Written Blog: Illusions are Convenient
Removing illusions is a paramount practice in most spiritual paths. Some of my favorite archetypes include Shiva being the destroyer of illusions and maya as the Sanskrit word for illusion. Once we discard our illusions, we can see things as they are.
However, some of these illusions turn out to be rather elusive. I have had teachers put directly illusions directly in front of my face, and I still could not see them. So I got to thinking, “Why are our illusions and the stories we tell ourselves so difficult to see?”
And then I realized, when you let go of your illusions, you often have to make serious changes in your life. Once you allow yourself to see through an illusion, things never really go back to the way they were.
On the other hand, if we find a way to discount the truth, we can avoid making change- especially if it’s inconvenient. So we create a story that allows us to keep our illusion intact. So now we have an...
Written Blog: The Value of Outrage
So what do you like least in Donald Trump? Or Joe Biden? Or perhaps Hillary Clinton? Amazing teachers all of them, but not in the way we might think. Perhaps they teach us the most when we have a strong reaction to them.
Many of us have been experiencing outrage around the debates and other various injustices over the past year. And rightfully so. It’s been pretty outrageous. And thank you to the people who are actively doing something about it.
But beyond the opportunities for social and political change, these outrageous conditions also provide an opportunity for internal change.
Two opportunities often present themselves when our outrage becomes activated: self-acceptance and healing.
Deeper self-acceptance can be accessed by noticing when we project qualities or feelings that we do not want to accept in ourselves onto someone else- often when they are triggering outrage in us.
We may respond to this outage by becoming irritated,...
Written Blog: Be Like Water
So I’ve been noticing some things about myself of late. Despite my working forever on allowing things to be as they are, I still tend to force things to be the way I think they should be.
It’s been coming up while working on my website when one of the program's design tools is not working the way that I think it should work. I often see a simple workaround to create what I want, but still spend a lot of time stubbornly getting the design tool to work the way I think it should.
And then one day for whatever reason, I just went with the workaround to get where I needed to be. And it worked great. So I started to extend this approach to the rest of my life. And life got more simple, effective, and peaceful.
All I had to do was let go of how I thought things should be. This can, however, be quite challenging. It turns out we have some pretty serious conditioning behind forcing things to be the way we think they should be.
Opportunity cost is a concept in microeconomic theory that the New Oxford American Dictionary defines as "the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen."
I like to apply it to the choices we make in other aspects of our lives. Because life is precious and time-limited, the larger problem of a poor choice is that it takes you away from something more worthwhile.
For example, the opportunity cost of settling for an unloving relationship is that prevents you from having a relationship that is loving. Similarly, the opportunity cost of working in a job that you do not enjoy is that it takes you away from having a job you enjoy.
The opportunity cost of a decision is often subtle. We often do not view it as choosing one thing means foregoing something else.
This consideration is standard when considering financial investments, so why would it be less important when considering the investments we make in relationships, family, career, and how we spend...
Buddhism clearly identifies attachment as the thing that prevents us from being free. The pattern I have been noticing in myself and my clients is that attachment almost always stems from needing something to be something it is not. We become attached to things being the way we need them to be.
Then we typically rail against the way things are. Spiritual teacher, Adyashanti aptly calls this “an argument with the way things are.” And this is a disagreement we are destined to lose. And beyond the argument, what we ultimately lose is our freedom and presence of mind.
I recently sent a Facebook message to Amazon informing them that their checkout system had gotten terrible. In retrospect, while I believe I had some valid points, I got pretty fired up (or attached) to something that is very likely going to stay the way it is. It was wasted time and energy. In five minutes, I could have figured out the way Amazon’s checkout was and placed my order. But no, I...
Original sin is a paramount belief in Christianity and many religions of the world. It says that the basic nature of human beings is morally flawed and full of sin. And that it is only through prayers and God's guidance and grace that we can manage this deficiency.
But what if the opposite were true?
What if we are light, love, and innocence on the inside and our moral flaws and deficiencies are wrapped around it like layers of an onion? And then after there are enough layers, we cannot access the love and innocence anymore.
After a while, we might forget what we are and all we can access are the layers of deficiency. So we just figure we are rotten to the core.
The original sin and deficiency described above seem a lot like the deficiency of our negative self-beliefs that we pick up during childhood. They all have some variation of being deficient: I am unlovable, I am unworthy, I am inadequate or not enough, I am incapable, etc.
So could we be confusing our negative...
Contemporary human beings have a tendency to distort information when translating an experience. We amplify, personalize, or make assumptions about the things we encounter.
We then emotionally respond to our translation of the experience rather than the actual experience which often creates unnecessary unhappiness, anxiety, and stress.
Amplifying is making something larger-than-life. Unfortunately, our anxiety gets amplified as well. Plus, it often creates a ripple effect on those around us which further amplifies the situation.
Personalizing is taking information that has nothing to do with us and making it about us. This tends to cause hurt feelings, fear, and anger about something that was never intended for us.
Perhaps the most blatant distortion is our tendency to make assumptions. We give our mind total license to write its own script and turn an experience into drama to get fired up about.
By the time our assumptive screenwriter gets done with it, it no longer resembles...
Sure you could, you just don't want to. You just tell yourself that you can't so you don't have to consider it. When we think of doing something we are drawn to but is out of our comfort zone, it creates conflict and tension.
Plus, there is the fear of doing it. The most convenient way to alleviate the tension and fear is to take away the thing we are drawn to. Such is the death of many possibilities, invitations, and ideas- before they ever get a chance.
If we would just be willing to endure the tension and fear for a little while, some of these possibilities might stand a chance. But many of us succumb to such tension and fear. Much easier to dismiss it with nary a thought.
An unfortunate by-product of this is that we are continually telling ourselves that we cannot do things. Pretty soon we start believing it. Before long, we create a belief system that we are incapable.
When you think about it, it is easier to see yourself as being incapable. Then we don't have to take...
Feeling trapped is not a pleasant feeling. Oppression comes from the inability to see the possibilities available to you. So being trapped ultimately is an illusion. But when you are in the middle of it, it sure feels real.
The first thing to understand is that the source of the oppression is inside of you. You could argue that clearly your job or boss is oppressing you. At one level this is true.
But there is something inside of you that is allowing the job, coworker, boss, or ex- to oppress you. This thing is a mistaken belief about yourself in relation to the world. You acquired this belief from a past experience. I call this karma or unfinished business.
You can resolve your oppression by allowing yourself to see all the possibilities- even if they do not seem tenable. So first, create a list. Keep everything on the table. Get perspective from people who can see the forest from the trees.
Secondly, pick a few of these possibilities from your list and make them...
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