Sunday, December 01, 2013

Meditation and Manifestation - no secrets, just clarity

In the last 24 hours I have come across two different messages from others "debunking" the idea that we can direct our thought in such a way as to get more of what we want and less of what we don't want, or renouncing the idea that we have any sort of power whatsoever, claiming that we should meditate for no reason at all, just because.  It seems there is something in my stream right now about manifestation, so I am going to write this article to sum up my current thinking on it.

First let me address the concept of meditation, which is really a separate issue that some people incorrectly view as being in opposition to manifestation work. I believe we meditate for a whole host of reasons. We decide to sit to meditate instead of going to see a movie, because we want something meditation is claimed to gain us. Maybe that is enlightenment, maybe lower blood pressure, maybe peaceful emotions, maybe mental clarity, many possible reasons. But we have some reason, or we wouldn't be doing it.

The key is that once we have made the decision to do it and sit to actually do it, we can't continue to focus on the end goal, or no meditation will take place. To truly meditate means to immerse yourself in your current moment experience. So the goal motivates us to sit, but then we have to let all thoughts of the goal drop away. We have to let go into the "is."

Manifestation is something else entirely, and there is room for both meditation and manifestation within a balanced, productive, happy life that is a blessing to all we encounter.

Manifestation relies upon getting into a calm state characterized by a sense of well-being, then focusing on what you want. You trust that by doing so, unseen principles are in fact orchestrating the delivery of what you want unto you. You then rise from the session with confidence, and carry out your living with a joyful attitude, doing whatever is right in front of you needing to be done and not worrying about what you are going to do to get what you want. Then one day the opportunity is put right in front of you that will lead to your getting what you want and you flow with that joyfully, just as you have allowed yourself to joyfully flow with each moment up to that, while you waited for the desired "X" to present itself.

One reason someone might meditate could be to attain this calm state of mind characterized by a sense of well-being, which in Abraham-Hicks's work is called "the vortex." You enter the vortex when you align yourself with energies that are always happy, calm and characterized by a sense of well-being.  There are other things you can do to get there as well, such as playing with your dog or your children, going for a hike in a beautiful part of nature, climbing a mountain, sailing a boat, tending a garden, attentively cooking a nutritious and delicious meal for those you love, and so on.

So there might be other reasons to meditate that have nothing to do with manifestation, or meditation may be used as part of manifestation. Either way, when you sit to meditate, you can't think about what you want to come out of it. You have to just focus on the act of meditation itself, letting that be the only goal until you have completed your meditation. Then you do whatever comes next. Maybe that is reading the sutras, or volunteering in a soup kitchen, or just going to work. Or maybe it is focusing on what you want with the intent of bringing it into your physical reality. There is no wrong answer, because hey, it's your life. Enjoy.

Now some people don't have such an open idea about such personal agency. They have some issues with the idea of people choosing to believe they can create desired realities by thinking about what they want instead of what they don't want. They think that this is the problem with our world, too many selfish people callously focused on themselves with insatiable greed, and unwilling to take seriously the suffering in this world, even blaming the victims of it.

Well if all that were true, I might have a problem with it too. Fortunately none of that is true about manifestation work. Now much of that is true about the things some people do, but those aren't people coming from the loving pull of what a person in the vortex is wanting. That is coming from the driving push of fear and lack that are decidedly out of sync with the vortex.

Let's look at the example of the Tsunami that killed so many people in South Asia. I don't know enough about science to know for sure what caused it, but knowing what little I do, I would chalk that up to global warming. We are seeing wilder swings of natural events because our environment is becoming more extreme. That is partly because of carbon emissions being caused by human behaviors.

This isn't exactly some big secret. People know this is happening. So why are these behaviors continuing, and even accelerating? Do we have a death wish?

There is a lot that goes into it, so for the sake of brevity let's look at just 2 elements of global warming and our continued march toward our own destruction. I think 2 of the biggest contributors are transportation (of both people and products for sale) and manufacturing. So why are people driving these gas guzzling tanks instead of smaller more fuel efficient cars? And why do people want more more more stuff, even once they are already buying/renting storage spaces for all the crap they already have and rarely if ever use?

These are not people in the vortex manifesting more of what they want. These are people out of the vortex who are acting out of their fear of being in a traffic accident while driving a smaller car. These are people out of the vortex acting out of their fear of not having enough, or not being enough. If they did get in sync with their natural state of well-being, they would make different choices, and those choices would be life affirming not only for them, but also for the other beings with whom they share a planet.

In this life, we face both personal karma and collective karma. We have a tremendous amount of influence over what our experience will come to contain. We can choose to consciously accept this influence and use it as we wish, or we can be careless about it and just get knocked about by the winds of what our socially conditioned habitual thinking has been creating.

Think about our popular culture (Breaking Bad, Dexter, The Walking Dead, plus vampires galore -- beautiful eternally young creatures who are always living in mansions preying upon the very life's blood of the living, but looking really sexy while doing it, so all good). Ask yourself if that is the mentality you really want manifesting your life experience. If not, then have the courage to choose what you do want and the discipline to do so on a regular basis.

And this isn't just about you. You too contribute toward our collective karma. If you don't want a world of inequality, then think about the world of equality you do want. What does that look like? What do you see happening at a national, international and local level? How do the political and economic systems work? How does it feel to live in such a world, such a nation, or such a community?

Focus on what you want. If you do this periodically (maybe once a day or once a week) then the rest of the time go about enjoying your life whatever you may be doing at the time, in time you will find yourself having opportunities to take action that will bring us all a bit closer to that world you envisioned.

Maybe the very day your current gardener shows himself to be undependable and you start thinking about getting one who is a better fit for your needs, you'll get a message from a friend who just joined with others to form a gardening co-op that is happy to take care of your garden as if it were their own. (This actually happened to me over the last 36 hours.) So now not only will you have the landscaping service you need, but will also be contributing toward more worker-owned businesses, an important part of an economy built upon equality.

Maybe you'll see a social community post about an IRA that allows you to invest in local farms, or local businesses. Maybe you'll be invited to some event at which you meet someone who is trying to start something very much like what you'd like to see more of in this world if we are to not only survive, but thrive as happy stewards of this beautiful planet.

As Abraham-Hicks has said, "You can't get sick enough to help sick people get well, and you can't get poor enough to help poor people get rich.... You have to succeed yourself into their success. You have to appreciate yourself into their well-being. You have to be in the vortex, or you've got nothing to give anyone. You have to be strong enough that their discomfort with your thriving doesn't throw you out of the vortex."

Enjoy your life. When you see something that clarifies for you what you don't want, let that help point you toward what you do want. Don't just stop at "no" and get stuck focusing there on and on and on. Use it to get to a clearer idea about what your "yes" looks like, then focus there!  Then stop your ruminating and get on with your joyful living. Be radical and audacious in your faith in the basic generosity of life. Celebrate the juiciness of all your moments, whether you are cleaning out the closet or eating the most delicious mashed potatoes and gravy you've ever had.

And please trust your own basic goodness as well. Trust that you are not a selfish little piggy hiding behind a mask of civility. You do in fact care about the well-being of those around you. When you let yourself want what you want with joyful abandon, positive expectation and confidence in your awesomeness, you will find that you want many things that are a great blessing to others.

Let me go out on a limb here and suggest that you want a world in which children smile and laugh and play, with full bellies, no matter where they were born or what family they were born into. You want a world in which children are educated in such a way that they can reach their full potential and grow up to live happy, healthy lives that have a positive effect on the people around them as well. You want a world in which everyone has what they need and waste is just this silly story people tell about how people used to live in the past. You want a world with lots of dancing, and laughter, and healthy food shared by smiling faces with open hands. You want to live.

You want to live. So live.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

How much heaven do you choose?

In various religions you will hear some version of, “Be in the world, but not of it.” I would elaborate a bit to phrase as, “Be fully engaged in the world, but not of it.”

It is easier to go to one extreme or the other, and taking the easy route is definitely a part of human nature. It is easier to either get lost in the dream – thinking it to be real and its contents to be very, very important – or to get lost in rejection of the dream, withdrawing completely into one’s inner world and looking upon the outer world with disdain.

If we weren't meant to be here at all, we wouldn't be. And if we were meant to be here without awareness, awareness would not be possible for us. It is the middle path that is the most honest expression of our potential and purpose. I believe that median balance is at full engagement in the world, not a begrudging indulgence of it when we have to “pay the bills.”

So what do you choose? The answer won’t come through words, but rather by looking at the choices you've been making. Have you been choosing to pursue awareness of a deeper truth simply because it is true, even once realizing that doing so isn't going to get you anything within the dream? No constant bliss? No unwavering peace? No magnetic aura? Certainly no wealth or fame?

Have you been choosing to feel into what lies beneath for at least one moment while driving your car, attending a work meeting, doing your taxes? Does your scope of attention include both what is readily apparent and what is less so? Or do you segregate the two into separate worlds? Are spiritual thoughts out of place behind the wheel, at work, or in any aspect of your life? Again, I ask this not as a question of your personal philosophy, but rather of your personal experience. What have you been doing?

Conversely, have you been choosing to engage in the interactions of this world even when you don’t really have to, whenever you can possibly do so while maintaining spiritual awareness? Have you been choosing at each decision point to make the choice that includes more contact with the physical plane –  the people, animals, and growing things that make up this world? Have you engaged with an open and willing heart? 

Have you allowed yourself to be entertained by the fantasy worlds of novels, animation, dramas, even sitcoms, stand-up comics, and “reality TV,” if it strikes your fancy, and done so unapologetically? Have you maintained an open heart even while hearing of the cruelty humankind has been inflicting upon itself and its world, and even been able to engage in some way in redressing or preventing harm, without losing the viewpoint of infinity and inescapable perfection?

For me it is an ongoing dance on a tightrope. I fall this way and then I fall that way. The only constant is my commitment to walking the line. I want to know the truth because it is true. I don’t want to lose sight of that. And yet, I also enjoy getting fully engaged in the dream, and sometimes I do get lost in it. And sometimes I’m anti-social.

This way and that way, we flounder about. There must be allowance for this in our self-evaluation. With great compassion, again and again, we align to center. And maybe that is all there ever is. What if that is all there ever is – one moment after another in which we have the opportunity to unite heaven within Earth?  How much of that union do you want? Answer with your moments. 

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Do You Love Me?

You give the taxi driver the last of your Singapore dollars, then discover you've missed the last flight of the day. No money for another taxi ride home, you begin calling your one contact in country in the hope that they can pay cab fare at their end and put you up for the night. No one answers. You call again, and again, and no one answers again, and again. Inside you ask, "Do you love me? If you do, why are you punishing me for my generosity?"

You decide to risk the cab ride and hope someone will be at the other end to pay the fare, thoughts of Singapore "justice" emphasizing the significance of the gamble. You chat with the taxi driver as you ride through the city. Arriving at the home, all lights are out and no one is there. Inside you ask again, "Do you love me? If you do, why are you not helping me now?"

The taxi driver is irate and accuses you of stealing from him, threatening to drive you to a police station. You pat him on the back and say you understand, he must do what he must do. He wilts under your touch, and says, "If only you hadn't touched me. Now I cannot take you to the police. I will leave you here and come back tomorrow to pick up the taxi fare that you can get from your friends when they return." You feel the presence there with you, and the love you have awakened in the driver's heart, the generosity you gave him the opportunity to show you. There is love. You get out of the cab and eventually the residents come home, give you a place to stay for the night and $100 Singapore to take care of you until you can get the next flight the following evening.

You absolutely hate the yoga ashram. It is more like a prison camp where they make you do yoga than a vacation destination. There isn't even toilet paper in the bathrooms and the food is more like leftovers from actual food than a meal in itself. You are required to stay at least 3 days when you register. If only you had known. Rats run overhead in the after-dinner coffeehouse. You chat with the other attendees and realize they aren't actually very nice people, not friendly, not kind. Inside a voice asks, "Do you love me? How can this be the spiritual pilgrimage destination I had planned to honor you? Why is this place not sacred and inviting?"

The last morning you wait for your taxi into town so you can move on to another Indian city. A man from Sri Lanka says his car and chauffeur are taking him, and offers to have you ride along with him. You gratefully accept. As you wait for the chauffeur to pack his car with his belongings, you discuss your time at the ashram. You answer him honestly that it is not for you, because you prefer to follow your inner guidance from moment to moment instead of having your every move scripted by someone else. He says that he sees that in you and that you are right. He smiles. He speaks of how happy he is to meet you and how grateful for the opportunity to give you a ride.

In the town, as you make your arrangements for your train ride on, you meet incredibly friendly people, who watch your bags while you get money. More beaming faces when you go to get food. There is love all around you, and it is smiling at you broadly.

You buy a 2nd class ticket on the train because it is less expensive but still an air conditioned car. The conductor insists that since you are a westerner you must buy a 1st class ticket, charges you three times as much and puts you in a different car. You are seated in a booth seat with two other westerners, a man and woman traveling separately from England. They too were forced to buy the more expensive ticket than they wanted, and then sat with you against their will. You make the best of it by befriending one another.

The train trip that is supposed to be 8 hours winds up being 18 hours. Another train broke down, so they stopped your train on the tracks and took the engine to move the other train, then came back for yours! The kitchen runs out of food. Inside you whisper, "Do you love me?"

The train stops at a station with food and the English man you are traveling with, who used to be a British police officer (no guns, just a night stick for protection) gets out to get food for the group. The men fight over the food. He comes back cradling an arm full for the three of you, insisting you eat whether you are hungry or not after all the kicks and punches he had to take to get it for you.

Time and time again, we ask ourselves, "Does life love me? Does this world want me in it? Is this world basically good or fundamentally bad?"  In truth, there is both great tragedy and great beauty in life. There are disappointments galore, challenges, losses, cruelty, rejection, and savage indifference. And there is extraordinary kindness that comes for no apparent reason, if you let it in. Life loves you. If you aren't smiling, you aren't noticing.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spiritual Banking: Are you spending or investing?

What do you value? Love? Freedom? Money? Social acceptance within some community, whether large or small? Beauty?  Truth? Wisdom? Kindness? Compassion?  Intimacy? Power? Youth?

Though thankfully some things come to us through grace, most things of value will not simply be yours for the asking. You will have to work to achieve it, even if that is simply the work of undoing all the mental conditioning that has kept you separate from it, as is the case with enlightenment. 

In general it seems that people have difficulty investing their time and effort in ways that will pay off in the long run. People want immediate satisfaction, so they settle for goals that are easily achieved.

It is a lot easier to want a beer and the instant merriment and relaxation the chemical reaction it causes in your body will create, than it is to want to build a house for a poor family that sleeps on the streets. But which truly pays off the most for you? I would argue the latter does, and so would your higher self. 

If we sometimes spend our time and energy in frivolous ways that only bring us short-term entertainments, there is nothing wrong with that. But if life never amounts to anything other than that, we will find that we eventually run out of energy. The old activities will simply not bring us joy anymore. We will have to become excessive in what was once a harmless dalliance. That excessiveness will lead to compulsion and loss of freedom. And it will lead to energetic bankruptcy, where nothing we do seems to have any real energy behind it and we find it increasingly difficult to truly find joy in anything.

You can think of it as starting life with a piggybank full of spiritual energy. Some things you do spend that energy and some things you do invest it. When you invest, you spend the energy in ways that pay you back with more energy than you spent. Benefiting others is such an investment. There are others too, such as calming one's mind, clarifying the connection to one's spiritual awareness, and exercising the body to foster health and vitality.  The more you expend energy in bringing true benefit to yourself and to those around you, the more you will find your energy restored, with account balances ever increasing.

Don't just let the days run away from you. You won't even remember so much of the entertainments and pleasures that can soak up a great deal of free time.  But there are choices you can make that will enhance your life both now and later.

What is one thing you could do right now that would take time, energy and/or mental or physical effort, and  lead to your having a greater sense of vitality, whether in the short run or long run? How about getting some fresh fruit and making a smoothie? How about calling a friend who has been down lately to offer to make dinner for him/her? Or cleaning the house? Or visiting a volunteering website and finding an organization who's mission resonates with you, then committing the time to get involved in their efforts? Or making a donation to support the work of others if you work too much in your salaried position to be able to possibly do any volunteering? Or how about sitting for meditation for even 10 minutes? Just watch your mind and your emotions, as thoughts and feelings come and go. Notice that which is watching, and call it "me." Train yourself to identify with the peaceful clarity of your innermost self instead of the incessant chatter of your conditioned mind.

As often as you can each day, notice whether you are spending or investing, then consciously decide which you really wish to do, then do it.