Living in the Flow

The awakened sages call a person wise when all his undertakings are free from anxiety about results; all his selfish desires have been consumed in the fire of knowledge. The wise, ever satisfied, have abandoned all external supports. Their security is unaffected by the results of their action; even while acting, they really do nothing at all [i.e., nothing producing karma]. Free from expectations and from all sense of possession, with mind and body firmly controlled by the Self, they do not incur sin by the performance of physical action.

Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 4.19-21

I have a friend who is constantly in an uproar. She had the most difficult time dealing with change, in spite of the fact that life is nothing but change. She always felt that somehow she was in the wrong place, either physically or in life. She was either angry at life, or angry with herself most of the time. She was convinced that she had landed in the wrong place and was unable to accept her life. One day, a woman, from whom she would never normally have accepted advice, told her that the reason her life seemed so miserable and mine did not was because I was able to flow. That statement hit her like a ton of bricks. I think that, at that moment, she realized that the quality of our lives has nothing to do with life itself, but how we approach it. However my life was going and wherever I happened to be, it was my belief that everything was as it should be. I felt, that if I am here, here is where I am meant to be.

I frustrated her every time that I said it. I have always considered myself to be very lazy and really averse to suffering. So, it always seemed simpler and less painful to accept my life as it is rather than to suffer, by resisting the circumstances that obviously exist. It has always just seemed logical to me to play the cards that I have been dealt rather than wasting time and energy, especially emotional energy, fighting what is, because I don’t like it. That, in my opinion, is like beating an impenetrable wall because it is in my way, rather than just looking for a way around it. My philosophy is to acknowledge its existence, and then seek a way around it, and if one cannot be found, then I accept that there is a good purpose for it being there. I prefer to use my time and energy rather than waste it. I am lazy!

The saddest thing about mankind is that we suffer our greatest pain because we won’t face, and accept the inevitable. We waste so much of our time and energy fighting against the inevitable seasons of life, that we leave little time or energy for living. We spend forty-five percent of our time regretting the past and forty five percent of our lives worrying about the future and only ten percent of our time living in the present. It’s hard to imagine what the quality of our lives would be, if only we realized that now is our life.

Each moment evaporates as soon as we experience it. Each “Now” is at once the past, present, and the future. Life is a series of beginnings and endings, some causing joy and some causing pain. Always, as long as we are on the earth, we can look forward to both joys and sorrows, hellos and goodbyes, successes and failures, rising up and falling down, and births and deaths. This will go on as long as the sun rises and the sun sets. A friend is made a friend is lost, an enemy is defeated while a new enemy is making his way to our door. A nation will rise and that same nation will fall. A race of people will rule, and that same race will serve, all in its season. A race will flourish for a time, and then it will be wiped out. Just as each species will flourish for a time and in time become extinct. And what happens has nothing to do with how wise one is, nor how righteous one is, it has only to do with their season. Here on earth, there is no justice, no fairness, but we will, in the end be judged fairly by God. There is no righteous man who has never sinned and no sinner who has never acted righteously, therefore man cannot judge man.

So, what we can do, while living under the sun, is follow the advice in Ecclesiastes 7:13-14:

13. Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight which he hath made crooked? 14. In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; yea, God hath made the one side by side with the other, to the end that man should not find out anything that shall be after him.

Life is a rainbow of colors, some are our favorites and some we don’t particularly like, but we are here to try them all. God creates all of life for us. However many yesterdays we have had, they have mostly been forgotten. However many tomorrows we will have, they are impossible to know. Yet, what we do have is life. We have its flow, with all of the beginnings and all of the endings-all of the seasons. We do not mourn summer when winter comes, and we do not mourn spring when summer comes. This is because we are certain that they will come again. We do not mourn the sun when it sets because we are certain that it will rise, but the truth is that we cannot be certain that it will rise for us. If we believe in God, then we must know that God has no favorites. There is no life in the universe that is more or less important to God than ours. So, whatever happens in our lives is a gift from the one who loves us unconditionally. We must live with the knowledge that first: everything is good, and second: nothing dies, nothing ends, and nothing is born, except form. Spirit is everlasting. Believing this lessens pain, it lessens the sense of loss because that sense of loss is immediately replaced with the anticipation of what will be born in place of what has outworn its usefulness. Life contains no vacuums. Even a circle only appears to be solid. In fact, under a microscope it would be seen as many tiny connected dots, beginnings and endings. And whether or not we choose to accept what happens in our lives will have absolutely no effect on whether or not it happens. If we hate rain, it will still rain.

Life is meant to be lived, and living is experiencing life. Experiencing life with the firm belief that it is only real in this moment. Love with all of your heart, every moment and every experience that it contains. So often we look back at times in our past, when we were so distracted by the things that upset us that we lost those precious moments with those whom we have loved-moments that we can never recapture. Other times we look back and find that those things we were so upset about turned out to be gifts of immeasurable magnitude. We should accept the life that we have been given as being perfect, not because we are perfect, perfect implies a state of completion; and we are not required to be perfect. We are, in each moment, in the process of becoming. We should accept our lives as perfect because the Creator, who gave them to us to live -is perfect.

There are many things in our lives that we can’t change, but those things that we can’t change are meant as gifts from which to learn. Sometimes our lessons come from overcoming, and in those times we will be shown the way to overcome, other times our lessons come from simply enduring and during those times we will be prevented from finding any way to overcome. Yet, whichever way it is meant to be, in the end we will find that it is good. Each life is a puzzle, and we have to put the pieces together. What is important to remember is that life is a puzzle that comes with all the pieces, no matter how difficult the puzzle is that we have been given, we have been given all of the pieces and they will all fit. Life consists of putting the pieces together, and examining and understanding the picture as it grows with each piece. When we have finally put all of the pieces together, it is time for this life to end, so that we may be given a new life with a whole new set of pieces to put together. Each puzzle is a perfect work of art, our creation. We need to have the faith in God and in His work to flow with life and pour our joy into it without counting what we get back in return. Because what we get, is the chance to live it.

Understanding Life In These Spiritual Times

If the natural disasters of the past years have shown us anything, they should have shown us that we cannot control life. We do not know when we will be struck by a disaster. Personal safety is an illusion, just as homeland security is an illusion. We are each on our own clock’s and they will each stop ticking at the appointed time, whether we are in the Twin Towers or walking along the desert. All that we have built and held onto can be lost or taken away from us in a moment. How much better would we feel if we gave what we had to those who have nothing rather than just losing it? Once upon a time the world was immense, and one could comfortably live a lifestyle of opulent excess, ignorant of the starvation and suffering that our excesses could ease. Now, it is not the case.

And [Jesus] told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God will say to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Christianity. Luke 12.16-21

Imagine how the earth was created—how the body was created. The earth was given limited resources. The earth could have been created as a garden in which the food and shelter and everything that we could ask for simply grew as quickly as we could harvest it. Or, we could have been given the power to manifest everything we wish to have merely by desiring it to be. But that is not the case. And knowing that the force that guides the Universe is love, we must know that this is not to punish us. No, the earth has limited resources and some men are born with access to those resources while some are born without that access. This is the Divine Design, it places before us the opportunity to choose righteousness, the path must be chosen to have value, one cannot be forced out of fear of punishment or fear of rejection, the path of love must be chosen out of love—the need for love and the desire to give love. It is obvious that in the wild animals do not have this choice. Animals know only one path, and for the lower self in man, the animal way is the natural way. Yet as humans, we are able to reach into our souls and find the strength to rise above the natural choice to the spiritual one.

What causes wars, and what causes fighting among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. Christianity. James 4.1-3

We are containers with limited space within. We may fill that space with the things of the world or with the things of the spirit or, as it is for most of us – some proportion of both. Everything that the world of flesh has to offer contains an addictive quality. From the moment that we take our first breath – we are engulfed in an addict’s paradise. It is through this addictive garden that we evolve and it is our susceptibility to addiction – not the choice of drug, which marks the level to which a soul has evolved. Addiction is attachment plain and simple, but it is easier for us to raise ourselves above judgment (in our own eyes) if we limit our focus to what one is addicted to rather than that one is addicted. For one to be addicted to cocaine is bad; yet to be addicted to attention – is ok. It is bad to be addicted to alcohol – but power is ok. We become addicted to food, to comfort, to routine, to family, to nation, to form of worship, to race, to position, to war, to being divided or even to being united, to injustice or even to justice. Addiction is attachment.

All of these things that we attach ourselves to will one day be no more. And the extent of our suffering – the intensity of our hellfire, will equal the intensity of our attachment. We are all born within the garden of our own struggle. The lesson is to love your brother as yourself without condition. There is a story of a man who went up to the greatest Jewish religious leader and asked him to condense the entire teachings of all the sacred Wisdom into one sentence and the Rabbi, without hesitation said, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. There are innumerable gardens in which to grow that flower and we are each born in one of them. Some learn through greed, some through religious hatred some through bigotry, some through the need for power and some as victims of the powerful. You can learn the lesson by the choice you are faced with while riding in a limo passing a poor child in a ghetto, or a homeless man on the street. You can learn the lesson being the poor child or the homeless man. Both roles are means to the same end and neither one is a punishment or a reward. The awareness of the other on both ends engenders an emotional response, which in turn forces a choice. The choice that we make in those moments will feed the soil that we sow and determine what we will ultimately reap.

On earth, our parents threaten the harshest punishments on actions that will cause us the greatest harm. They do this out of love for us. So it would stand to reason that the Source of all Love would place the greatest admonishment on those things that hurt us personally the most. And to Do unto others what we would have others do unto us is wise because what we do to others we really do to ourselves. When we harbor hatred, resentment, or anger towards another we create an energetic umbilical cord between the other and ourselves which flows from soul to soul feeding each with poisonous energy. When we are told to forgive, we are really being told to release ourselves from the flow of that poison; to forgive is only to release.

All that belongs to us or will ever belong to us is what we can take with us. All that we can take with us is what we can carry in our souls. Unconditional Love is spiritual tender. Those emotions that can only exist in the absence of Unconditional Love are spiritual debts. When we act selflessly from our hearts we are making deposits into our spiritual retirement accounts. When we act selfishly without regard for others, we are making withdrawals. The account must be full in order to retire from the suffering of this world. How many lifetimes it takes us to fill that account is up to us. There is no judgment. But to retire from suffering, it must be full.

We are here to learn to cherish that which is ours to pass through, with love and appreciation, that which is not ours and to know the difference. We are happy when we receive, when we acquire, when we are applauded, we are happy when we are loved. Happiness is contingent on an action that is happening and when it is no longer happening, we are no longer happy. But our being is transformed into the most elevated joy when we give and the more difficult the gift is to release the greater the feeling of sacrifice – the greater joy that fills us. Remember that to sacrifice is to make sacred. Feed your own body, you satisfy your body, but feed the body of another who is in need and you satisfy your soul.

3. I searched in my heart how to cheer my flesh with wine, my heart yet guiding me with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what it was good for the sons of men that they should do under heaven all the days of their life. 4. I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards; 5. I made me gardens and parks, and I planted trees in them of all kinds of fruit; 6. I made me pools of water, to water there from the forest where trees were reared; 7. I bought men-servants and maid-servants, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of herds and flocks, above all that were before me in Jerusalem; 8. I gathered me also silver and gold, and the treasure of kings and of the provinces; I got me men-singers and women-singers, and the delights of the sons of men, musical instruments, and that of all sorts. 9. So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. 10. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them; I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced because of all my labor; and this was my portion from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do; and, behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was no profit under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:3-10

God, Spirit, All-That-Is, placed a certain amount of resources on the earth for all life to share. It is limited, but it is always just enough. Regardless of what we tell ourselves about the greatness of our effort, we cannot earn more than our share, we do not deserve more than our share. And what is our share? It is that which leaves enough for every other person on the planet to have their share. Those of us who have more than we need to live comfortably are hoarding the food, the shelter, and the medication that could save the lives of those who are dying because of their lack. And the blood of those who die because of our greed is on our hands. The difference between life and death for a child in Africa is a few dollars; the difference between a life of poverty and suffering and a life of hope and possibilities is a few dollars. We are not only our brother’s keepers; we are our brothers. We are one body human containing one Spirit immortal, and to tell ourselves that what happens in the Sudan will not effect us, it the same as saying that cancer in the foot, untreated, will never effect the heart.

All children are our children, all lives are our lives, and any life that we are able to save becomes our responsibility to save. To whom much is given, much is expected. It makes no difference what lies we tell ourselves in order to buy our ten thousand dollar bags, and six million dollar homes, a child’s face is embedded in every one of those dollars and a child’s life or death is written into those choices that we make.

Jesus said to [the rich young man], “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will by hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Christianity. Matthew 19.21-24

The depression that sweeps the industrialized nations is the price of our greed. The Bible says that money is the root of all evil, but it is not evil, it is the most addictive of all drugs and so it is the root of the greatest spiritual pain. Money is the key to the material kingdom. Money brings worship, adulation, slaves, all things that feed the ego. Yet, it is not money that is the problem it is the hoarding. The more money one hoards, the emptier one is Spiritually because the energy of material possessions in much denser and weighs down our energy fields leaving little or no room for spiritual joy to permanently root itself within us, not because we make money but because we hoard it for ourselves and do not send it back out to do good works.

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:25, 2.

Today the Spiritual force of the Universe has made the world one in which we know children are dying needlessly. The world is small enough for us to know where and when men, women and children are being senselessly slaughtered because of the color of their skin or nature of their beliefs. We know, because this has been deemed the time of revelation, when we are revealed for what we are—and what we are is reflected in what we most value, not what we tell others we most value, and not in what we tell ourselves we most value. In this moment, we can stand strong as healthy wheat, wheat that gives nourishment to all, or as weeds nourishing only ourselves at the expense of others. All that we each deserve is enough to live a healthy loving life. All that we have beyond that is what would give that same quality of life to another. I once worked eighteen hours a day and was paid more than generously for that effort; I had a house in the suburbs and three bathrooms in my New York apartment. At the same time a woman sharecropper in Mississippi worked the same eighteen hours a day and could not afford indoor plumbing. I was not being rewarded for being a better person in this life or any past life, what I was being – was tested. It is time for the harvest.

We must learn and not forget that it does not matter how healthy, wealthy or wise we are, the time and manner of our death is not within our control. How long we will keep whatever we have is also not within our control, all outcomes are beyond our control. Now is the time when we are to be seen clearly, we cannot hide or pretend. The true measure of the man is not how much he has, and it is not how much he gives, but how much he is willing to give of that which he cannot bear the thought of living without.

We are being tested, and more than this, we are being given an opportunity through the suffering in the world to show the power of the light that we have within us. The world has become small enough for us to see the needs of others, small enough that we must make a conscious choice with every penny that we waste on selfish pleasures. We are no longer only responsible for the consequences of our actions but we are responsible for the consequences of our lack of action as well.

The Universe is not something around us, it is the substance of our being. God is not a separate entity; God is the Great Self, the Great Soul of which each of us is a part. God is Love; to live in God’s image is to live in the image of love and to love in the image of God. No one is empty, we are all full, those who are empty of attachment to the world are full of Spirit, and those who are filled with worldly attachments are empty of Spirit. Some are half full of the world and half full of Spirit, each have our own proportion of both and that is our choice.

Do you not feel this time as different than any other? This time is not a test it is a gift. It is a gift to us from Our Source, a chance to wipe out our karma with good works, to purify our souls with unconditional love. To strengthen our faith and show our love of All-That-Is by giving without fear of not having enough left for ourselves, for the enjoyment of the world is empty, but the joy of Love is a cup that constantly runneth over. What are the fires of hell? They are the tests and temptations that we must go through on this earth to burn away our attachment to the material – to mammon. The fires of hell are no more or less than the suffering that we endure living with the desire for what we do not need, the fear of losing or actual loss of what we do not own, and the blindness that keeps us from knowing that having and losing in this world are both illusions and what is of value to our souls is always a part of them.

He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. As it is written, He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever. He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for great generosity.

Christianity. 2 Corinthians 9.6-11

Instructions For Assembling and Maintaining a Loving Relationship

I was watching a cooking show the other day called, “The Barefoot Contessa”, and Ina, the chef in the show, said that she and her husband were celebrating their fortieth wedding anniversary.   She said that they were as happy after forty years of marriage as they were the day that they met.  She said that she didn’t believe in working on a relationship, their recipe for happiness in marriage was simple, she wanted to make him happy and he wanted to make her happy.  Work can make a relationship last, but work is not enjoyable.  So, should it really be work?  No, it really shouldn’t.

Our entire growth experiences as human beings is based upon relationships.  The world in which we live exists through relationship.  It is made up of the relationship of one thing to another, of one state of being to another, of one belief system to another and of one person to another.  We understand up because we understand down, we understand dark because we understand light.  Without the two opposite points, we would not have a path to journey upon.  Every human relationship that we have aids us in discovering ourselves, our needs, and what we need to fulfill our lives.

Each thing in our lives that we pursue, we pursue because we are attracted to it.  We are attracted to a food, to a style of dress, to a path of study, a belief system, a career, a friend and a partner.  With each thing that we are attracted to, we taste, we test out, we try on, we investigate, we study.  We do this with everything except our emotional relationships.  In that one, most important area, we just close our eyes and jump.  I believe that it has a great deal to do with society, our families and our peers convincing us that there is a deadline to meet.  If we are not in a relationship by a certain age, it is too late.  It is like musical chairs, if we are not seated when the music stops – we are out.  We are out in the cold, all alone, left to starve.

There is a painful cellular, or past life memory of the deadly consequences, especially for women, of being alone.  There was a time when it was a death sentence.  But that was then and this is now, at least in the west.  We are wired spiritually, genetically, to be attracted to the path that we are meant to travel.   That is the law of attraction.  We are magnetized to our journeys – to our lessons.  So, an example would be that one is attracted to art, then to painting, then to decorative painting.  Through decorative painting one becomes attracted to interior design, and from interior design one finally arrives at a passion and perfect fit with architecture.  Had that person remained in decorative painting after she was drawn to interior design – she would have been unhappy and unfulfilled.  However, it was decorative painting that not only opened her up and prepared her for interior design, but it was what led her to interior design.  It was also her initial attraction to art, then to painting that began the journey.

Some people come into life to name that tune in one note, others come in to name that tune in ten notes.  Human beings are not standardized, our journeys are not standardized, so we cannot standardize the lives that we live.  Success in life is not measured by how many steps it took to get there, but that we ultimately got there.  This is equally valid in our relationships.  Sometimes it takes more than one relationship to find out who we are, what we need, and what we have to give.  Sometimes what we find out about ourselves in one relationship leads us to another.  I read once, that some people enter our lives for a season, some for a reason, and some for a lifetime.  We will not know which is which based upon when they enter.  We will not know which is which based upon the power of the energy that draws us to them or by the passion that we feel around them.  We will only know by the inner sense of fulfillment, of peace and of completion that we feel because they are in our lives.  Each one of us has our own, individual first and last.  And until we reach the last – we are not meant to know in advance which it is.  So armed with patience and our eyes open, we can move on to what that lifetime relationship requires to be fulfilling.

The first thing that is needed is respect.  However high those pheromones are flying, if we don’t respect the person that we are with, those pheromones are not just going to land, they are going to crash.  It is just not possible to continue to treat someone with respect who we really don’t feel respect for.  And if we do not treat our partner with respect, eventually they are going to leave.

We have to have shared values.  If not initially, we have to be at least open to understanding enough to personally value the values of the other.  There must be common ground.  For example, I am very spiritual, and I have a lot of beliefs that everyone does not share.  The person I am with does not have to share my beliefs, but, he has to share my values.  He has to be caring, compassionate, and value others.  He does not have to be spiritual if his sense of humanity is strong.  Who we are, who we believe ourselves to be rests, for better or for worse on our values.  Our values are what we consider to be valuable – they are a reflection of what our souls have accomplished up to this point.  Regardless of the emotions that we feel for another person if our values clash, our sense of being valued will deteriorate.  So much of what we do, of how we react to life comes from our core values that if we are not compatible at that level, the level of our personal foundations, then the foundation of the relationship is not sound enough to withstand the pressures of everyday life.

We need to have developed, within ourselves, the ability to trust.  This is important because we will always find what we are looking for.  If we are unable to trust, we will find reasons to justify our mistrust.   Once we find or imagine those reasons, we are stuck there and the relationship is neglected.

Those are the ingredients that we need to build the foundation of a good and lasting relationship.  They are not what we need to do.  Each person in a relationship must enter it thinking not of what he or she wants to get out of it, or get from the other person, but what he or she wants to give.  Each partner must want, above all, to make the other partner happy.  It is important that this is not a job.  It is important that it is not work.  If I am going to spend most of my time focused on making my partner happy – that in itself must give me some happiness.  If it is a chore, if it feels too much like a sacrifice, then I should not be in that relationship.  If each partner is focused on the happiness and wellbeing of the other partner – then both partners will be happy.

No one outgrows a relationship with these ingredients.   That is because it grows and expands with the needs of each partner because both partners are concerned about the other’s needs.  Life is hard work; a relationship should make it easier to overcome the hard times in life.  It should never create them.  No two people are always going to agree about everything, but if you are both on the same floor, you will eventually find each other, find a way to come together.  Outside of the bedroom, every issue begins with our values.  When two people come together to form a relationship, each places on the table in front of the other, their dreams, hopes, fears, desires, and most of all, self value.  All of these together represent the love that each seeks to share.  Each one shares this love by entrusting the other with these precious parts of who he or she is.  Unless each partner takes those dreams, hopes, fears, desire, etc. of the other and places it before their own,  both partners end up focused only on themselves.  In doing this, the other’s happiness is neglected.  Each feels unloved, alone, and betrayed.  No one feels loved because no one loved.

When you find two people who, after forty, fifty, sixty years still look at each other with love, reach for the other’s hand you know some important things.  You know first, that each can love.  You know that each can trust.  You know that each can give.  Most of all, you know that it is possible to have that kind of love.  It doesn’t take work, but it does take risk.  It is a risk to give your heart in trust to another person.  It is a risk to put another person’s happiness ahead of your own.  Sometimes it feels like the greatest risk is to walk away when your heart says it is so right, but a voice inside of your head says it is so wrong.  Follow your heart to the door, but make sure that you walk in with both.

Each relationship that we have is as destined to be as any other.  The difference is only the purpose that they serve.   None are mistakes, none are failures.  There is no time frame within which love can be found.  The only schedule that we need to follow is the one within our souls.  We are always on time.