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Do We Change The World Or Accept It

Surrendering to the moment is a very important teaching. Learning to accept what is, is one of the fundamentals of growing spiritually. So if acceptance is fundamental to this teaching, then why do all these teachers want to change what is? Why are they unable or unwilling to accept the world in its perfection exactly as it is? Teaching is asking people to be different than they are. Why don’t all the teachers just accept the current state of understanding and move on?

This is a really great question, and points out a large logic problem with all this teaching business, and what enlightenment means. Do we want to change the world, or learn to accept it? The answer really is both. And the important clarification is the misunderstanding that to become enlightened is to blindly accept everything. That is not necessarily what enlightenment, or growth is about. Accepting absolutely everything would leave us motionless. That idea of stillness is an illusion. To a mind that is trying to manage state experience only, that would make perfect sense, and hence be a very attractive thing to try to attain. But that attraction is the same attachment that’s in any other form of desire. So what is this growth or enlightenment we’re talking about?

Integral theory and spiral dynamics talk about the difference between states and stages. And while a full explanation of the difference is beyond today’s talk, I will say that we are definitely trying for deeper states of consciousness, but also (and possibly more importantly) higher stages of development. Each stage is a level of attachment. It is a set of beliefs, or a paradigm that we walk through and act from. So the idea is not that we are trying to stay peaceful, or joyful, or happy all the time (which would be a state experience only, and doesn’t happen), but rather we are trying to walk through these larger stages of development (which would lead to more and more wisdom, durability, capability, and hence better state management as well). We try to become identified with larger and larger portions of reality.

So no matter what stage we’re currently identified with, what can we do to work within this paradox? At what point is our own attachment to change, or to an idea of something better, a problem? It is compassionate when we want to help someone else with their pain. But we begin to get lost when we insist on their growth or begin to get attached to it. Work to explain things you understand to those who don’t understand it, but don’t get attached to the outcome. Be mindful of your attachments, especially when they are masked with change for the “good” of something. Change and creation is always occurring with or without our intention. Be involved in that change to whatever degree you want to be, but know that acceptance is always available to you, and use it well. We have the ability to change what is (the external), but we also have the ability to change instead what we are (the internal) to acceptance.

Referenced: Integral Theory

We May Need To Kill Faith

How can we make faith make sense? So many of us are lost in rational minds. Rational minds that are right in the external sense of “right”, but they lack the inner connection to being. Faith is something that often sounds too “religious”. But faith may end up being important, but maybe we need to change the definition.

Quoting the Tao Te Ching we read “There is no greater illusion than fear, No greater wrong than preparing to defend yourself, No greater misfortune than having an enemy. Whoever can see through all fear will always be safe.”

That quote rings absolutely true to me. I know it as fact. I know fear is an illusion. I know that knowing that makes me eternally safe. This is obviously a deep faith, so what kind of faith could rational thinking people understand? And what kind of faith won’t be winning any arguments?

Faith in a certain action, like getting the third parking space from the left, becomes ridiculous scientifically. If you have that kind of faith, great, but you won’t be successfully debating any scientists. It is not about you getting a parking space. It’s not about you winning, or getting “things” necessarily. The kind of faith that science can’t argue with is this: a deep understanding that it is all OK. It is all OK. Whatever happens will be fine. There is a deep peace in that statement when we know it to be true. There is also durability and courage.

This kind of faith makes sense because we are able to drop our expectation, and science can’t argue with that. In doing it we free ourselves of potential let downs. Science can’t argue with experience without expectation. It can only argue with expecting magical things to happen.

Letting go of how things are supposed to be is perhaps the largest spiritual lesson we can learn, and it ends up being faith. Faith in the Tao, faith in Christ, faith in the Now, or just faith in you; whatever we call it, it will all be OK. It may be painful, it may be tough, but it will all be OK. Deciding to accept whatever comes is an amazing spiritual lesson that science can’t argue with. Once we see that, and drop our assumptions and expectations the world becomes very beautiful. We are surprised instead of disappointed. We are pleased with challenges instead of frustrated. We are thrilled with quiet instead of bored.

Referenced: Tao Te Ching

Learn To Surrender

Surrender means to give oneself over to something. The type of surrender I’m discussing in this talk is not a sign of weakness, in fact, it might be the greatest sign of strength. The ego doesn’t usually like to hear about giving in or surrendering, but one of the greatest teachings we can learn is to surrender.

This practice is learning to allow your ego to surrender to what is. No experience is bad when we learn to drop the conflict around a situation. That conflict is the ego’s desire for things to be other than they are. Surrendering to what is is the dropping of the ego for true experience.

Surrender implies awareness, because we need to know what to surrender too. Learn to ask yourself what you’re feeling, that brings about awareness. Then the trick is allowing yourself to be the thing you’ve become aware of, to be what you feel. Often this will seem counter intuitive: I don’t want to be sadness; I don’t want to be anger; I don’t want to be cold. But learning to be these things, even when that isn’t what you want to be, is true surrender. It is waking up to be what you are. That is surrender, and it can change your life.

Connecting to the Vine

How do we remember what to do when we feel lost in our daily lives? Metaphor can be a great teaching tool to anchor ideas into our reality. “Connecting to the vine” is a great way to describe connection to oneness.

What happens when a leaf gets cut away from a vine? It tends to wither and die. This talk discusses this idea as a spiritual metaphor. If we consider the expression of oneness as the vine, then our identification with self is cutting ourselves off from that vine. While identification with self can feel quite cut off, it is often called an illusion because we can never leave oneness. We can only identify away from oneness, not actually be away from it. Changing our identification back to experiencing life directly, we reconnect with the vine.

It’s simple to do. We can use times when we’re stuck in line, or in a traffic jam, to bring our focus to the physical sensation of life and reconnect to being. We can make the effort to truly listen to coworkers, instead of thinking of what we’ll say next. This allows us to be present while with others. Whenever we need to walk somewhere, we can bring our attention to the physical sensation of walking to bring ourselves back to the vine of being. And of course we can chose to allow a more formal space for connecting to the vine through meditative or introspective practices.

In this talk I also discuss Jesus and the idea that he was the expression of being connected to the vine. If we change our concept of Jesus from needing to go “through him” to understanding that he was showing us “how to be” connected, we can actually begin to emulate how he lived. If we leave it as an idea, we won’t be able to express his love.

Referenced: Jesus

Can We Make It All Sacred

If we want to evolve it would be good to learn that everything is sacred. Using certain objects to wake up is useful, but we need to watch how attached to those objects, places, etc. we become.

What good comes from making things sacred? It is normal to notice certain things as more orderly or beautiful than other things. We tend to make some of those things sacred. But we should watch how we do this. It is a certain type or quality of mind that wants to do this. Again, it’s normal, but normal is not necessarily good. We have the challenge to better ourselves by going for good, without degrading ourselves by getting too attached in the process.

What problems does turning some things sacred create? Good necessitates bad. Many religious wars have been caused by minds too attached to sacred things (Middle Eastern land, etc.). This is also one of the problems with New Age ideas of today. The mind that makes a certain charm, or symbol, or building, or area more sacred than another can become problematic as we get too attached to those objects. The more power we give these symbols as being sacred, the more we have the potential to depend on them.

So is this idea important? I think this has the potential to end wars. If we as a people could see the importance in loosening our attachment to sacred things, or rather, notice that everything is sacred, we could begin to end conflict. No land is better than any other land. Everything has the essence of being in it. Space does, objects do. That awareness is in you, so learn to foster it. Realize that when you are in a mind of preference, that you might be able to look at things differently. You might be able to see that it’s all sacred.

Show Music: Wholeness & Separation by Halou

What Does Paradox Have To Do With It?

Question I’d really like answered for a future talk:  What, if anything, would be the best thing humans could do to make the world a better place?  Please leave an answer as a comment to this blog or email me directly.

In this talk we explore paradoxes and logic and point out where we’ll find them in learning about stillness.

One interesting paradox is “This sentence is false.” Another might have to do with using language to define impossible situations.  The logical mind doesn’t like paradoxes.

The most common paradoxes we will find in these talks tend to come from different levels of experience clashing against the same thing, or the idea of the same thing. Normally those two experiences come from a mind that feels separate from the moment, and the mind that feels at one with the moment. If you have no concept of what being one with the moment feels like, it is simply when we are doing anything without critique. That’s stillness in it’s simplest form.

Another example of paradox, as I’m defining it here, is the good/bad dilemma. Having something that seems bad turn out to be good. Or learning something from a bad thing, and finding good value in that learning. Then the thing is good and bad, etc.

What I am really trying to describe is the problem with being “away” from reality. The normal existence of man feels separate from life. We feel distinct and separate from other people and things.  I’m trying to discuss the sense of oneness, and how a separate mind will often not find logic in discussing oneness.  In that lack of logic we will often come to paradoxes.

All spiritual traditions seem to be based, or at least discuss oneness.  In Christianity, the original sin is about mankind leaving stillness, or oneness, to come to knowledge. We obtained the knowledge of good and evil. It’s man entering duality. In Christianity they say that after death we go to heaven. Is it possible that all that needs to die is the self?  Because there is no self in stillness, can we come to a heaven on earth?  Taoism speaks of everything being the Tao – that is their reference to oneness.  Buddhism speaks of stillness and oneness frequently as well.  This is all mentioned only to point out that oneness seems to exist, even though our normal experience is a separate one.

So are we OK with paradox?  Can a mind see that paradoxes exist, and move past them?  Can we put down the discerning mind to come to peace?

You Can’t Kill God

This is a talk about fear and fear based teaching.

Any teacher that offers fear should be watched very closely.  There is nothing to fear.  You cannot kill god.  The death of bird, the Exxon spill, 911, tsunami’s and hurricanes, all of it can’t kill god.  We may not understand it, but it is OK.  Even the extinction of the human race can’t kill god.

If we can learn to identify with god-consciousness, we will see that we are a part of the whole.  That realization allows us to not fear things.  We are temporary, but we are part of the infinite.  All things in the infinite will change, but the infinite itself is timeless.

The idea that we need to save the planet is quite funny.  What we really feel is the need to save ourselves.  When we set up the idea that we need protection, we introduce the birth of fear.

The planet will be just fine whether we litter a five feet deep layer on it, or blow craters the size of Texas in the side of it.  It will be fine.  It’s us who feel we need the protecting.  Wildlife extinct itself and yet new species are born.  Change is constant.  I’m not at all saying we should try to extinct things, but as we do, we don’t kill god.

Leave a plot of earth barren or in any horribly assaulted condition and eventually life will come back to it.  We’re getting better at making it barren for longer periods of time, but we still can’t stop life.  Life wants to come forth.  And so it will.  There is nothing to fear.

Fear based teachings aren’t helpful.  We need to learn to grow past fear.  “Bad” actions, like mistakes and killing things come from a fear based mind.  If we open to a fearless state of mind, we will make better choices.  Not a reckless state of mind, but a truly fearless one.

There has always been catastrophic things to fear.  War, famine, sickness, nuclear attacks, etc.  Our current struggles are nothing new.  They won’t end until we evolve past the idea of fear.

We all die, and need to learn not to fear that.  But we most importantly need to learn to live.  The illusion is that we’re not OK.  This world is perfect as it is.  This moment never has anything wrong with it.
Referenced: Tao Te Ching #46

The Different Meanings of To Be

I want to clarify what I mean by “to be” because it is actually more than one thing. It is both “to be – still” and also “to be – what you are.” This may be hard to stomach because these seem to be in opposition, but they are both really important. It’s actually many many layers, and facets of things to wade through. So let’s look for more language around this issue.

“To be still” implies working with the mind through concentration and space to “still” the busy mind. You might think of this as the Buddhist way of practicing meditation. It implies a lot of things: Peace, but also difficulty in finding that peace. It has a sense of carrot and stick to it: I’m not still now, and I want to be still. So time is implied. “I’m not what I want to be.” There is a part of us that is trying to grow. This is the part that realizes that need for growth. This type of practice is important. We could call this discipline.

“To be what you are” implies a looser idea, of “I’m OK” in any situation. So if you are busy, be busy. If you are still, be still. You could think of this in a more Taoist sense, or more “zen” if you will. Up is down, right is wrong, everything is OK. This sense is much less rational, but also very important. It’s being gentle with who we are. It’s also dropping expectations about what we are supposed to be. This is the state that has no conflict, even when “conflict” is there. Meaning, in this state, you are not trying to be anything but what you are. This is the awakened state. This you might call freedom.

So the discipline allows for the second freedom, in a sense. The discipline is hard, and the freedom is soft. They are two ends of a spectrum. The Buddha talked about the middle path, and this is what he meant. You can’t leave your mind too loose, it needs some discipline. It also can’t be too rigid, or you never actually sit in the space of freedom.

A mystical Christian might say that since everything is God, each moment is the expression of God right now. We should learn to be in alignment with that, and it takes forgiveness (being what you are) and a bit of discipline (learning to be still) to align with that expression.

So the practice of meditation is working with your mind to still it. But it is also the practice of forgiving, or allowing to be whatever is. You may sit and have a busy mind. That’s OK. You may sit and fall into a lot of freedom, that’s OK too. If you feel too loose, bring some discipline. If you find you’re being too rigid, loosen up. That’s the middle path.

Stillness in Motion

How can we “achieve” when stillness seems to oppose goals, the future, etc.?

Mentioned that many people were interested in this talk. That seems to be because we are much more interested in how the achieve things, rather than being interested in stillness. However, that misses the point. We need to learn stillness first.

Three things this talk tries to accomplish: Show that there can be stillness in motion. Discuss the seeming paradox of stillness vs. accomplishment. And I’m hoping to point out that bringing stillness to actions we perform allows for the best performance possible, in all things.

Discuss what stillness is. It is a mind free of time. It is a quiet mind. It is the expression of meditation in action.

Why are goals okay? Doesn’t that contradict with being “free of time?” Literally it does contradict. Having intention is a sane goal. That differs from having an obsessed mind, bent on achievement. Time exists on some levels, but not all levels. It is always this moment. However, the practical aspects of life remain.

What is excellence? Our exterior is a reflection of our interior. When we change internally, that change will begin to show itself in our achievements and outer life. Sports figures talk of “being in the zone” when referring to peak performance states. The zone is achieved when we pay attention to the process rather than the outcome of a situation. It is the focus on the moment fully that allows for our best performance. When we are “still” our entire brain and being can be put to work toward our goal. Simply put, we perform better at everything when we are present with what we are doing.

Discussed what being present feels like by telling a story about my plants. Mentioned ways to begin bringing stillness to achievement through watering those plants. Also discussed that stillness can be an attribute of anything we do, no matter how complex.

Stillness is the goal, so it better allow for goals. Achieving stillness in motion will be the beginning of a new way of being for you, and the world. As an immediate side bonus, our performance in all things will increase as we learn stillness in motion.

Referenced: Eckhart Tolle

The Ending of Problems

Our problems dissolve when we bring our attention and presence to them.

All problems are based in this one fact: We have become dissatisfied with our situation.

Once we are dissatisfied, we have two choices: 1) Try to bend the world to our will, or 2) surrender and accept the situation – bring presence to the situation.

Surrender is the same as bringing your attention back to the breath. It is very powerful, not weak.

Every time you are aware that you have a problem, bring your attention back to your breath.