Archive for February, 2011
Experiencing Peace and Harmony By Simplifying Life

In the fast-paced 21st century post-modern society most of us find ourselves living in, everything can seem incredibly complex. There are several choices for any particular product that we can buy, numerous philosophies and belief systems we can follow, and countless subjective perceptions we can have on any given action or reaction that another person expresses. Yes, it sometimes seems as if life is hopelessly complex these days, but thankfully there are things we can do in order to simplify life in order to stream in the calming feelings of peace and harmony into our lives. Life doesn’t have to be as complicated as society makes it out to be. As the principles of feng shui show, simplifying life by removing all our physical clutter likewise removes our psychological clutter.

Ways to Simplify Our Lives

Perhaps the most simplifying aspect of our human experience, being the relational beings that we are, is the unhindered communication of what we are feeling, thinking, and expressing with and to others. By understanding, with absolute clarity, there are no misconceptions as to what someone’s intentions are. There is no need to create highly elaborate and intricate thought-patterns in our minds in order to explain what we think someone meant by doing or saying something. Many relationships have become undone because of miscommunication and the misinterpretation of what one person said or did to another. Engaging in open dialogue between you and your friends, loved ones, and anyone else for that matter, will save you from worrying, being anxious, and stressing over your perceptions of another person’s actions or reactions.

Bringing in more peace and harmony into your life can be greatly assisted by being mindful of how much you spend on living expenses. Try not to spend your entire paycheck as soon as you get it. It doesn’t have to be on paper, but work out how much money you need for necessary expenses and leave some extra money for savings. Having that extra bit will save you from the incredible stress and anxiety many people experience when they look at their bank account and see they have nothing at all or actually owe the bank. Don’t buy things on a whim that you need at this moment in time. Sometimes, people buy things because they are unconsciously attempting to fill a void within their lives, be it the loss of a significant other or some other unfortunate experience. Remember that happiness is a state of mind; acquiring material possessions can cause short-term happiness, but long-term suffering.

The human ego is oftentimes a major hindrance to people trying to experience peace and harmony within their lives. The most effective tool in its arsenal, fear, is largely to blame for this. We cannot allow our egos to use fear in order to control our thoughts and actions. This is why, in order to make life simpler, we shouldn’t be afraid to ask someone something that we are unsure about.  The classic stereotype of men not asking for driving directions is a perfect example of the consciousness of fear directing a person’s actions away from the rational and towards the irrational. None of us are all-knowing; we learn from others. By making the transition from fear to courage, we can simplify our lives by not having the anxiety of the unknown being constantly within the forefront of our minds. Erase the doubt away by finding out the answer from somebody else, and peace will enter your mind much sooner than if you let fear control your actions.

A great way to add even more simplicity into your life is to take care of the little things in life as soon as they arise. Don’t procrastinate simple tasks since they will tend to add up and leave you feeling overburdened. Just think of a case like washing the dishes. As each day passes without any dishes being washed, and as you see the sink fill up with a mountain of bowls, plates, and cutlery, your desire to wash them becomes smaller and smaller. What was once a rather simple task has now turned into a herculean effort. Save the trouble that you would have created for yourself by getting small tasks such as this out of the way before they become a gargantuan chore. Remember, simplify, simplify, simplify.

A good way to simplify life that may seem to go against common knowledge is to not multitask. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking does not make you do multiple things well at once, but makes you do multiple things more poorly simultaneously. We believe that we are accomplishing more at once because our brains create the illusion that we are being successful in the multiple tasks we’re doing when in reality, we are epically failing at both. The failure is not always as apparent in some as it is in others, but the hidden failures are always there, which include increased stress, nervousness, and anxiety.  Let’s say that you are driving and eating a bowl of chili simultaneously. Not only do you have to have a significant portion of your focused awareness on the road and be prepared for defensive driving, you also have to worry about not spilling chili all over your work clothes as you’re driving to your job. Throw in utensils into the equation and your multitasking experience has become even more stressful. Focusing on one task at a time will show you, through experiential observation, that a greater level of peace is felt when this approach to getting things accomplished is taken.

Finally, to wrap up these suggestions for a simpler life, don’t worry too much about what other people think about you. Admittedly, this isn’t easy but it is a sure-fire way to simplify our lives and bring peace and harmony into our daily human experience. Chances are that there will always be someone, somewhere who is thinking or saying something in a less-than-positive manner about us. One way of combating these anxious thoughts is to go through a mental exercise in your head where you think of all the reasons why you shouldn’t care what those other people think. Don’t become a unconsciously controlled by others’ thoughts and opinions about you. You are a free-willed individual who can do anything you please. Empower yourself with this liberating stream of thought and care not of what others think of you. Life is too short to constantly worry about what he said, she said.

The simplification of our lives can help us make tremendous strides towards achieving those sought after mind-states of peace and harmony. Present-day society makes it difficult to keep life simple and sweet but it is certainly possible, as the suggestions earlier showed. Empower yourself with the “I can do it” attitude and affirm that you have the power to take great steps towards simplifying life without making tremendous sacrifices. With the prospect of peace and harmony streaming into our lives with life simplification, it should at the very least be something to try. If you never try, you will never know if you truly could have experienced those delicious higher states of consciousness that seem so elusive. Remember, simplify, simplify, simplify.

Waiting For The Tomorrow That Never Comes

Many of us tend to put the things we truly adore and are passionate about on hold, with the intent to fulfill our wishes later on in life. The problem with this is that more often than not, later never comes, and our flame of life becomes extinguished. Many people feel that they will get to do all the things they dreamed of doing their entire lives once they retire. Once they reach retirement age, if they actually do retire, they find themselves either physically or financially unable to do those very things that they wished their entire lives they dreamed of doing. They fall into a deep depressive state in which they feel as if they had wasted all the wonderful opportunities they had early on in life when they were full of vitality, passion, and excitement. They now find themselves burnt out thanks to unhealthy the socio-economic system that they had agreed to conform to their entire lives. There is no need to wait until old age to align what you do with your personality and passions. Don’t let society put you in shackles of quasi-slavery. Live the life you always wanted. This is your life, not your parents’, not your government’s, not your guru’s…not anyone’s but your own. Take control of your life’s destiny and fly high on the wings of ecstasy towards the mountain summit of your actualized wishes.

By living in the present, we are able to have no expectations or post-pone happiness for some later date. As around-the-world travelers will tell you, the excitement when traveling to faraway lands comes with the excitement of not knowing what to expect. When someone is staying in Australia for a month compared with staying in India for the same amount of time, that person will let you know that unlike Australia, for the most part, the unexpected aspects of life in India such as seeing elephants walk down main streets, being forced to play the game “scam or no scam” when trying to get a train ticket to another city, and others are what keep life exciting in its unpredictability and major lack of expectations.

This is not to say that we should not have any goals or plans. The focus here is on the present-based state of mind. Plans and goals, be they short-term or long-term, are fine as long as we practice the Buddhist idea of non-attachment. If the things we planned do not manifest as we had the expectation of them doing, they by being non-attached, we will not fall prey to severe depression that can occur with failed expectations. Our ability to be aware of our perpetual existence within the present moment requires an shift in attitude concerning acceptance. If we accept that the only experience we can ever be sure of is the one that is occurring now, then can will not suffer as a result of seeing a plan or goal that does not manifest as we expected it to.

Reality is as we find it in the here and now. The present moment contains all possible potentialities. In order to cultivate the present moment, we have to exhibit genuine acceptance…free from memory, desire or understanding. Given how Reality seems like a big cosmic joke sometimes, this sense of continuous in-the-moment presence is an ideal, not an actuality and as an ideal, presence paradoxically becomes a goal. This can be difficult to accept without taking into consideration the interpenetration of doubt and wonder. It becomes a “goal-less goal” in this way, meaning that we should not think about it or try to cultivate it, just simply maintain a mindfulness of our sense of presence and of any resistance to it, as psychoanalyst Paul Cooper suggests.

The trouble with goals is that one becomes obsessed with the goal. When you say you are seeking it means there is something to find…but the real freedom is the realization that there are no goals, there is only the Now. What happened is gone; what will happen is unknown, so we must live in the Now. Goals are functions of desire, which is a state of consciousness that is a possible motivator for creating a life of achievement. However, the failure of achieving the goals we create under the influence of the energy of desire gives back more harm than it is worth, as experiential evidence can show us all in our own lives.

We should not wait for the tomorrow that never comes. With expectations and desire to fulfill goals we set past the horizon of the immediate moment as it is occurring right now, we will suffer when these goals fail to come to fruition. We can have plans for the future, but we cannot become attached to them, or else we will allow the possibility for sadness and depression when they do not become actualized. Practicing mindfulness can help us attain the goal-less goal of a present-based life. It is easier said than done for most, but if you have a commitment to breaking the cycle of disappointment, suffering, and sadness when something does not happen as you planned it to, then your level of happiness will skyrocket to heights you have perhaps never reached previously. It is an extremely liberating feeling to become mindful, both consciously and unconsciously, or the presence of the present in its perpetual elegance.

Buddha Cats: The Spirituality of Animals

When we think of the word spirituality, we probably automatically associate it as being exclusively part of the human experience. We do not immediately contemplate on the possibilities of animals embodying elements of spirituality themselves, at least not if we have the 21st century post-modern Western mentality. Some older cultures and belief systems, such as Jainism, philosophical Taoism, and the various tribal and collective societies, did in fact regard animals has having the capacity to be spiritual. All sentient life was regarded as possessing the capability of experiencing and expressing spiritual qualities such as love, empathy, forgiveness, and compassion. Much more than this, animals were seen as being able to show things to humans about themselves, their world, and the whole of reality. Given that many people today feel that ancient cultures were more primitive and as a result were wrong about many things, it is reassuring to find that they were in fact correct about animals having spiritual experiences as shown by recent studies. Far from being the only sentient species on this planet capable of experiencing spirituality, we are joined by a vast and diverse legion of species that can have experiences very similar to ours.

Since animals can’t speak English, or any human language for that matter, it is rather difficult to gather information by speaking to them. Since this is the case, the easiest way to find out something is through observation. We can observe their physical activity as well as their neurological activity. Let’s take a look at how we can observe spirituality in animals by their physical activity. By taking our observations down into the rain forests of South America, we can find jaguars behaving in a kittenish manner after gnawing the bitter roots and bark of yage (Banisteriopsis caapi), a entheogenic vine commonly called Ayahuasca that is also used by native Amazonian tribes in spiritual ceremonies. There are some anthropologists who believe that humans first learned to use the psychedelic vine after watching jaguars eat it and experience altered states of consciousness. Not too long ago, I found a video exemplifying the jaguar-yage relationship that just goes to show us that we still know very little of what goes on for the jaguar during its ingestion of the Ayahuasca vine outside of the overt physical effects that resemble increased happiness and comfort.

We can also observe the inherent connectedness animals feel to the environment…a connectedness that modern humans have stopped being aware of.  Animals are in complete harmonic resonance with their bodies, the environment and all life forms around them. They are far better at practicing sustainability than we are and do not pose a threat to the destruction of all life on Earth as humans do. Animals can also demonstrate forgiveness on levels that are unfortunately not seen enough in humans. Think how often dogs forgive their owners when these owners leave them, sometimes for hours, days, and even weeks, without giving any reason that is comprehensible to the dog. Even if they are left in the freezing cold without enough food or water. Since we can’t communicate verbally with them, we don’t know what dogs think about where we are and when we’ll return, but what we do know is that when we finally come back, they are incredibly excited to see us again. They don’t hold grudges or lash out in anger, unlike a human if the same was done to him.

In order to see animals in a way that shows that they are able to experience higher states of consciousness as we are, we need to realize the interconnectedness of all manifestations of consciousness. Everything is a part of everything else within this vast and infinite matrix of consciousness, in which all is and which is all. We can experience this connection with everything including animals by being more aware of the subtle communication that occurs between the different expressions and configurations of consciousness. Subtle ways of communication include such things as telepathy which can be non-local in nature…something that has been proven to be possible with the framework of quantum physics.

There are some who proclaim that they are able to communicate telepathically with their pets. Some of these people meditate with their Buddha-like cats and say that they can sense the energetic coherence between them and their feline friend. Others have expressed their firm convictions in the ability of nonverbal communication between themselves and their pets when under the influence of psychedelics and entheogens. If this is truly the case, we can view communication as thought impulses of energy that contain many aspects of generated experiential energies. The telepathic ‘mind-frame’ reacts to the tapestry of reality, uniting collectively to form the reality, defining and sharing it. In essence, by experiencing direct energetic communication with animals, we are growing and evolving together. This is a heavy thought but contemplate its implications, if true.

There is still much to be understood concerning the spirituality of animals and their experiencing of higher states of consciousness. What we know thus far, from looking at ancient cultures as well as modern observations, is that animals are not as primitive as we once thought. They are capable of expressing elements of spirituality such as compassion and forgiveness that even the homo sapian, that “wise man”, is unable to bring himself to do at times. We can learn much about spirituality from our pets and other animals if we are open to the possibility that they are capable of such higher mind-states. The only thing there is to lose is our superiority complex and some pride. What there is to gain, is a greater understanding of the deeply interconnected nature of consciousness and life.

Being Aware of False Gurus and Spiritual Teachers

It seems that there’s an influx of “enlightened masters of the universe” pervading the spiritual sphere these days. Gurus and spiritual teachers are popping up left and right. Many of them seem to provide an easy way out of the voids many people feel they have within their lives and as a result, these gurus and teachers make a ridiculously massive amount of money…even earning social ranks akin to being glamorous superstars. Yes, it seems there are those within the spiritual arena who are looking at the qualitative aspects self-growth and seeing a marvelous money-making opportunity or a way to have incredible power over others; a pyramid scheme is then created and established. This is very dangerous, in that it can negatively affect the perception of legitimacy on the entire spiritual community and all that it encompasses. True genuine spiritual teachers and self-growth coaches will be disregarded as just being false gurus giving out spiritual-sounding nonsense that lacks substance and is unhelpful for a person’s spiritual growth.

Being aware that there are such enlightenment pyramid schemes can help us steer away from the false gurus and seek out the genuine teachers that truly wish to help people and the collective consciousness of humanity. It is admittedly difficult at times to see through the spiritual facade that some create as a front to hide their true nature and intentions. Having others do the work for us, such as various guru rating services that exist today, is dangerous as well, since we are putting our faith in a complete stranger to pick out “authentic” and genuine spiritual teachers. It should be obvious that there can be plenty of deception, subjective bias, and decisions which are made without the raters being fully informed about a particular person in line for the golden star of approval.

Identifying False Gurus and Spiritual Teachers

Actions speak infinitely louder than words. Anyone can proclaim magnificent and wonderful things but do these words live up to how the person lives and expresses themselves in his or her daily lives? Perhaps the biggest problem that I have found is the issue of money. I have seen self-appointed gurus, spiritual teachers, and whatever other title they go under, charging unbelievably large amounts of money for information, knowledge, or so-called higher wisdom, that is available to everyone (by looking within for the answers via meditation and other self-induced spiritual practices), as well as many money embezzlement cases. If you’re paying someone $295 for a spiritual 12 strand DNA activation, then you’ve just been conned.

While on the subject of empty words, when looking to a potential spiritual teacher for guidance, notice if that individual proclaims such magnificent titles referring to themselves as being enlightened masters, self-realized yogis, or being a saint (one of the ultimate delusions of grandeur following the Christ Complex).  Truly enlightened individuals and those who have experienced the highest echelons of consciousness don’t proclaim themselves to have done such things. They are in fact, quite humble (perhaps sometimes too humble, but humble they are). They understand that there is no benefit to themselves or their students to make such declarations. There is no need to establish a hierarchical framework within teachers and students work, as we are all passengers on the same train, separated only slightly in that we sometimes sit in different train cars. We are all going the same direction.

Another sign of a con-man in guru’s clothing is whether the person is able to take criticism or not. Those who are not genuine spiritual teachers will get offended and defensive over criticisms made towards them instead of looking inward and taking into consideration what those criticisms are (nobody is perfect, after all). How dare an unenlightened mortal criticize them! I have even seen the sad situation of a lawsuit being made by these so-called enlightened masters against people who had the “nerve” to point out something they feel was incorrect, deceptive, harmful, etc.

If you notice a spiritual teacher or guru having an almost-bizarre love affair with enlightenment this and enlightenment that, be cautious. Many of these enlightenment gurus focus on enlightenment itself instead of actually teaching others how exactly to attain that state. They do not teach about all the baby-steps leading up to the enlightening of one’s awareness in the most authentic of ways. Even the revered Buddha did not reach enlightenment overnight. Unless a spiritual teacher shows you a realistic way to reach enlightenment (such as through a particular meditation or awareness focusing technique) then you will be better off without their help, and you will keep your hard-earned money as well.

Beware of hypocrites! This is perhaps one of the simplest methods of weeding out spiritual “snake-oil salesmen”. Look if they practice what they preach. If they teach about how you should meditate daily to promote your spiritual growth, do they meditate daily? Are they leading by example? When they talk about radiating love and light and all that is beautiful, are they doing so themselves? Nobody likes a hypocrite, especially if that hypocrite is promising spiritual enlightenment.

One especially important aspect of a guru or spiritual teacher that we should look into is their investment in the material aspects of life. Are they displaying behavior that is indicative of an overactive lower chakra? Do they overly focus on money, sexy, and power? There is, of course, nothing wrong with a balance in life that includes the balanced use of these things, and indeed a balanced energy system is a necessity for a balanced life…however, when these become excessive without a doubt, then we should be wary of them. Selflessness should be the dominant quality in the spiritually-advanced soul, not selfishness.  Spirituality has no place for superstars and glamour. It is not the spiritual teacher themselves that should be the focus, but rather the spiritual messages and teachings. How can we attain our own Self-realization if our position of awareness is focused externally on the teacher, rather than internally on the Self?

There is nothing directly bad with spiritual workshops themselves, but when you see a spiritual teacher giving a spiritual course that’s several hundred dollars and lasts several days or even weeks, do not expect to reach enlightenment just by completing such a workshop. Yes, we all live busy lives and feel as if we do not have enough time to dedicate towards our spiritual growth, but let’s be realistic: you cannot become self-realized in 3 weeks. The processes of spiritual growth, self-actualization, self-realization, and enlightenment can take years or an entire lifetime (some even say multiple lifetimes). We would all like to believe that there is a fast lane to these things, but this is not the case. Of course, there are always exceptions and some reach the mountain’s summit faster than others, but as a whole, it is a process that includes much dedication and time.

The increased focus on spiritual materialism is problematic. All the courses, teachings, books, and workshops that focus on using the Law of Attraction to bring us riches and abundance hold materialist desires at their core, and do not reflect actual spiritual growth messages. Although spiritual growth and self-actualization can lead to like attracting like because of the immense positivity we project outward, attracting riches is not the purpose of attaining these mindstates. These messages that use the dynamics of attraction are not bad in and of themselves, but when they are misrepresented as being a path towards higher spirituality, then that is when we should be cautious of proceeding further. Do not become lost in the illusion that faux spirituality creates.

These are several ways in which you can spot a false guru, spiritual teacher, or other peddler of faux spirituality. In this day and age where there are thousands of so-called gurus, we have to be careful who we choose to listen to because if we make the mistake of following someone who is ego-centered in their true intentions, then we will lose time, money, and opportunity costs (among other things). It is my hope that this article can help in discerning between the genuine teacher that wishes nothing more than to help others become self-realized and experience spiritual bliss and those who proclaim they will do these things for you, but in reality are just emptying your bank account. Be mindful of who you decide to listen to and follow, and you will be thankful you spent some time to discern between those who are looking out for others and those who are looking out for themselves.

Being a Part of the Conscious Evolution of Humanity

Humanity is now experiencing the birth pangs of a global social transformation the likes of which have never experienced in recorded history. Never in the history of human life on this planet, has there been such a grave and serious threat of the planet that we live on becoming uninhabitable because of the actions of one species. Nearly everyone feels that something big is happening, although the reasons for this which are given are proclaimed as numerous as the stars, thanks to peoples’ various belief systems, subjective perceptions, and current levels of knowledge and information about what is going on. We are now in a completely new phase of evolution, a fundamental evolution of consciousness, that will change everything. This is an intentional evolution, based upon the shifting of our consciousness out of the ego’s domain and into the unity-oriented domain. Oneness among all peoples, regardless of how similar or different they may be to our own selves, will be key to this transition. By uniting together as one species, one family, we can not only ensure that we survive, but also that we thrive and transcend the lower realms of consciousness so that we can have a world that is finally filled with peace, love, and happiness (and not just filled with empty rhetoric). Not doing so will seal our fate in experiencing the most soul-crushing of dystopias imaginable.

There is thankfully an emerging worldview arising out of the ashes of the old order, and it can be seen as a sign of immense hope for the immediate future. In order for our long-term future to be a collectively bright one, we must become unified in seeing this emerging unity-oriented worldview as being the key to a future we can all be proud of. Do we want possible future explorers of our solar system to come upon our planet, find our artifacts and discover how foolish we were in our planetary and species self-destruction, becoming a footnote in the history annals of sentient races that brought about their own demise because of a lack of understanding about the interconnectedness of everything? Will we be looked upon as being an “intelligent” species that could have avoided imploding on itself if it only discarded its self-destructive positions of awareness? Let’s not become a footnote in a book of failed evolutionary experiments and become something that we can be proud of. Let’s not forget how many similarities we have. Think about all the social conditioning from the point of birth to the time of death. Look at all the beliefs we amass that divide us as a species and notice how these are not necessarily representative of reality, but were learned behaviors that further perpetuated the destructive cycles in human behavior that we see today.

There is a continuously-increasing amount of individuals that are realizing the importance of an intentional shift in the collective consciousness of humanity. They feel within themselves that they have a critical role to play in this shift if they wish to see it occur. These people see that the entire socio-economic system has to be changed. When they look around and see the egoistic expression of greed manifest itself through the haves taking more and more from the have-nots. They see that 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution did not intend to end here, with the current sad state of affairs. The psychological addiction of consuming and acquiring, manifested through materialism, seems to be increasingly infecting more minds in a shorter amount of time. We are at a dangerous position in our evolution where the old ego-dominated mentality is fighting desperately to maintain its current level of power because they are far too invested in the current order to give it all up and make the evolutionary quantum leap into a new humanity.

Trailblazing Towards a New Humanity

There is an increasing amount of individuals who are taking the human race by the hand towards the unity-oriented vision of humanity that is the answer to the current problems we face. These people dedicate their lives to this cause, because they believe so deeply in it and have such an immense love for our human family, and naturally to the rest of life on our planet that is losing up to 100,000 species to extinction every year. The individuals can be called intentional evolutionaries, since they are making it a life goal for helping humanity make the shift and transition to the new unifying humanity that embodies the mindstates of peace and love above all else.

They will not allow these things to turn into cliches as has happened in the past, but will live them and become the literal expression of these higher levels of consciousness, for the benefit of themselves and of everyone/everything else. As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin had once said,  “there is an almost sensual longing for communion with others who have a larger vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendships between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality almost impossible to describe”. How true this is, because the feelings being expressed by these intentional evolutionaries are as genuine as can be. There is no ego formulating a hidden agenda or trying to create a subversive attempt in order to get something for themselves. No, they recognize that they have a critical role to play in consciousness shift that is occurring. They know that if this consciousness evolution is to continue to fulfill its potential, it now must be deliberate, and they feel with the whole of their hearts that it is their responsibility and destiny to ensure this happens.

Unity and diversity need not been separate. It is possible to be united in the expression of higher mindstates such as reason, joy, love, and peace while keeping the attributes which make each one of us special and unique. Cooperation on a global level is possible and indeed necessary, if we are to make the transition to a new humanity. It seems as if it’s something a child would understand, but unfortunately the actions of some (particularly world leaders) demonstrate that this elementary concept is not grasped by the aging remnants of the old world order. War, famine, and environmental destruction would be a thing of the past if only the peoples of the world cooperated with each other to bring about such a world. Today, with various crises extending far beyond any one country’s borders, there is a very real possibility for global unity and cooperation to finally become a reality.

If the human response to crises such as the ones following Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, and the revolution in Egypt tell us anything, it’s that we can put our differences aside and unify to cooperative with each other in order to create a positive change. Do not become depressed about the state of affairs currently on our planet. There is a massive awakening occurring with a realization that it is now or never, in respect to fundamental social transformation, consciousness evolution, and the birth of a new humanity. Become an intentional evolutionary and take advantage of every opportunity that may arise in order to promote the creation of a fundamental consciousness shift that is global in size and scope. Make it a part of your life’s purpose to help in creating a critical mass of consciously evolved individuals that will stop the destructive nature of the current socio-economic order. Our very future and survival depends on it.