Archive for the ‘Living Authentically’ Category

  • Listen to yourself, be yourself

    Saturday, June 29th, 2013

     ‘I find I am more effective when I can listen acceptantly to myself, and can be myself.’

    “I feel that over the years I have learned to become more adequate in listening to myself; so that I know, somewhat more adequately than I used to, what I am feeling at any given moment – to be able to realize I am angry, or that I do feel rejecting toward this person; or that I feel very full of warmth and affection for this individual; or that I am bored and uninterested in what is going on; or that I a eager to understand this individual or that I am anxious and fearful in my relationship to this person. All of these diverse attitudes are feelings which I think I can listen to in myself. One way of putting this is that I feel I have become more adequate in letting myself be what I am. It becomes easier for me to accept myself as a decidedly imperfect person, who by no means functions at all times in the way which I would like to function.

    This must seem to some like a very strange direction in which to move. It seems to me to have value because the curious paradox is that when I accept myself as I am, then I change. I believe that I have learned this from my own experience – that we cannot change, we cannot move away from what we are, until we thoroughly accept what we are. Then change seems to come about almost unnoticed.

    Another result which seems to grow out of being myself is that relationships then become real. Real relationships have an exciting way of being vital and meaningful. If I can accept the fact that I am annoyed at or bored by someone, then I am also much more likely to be able to accept his feelings in response. I can also accept the changed experience and the changed feelings which are then likely to occur in me and in him. Real relationships tend to change rather than to remain static.

    So I find that it effective to let myself be what I am in my attitudes, to know when I have reached my limit of endurance or of tolerance, and to accept that as a fact; to know when I desire to mold or manipulate people, and to accept that as a fact in myself. I would like to be as acceptant of these feelings as of feelings of warmth, interest, permissiveness, kindness, understanding, which are also very real part of me. It is when I do accept all these attitudes as a fact, as a part of me, that my relationship with the other person then becomes what it is, and is able to grow and change more readily.”

  • There is no need to ‘fix things’

    Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

    ‘The more I am open to the realities in me and in the other person, the less do I find myself wishing to rush in to “fix things”.’

    “As I try to listen to myself and the experiencing going on in me, and the more I try to extend that same listening attitude to another person, the more respect I feel for the complex processes of life. So I become less and less inclined to hurry in to fix things, to set goals, to mold people, to manipulate and push them in the way that I would like them to go. I am much more content simply to be myself and to let another person be himself. I know very well that this must seem like a strange, almost an Oriental point of view. What is life for is we are not going to do things for people? What is life for if we are not going to mold them to our purposes? What is life for if we are not going to teach them the things that we think they should learn? What is life for if we are not going to make them think and feel as we do? How can anyone hold such an inactive point of view as the one I am expressing? I am sure that attitudes such as these must be a part of the reaction of many of you.

    Yet the paradoxical aspect of my experience is that the more I am simply willing to be myself, in all this complexity of life and the more I am willing to understand and accept the realities in myself and in the other person, the more change seems to be stirred up. It is a very paradoxical thing – that to the degree that each one of us is willing to be himself, then he finds not only himself changing; but he finds that other people to whom he relates are also changing. At least this is a very vivid part of my experience, and one of the deepest things I think I have learned in my personal and professional life.”

  • Accept another person, wholly

    Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

    ‘I have found it highly rewarding when I can accept another person.’

    “I have found that truly to accept another person and his feelings is by no means an easy thing, any more than is understanding. Can I really permit another person to feel hostile toward me? Can I accept his anger as a real and legitimate part of himself? Can I accept him when he views life and its problems in a way quite different from mine? Can I accept him when he feels very positively toward me, admiring me and wanting to model himself after me? All this is involved in acceptance, and it does not come easy. I believe that it is an increasingly common pattern in our culture for each one of us to believe, ‘Every other person must feel and think and believe the same as I do’. We find it very hard to permit our children or our parents or our spouses to feel differently than we do about particular issues or problems. We cannot permit our clients or our students to differ from us or to utilize their experience in their own individual ways. On a national scale, we cannot permit another nation to think or feel differently than we do. Yet it has come to seem to me that this separateness of individuals, the right of each individual to utilize his experience in his own way and to discover his own meanings in it, – this is one of the most priceless potentialities of life.

    Each person is an island unto himself, in a very real sense; and he can only build bridges to other islands if he is first of all willing to be himself and permitted to be himself. So I find that when I can accept another person, which means specifically accepting the feelings and attitudes and beliefs that he has as a real and vital part of him, then I am assisting him to become a person: and there seems to me great value in this.”

  • Deep Listening

    Sunday, February 19th, 2012

    “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” – Epictetus

    This thought is such an apt reminder for all of us as often I noticed that we are hardly present when we are with one another. We are either distracted with our smart phones, responding constantly to messages that are often not urgent; or our minds are thinking about something else and are somewhere else – we are hardly there in the moment with the person.

    I came across this sharing from Jerry Braza in his book “The Seeds of Love” on the topic of ‘Deep Listening’, and I would like to share his thoughts with everyone:

    “How many times are you with someone yet not really there? How often have you shared deeply with another but not felt that you’d been heard? Our society is plagued with parents who aren’t present for their children and co-workers more interested in what is on their computer screen or phone than the person visiting their office. With the ability for 24/7 connectivity, we often get so busy tending our social networks that we miss the most precious connections that are right in front of us – connections with ourselves and others. Thanks to technology, people around the globe are more in touch and yet simultaneously more isolated. The familiar habit of ‘hurry sickness’, a need to judge or fix problems,or the need to defend our view keeps us from being present with one another.”

    “Deep listening encompasses more than just being attentive to what another is expressing. It has far-reaching implications for the depth at which we can be present with another. Deep listening implies that we are engaged in an open, non-judgmental way. We are not listening for a break in the conversation so that we may add our perspective or opinions. We are listening in a way that helps people better understand themselves by offering them the freedom to express themselves openly. Our focus is completely on them, and we need do nothing but sit in compassionate silence and give our attention. Perhaps this can best be described as listening from the heart.”

    How do we break away from this mindless pattern in our relationships?

    “The first goal in deep listening is to develop an understanding of the other. Our purpose in listening is not to win an argument or solve a problem. Often our own personal stories or mental formation can cloud our interactions. At times our stereotypes can create a limited view of the other and often negate the potential of creating emotional intimacy in the relationship. Personally, I find that I have the need to try to fix a problem being shared by making what I feel are helpful suggestions to the issue at hand. In so doing I often miss the opportunity to understand the other’s journey, to see them reflected in the light of who they truly are as individuals, and to learn from their sharing. Sometimes we find ourselves in the position of listening to someone in great pain or deep grief. They may rage at the unfairness of the situation or express profound sadness in their circumstances. At such times it is so tempting to temper or discount their feelings to make ourselves feel more comfortable. However, the art of deep listening can be the greatest gifts to another on their path to healing. Breathing deeply, listening with an open heart, and adopting a non-judgmental attitude are all part of watering the seeds of loving-kindness and compassion rather than fear and negativity.”

    Paul Tillich mentioned this: “The first duty of love is to listen.”

    Be mindful every time we are with someone – that we are fully present and listening deeply with our hearts.

  • Are You Sure?

    Sunday, February 12th, 2012

    Thich Nhat Hanh has this wisdom to share with us:

    “All of us are only human, and we have wrong perceptions every day. Our spouse or partner is also subject to wrong perceptions, so we must help each other to see more clearly and more deeply. We should not trust our perceptions too much – that is something the Buddha taught. ‘Are you sure of your perceptions?’ he asked us. I urge you to write this phrase down on a card and put it up on the wall of your room: ‘Are you sure of your perceptions?’

    There is a river of perceptions in you. You should sit down on the bank of this river and contemplate your perceptions. Most of our perceptions, the Buddha said, are false. Are you sure of your perceptions? This question is addressed to you. It is a bell of mindfulness.”

    With this advice and wisdom, I am asking all of us to constantly question our perceptions. Also, too often we don’t ask the right questions to the people who claimed to be authorities of life and religion, and even our society; whether the perceptions they have are right. And sadly, too many of us allowed ourselves to be led in believing certain philosophies or beliefs without questions, and surrendering our powers to these people who claim to have exclusivity to these philosophies or beliefs.

    Learning to ask the right questions and questioning these people, are not being disrespectful or being doubtful; I feel that the more we ask and question the perceptions, we pave the way for greater discoveries of Life for ourselves, and open up avenues to choose the life we want.

  • The Liberating Power of Insight

    Saturday, February 4th, 2012

    I am sharing this thought from Thich Nhat Hanh:

    “Concentration helps us focus on just one thing. With concentration, the energy of looking becomes more powerful, and insight is possible. Insight always has the power of liberating us. If mindfulness is there, and we know how to keep mindfulness alive, concentration will be there, too. And if we know how to keep concentration alive, insight will also come. The energy of mindfulness enables us to look deeply and gain the insight we need so that transformation is possible.”

    How many of us are guilty of encouraging ‘multi-tasking’ – putting it as a virtue to be nurtured in our lives?

    I feel that when we ‘multi-task’, our focus is divided and often diluted to the point that we may end up doing all these tasks, mindlessly. And to a certain extent, we pay little attention to the details and often ‘rushed through them’ – mistakenly thinking that by getting them done fast (and all at the same time), we are being efficient.

    Though some segments of our work culture puts a premium on such ‘efficiency’, I feel this way of living is quite dysfunctional as it will eventually eat into other areas of our lives. When we are with our loved ones, how often are we truly present in their presence? Not just loved ones but also when we are with others in a meeting or with colleagues at work, do we find ourselves ’somewhere else, and not in the here and now, with them?’ The idea of ‘multi-tasking’ gives the impression that we are paying attention to them and at the same time, able to ‘manage other matters’; but are we really? What is the quality we devote to these numerous tasks? How much insight do we gain when there is a skew towards quantity over quality?

    Being able to fulfill many tasks entrusted to us is good but when our concentration is diluted, there is a good chance the quality of work is compromised. And if we do not correct it soon enough, this mindless living becomes a part of us in every areas of our lives. And it would not be a surprise that many of us will live our lives in mediocrity instead of showing excellence in everything we do, and being who we are.

  • Fear is an Illusion

    Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

    Many of us have a tendency to be extremely critical of who we are that often we create an illusion of our own reality. I would like to share a passage that I have taken from ‘The Tenth Insight – Holding the Vision’ (James Redfield & Carol Adrienne):

    “To a greater or lesser degree, in physical life we build our own version of Hell by staying attached to, and unconscious of, our control drama tendencies. When we forget our connection to our divine source, we have to construct a very narrow set of behaviors in order to reduce the world to a manageable level. Living in a defended zone fenced in by fear, we are not open to the full-blown mystery of life. We have become contracted, defended, fearful, and separate. Our language starts to show our fences in statements like, “I’m a rotten person.” “I’ll never make anything of myself.” “No one loves me.”

    When we no longer remember that we set up these limitations in our mind, we project the unrecognized constriction into the external world. Let’s make sure we understand this point because it is an essential part of the crux of our so-called problems in daily life. If we have had certain experiences in life, we are going to see/experience/feel our everyday encounters through this filter of past experience. It’s the nature of desire to want what you don’t have. For example, young Juanita was short and round. She thought girls who are tall and thin had an advantage. Frank was bookish and frail. Since he had a rich interior life, but withdraw from competitive activities, he cultivated an outsider image. Shantara was the middle child of five sisters and felt like a nobody, lost in the crowd. At some level of consciousness, we are always worrying about losing control, being lost, losing our livelihood, being a loser without love, success, or happiness. How appropriate that Christ positioned himself as the shepherd, since a basic human archetypal fear is lostness. If we define ourselves a certain way, we entrench ourselves down a certain path. We can be the misunderstood artist or the uncreative blob. We can be the helpless failure or the efficient expert. We paint ourselves into a corner and then tell everybody that God did it.

    Once these judgments are entrenched in our mind as reality, the level of fear is so great that we cannot give it up without experiencing anxiety. No amount of positive thinking is going to make us tall and thin. No amount of rationalization is going to make us a football hero. No amount of resume writing is going to make us special. If you’ve been telling yourself that you are a worthless, shiftless worm, you cannot suddenly shift from that story to nothing. We cannot take out a great big gob of Fear without having a gaping hole that has to be filled in with something else – trust, new wisdom, and connection to God.

    The roots of dogma and ideology are grown in the soil of fear. Hell is being caught in our own dogma, our own inadequacies, over and over again without the gift of love, compassion, and greater self-understanding of who we really are. A high level of fear over time is like a low-grade fever, permeating our thinking, fettering our perceptions, and hedging our choices. One woman who relived a past-life said, “One [of my lifetimes] was a great spiritual growth, but through isolation, and in that lifetime there was death by torture. It was near Jerusalem. [Because of my religious belief] there was much trepidation and holding back….Fear of violence, fear of speaking her own mind resulted. Fear must be removed. It has to be out of the way, so that the being can venture forth to new growth experiences. More could have been gained from the other experiences had fear not gotten in the way. Stumbling blocks that are self-imposed just waste time. There are enough of them without creating any.” This woman saw how fear had created losses throughout several lifetimes. Maybe we should think of each lifetime as a painting. What the hey. What colors are you going to paint with this time?

    In our spiritual existence between Earth lives, we dwell in the true vibration of the universe – we dwell in loving energy. But if we cannot perceive this loving energy, because of our addiction to our false perceptions, we are like the goldfish who, transferred from bowl to ocean, keeps swimming in tiny circles the size of her bowl. True liberation comes when we lose our sense of separateness, our need for control, and our fear of physical death. True liberation is using the full range of the palette – ruby red, alizarin crimson, cadium yellow, yellow ocher, hunter green, purple, terra-cotta, Mars black, blue-violet, gold, silver, and aquamarine. True liberation is being able to smell vomit, sulfur, money, honey-suckle, babies’ necks, garlic, fresh tomatoes, frankincense, peaches and semen, and know that all is God.”

    The Fear that we have been living with all of our lives, is nothing but an illusion we have created in our minds, and which has caused us to live of life of separation and duality. Know for certain that we are all One and there is no ‘Us and Them’. A quote from Arthur Ford/Ruth Montgomery in ‘A World Beyond’:

    “There is no evil except that which we create, for I have seen no signs of a devil on this side of the veil. We are our own devils, with our own thoughts and subsequent deeds…this evil gathers force as each passing generation leaves its own stamp of evildoing on the force that we think of as a devil…if [evil] is to be destroyed, it will be done through man’s awakening to the fact that even thoughts are deeds and that the ‘devil’ shrinks in size each time we replace an ugly thought or action with loving kindness. Thus we will approach the so-called millennium when good replaces evil in the hearts of those who inherit earth, not only in the flesh but in the spirit, as we are now doing.”

  • Think Constructively

    Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

    This passage is taken from a chapter in Ernest Holmes’ book: “Living without Fear”. I feel its good to share how positive thinking that is aligned with the Truth in Life, is the determining factor to wholesome living.

    Thoughts are things. This sounds familiar enough; we have all read it many times. But if this is true why can we not think and, through thinking, get what we want? We have been told that we do not get what we ask for because we ask amiss. All this seems very confusing for we also have been led to believe that we should receive anything asked for if we ask believing. It must be that some ideas are more potent than others, that some thoughts have more power than other thoughts, and this is actually the situation.

    All thought is creative, but the real constructive creative power of mind comes only from true thoughts. True, positive, and affirmative thought has real power, for it produces the correct answer. Negative thought also has power for it produces undesired conditions. When we place a positive thought beside a negative one, when we recognize the beneficial one and understand the nature of the harmful one, then it is that we find that the true constructive idea can dominate and have complete power over the destructive one. Thus it is that we are told to know the truth if we are to be made free.

    Thoughts are things. Yes, true thoughts are true things, false thoughts are false things. If we think according to the nature of the Divine, then shall we get what we want? Yes, provided what we wish for is really the truth. No, if it is not really the truth. We can never get five by adding two and two although we might believe that we can.

    But how are we to know what thoughts to think? What should be the content of our prayers and spiritual mind treatments? How are we to know the false from the true? The answer is more simple than it may appear. Goodness is the truth, and so is beauty and strength and life and love and abundance and loyalty. Even the apparently selfish desires of our hearts are true if they do not contradict the fundamental Truth of the universe, which is unity and goodness and purity.

    Our difficulty is not great provided we keep a few fundamentals in view. We have a Divine right to all that makes for a happy life. Abundance must be the heritage of our Divine nature. Our life must come from Life, and peace and happiness cannot contradict Reality. We shall not pray amiss if we affirm these things as part of our experience. Therefore, if we ask, believing, according to the Law of our being we must receive.

    What we wish for and need is peace, ability, happiness, harmony, plenty, and a greater degree of livingness together with love and beauty. Possessing these we should be in heaven and we ought to be in heaven here and now in our daily living; that is, we should be in harmony with Life. There is no Power in the universe which wishes to withhold good from us – let us forever wipe this idea off the slate of our minds. God is eternal Goodness, hence no evil need befall us either here or hereafter. Life cannot produce death, consequently we cannot die though we pass through the experience miscalled death.

    But what is there left to ask for? Nothing. We need but to accept and make use of that which already is and is for us. But each shall individualize the gifts of Life through his own nature, and this individualization constitutes that activity which personifies through each of us – the eternal Mind of the universe. this is the play of Life upon Itself and the desire to express which is working through all of us. There can be no life without living, no creator without a creation. And there can be no satisfied man without an adequate expression. There is nothing wrong about desire provided desire is in harmony with Truth. A man who has no desires is asleep and needs to be awakened.

    What then if we should desire some special thing that we might enjoy it for a reason? Can there be anything wrong with this? Certainly not if this desire harms no one and helps us to express. If, then, we desire some special thing, why should we not ask for and receive it? But how do we ask? By knowing in our own minds that that for which we ask we now have. This creates the image of our desire and makes a definite pattern through which the energies of Mind may intelligently and lawfully act, and to which there may be attracted the conditions necessary for the fulfillment of the desire. And according to our belief, receptivity, and full acceptance will it be done.

    We cannot live by proxy or attain by pretense. We are dealing with real laws and actual forces when we deal with mental and spiritual laws, and they cannot be fooled. From our own endeavor will come our own reward, only now we know that we are dealing with a Law which is amply able to fulfill the rightful demands made on It and which is intelligent enough to always bring them to pass. With this in mind we shall do our spiritual mind treatment work gladly and cheerfully and with much less effort, for we are no longer struggling against Life but flowing along with it. We are going with the current and not against it.

    We should feel equal to any occasion and overcome by none. We should enter any and all true endeavors with a zest for the game and get a real joy out of living.”

  • Living a life of virtue

    Monday, July 4th, 2011

    This teaching is taken from The Dhammapada, a collection of the sayings of the Buddha:

    “Who shall conquer this world and the world of death with all its gods? Who shall discover the shining way of the law?

    You shall, even as the man who seeks flowers finds the most beautiful, the rarest.

    Understand that the body is merely the foam of a wave, the shadow of a shadow. Snap the flower of desire and then, unseen, escape the king of death. And travel on.

    Death overtakes the man who gathers flowers when with distracted mind and thirsty senses he searches vainly for happiness in the pleasures of the world. Death fetches him away as a flood carries off a sleeping village. Death overcomes him when with distracted mind and thirsty senses he gathers flowers. He will never have his fill of the pleasures of the world.

    The bee gathers nectar from the flower without marring its beauty or perfume. So let the master settle, and wander.

    Look to your own faults, what you have done or left undone. Overlook the faults of others.

    Like a lovely flower, bright but scentless, are the fine but empty words of the man who does not mean what he says. Like a lovely flower, bright and fragrant, are the fine and truthful words of the man who means what he says.

    Like garlands woven from a heap of flowers, fashion from your life as many good deeds.

    The perfume of sandalwood, rosebay or jasmine cannot travel against the wind. But the fragrance of virtue travels even against the wind, as far as the ends of the world. How much finer is the fragrance of virtue than of sandalwood, rosebay, of the blue lotus or jasmine! The fragrance of sandalwood and rosebay does not travel far. But the fragrance of virtue rises to the heavens.

    Desire never crosses the path of virtuous and wakeful men. Their brightness sets them free. How sweetly the lotus grows in the litter of the wayside. Its pure fragrance delights the heart.

    Follow the awakened and from among the blind, the light of your wisdom will shine out, purely.”

    When we are true to who we are, and live a life of virtue, our light and energy will reach out to many others. And in being who we are, we help one another to awaken to the completeness we all have in us.

  • Negativity is a conditioned state of mind

    Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

    It is not my way of Being to talk about negativity but I feel it warrants deep reflection and why this state of negative thinking and emotions are so prevalent in our lives. It is the recognition of what is.

    All the cultures and all the religions have been conditioning us to feel negative about ourselves. Nobody is loved, appreciated, for just being himself or herself. We are asked to prove whether we are of any worth: ‘Bring gold medals from the university! Get First-Class Honors! Achieve success, money, power, prestige, respectability! Prove!’ Our worth is not intrinsic; that’s what has been taught to us. Our worth has to be proved. Almost everywhere we go in life, there appears to be a relentless need to ‘prove something to some people’, and sometimes in the company of close friends and family, negativity prevails.

    Everybody is feeling negative about himself, because that’s how he has been made to feel. Our parents have done it to us – this is a heritage, a great heritage. Our teachers have done it to us, our priests have done it to us, our political leaders have done it to us – and so many people are doing it that, naturally, we have become impressed by the very idea that we are worthless, that we don’t have any intrinsic meaning or value, that we don’t have any significance of our own.

    Each parent is saying to the child, to each child, ‘Prove that you have some worth.’ Being, just being, is not enough – some doing is needed.

    OSHO shared: “My whole approach is that being is intrinsically valuable. Just that you are is such a gift from existence, what more can you ask for? Just to breathe in this beautiful existence is certificate enough that existence loves you, that existence needs you; otherwise you would not be here. You are; existence has given birth to you. There must have been an immense need – you have filled a gap. Without you existence would be less. And when I say this, I am saying it not only to you: I am saying to the trees, to the birds, to the animals, to the pebbles on the shore. A single pebble less on the immense seashore and the seashore would not be the same. A single flower less and the universe would miss it.

    We have to learn that we are valuable as we are. It is not about the ego – just the contrary. In the feeling that we are valuable as we are, we will also feel others are valuable as they are. Accept people as they are; drop shoulds, oughts – those are enemies. And when we carry so many shoulds: ‘Do this and don’t do that!’, we cannot dance; the burden is too heavy. And when we have been given too many ideals and goals – ideals of perfection which as utterly impossible – that we will always feel we are falling short.

    All that we need is to be creative, loving, aware, meditative…if we feel poetry arising in us, write it for ourselves, for our lovers, for our children, for our friends…and forget all about it. Sing it, and if nobody listens, sing it alone and enjoy it. Go to the trees and they will applaud and appreciate it. Or talk to the birds and the animals, and they will understand far more than mankind who have been for centuries…missed out on the real deal in life!

    BE who we want to be…and loving it!