Surviving a Crisis

The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper.
Aristotle.

My son has a close friend TJ. I had noticed his father at different school functions. Jerry was blind and had one leg. His attitude was so completely at peace with his situation that I thought he must have spent most of his life this way. After all, how could anyone seem so happy unless he had had a lifetime to adjust to such tragic circumstances?

I learned that it had only happened a year and a half before. I was shocked that such relatively little time had passed and that everything was so normal. This caused me to look back over my life and the many crises and tragedies I myself have had to face and I found that the only thing I had to regret was the length of time I spent on self-pity. Regardless of what we go through, eventually, we must face that moment when it becomes necessary to evaluate the living of our lives and not our lives themselves. You see, we have no control over what happens to us, but we do have control over how we react, and how we react could possibly determine the quality of the rest of our lives. Although it may seem difficult to control a reaction, reaction is a function of the lower mind. It is a habit. I had my hair pulled when I was a child so as I grew, anytime someone reached their hand in a way that appeared, to me, to be coming towards my head, I would flinch and pull back. Once I became conscious of this reaction, I began to do it less and less, first intentionally, and later not reacting became a habit. It took time to build up our reactions and it will take time to change them, but they can be changed.

We are each being faced, right now, with some form of personal crisis, within a national crisis within a world crisis. At this time, as perhaps at no other, it would be difficult to find one individual on the planet who is not at this time dealing with a crisis. We, in this country, are dealing with the effects of the Iraq War, the destruction caused by the climate changes, and our evaporating economy, while at the same time every individual is dealing with some form of personal, political, financial, racial or religious crisis. So, it helps to know that we are not suffering alone but have actually joined the suffering of mankind.

Putting it in this perspective, we must rise above our personal situations and understand that this is a time of change in the universe. There have been unprecedented increases in the sunspot activity in recent months. The atmospheres of various planets including our own have been going through drastic changes. We have just entered a new millennium, but with all things being synchronistic, we can say that the entire universe is also entering a new era.

For change to occur there must first be a period of breakdown; logically, there cannot be a breakdown without chaos and crisis. That which is not built to move to the next level must be transformed. The beginning of the last millennium was dominated by the advent of Christianity. The first years of breakdown and realignment of previously held beliefs were difficult years. They were not easy years in which to be incarnated, yet many souls chose them for their growth.

I read a book, “Life before Life<!–[if supportFields]> XE “Life before Life” < ![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]>< ![endif]–>“, by Helen Wambach which is now out of print, in which she, during the course of a few years, regressed over one thousand people from all over the country, to the time before they were born. She asked each person to find out the answers to a list of questions, one of which was why they chose this time to be here. The overwhelming reason was that this is a time of so much change and chaos on one hand, and so much available spiritual knowledge on the other, that it offers each soul the rare opportunity in which to fit many lifetimes worth of growth.

When life doesn’t work the way that, we planned or hoped it would, we can’t sit around until we rot; feeling miserable because we were given lemons. We just have to make lemonade. Sure, it is never easy, but the history of the world and the history of our own lives tell us that this too shall pass. And when it does, it is important that we have not wasted this valuable time in self-pity. When God closes one door, He opens another. It may be a struggle at first to face a new door, but it is worth the effort. For every pain, and every heartache there is a seed of equivalent benefit. If we take this as an opportunity to move to the next level, we will find that many of us are being given an opportunity to recreate our lives in a way that we never before believed possible. For so many years now I have been living under an cloud of debt. In the past few years I have felt like the commercial where a couple want to move their house is hovering over their heads. It has been a constant panic, will we lose the house, the cars, the insurance – or even, will we eat. I constantly fear that I will exhaust my reserves of faith if this goes on much longer. Then, as irony would have it, Easter Sunday my husband walked outside to find that both of our cars had been repossessed. I was initially distraught, I felt violated, lost, and how could we work without transportation? I just felt that this was the domino that would knock the whole building of dominos down. And it could have, no car – no work – no money – no home. But, a funny thing happened after the shock wore off – I felt just them most exhilarating sense of relief knowing two more payments that we could not afford to make were no longer hovering over our heads.

Just a few years before this, I was in the same position only this time I was renting and six months behind in my rent. I had this moment – you know – a movie moment when everything stops in mid-action, and I said to myself, ‘I have done all that I can do, I have tried everything that I can try, if we lose everything and end up in a shelter – it will be God’s will, and we will all learn what we arrived at this experience to learn and climb up from there.’ In that moment there was an energy shift in my life. A crisis can last ten years, or it can last ten minutes. It lasts as long as we remain in crisis mode and ends when we enter acceptance that what is – is, and move on to plan b – or at least to formulating a plan be. Anything that we do, that is not wallowing in the approaching trauma or existing trauma will shift the energy. I shifts from what was or will be lost – to what was or will be gained. Acceptance is the train out of suffering. It is the open door that allows new air to come in. Above all, acceptance allows us to realize that we are in good hands – always. And nothing happens that we did not choose before we came – and for the highest of reasons.

I asked for…
I asked for strength…. and was given difficulties to make me strong. I asked for wisdom…. and was given problems to solve. I asked for prosperity… and was given brain and brawn to work. I asked for courage… and was given danger to overcome. I asked for love… and was given troubled people to help. I asked for favors… and was given opportunities. I received nothing I wanted… I received everything I needed.
From “The Analects of Confucius” – a philosophical translation, by Roger Ames and Henry Rosemont
 

Peace Comes From The Balance Of Mind And Soul

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We have been given the gift and the curse of the use and enjoyment of our minds and our hearts. From the moment that we rose above the other animals to become co-creators of our universe, we were given the heart to love, and appreciate the world. We were given the mind to classify, and the ability to blend the two for the creation of solutions to our problems, ensure our survival, and to develop the wisdom that comes from the balance of the two.
How far have we come in the evolution of these gifts? Not as far as we believe we have. The mind has been developed to the point that without the heart it cannot go any further. Scientifically, we have traveled to the point where we are now dealing with a quantum reality that requires creativity, imagination, and even a bit of faith to explore.

Still, the heart is well behind in its development. To kill in cold blood, or really, to kill at all, requires functioning without the heart. Hate is a cold product of the mind. Yes, it does become impassioned, but passion is not a quality of the heart. Passion is a remnant of our primitive ancestry — the energy that drives animals to pursue food, pursue a mate, and scare intruders from its territory. It is an energy, which is directed by a healthy ego or it directs an unhealthy one. The ego, which separates us from the other creatures on our planet, coordinates the use of mind and/or heart. The ego is the decision maker; it is the mediator. It is the health of the ego that determines which we use.

The heart and mind are in balance in a healthy ego. Working together they choose when, how much, where, and if the fuel of passion should be utilized. The decisions, guided by creativity and wisdom, are born out of the combination of heart, and mind. Hate is an instinct based by-product of an unbalanced ego. It is instinctual fear harnessed by the mind without consideration of the heart. Hate is the absence of love. Love is the only ingredient that the heart has to contribute. Even a balanced ego may become unbalanced for a moment when it considers the stresses of life on earth and the different ingredients it has to balance.

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Anger, however intensely it is experienced at the moment, is soon extinguished by the warmth of the heart. It doesn’t turn to hate. Not if the ego is balanced and the heart is strong. Where hate has a place, the heart energy is not developed, either because there is too much reasoning mind, too much primitive instinct, too much fear, or too much of them all. Whatever it is, there is no room for the heart to grow.

Mankind was given, or we took — when we bit the apple — this enormous Pandora’s box of mind, heart, passion, and fear. How we mix them would determine whether we survived outside of the garden or not. And so we struggle with this mixture of cold reasoning mind, hunger for more, and divine love. And it is my belief that as part of the Divine Plan, the souls that incarnated at a particular time, are balanced in a way that will bring all souls, the lessons they have evolved to learn. There are no new lessons, the lessons we face today are the lessons that have been faced by mythic and historical figures, and mythic and historic lands, only the setting is changed.

Ultimately it all comes down to this, can we face the enemy without becoming the enemy? Or can we, as a species, be the hero who faces the enemy and allows the enemy to become one with us? Acknowledge, after thousands of years, that the battle waged out in our world must be won within our own egos, so that, as a species, our progress can be seen in the world around us. As long as we seek the enemy outside of our own beings, we will diminish our chance of winning with each outside enemy that we kill.

We fight the same war, century, after century, without finding peace, until it is found within our own hearts. There is no good or evil; there are no boundaries, no pure white hats, or pure black hats. There are only human beings torn within their egos between spiritual or material. It is a battle that the unbalanced ego does not want to face, because that battle requires letting go of those big shiny idols which the little mind finds such pleasure. It means embracing the small eternal flame, which the heart longs for. And so, we enter the battlefield like Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita, with God as our charioteer, patiently telling us that these bodies are not real, only symbols used by the soul for the true battle within. And this war, whether it is fought on the battlefield, in the playground or in the living room, is a battle of duality, one that continues for as long as we cling to our belief that first the other is bad, and second, that there is any other at all.

We battle those we label evil because we believe they seek to destroy us. They fight us for the same reason. No one marches into battle with a picture of Satan on their flag. We all go off to fight evil, to fight the devil we imagine we are facing. As we all wear both labels at the same time, saying to the enemy, “I am evil”, to myself, “I am good.” We fight to protect our lives because we do not really believe in the eternal soul. We fight to revenge the deaths of those we love, because as Krishna told Arjuna when he was questioning the battle that he was about to fight,

“One man believes he is the slayer, another believes he is the slain. Both are ignorant; there is neither slayer nor slain. You were never born; you will never die. You have never changed; you can never change. Unborn, eternal, immutable, immemorial, you do not die when the body dies. Realizing that which is indestructible, eternal, unborn, and unchanging, how can you slay or cause another to be slain?

As a man abandons his worn-out clothes and acquires new ones, so when the body is worn out a new one is acquired by the Self, who lives within. The Self cannot be pierced with weapons or burned with fire; water cannot wet it, nor can the wind dry it. The Self cannot be pierced or burned, made wet or dry. It is everlasting and infinite, standing on the motionless foundation of eternity. The Self is unmanifested, beyond all thought, beyond all change. Knowing this, you should not grieve.”
( Bhagavad-Gita 2.19-25)

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When we are able to see that the entire world is a symbolic battlefield for the individual soul and the larger groups of souls to play out their eternal battles, we will be able to deal with that apple, understand that the dark and the light are two sides of one coin that each exists because of the other. One cannot exist without the other because both exist within each of us. Only when we have a balanced mind and heart, can we be released from war and suffering.

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OVERCOMING FEAR


The bravest people in the world are not fearless; they simply use that fear to motivate them instead of paralyzing them.
Fear is connected with something that once happened to us, some pain that imprinted upon our conscious mind yet the exact cause of that pain is hidden in the subconscious. I have a fear of confrontation. It hurts. That is not my adult experience of confrontation but my inner reaction to the thought of it. I feel myself being struck by something large and cold whenever there is a confrontation. It stops me. In my mind I know that I am equal to the situation, but in my gut I feel as though I am only two inches tall. I understand that it is the same feeling that I had during all of the fighting in my home as a child. I am certainly not a child anymore and if I carried the fear in from a past life, I am not there anymore either. However, the truth is that the conscious mind and all of its logic has about as much power over the subconscious programming as a pea has over the rotation of the earth. So, the problem with fear is that knowing the cause, even remembering the initial incident does not erase it. Again, fear is not logical and it is not subject to reason, it is based upon something that was proven to be a fact and can be removed only by proving it to be wrong. I read somewhere that courage is not being without fear; it is acting in spite of it.

Fear is self-perpetuating. Once we are afraid, that energy grows. What makes fear so much more powerful is that it is actually an ominous feeling that has absolutely no words. When dealing with worries we can rationalize them because there are things that go through our minds. Yet when we are struck by fear it is really this huge dangerous overwhelming nothing. It is a nothing because we don’t think it, we don’t see it – it is just a feeling suspended in the gut. Fear is a ghost in the machine of our being. There is no enemy so powerful as the one you cannot see – this is fear and fear is the greatest unknown.
Fear has a moment in which it immediately propels us back to a feeling that we had.

We actually fear only two things death and abandonment. Every experience in our lives that instills an unexplainable overwhelming sense of fear in us is infusing us not with reality, but with the translation of the subconscious mind. The subconscious sees something that could cause one of those two dangerous outcomes. If we have had past lives, we have died. When I was born I spent two weeks in an incubator – I had an enormous fear of abandonment – abuse me, berate me but don’t abandon me. There was a time that I could not even handle anyone saying, “Goodbye”. We are transported back to a time when we were in a situation that reminds our subconscious of this one. It shows us how we suffered, but not why or where or when. It is not impressed by the fact that this is a different situation. My mother used to pull my hair when she was angry at me. My father used to catch me by my braids to beat me. Into my thirties I automatically jumped or covered my head if someone raised their hand for anything, it was embarrassing. As soon as my hair gets too long I cut it off. I cut it off because I like it better short. But I don’t really know if I do. I don’t know that my subconscious mind which causes me to flinch or jump back when someone raises their hand – doesn’t cause me to feel the overwhelming need to cut my hair off and I simply interpret my subconscious fear of long hair as a fashion statement. It just tells us that something feels dangerous, if we ignore the warning, it will cause us to sabotage our efforts. Most often, we can’t simply walk through fear; we have to fight with all of our might, as if we were walking through an emotional hurricane to get to the other side.

Sometimes it just finishes the sentence for us, we don’t even feel the anxiety of it but we react to the situation as though we know how it will turn out. In this way we sabotage our efforts and begin to destroy a successful situation because our fear writes the script of the future. The subconscious mind is one of symbols, not words. It began creating its database before we knew words. I was afraid to ask for help, afraid of the pain of rejection. I don’t ever remember not being afraid to ask. As I mentioned before I was in an incubator when I was born. This was not a time when there was an understanding that infants need to be held and touched. So for the first two weeks of my life my needs, my cries probably were not really responded to. This fear had a terrible effect on my life on my relationships.

We have to remember that the subconscious mind is like a computer, garbage in garbage out. It tells us that it feels like something familiar. We re-feel a past event that had a painful consequence. We re-feel the situation but we do not necessarily re-play the situation. This is the value of fear and this is the problem with it. It says, “Danger, danger!!” but because it does not re-play the situation we cannot see exactly what that danger was so that we can compare it to what the current situation is. From this moment on it is up to us to examine the situation. It is important that the moment that fear advises us that something feels familiar it must be checked. Just because it smells like smoke does not mean the building is burning it could just be a stick of incense. However, fear will go there if it is free to travel at will. Take from fear its only gift. Allow fear to awaken us, allow fear to awaken our senses, but not our imagination. Listen to what it knows but never let it think. Fear is always attached to the past; its eyes are in the back. Fear makes us react much faster than we ever would if we consciously processed the information. Sometimes that saves lives, and sometimes it destroys them. We have to question our reactions, our fear and if it is in the way of a better life, we need to fight our way through it – once. After we make it to the other side once, it becomes easier and easier. Once we make it through we have taken the threat out of the program.

When we feel fear, we need to be in the current situation. Fear is there to tell us to wake up to the situation. So each time that we feel fear we must see clearly. If the situation that we see is really not related to what we are feeling, we must fight through the fear. Each time that we do this our fear will diminish. Fear is part of our survival instinct. Instincts do not discriminate. Our fears hold us back. There are often possibilities just on the other side of our fears that we never realize. I have wanted so often for someone to touch me but could not reach out. This invisible wall stood between the other person and me, this wall of fear. I was a bundle of fears, fear of reaching out, fear of confrontation, fear standing out, even fear of showing fear. I finally made the decision to act as if I were not afraid.
I reached the point where the pain of living within the limits set by my fears felt excruciating than having whatever I feared actualize. So I began, slowly, each time I was in a situation where I felt constricted by fear acting as if it were not there. It gets easier. I don’t think that it goes away. I am still encircled by my fears, but today I can walk through them with much more ease and not cower within their limits.

There are two distinct kinds of fear. One is rational one is not. A fear is rational when what you are afraid of is clear. If you are on the edge of a cliff, what will happen if you fall is clear. If someone is facing you with a gun, what could happen is clear. Even when we have unprotected sex, what could happen is clear. These are real fears that should be heeded. Fear is based on protection. We just have to know if we really need to be protected from what we are afraid of. We must confront our fears, and analyze our reactions, because the subconscious mind is powerful, it can trick us into believing that we are acting out of choice when we are really acting out of fear. We can be made stronger by our fears they force us to faith because it is the antidote. And when we have enough faith, we realize that the very worst that can happen isn’t anything compared to fearing the worst that can happen.