying that this journey is always easy, but we always have Justin Timberlake's promise that we are going to be big with our sister walking next to us.

So let our brother take off the mask we are wearing. Yes, it may feel a little uncomfortable first, but our beautiful face will radiate so much brighter afterwards. Let's be grateful for every interaction today. Every encounter is meaningful independent of whether the feedback is positive or negative. Brother, thank you for holding a mirror up for us!

By Christian and Su Zhen

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Free

Sometimes, when negative experiences show up in our life, we tend to complain or blame others, God, or whoever else for our suffering. We often view ourselves as victims of life and easily identify ourselves with the situation and think that our life is doomed forever. Even positive experiences may trap us. We like these experiences so much that we identify ourselves with them and try to run after them even though life has other plans for us right now.

Please be aware that either thinking can be poison. The mind, our expectations, our judgments or previous disappointments keep us from experiencing what is. Whenever reality is different from our fantasy world, we are annoyed and bothered; yet we are missing out a meaningful experience by being elsewhere.

Whenever we remember who we are; whenever experiences just flow through us without sticking to us, we are again aware of our true identity as pure consciousness. We then open ourselves up to life without fear and eagerly engage with what is. We have trust because we experience the Force we are connected to.

Whenever we are reconnected with Her, we know nothing can contaminate us internally, and nothing can touch us externally. We are suddenly free!

By Christian and and Su Zhen

Monday, August 18, 2014

What Spiritual Type Are You?

The magic works through you. Not beside you. Not around you. Not for you. Through you. Choose your stage, do your dance, stake your claim.
The Universe (tut.com)

I am a spiritual traveler and always thought the journey towards God means that we are on a mission that simply washes away all of our personality traits until all that remains is divine bliss. Today I would call this perspective somewhat naive and a bit misleading. A spiritual journey is a transition to a new personality structure. We all have our different spiritual role to play based on our intrinsic character traits. Some raise other spiritual giants in families; others influence the directions of organizations, politics and countries. Some are teachers, social workers, friends, artists and script writers. We build a network of spiritual connections that shape the evolution of (wo)mankind. And while we all may intuitively understand where the other comes from, we will still be quite different, even as spiritual travelers.

Just like the story of the elephant and the three blind men; I say that I hold onto something flexible as a snake (trunk), whereas you say that you feel something as big as a tree trunk (foot) whereas a third feels a spear (tusk). We define the elephant in the aggregate but only by sticking to our unique spiritual type.

Steven Reiss in "Who Am I?" contrasted some 16 character dimensions that supposedly define us; I shrunk his list down to 12. Have a look and tell me how you fit into this 12-dimensional scale. How have particular attributes changed since you started your spiritual path?

Power: the desire to control or to influence others
Independence: the desire to be self-reliant
Curiosity: the desire for knowledge
Acceptance: the desire to be accepted by others
Order: the desire for organization
Saving: the desire to put something aside for the future
Honor: the feeling of loyalty towards an ideal
Social: the desire to be connected to others
Family: the ties to parents, children, and other relatives
Status: the desire for social standing
Romance: the importance of sex and soul connection
Tranquility: the desire for emotional calmness

When I reflect on my path I feel that my current area of influence has been put in place for me decades ago. It was a Force beyond my consciousness that set me up for this mission. I accept this path, but today I am working hard on crafting my next area of influence; that of a writer and a spiritual coach. Value your heritage and your history but don't feel shy either to lay the foundation for your next area of influence. We already had the Buddha, Christ and Lao-Tzu, we now need you to show up. Find your corner of influence - the Universe exists just for you to express yourself.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

On the Choice For or Against Life

A few years ago I posted a note in a spiritual community about the power of the 28 day rule. It commented on the observation that if you manage to stay away from a compulsive habit over that period your energy changes completely and it will be so much easier to stay away from it afterwards. It turned out that someone got very upset with me because I had used the word addiction, whereas he said that I had no business writing on this subject unless I had lived through this soul-wrenching experience myself.

I backed away then whereas today I wouldn't. I am an expert. I know this feeling of restlessness that makes you run away from what is. I have experienced this feeling of boredom that you want to fill with empty "entertainment", and I have seen this emptiness that you need to drown out at any cost. Along a spiritual path you discover that we are all in the same boat. For some, the choice between the ego and God has become a decision of life and death; yet it is still exactly the same problem statement.

Why do you think institutions like Addicts Anonymous have become so successful? Participants discover the Holy Spirit in the fellowship of (wo)men. They learn to fall in love with life again and experience the Higher Power they appeal to in action, often for the first time in their lives. Addicts have been set up to face this life-threatening or life-giving choice; spiritual travelers undergo it with seemingly less at stake. Yet everyone ultimately has to face the same choice, love or ego; for life or against it; everything in life boils down to this decision.

The beauty is, once this choice has been made plain to you there is actually very little more to do. You don't have to walk anywhere on your spiritual path. Love can be seen wherever you are, and in the presence of this light, the distracting voice inside shuts up. God is here to embrace always even if there is pain that needs to be released inside. Once you have made your first step towards love, the world will rush to your side to help you on your Home-coming journey.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Will to Face the Pain

Never underestimate the pain of a person, because in all honesty, everyone is struggling. Some people are better at hiding it than others.
(Will Smith)

Ask anyone who has an addiction and they will tell you that their "acting-out" in whatever form gives them a temporary release from the emptiness and the pain inside. But alas, when they wake up from their trance the broken China on the floor makes the pain even more unbearable.

Why are self-help groups like the AA so successful? It connects the recovering addict to the fellowship of (wo)men and to the Higher Power that they appeal to. The pain has to be released and digested one way or the other in order to make it to the other side. This is really hard to do. Yet, anyone who has love to hang onto has a shot at making it.

Every spiritual traveler knows what pain is all about. Before the journey started we also experienced pain but it was experienced very differently. Anger is pain projected onto others. Fear is pain projected inwards. And escapes of any form are pain repressed or drowned in "pleasurable" activities. We spiritual travelers know what pain is all about because we decide one day to stop looking away: no more blaming others, no more escaping from what we feel inside and when we feel fear creeping up we just stand there asking, "so, what exactly do you want from me?"

Addicts have no-choice in this. Facing and digesting the inner turmoil becomes  a matter of life and death. Actually, a spiritual traveler who has started on the Way in earnest doesn't really have a choice either, but it may take him a little longer to realize that there is simply no alternative! Once you have started the spring cleaning exercise you simply can't help but finishing the entire job.

There are ways to digest bad energy. It maybe nature walks, a conversation with a precious friend or just alone time in form of meditation, creative writing or yoga. Many recovering addicts report that they find outlets to cry. Let the storm cloud pass and know that the sun will shine a lot brighter the next day than it ever did before. When you develop the will to face the pain, presents will wait for you every step of the Way.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Story of You

You change for two reasons. Either you learn enough that you want to, or you have been hurt enough that you have to.
(Unknown)

I read Steve Chandler's book, "The Story of You: And How to Create One", and I quite liked it. Yes, you are that powerful. Everything about you is your implicit belief system and who says it can't be changed! "Success" is always yours to choose; your so-called failure is just there to help you discover what true success is all about. You choose the story of your life - don't let some subconscious programs tell you what this story is all about.

"The Story of You" is a self-help book, so if you think there are areas in your life that need to be reinvigorated, you might get a tip or two from it and learn how to re-tell 'the story of you'. This learning process is all about dropping a few limitations in the process. It is quite subtle though; while limitations are always self-imposed, living your dream is always a joint creative process with a higher Force.  A Tao traveler would tell you that 'the story of you' is read out to you along the Way. Actually, I was intrigued by the ending of the book; a Tao traveler could have written it:

As a man's real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what he must do.
(Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea)