Love Yourself

Living in the Real World – Part 4 – Loving Yourself

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters
compared to what lies within us.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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True self-love is not egotistical, it’s the natural experience of knowing that we are one with Source.

Spiritual confidence emerges the moment we truly love ourselves. This requires being in the present moment because it’s the only place we truly exist. As Emerson said, “what lies behind us” – memories from the past – and “what lies before us,” – dreams of the future – “are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

What lies within us emerges moment by moment as the reality of our true selves expressing Source energy. Anything else is arrogant pretentiousness, attempting to be something separate from life. When we fully accept ourselves, knowing that who we are is enough and that we are complete for the moment (but only for the moment, which is, fortunately, eternal) then a deep satisfaction soothes our souls. The search is over.

Humans are naturally ambitious. We’re born with the desire to learn, to grow, to create and experience. But because we’ve disconnected ourselves from life with beliefs of separation and abusive behaviors that have produced disastrous results, personally and globally, we now find ourselves in a dangerous predicament where radical corrective action is required. How can we re-focus our ambition, our drive to fully live, in a more positive direction?

First, we must expand our awareness. That’s what’s happening in these moments as you read. And, it’s natural. In fact, this lies at the heart of desire. We have been programmed to want things but we really want depth, the increased experience of a certain kind. What kind of experience, exactly? Love.

There was a popular Country and Western song performed by Johnny Lee called Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places. He sang, “I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places, lookin’ for love in too many faces, searchin’ their eyes, lookin’ for traces of what I’m dreamin’ of.”

The first place to look is in the mirror. Interestingly, that’s exactly what another famous singer did in a moment that changed her life forever. Queen Latifah remembers, “When I was around 18, I looked in the mirror and said, ‘You’re either going to love yourself or hate yourself.’ And I decided to love myself. That changed a lot of things.”

What lies inside us is … Love! But Love is more than romance, more than an emotion, more even than a state of being. Love is a word that describes the nature of life throughout the universe. Love is the way things are. Yes, countless scientists and science fiction writers believe that the universe is dangerous, that there are malevolent forces out to get us. Why do they believe that? Is there absolute proof? The only irrational threat comes from us! As Walt Kelly, author of the Pogo comic strip wisely said, “We have found the enemy and he is us!”

Self-love is natural because it’s how we experience the delighting, blissful nature of consciousness itself. All of us have touched this, during physical lovemaking, listening to a symphony, marveling at a work of sacred art, being in a holy place, sitting with a true master, or alone in our meditation when our thinking totally stops. We know the experience of Love but our habit is to assign the cause to other people and circumstances.

This misconception is what drives the insanity of The American Dream. We pursue happiness, because it’s something to get… or so the dream says. No. The truth of happiness, of fulfillment, of spiritual enlightenment, of Love, is a reality right now. We live in an all-encompassing environment of unconditional love. What we have touched in moments of ecstasy are not rare incidents to spend the rest of our lives hunting for, “lookin’ in their eyes, searchin’ for traces,” but a blessed emergence into conscious experience of what is always available, and increasingly accessible, as we turn away from the glittering distractions and self-doubt that have obscured the truth of Love.

Now is the moment, this is the moment, Love is here. Remember this the next time you look in the mirror and it will help you make the same choice that Queen Latifah did, to love yourself. Then notice what you see when you do look at others. What will you see? The same love in others that you are feeling for yourself. Because, we are all One.

That tired cliché becomes a vibrant reality when you learn to love yourself.


Feet in pool

Living in the Real World – Part 3 – Enlightenment is Real Now

The path to enlightenment is not long, it’s deep.

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As they say, “There’s a seeker born every moment.” But the search is over when we embrace our oneness with God and commit to deepening that experience.

In the last blog we wrote, “Here’s a declaration we might employ: “I am one with all life.” What comes up as you read those words? “Oh, not me, I’m not there yet?” Do you fear that if you accepted those words you would be arrogant and lying to yourself?

Let’s consider the alternative: “I am separate from all life.” Obviously, this is not true because if you were separate from all life, you’d be dead. Your heart is still beating, you’re able to read these words, probably strong enough to walk, you can talk, dream … you’re alive. So, in this state of aliveness, are you one with life or separate from life? What do you believe?

Obviously, as we just proved, believing that you are separate from life is false. In fact, if that belief could manifest fully as fact you would drop dead in that instant. So, can you accept that you are one with life, in fact, but that you are not yet consciously experiencing this, and that the surest sign you are not is your self-doubt?

Repeating our bold declaration, “I am one with all life,” what comes up for you now, a few moments after we began exploring the meaning of this? Probably, something has changed. You may feel slightly more inclined to believe this now. What caused the change? Inquiry. Asking questions. Exploring. But we did this from a place of acceptance, not asking to find an answer to give us something we didn’t already have but using questions to explore something we tentatively accepted could be true.

Letting bird free

Now, just imagine what changes when hesitation turns into confidence! Spiritual confidence is a powerful force. It’s what gurus and masters and teachers have. They radiate certainty, based in their acceptance of the fact that they are, right now, one with all life, and that they are using inquiry to deepen their own experience. The true master is never a finished product but a skilled navigator, asking questions to dive deeper and deeper into the reality of the moment.

Imagine being in a train station. Two trains are ready to depart, each on its own track. One is a train called Searching For Truth, the other is called Deepening My Experience of Truth. Which train will you ride? If you realize you’ve been on the wrong train, it’s not as simple as wishing you could be on the other. The train runs on tracks, even if they’re parallel. It’s moving. It would be dangerous to jump. Right?

If you’ve been on a train you know that they always have an emergency cord. This is for… emergencies. Anyone can pull it at any time and the train will stop. Applying this metaphor to our explorations, can you imagine yourself pulling the emergency cord in your life?

What would it take to motivate such an extreme action. Humans are legendary for denial and procrastination. Some people hack and cough for months but only quit smoking after a terminal diagnosis. How many people promise themselves to work out in the gym, stop eating cake, quit the job they hate, yet continue to suffer in their dishonesty with themselves for years?

Why would you switch trains? Why would you choose to accept that you are one with all life in this moment and proceed to deepen that experience, rather than continuing to seek as one who is not here and not whole and not enough? It’s a question that deserves a moment of serious contemplation.

Woman ecstatic

So, pause as you read these words now. Here’s the question again, edited for impact and presented as an actual proposal: “Will you accept that you are one with all life in this moment and dedicate the rest of your life to deepening this experience?”

Why would you say “Yes!” and follow through? Because you are being touched by the love of God right now, freely offered. You are experiencing the inherent lovingness of life, it’s nature, which is your nature, and you know – in this moment – that this feeling will haunt you for the remainder of your life unless you embrace it and choose to deepen it right now.

Enlightenment is real now.


Eyes Closed

Living in the Real World – Part 2 – Four Questions

What remains when the mind becomes still?

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All spiritual traditions have taught that inquiry is the path to enlightenment. Reality, it turns out, is not some kind of known, solid state, but an emerging process of discovery, something fluid and variable.

Our last blog introduced uncertainty about our experienced reality. We wrote: “Is this reality real or is it a figment of my perceiving apparatus, the mechanism of my individual consciousness? If so, is what I perceive to be real actually an illusion? Hmn, maybe I should begin to question a whole range of my personal beliefs. Is this real, is that true, what about this other?”

Author presenter Byron Katie poses four questions:
Question 1: Is it true? …
Question 2: Can you absolutely know it’s true? …
Question 3: How do you react—what happens—when you believe that thought? …
Question 4: Who would you be without the thought?

These four questions can be very useful in our exploration of reality. First, in relationship to something, anything in our lives: is it true? At first glance, it might seem ridiculous to challenge “facts.” For instance, “I just got fired.” Or, “I just got a promotion.” Or, “My wife just left me.” Or, “My fiancée just said ‘Yes!”

These seem to be factual. Are they? In each case, it’s easy to consider the surface appearance of what’s happened and agree that it’s true. But what about under the surface? What’s going on there? This explains why inquiry is so vital, it helps us dive deeper, to discern other, contributing causative factors.

Eyes Closed Man

For instance, if you lost your job, why? You may have underperformed. Maybe the boss had it in for you. Perhaps the company was bought out and you were down sized. In other words, there’s history. Getting fired is a seemingly singular result but it actually has many causes. And saying “I got fired!” may not be absolutely true on it’s own, without taking these many contributing factors into account.

Byron Katie uses inquiry to explore the feeling attached to what’s happening, which we also accept as fact. So, “I got fired” can also mean “I’m a failure,” or, “The boss is a jerk.” What about these “facts?” Are they true? No, because they are generalized judgments that likewise fail to acknowledge background factors.

There’s always more to discover when we commit to the path of inquiry. Her second question is, “Can you absolutely know it’s true?” This is an easy one to answer. No! Can you know that it is absolutely true that you are a failure… or a success? No. Never. Because life moves on. Failure today could turn into success tomorrow. It’s raining now so we might say, “The weather here is terrible,” and then the sun comes out and the weather is great. Which is absolutely true, that the weather is terrible or that the weather is great? Obviously, neither.

Her third question is fascinating: “How do you react—what happens—when you believe that thought?” So, let’s try a different thought: “I am separate from God.” Is this true, can we prove it’s absolutely true, and what happens when we believe this thought? It becomes our reality, not because it’s true but because we’ve chosen to believe it. As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you believe it or not, you’re right.”

Eyes Closed Question

The fourth question takes us back to the beginning of this blog. Her question is, “Who would you be without the thought?” We asked, “What remains when the mind becomes still?”

What remains is you, the reality of you. You are the one, the One, behind those thoughts, hiding in the busyness of daily life and/or the search for truth. Either way, distracted by details or trying to find God, we have deceived ourselves into believing that we must do this or that, go here or there, understand something, change behaviors, etc. before we are truly one with God.

This is the primary illusion we suffer in but it dissolves with a single choice, to accept a new definition of reality and establish this as the foundation for our daily living experience. Here’s a declaration we might employ: “I am one with all life.” Then, using these four questions, we could use inquiry to deepen our present time experience, starting from the place we once hoped to eventually reach. Then we just deepen our experience of this “truth” over time, because we surrender the false belief that reality is an answer and enjoy the process of inquiry, which never ends.

The path to enlightenment is not long, it’s deep.