The Journey to Enlightenment

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“If you take a journey to the place that you are, you will visit many other places. And perhaps, when you find through some long experience that all the places you go are not the place you wanted to find, it may occur to you that you were already there in the beginning.”  ~Alan Watts

There are so many of us running, striving, stretching, searching.  Looking for purpose and meaning, looking for enlightenment.  Trying to find a way in, or a way out.  Trying to fix or improve ourselves. “If only I could get in shape.”  “If only I could control my temper.”  “If only I could be successful.”  “If only I had a little more money.”  Listen:  We have already arrived.  For starters, we live in one of, or perhaps the only, great concentration of consciousness in the universe, riding a small but fertile rock.  We are surrounded by trillions of companions, (some more sympathetic than others)  And while it is true that it is a world of suffering, all suffering (and each sufferer) comes to an end in due time.

Take a moment and rest in what you have.  In what is.  In who you are.

You are the Universe.  You are doing fine.

~Dadosaurus Rex

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The Answers Are Within

I accidentally posted this on my other blog yesterday.  So, if you are subscribed to both, you may see it twice.

Sometimes, I get really worked up and worried, and I have to sit myself down, and talk some sense into me (Mostly because no one else will):

“Oh self,” I say, “Oh if only I could be like this person, or that person.”

You don’t need to be like them.  Just be yourself.  There is nothing wrong with that.

“But they have it so easy!”

You don’t know that.  You only know the ease or difficulty of your 0wn life.

“Okay, I guess.  But what am I even doing here?  I need some direction.  I need someone to show me the path.  How do I know if I’m doing whats right?”

The answers are inside of you.  Everything that you seek without and fail to find, is hidden within.  You know what is right, you know what you should be doing, and you do not need the approval or acceptance of anyone else.

“But what if I screw up?  What if I fail?  What if I change my mind?”

Making your own decisions, good or bad, right or wrong, and facing the consequences, is the only way to grow.  It is the only way to find out who you are.  Without failure, and without change, there is no growth, there is no life.

But I’m scared”

That’s okay.  Its part of being human.  acknowledge the fear, and release it.  Then go on doing what you know is right.

I really don’t think I can do this, but I guess I’ll keep trying.”

“At the center of your being
you have the answer;
you know who you are
and you know what you want.”  ~Lao tzu

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” ~Buddha

“Cherish that which is within you, and shut off that which is without; for much knowledge is a curse.” ~Zhuangzi

Learning From Nature #6

IMG_20140726_161303931“As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unself- consciously to the soughing of the trees.”  ~Valerie Andrews

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Expanding On “The Body of Christ”

Humans, animals, plants, and stones; the Sun and the Sky.  We are all inseparably connected.  So much so, that it is difficult to distinguish where one begins, and another ends.  It is probably more accurate to say that we are one being, than to say we are many beings who are connected.

There is an illustration in the Bible which speaks of the Christian Church as the “Body of Christ.”  It encourages Christians to act not as separate entities, but as one unit.  This is an amazingly wonderful idea, but Imagine what could be done if we applied to the entire planet, rather than limiting it to humans of a certain religious persuasion.

 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.   And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?   As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”  On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,  while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,  so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.  1 Corinthians 12:15-26

There is no need to compare or compete.  Realize that the consciousness you are experiencing is only a part of your true self.  By caring for others, and caring for the earth, you are caring for yourself.  There is no need to be jealous of what another has, because you possess all things.

A Lasting Legacy

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Billions of people have tried, or are trying, to make a lasting legacy.  Many humans struggle with the idea that all too soon they will be dead, and eventually forgotten.  No matter how generous you are, no matter how heroic, no matter how many libraries you name after yourself, what office you h0ld, or how many records you break:  You will be forgotten.  After 100, 1000, or 10,000 years your name, your face, your life, will be wiped from history.

Forgotten but not Gone

While the details of your life will fade into obscurity, you will by no means be gone (Where would you go?).  Going on all around us is a constant exchange.  We breathe in the air taking in oxygen.  We breathe out releasing carbon dioxide.  Rain falls to the earth, enters the soil, and is taken up by the roots of a tree.  The tree uses the water, the carbon dioxide, and energy from the sun to create fruit.  We then eat the fruit, and its digestion is aided by trillions of micro-organisms living inside of us.  Nothing is stagnant.  Nothing stays still.  Matter and energy are constantly changing shape, changing hands, changing form, mixing, and melding.  This process continues after we die, the only difference is that there is no longer an entity that is notably and recognizably ‘you.’

Our bodies leftovers, however, will not be the only part of us to remain.  Every breath we take, every action, every thought, and every word, has an impact.  Each day we shape and change the world around us.  We all do, in fact, leave a legacy.  The legacy is not one that can be easily traced, nor one that is easily perceived by our fellowman.  But the earth knows.  and the earth will never forget.

So, if you want to leave a lasting legacy, be mindful of your actions.  Live each day with purpose, and take time to recognize your connection with every creature on this planet.  Headstones will eventually crumble, but the earth, and her creatures, will be around for some time.

Silencing Fear

I often wonder, whether or not I am headed in the right direction.  I seem to be wandering around aimlessly.  Hopelessly lost in a society that is quick to judge, quick to blame, and deathly afraid of change.  I get inspired, I feel the fire burning in my soul, and I set off to change the world, but when the path gets rocky, I start to worry, and run back to that increasingly familiar place.  A stagnant place, of strange comfort.  Then, feeling the shame of failure, I commence to wallow in the mire of self pity.  Fear keeps me grounded in this place.  What will people think if I try and fail?  What if I lose everything?  What If I am wrong?  But what if I could live without fear?

Fear Is Natural

Fear is good.  Fear is helpful.  Fear is something that all humans have.  Without fear, the human race would have been drowned, eaten, trampled, or dashed to pieces before we had a chance to become a dominating force on this planet.  Fear is not the enemy, and attempting to live without it will only lead to frustration.

If Not Fear, Then What is the problem?

If you are sleeping, and your house becomes engulfed in flames, your smoke alarm will go off.  If you are cooking, and spill some grease on the range, it might also go off.  In the first situation, you would be wise to grab your cat, run outside, and try to get some help.  However, you would not react the same way in the second situation, even though the same alarm is going off.  You would silence the alarm, clean up your mess, and move on with your day.

Fear is like a smoke alarm.  It is programmed to go off in every situation that has the potential to cause death, dismemberment, loss, or even discomfort.  Sometimes it requires immediate action on our part, but sometimes we simply need to acknowledge the fear, release it, and press forward.  Inappropriate reactions to fear, not fear itself, is what causes so many of our problems

Fear, and our other emotions, are not meant to be navigators on our journey through life.  We need to remain awake, aware, and in the driver’s seat, taking fear and our other emotions into account, but not allowing them to become a dominating and controlling force.

Learning From Lichen

scan0009Lichens are perhaps one of the most amazing, and under-appreciated natural phenomenon.  They are found in arctic tundra, blazing deserts, rain forests, rocky coasts and toxic spoil heaps.  Growing on bare rock, tree bark, headstones, benches, and bridges.  They can survive drought and extreme temperatures (Although they are vulnerable to air pollution and acid rain).

The secret to their success:  Weakness.

Lichen is actually two organisms, working together, fungus, and algae.  The fungus is unable to supply its own nutrients, and the alga is easily destroyed by environmental extremes.  To remedy this, the algae feeds the fungus, and the fungus protects the algae.  Each of them, without the weakness of the other, would have no opportunity to use its own strength.

lichens can survive in some environmental conditions in which neither the algae nor the fungi could live alone

Can we learn from this?  Can we understand that our weaknesses are not something to be hidden, or to be ashamed of?  Can we stop belittling and berating others for their weaknesses, and appreciate the chance to utilize our strength?  What good do our strengths do in the absence of weakness?  What use is a cure in the absence of disease?  What use is forgiveness when nothing is done wrong?

Be grateful for your pitfalls, mistakes, and problems.  Be grateful for the shortcomings of those around you.  It is a precious thing to use your surplus to help one who is lacking, and a great gift.  We could even say that we are in debt to those who we serve, and that they deserve our gratitude as much as we deserve theirs.

Understanding this is the key to surviving extreme conditions.

“Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.”
~Lao Tzu

 

Thanks For Adding Your Piece to the Puzzle

scan0002Whoever you are, whatever you are doing, thank you.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  For your successes, for your failures, for your imperfections.  For keeping your cool, for losing your temper, thank you.  Everything you have ever done has helped to bring the world to where it is today.  Everything so far has led up to this moment.  Your joy and your tears.  Your victories and defeats.  Your honesty, your deception, your cold silence, and your mindless chatter.

We all have regrets from the past.  We all have situations that we wish we would have handled differently.  Many of us have grievances we cannot forgive, hurts that will not heal, and events that we wish we could wipe from our memories.  Looking through the history books, we may not ever agree on who was right, and who was wrong, or which pages we would be better off without.  But can we agree that life is precious?  That existence is unspeakably astounding, and that this moment, this very moment, is beautiful?  All of those events and situations, no matter what we think of them, are a part of life.  They all had a hand in bringing about this beautiful moment, and I think they at least deserve our acceptance, if not our appreciation.  Thank you.

Drink Your Tea Slowly…

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There are many who find comfort in the quasi-biblical cliche “This too shall pass.”  It gives the idea that whatever situations you fall into, whatever circumstances are troubling you, they will eventually (at some undetermined point in the future) resolve themselves, or cease to exist.

Unemployed?  This too shall pass.  Relationship problems?  This too shall pass.  Caught in traffic?  Stub your toe?  Working at a job you can’t stand spending most of your time fantasizing about living your passion?  This too shall pass.

Unfortunately, however, these events make up your very real and very short life, and they will (All too quickly, perhaps sooner than you think) pass.  So maybe, instead of trying to skip over all of the difficult portions of our life, we can experience them, we can learn from them, and accept them for what they are.

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.  Live the actual moment”  ― Thích Nhất Hạnh