Aug 24 2011

If You Aren’t Running Fast Enough – Stop!

I am like many of you: very busy. We can forget the things that are important to us. Or if we get busy enough, even forget to pursue our spiritual path. This website has suffered from that problem, because I was running.  I have been running so fast that I didn’t notice that as fast as I was going I wasn’t on my spiritual road any more.

So I stopped. I stopped to find my way again. I wasn’t lost. Disoriented is a better term.

This isn’t a new realization, it happens from time to time.

There is a simple solution – stop! I know it is contra intuitive. We feel like we have to run every where, to get as much done in a day as possible. Not just at work but spirituality. I mean isn’t it better to do a full hour and a half ashtanga yoga session than ten minutes of a simple meditation? If you answered like me, the immediate answer was yes.

What had happened to me was I had lost perspective: if I couldn’t do the full yoga session, I didn’t do anything. The little things weren’t good enough. When I realized that was where I was at, I stopped.

I  can’t devote my life to finding spirituality but I still want to explore who I am. I am a spiritual without religion. Because I can’t do all I want  doesn’t mean I shouldn’t stop trying. Nor should you. Moving too fast was my reason. You may have another excuse. Just stopped believing in God, or dumped your religion.  Stop.

Maybe it isn’t that you have too much activity but that your mind is racing, mulling over so many things that you can’t seem to settle on anything. Stop!

This is what I did: something very simple. I started meditating again. Not for two hours, not even for ten minutes. But I started again because it works for me. I don’t even do it every day, but I do it. Because I stopped I could see I had drifted.  I don’t meditate very long but a few minutes down my spiritual path is  progress. I am on my road again. I will continue share my journey with you.

Please join me. If you are going too fast in your life, stop and comment, and say why you haven’t been pursuing your spiritual life, and what you can do to slow down.

There may be good reasons that you found yourself running, share them.

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May 17 2009

Are you Awake?

I don’t mean awake physically. In many ways we are like the Keanu Reeves character in the film The Matrix . We live our lives, often happily, but still unaware that we are missing something. We might even feel that there is something beyond getting a Starbucks double shot latte or arriving late to work. Waking up is the first important step in a journey of transforming spirituality. Unlike the movie we don’t need to take a blue pill or a red pill. But we need to step outside ourselves for a moment. It is extremely difficult. Often we need a catalyst to accomplish this. Catalysts are important because they can move us past the normal and the comfortable to real insight. What can a catalyst be? A death in the family or traumatic event, great anger or joy might propel us past our usual experience of life.

I am not saying that it is impossible to wake up without a catalyst, just harder. The obvious way is to get outside of your normal environment or engage in activity that is not typical for you. But they have to be of the type that can change your perceptions. A couple of examples are a retreat and fasting. The first separates you from your every day experience, so is in a way like a self induced catalyst. Fasting is an important subject to explore at another time, but it too can focus your attention enough to propel you out your “normal.” When I first felt the moments of clarity, of wakefulness, it was always when I was outside my comfortable environment. In these moments you see with clarity what is important to you, what pursuits spiritual or physical you should follow.

In the case of finding yourself awake because of a catalyst, like a death, you can see your life, perhaps your behavior so differently than you ordinarily see it, that you wonder why you never saw life with such perception before. And in moments of wakefulness you have an opportunity. A powerful opportunity that comes with this clarity: transformation. Transformation is more than changing an activity, it is altering who we are. If change is scary for most people, transformation can be terrifying. It often means moving past things that don’t work in your life, but are extremely comfortable. This is why you need to wake up to transform your spirituality. If we keep wandering down a road where everything is comfortable it can be like walking throught a tunnel that is air conditioned in summer: we are comfortable but we see nothing. Being awake often means stepping out of the tunnel, out of  the air condidtioning and seeing the sunshine fall on flowers. It may be hot, but life is much more beautiful this way.

I will return to the topic of wakefulness another time. The important thing to remember is that when you are awake, you need to act. Do not wait until you are back in your regular enviroment to change. If you wake up and discover that some spiritual practice is amazing. Don’t promise yourself you will start a practice at some date in the future. Begin now. And I mean now.

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Apr 14 2009

Love as a Transformative Experience Part 1

The recent Easter holiday reminded me what a revolutionary figure Jesus was. I will skip the theology and Christian doctrine that developed years later and focus on the voice of Jesus. And what Jesus spoke a lot about was a radical concept of Love. It was love on a whole new level.  A couple of thousand years later and  it is still a radical concept, often not practiced by the persons calling themselves Christians.

We are all familiar with our every day love: Love for our family and friends, the love we have for our spouses or children. But Jesus took it a step beyond. He asked us to imagine a world where where our Love transcended our experience. He challenged our understanding of what Love can be. He moved beyond the obvious, the easy, the ordinary. Jesus was a revolutionary. He wanted to overturn the simple and easy with a new concept. This transformative Love included a bunch of people that were not easy to love.  He included the despised, the outsiders, the shunned. He included the enemy.

I will leave aside for the moment, the feasibility of this in the short term. Certainly, he did not publish a self help book showing us in three easy steps how to love the meter maid who just gave you a ticket. Transformational Love is something for us to figure out. It if for the long term. It is a thing to practice. This love does not come natural to us. Loving the unloved seems contrary to logic. But is it?

Like all spiritual concepts Love is one we have to choose. Do we want to fold this into our spiritual practice or skip it until later. Or exclude it altogether. Each of us does this on our own explicitly or implicitly. What we all choose what we want to include. even if it is to include everything that the pastor said or nothing at all in religion are choices to include or exclude spiritual matters. I think that finding spirituality is a process and understanding Love whether radical or not is part of a transforming spirituality.

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Apr 1 2009

What would it be like to be Free?

I think this is the first question we ask ourselves when realize we are trapped. But we are often not bound by physical constraints but mental ones. Often these binds are self imposed. What?

I will use the example in my life that began my real spiritual journey some years ago.

At the time I was a conflicted born again Christian. I was conflicted because my mind was at war with dogma, my heart battled belief.  Despite exploring deeply the depths of the Old and New Testament, I could not reconcile an omnipresent, all powerful loving God with the same figure depicted in church sermons as one who would condemn all unbelievers to an eternity of hell. It was not really the heaven and hell issue I had trouble with at the time (although, these concepts too have passed away), but the concept that God would condemn truly devout persons of other faiths to this fate.

Specifically, I did not believe God would condemn my mother to hell. My mom was a practicing Moslem and a member of a spiritual organization called Subud. And she was, until her passing, the most spiritual person I have ever met. My dilemma was that the Evangelical Christianity I had embraced teaches the idea that an individual must choose to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour to get a taste of Grace. God’s Grace was the thing that let you past the pearly gates. I will not get into the specifics of my internal dialog now, but it was a difficult time. As I think all spiritual crisis’s are. Ultimately, I realized I could not believe in a God that did not want someone like my Mom in heaven.

I left the church, with a heavy heart. But left it I did. And that was the catalyst for finding my own spiritual path. Catalysts are helpful because they offer us real options. These options are simply not available to us, because we have shut them out or ignored them. And as I stood looking forward to an far more uncertain future, without the comfort of a religion to boltster me, I felt free.

This website is part of my current journey to discover what works and what doesn’t.  This website is a work in progress. I am not a guru or spiritual leader. If you learn from me it probably be as much from my mistakes and success.We all have our own path, but we do have to take the steps ourselves to get to the end.

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