Inner Reflections

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“Many people try to become wiser and more loving, and they remain in a constant battle with themselves. This approach never works because it assumes a separate ‘you’ who wants to be a better person. It is the you that is the dream, a thought only. In taking yourself to be a separate entity, you blind yourself to the Truth of your being, which is love and wisdom.” Adyashanti

Within the eyes of our own reflexivity we shall see a wider array of our outer reality; revealing what we magnetically attract to ourselves. In greater awareness, when we can become more of a witness, we can perceive the interconnected attraction that we generate every second.

“The law of attraction is this…you don’t attract what you want, you attract what you are.” ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

After spending most of my life as an easily reactive individual, despite doing my practice on a regular basis. A situation occurred where I decided that I would make a concerted effort to become more of a witness, than a reactor. In time, I realized that as situations began to unfold, it was as though a part of me was watching this occur. Within this awareness, there was a very subtle moment where I could choose how to react. Through this process, I started to notice all the people who were drawn to me or attracted to me; everyone was going through something energetically similar. As aspects of my life changed, again I attracted people going through apparently similar life experiences.

“Usually where we experience lack, there’s something we already have that we’re not appreciating fully.” ~ Marianne Williamson

Even further, through the Holistic Integrated Therapy that I have been practicing for many years now, most of my clients were also drawing versions of themselves, literally to themselves. The work I do is a combination of counselling, intuition and medical intuition. It’s incredibly effective when going through very challenging aspects of life or situations with other people. Through observing the challenges of many of my long term clients, as well as the numerous friends that also come to see me. I noticed one thing that was very interesting. The most challenging individuals that they came across, ALL had the same qualities that these people also embodied.

The problem, is that most of us are not willing to really face our darkest inner selves and see how we are on a deeper level. Of course, within the ability that I am gifted with, I can see very clearly each person’s energetic qualities. Actually, I have had this ability very fine tuned since I was a very small child and have used it throughout my entire life, with absolute accuracy in every situation.

“We are made for goodness, love and compassion. Our lives are transformed as much as the world is when we live with these truths.” ~ Desmond Tutu

I noticed that we struggle with the abject of ourselves when we meet it face to face in another person. We fight back against them, with a dislike that we actually have towards these qualities that are hidden deep within ourselves. From a spiritual perspective, none of the mind stuff is our true identity. However, from a practical perspective, all of it is associated with our ego. The ego loves to hide its darkness away; out of sight out of mind. Therefore, we show a facade of a friendly demeanor and project outwardly how we would like others to perceive us. Ironically, I have always been able to feel the whole energy of a person, seeing what was hidden beneath.

“When you accept everything for what it is without labels,you are outside your ego.”~Eckhart Tolle.

When we are aware of our own darker tendencies, we learn to have compassion and acceptance towards others negative tendencies.  I am not saying that we accept others bad behaviour, yet we can accept the whole of the individual, even if we see that this person can lose their temper at times or is also human like us. If we can find a place of taking self-responsibility for who we are and all of our tendencies, then it’s easier to see the humanity of others. The reflections of the abject are the strongest in partnership, we see the negative qualities and start to point the finger in blame, “you are like this”. When really, we are most likely the same, in some way.

“When a ship is in the sea, it has to weather storms, rough seas and may even encounter whales or sharks, while the ship anchored in the harbour doesn’t face any such challenges. However, who would make a ship just to moor it in the harbour? When obstacles appear in life, we need to kindle our inner strength and spread the fragrance of selflessness and love. We should be able to lift up others who are drowning in grief.” Amma

One of the most powerful healing qualities is awareness, as once we are able to shed light on our own inner vulnerabilities we can work on changing them. Rather than finding constant fault with others behaviour. It’s far more self-empowering to continuously focus on our inner self and allow these patterns to deteriorate and eventually let them go.

In time, all things are possible if you make the sincere effort, all you need is the persistence and continual awareness. In time, you will attract much more harmonious relations and the depth of compassion and love will allow you to work through difficulties with others in a positive way.

In addition, it is important to maintain a certain level of discrimination and have healthy boundaries around those who we want in our lives.

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Stepping Out From The Shadow

“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” The Dalai Lama

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I was fortunate to be part of the audience for a live interview with my spiritual teacher, Sri Mata Amritananda Mayi Devi, widely known as ‘Amma’ meaning ‘Mother’. The interview was held at Stanford University by Dr. Doty on Conversations on Compassion that took place the beginning of last July 2014. Dr. Doty has interview other great spiritual leaders, such as The Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Desmond Tutu, and many others. Amma, said that it does not matter how long you spend with the Master; it depends on how great your desire is to be free and make the effort, like the baby chicken who pecks their way out of the egg. She said the true Guru is your experiences in life, these teach you the most, if you are willing to learn.

Most of us, myself included live life, or have lived life based on numerous preconceived notions about our identity: social and family positionally; our monetary social status; how well we are liked in our friend and cohort groups; and our acquisition of material gain. Thus, all of us are constantly attempting to live a life that has some meaning, contentment, and joy. Inevitably, we are prisoners of our self imposing conceptions that we use to negotiate our identity and identify ourselves in reference to our external social landscape. We live with a sense of reality that is predominantly covered by shadows, all of which are our own creation and perception. We live our lives in such a way, where we choose to stay trapped in a self created cage within our minds, often closing our heart and emotions to the large scope of reality. In this way, we find the path of limitation a safe and secure place to walk; rather than finding the courage within to confront the wilderness of the unknown. However, through our desperation to find and live a life of authenticity and security, we find ourselves beneath a sky of grey clouds, for we can never evolve into our highest potential or into our true identity by living a life constantly measured by infinite self imposed limitations.

I am sure most people can relate, to some degree with what I am discussing, as we have all experienced some component of this phenomena within our lives. Where we felt very frustrated and confined; unable to break free, even though we are aware enough to isolate the real issue that is constricting us. The truth is that the freedom and answers that we seek can only be found within ourselves, for we always know which direction we need to pursue. Regardless of when we arrive at this consciousness, of being trapped by something, we can then find a means of moving beyond whatever it may be. I strongly believe and have experienced that once we are aware of all the places within ourselves, where we allow ourselves to be small and limited, with enough determination and effort we can break free eventually of even the most painful feelings of limitation. With enough focus, dedication, and practice everything in our lives will change, our bodies, our minds, and even the negative tendencies that we are so attached to.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Rumi

Once we open the doors to our limitation and leap out of the self imposing cage, who do we then become. The answer is that the more we let go of everything that once burdened or limited us, we realize that we are a unique expression of the universe, similar to everyone else. Yet, each of us are as diverse and unique as the pattern of each snowflake, we are all falling together in our own authenticity, beauty, and interconnected senses of being. There is a realization that life will most likely bring us numerous challenges that we must face, yet we have the strength and resilience to go through all of them. It was said by a saint, that each and every challenge and difficulty that we must confront in our lives, is meant only for us, as we have the innate capacity and inner strength to transcend whatever it may be. Thus, we should never compare ourselves to anyone else, especially when it comes to the various challenges that all of us have to inevitable face in our lives, at some point or another.

In essence, regardless of where we find ourselves in this moment, we always have the choice to find contentment and be grateful for what we have. Even in the darkest moments of life, there are still shards of beautiful light that are all around us, it is within our own consciousness to choose to perceive the beauty and delicate frailty of life. To inevitable be free of our own limitations, we must know that we always have a choice; a choice to perceive ourselves, our lives, and our social landscape in a language that brings us to a higher level of our own innate potential, that we all embody.

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The Subversive Nature of Being

“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” Rumi

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We live in a predominantly homogenized society, despite the fact that a large percentage of the younger generations are acting as a unified force to counter this form of social conformity. Although, throughout history the majority of brilliant scholars, artists, musicians, philosophers, and mystics were all focused on living non-conventional lives due to their awareness of the confining aspects of homogeneity. The most brilliant minds of even today, use the faculty of discrimination, critical thinking, and even intuition to assess and weigh what is accurate and what is not.

Even Einstein was a great advocate of using one’s intuitive faculties,“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. We will not solve the problems of the world from the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. More than anything else, this new century demands new thinking: We must change our materially based analyses of the world around us to include broader, more multidimensional perspectives.” Albert Einstein

In essence, through the intellectual and intuitive faculties which we all have a certain degree of access to, we should be able to discern what is of relevance and what is not. Yet, how many of us actually question the relevance of certain social patterns that most people blindly follow. 

The act of being subversive is a tactic that is used everyday by numerous people who have the awareness that becoming fully homogenized within society is not a true representation of imbibing their highest potential, nor a clear representation of what they would like their lives to emulate. The act of living a life that is based on subversive actions; to have the awareness to contest even basic issues lacking in transparency, reveal our basic need to know the truth of what is going on in society and the larger global world.

Through all of our actions and words, when we choose to questions certain patters in society and go against them, there can be repercussions. I recently experienced this phenomena, in which a certain individual launched an attack against the conceptual discourse and content of the discussion related to the social, political, and ecological importance of choosing organic food, over the other choices available. I realized instantly, that when people are highly homogenized, or when they are faced with concepts that they view as subversive, or even intellectual discussions that question the pattern of their ‘normal’ social conditioning; they become highly defensive. 

I first experienced this when I became a vegetarian 23 years ago, during a time when it was not mainstream or even remotely cool to practice this form of dietary choice. I was actually a vegan vegetarian, due to reading John Robins “Diet For A New America”, and several other related books. Given the information I was able to assimilate on this topic, I made a very clear choice to eat a diet that did not cause harm to animals, supported a holistic principle to health, and was more viable within the parameter of being more ecologically sound. Even though the choice was mine to make, I found myself constantly running into people who would become immediately confrontational and defensive against the choices that were inevitably affecting me, not them. I found this phenomena rather interesting as I realized that people’s deep seated fear of others doing something that is considered subversive triggers massive fear, defensive mechanisms, and can make people very confrontational.

In todays world, most of us are homogenized to some degree within the cultural norm of our social milieu. Therefore, the use of subversive action can be a mechanism to create small circles of change through discussions, or it can occur on a much large scale, such as being highly aware of the social economy of what we inevitably support with our time, money, and actions. To this day, I have lived my entire life attempting to liver more subversively than allowing myself to fall into the homogenization of becoming en-mass, like a drone in a vacuous society devoid of any depth of meaning. To live a life bound by social conformity, accepting everything at face value, and without questioning the larger social and political paradigm is to be completely asleep. “Some people live as though they are already dead. There are people moving around us who are consumed by their past, terrified of their future, and stuck in their anger and jealousy. They are not alive; they are just walking corpses.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Today when I meet people who become defensive and confrontational over the choices that I make, I clearly state that if they don’t like what I write or how I live my life, its absolutely fine, as the actions I make only affect me, no one else. Thus, “my only true belongings in life are my actions.” Thich Nhat Hanh

To choose to live a non-conventional life one must be very strong, strong enough to confront others ignorance in a non-confrontational, grounded, and calm way. Ironically, many things that were seen as subversive at one point in time, soon become mainstream. Several of todays trends were once limited to much smaller subcultures and seen as highly subversive. A few of these are: organic food, vegetarianism, other heath based dietary regimes, yoga, meditation, consuming herbs or health supplements, etc. Yet, today it seems most people have some awareness of all of the above topics.

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The Ubiquitous Nature of Gossip

“You must not hate those who do wrong or harmful things; but with compassion, you must do what you can to stop them for they are harming themselves, as well as those who suffer from their actions.” His Holiness The Dalai Lama

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The pernicious nature of gossip is so widespread throughout all societies that there is no doubt this aspect of human social behavior is ubiquitous to all cultural and social perimeters, seen on a global level. A fascinating aspect of this phenomena is how most people are so homogenized that they literally will believe even untrue gossip if it comes from a source they trust, rather than drawing upon their own direct experience with the individual in question. I have seen even some of the most discriminating people affected by such situations, which leaves me to inquire why people are so weak minded that they can not at least try to see if the information disclosed has any relevance before acting in a rash or harsh way towards the individual being discussed.

I have witnessed this phenomena in all aspects of life, including in institutions like ashrams where you would think that people are trying to rise above such petty ways of behaving. However, in my time in India I have witnessed that this behavior is as pernicious or more pernicious than I have ever before witnessed in my entire life. Of course, not everyone gossips as out of a population of several thousand people there are many very serious spiritual seeker who understand the destructive nature of this limiting and harmful behaviour. There was a scholar who went to numerous ashrams in India and the one quality that he noticed was this aspect of pernicious gossip and fault finding. He attributed this wide spread behavior to the reality that in such institutions the individuals basic needs are taken care of. Therefore, they have far less mental stress in life than most people living in the world having to worry about their jobs, families, and social responsibilities. He believed that this behavior was magnified due to the close proximity that all of the residence found themselves living within, combined with a general lack of interest in discussing other topics of conversation.

As an individual, I am sure I have partaken in such negative tendencies as gossip, yet for the majority of my life I have deeply felt that this action carries a deep harm associated with it. I have always felt a deep feeling of remorse when I have participated in such activities. Thus, for most of my life I have not associated with or attracted many people with such tendencies. Even though gossip is found at a pernicious level within all human societies, in the right company there can be more interesting topics to discuss than the negativities of others.

Therefore, I personally avoid and find the nature of pernicious gossip to be a very despicable, violent, and extremely harmful tendency that some people engage therein. A few reasons why certain people may feel the need to gossip can be associated with the feeling that; if we see someone as better than us or more talented, we see them as competition and what often occurs is fault finding and spreading negative gossip to eliminate the person from the competition. In addition, if we see someone possessing a particular object that we desire, there will often be jealousy towards that person. Many of us carry deep wounds from the past, thus in the present a particular use of word or action from a person may feel as an attack towards these unhealed inner wounds, even though that person may not have intend to inflict such pain. All of us have inner tendencies that we need to prove we are better than others. The ego is always trying to prove itself through our sense of self importance, thus we find faults within others.

According to the ancient Indian scriptures it is clearly stated that when we try to damage a person’s reputation through character defamation through the use of lies or rumors, its considered an act of violence. This subtle form of violence can manifest when we are unaware of our actions and we may become like sadists, feeling good at others hurt and finding justifications for imposting this form of violence onto another person. This completely defeats the purpose of a spiritual life, as such behavior completely blocks any positive energy from entering into our lives, thus causing some serious harm to eventually return to us.

I have personally experienced situations where people have known me personally for a duration of time, yet the malicious nature of someone’s issues perpetuated untrue gossip about me. In this case, because of the credibility of the person disclosing the gossip, others readily believed what was said, like sheep without any ability to discriminate or intuition to verify if this was indeed true. Ironically, when we have people who are unaware of their deep seated anger, jealousy, hatred, and inner violence in addition to feeling very powerless in themselves, malicious gossip often results as this is their only form of retaliation.

This leads to the experiential knowledge of people seeing who you are as an individual and enjoying your company; then once the gossip has been spread suddenly the perception of who you are takes on a diametrically opposing negative quality. Even to engage in an innocent conversation, if discussing the actions of another, especially if we feel they are doing something inappropriate its wise to be extremely discriminating with whom one discloses such information. Its far too easy for someone to take what you say and create some reconstituted version of the story as gossip. If caught in the grip of others constant negative fault finding, the best thing to do is to not participate and try to find people to associate with who are more interested in discussing topics that are positive or provide something that can allow us to grow in life, rather than to spend time with people who are constantly pulling themselves and everyone around them down. 

In life we all find ourselves entangled within a myriad of various behaviors that are perhaps less appealing then we would prefer to be as human beings. I also understand what it can feel like to go through very challenging, often dark night of the soul experiences in life. I personally have undergone such transitions in life that felt very heavy, dark, and painful. Even when I was not the best version of myself, I still tried to keep some spiritual practice going or something that brought inspiration to my life. Therefore, we all get caught up in certain negative tendencies from time to time, yet the one reality that we must always keep in mind is that the harmful thoughts, words and actions that we inflict onto others, will most definitely only harm us in the long run. 

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The Spiritual Path of Simplicity

“Sadhana shouldn’t be done for one’s own liberation, but for the sake of becoming loving, compassionate, and understanding enough to remove the suffering of the world. We have to become so large-hearted that we experience the suffering of others as our own, and work to alleviate their suffering.” Amma

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For all of us, life must feel tangible and real regardless of which philosophical paradigm of thought we choose to view the larger panorama of life. We all have in common our collective shared human experience of being confronted with the ubiquitousness of negotiating between the banal and the profound, which are intertwined and imbedded within all of our experiences of being alive. Whether or not we are spiritual aspirants, we all seek a life with more peace, happiness, and fulfillment. The only difference is that a spiritual seeker is choosing to embody a truer sense of consciousness within themselves at an experiential level, often through some form of theoretical teaching and practice that is taught by a spiritual teacher.

Theoretically, the goal of the spiritual path is a process of aligning our inner selves with a greater sense of self awareness to fully comprehend the truth, through the inner purification that strips us of our self importance (ego) leading to our true sense of Self. This inevitably invokes a greater sense of inner simplicity, compassion, and humility which allows us to perceive the whole of existence as interconnected, being one unified whole.

I have spent a tremendous amount of time in spiritual environments and with spiritual seekers of all kinds. I came to strongly realize that if we are serious about evolving in this way, one needs a teacher who embodies this truth. If we do not have a teacher to help dismantle our ego of self importance, then we will not progress very far. It took me a long time to become fully aware of my own sense self importance, as it was not until after I found my spiritual teacher that I realized that feeling like I was so ‘spiritual’ was not conducive to true inner growth. Spirituality is really about letting go of our sense of; self importance, being special, spiritual pride, being self righteous, and competitive with others as to who is more spiritual.  

I too have been one of these people, who would engage in endless philosophical discussion on spiritual theory. In addition, I had a very strong sense of spiritual pride after being on this path throughout my life. In addition to having had numerous phenomenal experiences, starting when I was a young child. However, as the last decade of my life has unfolded in a seamless flow of challenging lessons. All of these experiences became a catalyst for very deep inner reflection, dramatically altering my previous perception of myself. Another huge lesson for me was through interacting with several ‘spiritual’ people who played the mini-guru to others, all the while their personal lives were steeped in controversy and hypocrisy.

I am far from being enlightened, yet throughout my life I have always been highly opposed to all forms of hypocrisy. I am well aware that all of us share our own measure of ambiguity and few of us live completely free from hypocrisy. These seemingly negative experiences made me hyper aware that if we are going to represent something, its wise to practice what we are advocating through our positive actions. I am following a spiritual path of inner purification towards developing a greater sense of empathy and compassion towards others. I am not indicating by any means that I am a fully humble or compassionate person, in contrary I have the same imperfections as everyone else.

I feel that the further we wander on this path the process of purification is supposed to bring us into a deeper sense of humility, simplicity, and compassion where we at least can try to be kind to ourselves and others, through practicing compassion, which is the essence of spirituality. When we embody a sense of compassion for all other living beings, there is a greater sense of awareness towards our actions and their consequences. Even though, the truth of the matter is that we are all beginners, stumbling along the spiritual path. The more we simplify ourselves and the less we feel that we truly know, the farther we can travel and truly learn. 

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