Painting

Doing the Best We Can – Part 4 – Do the Best You Can

“All descriptions of reality are limited expressions of the world of emptiness.
Yet we attach to the descriptions and think they are reality.
That is a mistake.”

~ Shunryu Suzuki

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All of us tell stories about the way things are, and then tend to complain about our descriptions, forgetting that we made them up. Instead, we could just enjoy what’s happening, without translation.

Imagine that you are the sky watching clouds go by. Would it make sense to judge one cloud and praise another? They are just clouds going by. Of course, life experiences are more impactful than clouds. Why? Because we make them so. We also convince ourselves that a penny is bigger than the sun but it only seems that way because we are holding it up in a way that blocks out the sun.

Here’s an invitation: Move beyond limited mind descriptions and come to rest. Witness the orchestrating precision of consciousness and let it fill you with the innate joy of being.



When we get caught up in our descriptions and interpretations and translations, this becomes our reality and we live in those descriptions. This means that we rarely experience true reality, just the projections of our interpretations and definitions. But here’s an intriguing question: what remains when the mind ends?

We all know the experience of a busy mind full of stories about everything, but do we know what’s left when that stops? Is it even possible for it to stop? Moving beyond the cacophony of random thoughts that produce fractured experiences has been the eternal quest of mystics throughout the ages. Many have broken through that boundary and issued an invitation: “Yes, you too can move beyond this. What remains when the mind ends is where the truth begins, the oneness of consciousness.”

Those passionately concerned about the state of the world could easily write off this approach as mere spiritual dilettantism. But that would ignore the real purpose of human beings. We are made in the image and likeness of God. We are designed, not just to witness the happenings of consciousness but to participate in creation. In the biblical story of Genesis, humans were instructed to name the animals. In other words, we have an active role to play in the creation, we are made to be more than spectators.

Painting

Here’s a simple prescription for happiness and fulfilment: Do the best you can. Do the best you can and know that everyone else is doing the best they can. All experience is appropriate and everyone is moving through the same process of growth. Our responsibility is to do the best we can and walk this path. Period.

When we actually have this experience, then we contribute in ways impossible to even conceive of in our prior state of limitation. We imagined it would be difficult, impossible even, to make a difference. Now we experience ourselves as difference makers… no matter what we are doing. Our beingness, in alignment with Source, opens a portal for Divine influence.

The mind wants to argue. So, let’s give it a test to prove our point. There’s a goose in a bottle. Your task is to get the goose out of the bottle without killing it. You have thirty seconds, go!




Assuming that you’ve come up with some innovative strategies, here’s the real answer: Problem – The goose is in the bottle. Solution – the goose is out of the bottle.

The problem was imaginary. But you probably made it real, exactly the same way that we make everything “real,” and then you struggled to come up with solutions governed by the laws of the real world. The answer is much simpler. It’s an imaginary goose in an imaginary bottle. That’s not real, it’s just a description. So, we can make another description: The imaginary goose is now out of the imaginary bottle.

The one answer to the many riddles of life really is that simple. We are telling stories about what happens and then struggling with the experiences that result. We can tell different stories. “The goose is in the bottle” becomes “The goose is out of the bottle.”

Painting

Coming to rest in the simplicity of this approach, we feel the reality of life – fundamentally different than any of our descriptions – and we realize that everything we have hoped for is suddenly here.




References:

Flowing Stream

Doing the Best We Can – Part 3 – Let it Be

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.
Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow.
Let reality be reality.
Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

~ Lao Tzu

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Regardless of how successful we may become in personally managing the universe, life always has other plans, which often disrupt our own. What then?

All of us are different. If you are working towards saving the planet, that is a valid experience for you, through which you will grow. Someone else may have a different perspective; they are just watching and laughing at the insanity of it all. No one is right or wrong. We can’t invalidate any experience. Ultimately, all of us are here to grow through experience, by walking exactly where our feet are.

The arena for experience is always here. And we are all, always, fulfilling the primary intention of consciousness which is to ever more fully be itself through the experience of itself. Through it all – no matter what happens – we are fulfilling that intention to grow, to evolve, to be more whole. If we lose the thread of that under the assault of “bad news,” just pause to notice that you are breathing.



Breath is life and life is orchestrating consciousness. You are still alive and you are still here, which means that you are growing and evolving. What’s happening may not match what you expect or want, but instead of resisting, complaining, or resigning yourself to something being “wrong,” just watch what’s going on as a detached observer, by being wakeful in the here and now of true reality. This moment and this attitude is the only way to find hope.

Everything is a happening of consciousness, politically, economically, environmentally, you name it. Everyone is handling life in their own unique ways. What’s important is who you choose to be in relationship to the happenings of life that come your way.

You can be reactive, thinking it’s horrible and that it should be different. But it is the way it is. To say that it shouldn’t be this way just makes you crazy, looking for someone to blame and, if your suffering becomes extreme enough, eventually blaming God. But you are God, in that sense. You are the creator of your experience because of your choices, who you choose to be.

Stormy Night

In the Beatles song, Let it Be, Paul McCartney sang, “And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me.” Yes, the moon is still there, somewhere, reflecting the light of the sun. And the sun will rise on its own, without our help. Life continues, in sorrow and in joy.

Imagine what might happen if we adopted this attitude – let it be – towards every aspect of our lives. Would that create apathy, indifferent heartlessness, compassionless inaction? For those who haven’t accepted this way, yes, that’s the expectation. For those who’ve embraced acceptance, the opposite is true.

Acceptance, the kind of which we’re discussing, connects us to the Divine. Because … that’s what the Divine is doing! Connected this way, we immediately access the wisdom of the Divine, which guides us into right action. After all, we can’t imagine the Divine is lazy! However we conceive of it, whatever intelligent power is sustaining life throughout the billion simultaneous universes, isn’t sleeping on the job. The coordination is impossibly complex and perhaps just wise enough to orchestrate the details of our lives, should we allow it.




John Lennon sang, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” He was saying exactly the same thing that Lao Tzu said, centuries earlier:
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

Calm Night

As the craziness of the human world becomes more obvious and intrusive, we can remind ourselves of this merging of ancient and modern wisdom and remember to “let it be,” no matter what is happening, and to discover what right action is in the moment, because we are connected to the source of all intelligence.




References:

Abraham Lincoln

Doing the Best We Can – Part 2 – Adrenalin or Adoration?

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you
want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

~Abraham Lincoln

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Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing and expecting different results. Confronted by the failure of human manipulation to create a sustainable society, when do we realize that we’ve been misusing our power and actually do something different?

There’s a particular feeling familiar to all of us. We men felt it during our first experiences driving a car when we stepped hard on the gas and accelerated fast. Adrenaline started pumping as the sensation of power flooded through our bodies.

That kind of power can become addictive because the feeling of it is so seductive. “Go for it!” is the battle cry, enacted in films and stories where brave but foolhardy decisions are usually rewarded. Traditionally, our heroes have been those who did go for it, who challenged and beat the odds, who persevered against adversity. And then they ride off into the sunset with no consideration given to the unintended consequences of their actions.



It doesn’t work like that in real life. Unintended consequences have been piling up in terms of environmental degradation, climate change that human activity has accelerated, and senseless murders of school children, just to name a few. Our deeply institutionalized model for wielding power has become a wrecking ball for human society and the planet.

Dr. David Hawkins calls this way of using power “force.” He writes in Power vs Force that, “Power serves others, whereas force is self-serving.” He adds, “The only way to enhance one’s power in the world is by increasing one’s integrity, understanding, and capacity for compassion.” 1

Force, as Hawkins defines it, involves misusing power for personal gain. Conversely, true power is contributive. Force originates with oneself, focusing one’s will to achieve personal agendas; power resides in Source and we, because of our personal connection with source, can express that power as a blessing in the world in any moment we so choose.

Magic Hands

The adrenalin high that accompanies using force to manipulate personal agendas is seductive. But there’s another experience profoundly more enjoyable: adoration for the Divine.

Recall moments when you have touched this phenomenon throughout your life. There are so many examples, here are just a few: Witnessing the birth of your first child, falling in love, asking someone to marry you and hearing “Yes!”, the first time you heard Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto Number Two in C minor, sitting with a spiritual master and having a life changing epiphany, the list is endless.

Question: do we recall such moments and assume they must continue to be rare and spontaneous, wonderful surprises in the midst of boring day to day lives, or could we entertain the possibility of deliberately creating more such experiences? Adoration for the Divine, which is what is really happening in all these instances – at least, this is the essence of it – can be invited. Our choices make a difference.




Examples: “Should I watch a horror movie or meditate? Should I go bowling or listen to that Rachmaninov?”

By the way, Rachmaninov gives us a powerful clue about deepening this experience. He wrote, “I feel like a ghost wandering in a world grown alien. I cannot cast out the old way of writing and I cannot acquire the new. I have made an intense effort to feel the musical manner of today, but it will not come to me.” 2

What remarkable humility. So, there it is, the difference maker. Human egos are arrogant; humans entranced by the Divine are awestruck. This clarifies our choice. Put crudely, how will we get our kicks? What will we rely on for the peak experiences that make the rest of existence bearable? And, recalling Einstein’s comment about insanity, are we willing to change to get different results?

Adoration

The adventure of rapture, expanding our awareness of the Divine, being ever more fully human because we learn and grow … this is the path that beckons us away from a force-mad world.

So, what will it be, adrenalin or adoration?




References:
1. Power vs Force, by David Hawkins
2. Cited from Sergei Bertensson and Jay Leyda Sergei Rachmaninoff: A Lifetime in Music (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002) p. 351.

Man in spiral uinverse

Doing the Best We Can – Part 1 – How to Make our Best Contribution

“Finding the center of strength within ourselves
is in the long run the best contribution we can make to our fellow men.”

~Rollo May

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As global problems escalate and increasing numbers of concerned people wonder what to do, the best contribution is found in being our true selves.

The opening quote from Rollo May raises powerful questions. Why would inner change in individuals make a difference in the world? Is it irresponsible to focus on “being” when “doing” is what gets things done? What does it actually mean to find “the center of strength within ourselves.”

Rollo May had more to say. “One person with indigenous inner strength exercises a great calming effect on panic among people around him. This is what our society needs — not new ideas and inventions; important as these are, and not geniuses and supermen, but persons who can “be”, that is, persons who have a center of strength within themselves.”



We’ll flesh this out further in a moment but let’s first back up for a perspective view of what’s actually happening on earth right now, because there’s considerable debate and confusion about that.

Many people feel dedicated to saving the world. Let’s look at this from the standpoint of truth and illusion. If you are not awake, if you are still mired in illusion, then you will automatically impose the concept of “false doership” on everything, including yourself. You will believe that you can affect something in a positive way, that you can save something. From a truthful perspective, that’s illusion because your separate identity is an illusion. This is what Rollo May is really getting at, that anyone who comes to know the truth of themselves can exert an influence that those who haven’t simply can’t.

Here’s the big picture context for this: Consciousness is orchestrating everything. Here we are in this 21st century, with all the weapons and bombs and poisons and terrorists, everything you can imagine, yet – somehow – we are still here. How is this even possible? Because of something other than limited human beings.

Jesus painting

Jesus spoke of this when he said, “I of myself can do nothing. The Father within, he doeth the work.” Me, you, we … on our own, are relatively powerless. Connected with source, God, Love … whatever we choose to call it, now we have some power.

But it takes surrendering our separatist agendas, even if that includes wanting to save the world. Consciousness is orchestrating this entire show, moving through its cycles, no matter what silly human beings think about it.

From the traditional Vedic and Tantric perspectives this is described as the play of consciousness. In this model, consciousness progresses through four stages, known in Sanskrit as “yugas.” We are currently nearing the end of the fourth and final yuga, the Kali yuga, here in what is called The Day of God.




The “day” refers to billions of years of time that began with The Big Bang. Scientists theorize about that event when, apparently, everything in the universe (or universes if you subscribe to the belief in multiple universes) emerged from a single point in one unimaginably massive explosion.

By the way, there is no scientific consensus that the universe is expanding. In fact, according to theoretical physicist Doug Snell, “planet/suns are results of contraction, galaxies are examples of contraction, clusters are too, so are super clusters and almost all galaxies.” 1

He elaborates, saying: “The universe is contracting at an increasing rate, and the expansion perceived is nothing but an illusion created by acceleration while being inside a spiral.”

Big bang

It’s a fascinating topic to explore and there’s no lack of controversial theories. If we embrace the traditional viewpoint, drawing upon the most ancient source of wisdom that we have, then the universe is contracting and will continue to do so until a moment of total compaction and re-absorbtion. At that point, all manifest form vanishes.

If this is our destiny, then it makes utterly no sense to try and “save the world.” What we call the world, which includes our planet but also our entire experience of reality, is evolving and the ultimate destination towards a transformation quite beyond our ability to conceptualize.

This is why what Rollo May says makes so much sense. If this is what consciousness is orchestrating, and we humans are part and parcel of consciousness, then it’s what we should be doing as well! Coming to center, compacting, concentrating. From that center of strength within ourselves, we can extend a calming influence on all those who are panicking because they don’t understand these cycles and where they are taking us.

This is not a fatalistic viewpoint, it’s simply honoring ancient wisdom so we can effectively play our part in this grand adventure in consciousness.




References:
1. https://www.quora.com/Is-the-universe-expanding-and-contracting-simultaneously