Distraction

Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash

Illusions of the world always draw more attention than Truth in the world. That is human nature. Truth is eternal, still, never changing. Illusion is movement, drama, change. We are continually drawn to focus on our mind, the source of illusion. Even when we realize we are the peaceful stillness known as Truth, it can be difficult not to become hypnotized by the illusionary content of mind. It’s why we look at the movie not the screen. We listen to the notes, not the rests. We marvel at the stars and planets, not the space.

When a rich man asked Jesus how he could be saved, Jesus told him to give his possessions away. Get rid of the objects. In other words, he would still have the Truth of wealth, he just had to be willing to not be caught up in the illusions of wealth. Money burns. Coins melt. Possessions can be lost or stolen. True wealth can never be taken away but few of us consider True wealth very valuable.

When we are preoccupied by the activity of our mind, we lose who we really are and, in that, we are operating under a kind of hypnosis. We’re in a dreamlike, pretend world where we believe the cartoon actors, props and sets are real. We imagine ourselves to be one of them and forget we are not that but we are so much more. Meditation can often help us focus our attention onto Truth and away from the illusion. Still, it can be a daily practice to not get caught up in the wonderful, delicious, exciting mind stuff.

Random Renaissance Person


Today I am pondering “Random Renaissance Person.” You can ponder with me.

Let me first explain that Random Renaissance Person is just that: any random person who lived during the Renaissance period (almost any other period will also work, too, if you happen to have some aversion to pondering people from the Renaissance). Simply imagine a single person who could have lived during that time period. Make the person as average as possible – no kings or queens or dignitaries. Just your average Renaissance villager person.

It’s best not to give Random Renaissance Person a name – we don’t want to get too close to them – but you can imagine things like their work and family situation. Go ahead and I magine all of the events in Random Renaissance Person’s life: being born, interacting with family, working in the garden, being educated, attending religious ceremonies, hanging out with friends, having a first kiss, playing sports, etc. Most people didn’t have a very long lifespan during that time so maybe Random Renaissance Person was stricken with disease or experienced complications in childbirth or was injured in battle. Feel free to design their story.

Of course, there were no photographers at this time, so we can never know what Random Renaissance Person looked like. It’s doubtful they had their portrait painted or if one would have even survived to now. There is a very good chance that nothing at all exists to document that Random Renaissance Person ever even lived. But we know they did and we know that millions just like them have lived all over the Earth since the beginning of time.

We can imagine Random Renaissance Person, lived a full life just like you and I. Every moment of their life consisted of experiencing life events the same way you and I do. Some of those events were minor incidents. Many were major milestones. But to Random Renaissance Person, all were the content of their life and whether they were experiencing seasonal sniffles or adopting a dog or watching a parent die, these were the things that Random Renaissance Person called their life. The struggles and triumphs that shaped who they knew themselves to be. Again, just like you and I.

Now fast forward to the contemporary time you and I are currently living. Look around your household or work environment or just your life in general. In what way is your life affected by the life of Random Renaissance Person? Can you find one single thing anywhere in your surroundings that would have been impacted by the existence of Random Renaissance Person?

Consider that all of those monumental life events that meant everything to Random Renaissance Person are now completely gone. Literally, as if they never happened. The events that kept Random Renaissance Person awake at night with anxiety or that they anticipated with excitement for weeks are now nowhere to be found. In fact, our good friend Random Renaissance Person also has no existence, nor is there proof they ever did. We can imagine Random Renaissance Person may have had children, who had children, who had children, whose descendants may have somehow affected us. Quite possible. But when we look only at the personal life of Random Renaissance Person, it makes little difference to our world whether they lived or not.

It’s fascinating. An entire life rendered completely useless by time and distance. It’s easy to convince ourselves this is bound to happen to people who lived so long ago but have you ever found yourself wandering in an antique shop and found a stack of photos of random, unknown people? People and families from the 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s, sometimes doing seemingly important things – graduating, marrying, opening Christmas presents, enjoying dinners – now completely unknown, unidentified and unimportant.

Of course, this will never happen to you or I, our lives are way too important and we’ve participated in far too many memorable life events for those things to just disappear. Our thoughts, opinions and beliefs are not only vital to us but also of great significance to humanity. Not to mention, we have many friends and family members who will remember us and all of the important things in our lives for eternity. We’ll never be forgotten like those other people. Right?

The world of form is not as significant as we try to convince ourselves it is. It never has been. It doesn’t have any permanence to it. We try to hang on to this identity in our changing, disposable bodies and pretend we are as important as we believe we are. One day these bodies and all we consider important will fade away faster than a stream of smoke, just like the life of Random Renaissance Person did. What’s left when it’s all gone? Does everything just dissolve and go back to the Earth or can it be that there is actually some sort of permanence behind appearances? Something that remains when all appearances change and pass away? Does it make sense to actually “be” at one point in this life and then “not be” at another point? Is “being” so disposable and finite?

Is it?

Creation Now

If we have no trouble believing a “Creator” created our entire universe at a certain point in time, should we then not have any difficulty at all considering, instead, this “Creator” is creating our universe RIGHT NOW and has been creating the entirety of it NOW, always?

Beyond Appearances

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

“Do not judge by the outward appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” – John 7:24 [New American Standard Bible]

In spiritual work, there is regular need for “translation” of appearances into reality. Often those translations meet resistance from the mind, which constantly seeks tradition, reason and logic. While those are useful features in the so-called physical world, the human mind is not always the best interpreter of reason for the spiritual domain.

I consider spiritual study to be the study of the “essence” of reality. Some people, understandably, don’t care for the word “spiritual” because of its religious connotation and while they may argue we have no spirit, most would agree all life has an essence. We all have noticed at some point there seems to be more than just appearances to this world. We can both see and touch a rhinoceros but we can also think of a rhinoceros which has no appearance at all to anyone but our own inner mind.

Spiritual translation is usually more complicated that that, however. Think about getting a gift from a four year old which, from appearances, looks like a beaten down lump of clay. “It’s you, Daddy!” they tell you. And, while you have probably spent more than a few days in your life feeling a bit like a beaten down lump of clay, you know this gift is more than what it looks like. You easily look past the outward appearance of the gift and you are able to see its essence, which is pure love. It’s why you hang on to that seemingly horrid lump of clay for the rest of your life. Seeing love in a broken down lump of clay is what “judging by right judgement” means. It’s spiritual translation. Appearances are usually the worst way to judge reality.

Don’t be too concerned when your mind starts giving you crap about what you are experiencing spiritually. One eventually learns to ignore what the mind says. The mind only knows about appearances so in spiritual study it isn’t often of much use. Still, a good portion of spiritually translating appearances is coming to some sort of agreement with the mind. “Yes, it certainly does appear that way, mind, I can see your point.” Your mind will argue forever that a lump of clay can be nothing more than a lump of clay and, seriously, how can you be anything other than a body I see right before me?? Yes, it certainly does appear that way, I can see your point.

Simply stay aware that the reality of a situation is almost always beyond the appearance. Like desert mirages or train tracks that come together at a point or an Earth that is a flat disc. Look beyond the picture. It’s where the Truth is. Mind and every appearance it is responsible for will have you believe life is a multiplicity of individuals, objects, thoughts and events happening during several points of time in many locations.

The simple reality is, it is all only Awareness being Aware of Itself. 

One Thing

There is only one thing that needs to happen. Consciously be who you already are.

Meditation Myths

meditation myths
Meditation is an essential practice for those looking to become more conscious in life. However, there are quite a few myths I often see which can result in some people avoiding it all together simply because they either can’t understand certain practices or they don’t seem to get the desired results. Let’s examine a few of these meditation myths.

Myth #1: It is Spiritual

Meditation is often married to the spiritual life and not without reason. The practice can seemingly lead to developing qualities considered desirable for a spiritual life: consciousness, awareness, peacefulness, openness, compassion, insightfulness, creativity, etc. However, many non-religious and non-spiritual people regularly practice meditation. Author, scientist and self-avowed atheist, Sam Harris, has taught a method of mindful meditation for several years. The benefit of having a non-spiritual capacity is that meditation can be incorporated into almost any lifestyle, whether spiritual or non. You do not have to change your beliefs to start meditating. Almost every religion has histories and traditions incorporating meditation. Even atheists and agnostics meditate.

Myth #2: It Involves Going Into A Trance

This may be the most widely believed myth and one that has inspired the most distrust by some religious people. Movies and TV shows often show people in a trance-like state while supposedly practicing meditation. This is due completely to a lack of understanding and poor research into the subject of meditation. Question anyone who says they go into a mind trance during meditation and suggest they actually learn how to meditate which they can then add to their developed, self-trancing skills if they wish.

Myth #3: It Involves Blanking Out Your Mind

Similar to Myth #2, this myth is believed by many non-meditators, but by a surprising number of practitioners as well. In fact, if you are not progressing at all in your meditation practice, it could be that your belief in this myth is the number one obstacle. The reality is, no one can “blank out” their mind. Meditation often leads to a more focused mind and less mental noise, but even experienced meditators know our minds do whatever our minds want to do. Beginning and intermediate meditators can sometimes harbor shame, based around their inability to control their mind. But successful meditation does not rely on the ability to control one’s mind. We meditate regardless of whether our mind is active or not. It makes little difference to us what the mind chooses to do. Inner stillness can be experienced in spite of an active mind. Let go of the impulse to control the mind and just observe it. That is true meditation practice.

Myth #4: Posture and Hand Positions Are Important

This myth kept me struggling for years. I could have very fulfilling meditations while walking or moving but when I sat cross-legged on the floor, I got nothing but cramps and knee pain. The truth is, there is no secret or “holy” position for meditation. The important thing is to be comfortable so you don’t have to think about your physical position. Laying down, sitting in a chair, driving a car and standing are all acceptable meditation positions. Walking, swaying and dancing are wonderful meditation positions as well. Experiment. There is no right or wrong answer. Do what works for you.

In photos of people meditating, I often see people holding their hands in a mudra. It’s another visual stereotype of meditation that I suspect is done without any knowledge of the meaning. In television shows, movies and photos, meditators can be shown sitting down with their hands in some stylized position: thumb and fourth fingers touching, palms pressed together or facing up to the sky, fingers in an “OK” position. These types of hand gestures, called mudra, generally have little to do with meditation and are symbolic, religious gestures with specific meanings in certain Buddhist and Hindu sects. In short, they aren’t necessary. If you need it, do it but most of us will not need it. Put your hands down in a comfortable position and you’ll do well.

Myth #5: It is Difficult

The most difficult aspect of meditation is overcoming the misleading myths and beliefs about it! Once you do that, however, you discover that meditation is one of the most natural life expressions. It is so natural, you may discover that you are not so much performing an activity of meditation, you are actually just taking the time to become consciously aware of the fact that you are always meditating!

Meditation is so natural and essential to our lives, we will unconsciously meditate even if we do not consciously do so. It could be argued that we are performing a type of meditation in our sleep. We will slip into meditative states throughout the day and receive ideas and inspiration we have no clue to as the origin. Those of us who wish to experience deeper results may choose to spend certain moments, consciously meditating. I challenge you to explore conscious mediation and see if you notice a difference in your own life experience.

You Are Not Your Mind

It is always a useful activity to keep in awareness the recognition that you are not your mind. If there is any constant “task” in the spiritual life it seems to be this. Human life, by it’s very nature, continually works to bring us into identification with our minds. It is this identification which brings about the sense of separation, aloneness and unhappiness that many of us struggle with on a regular basis.

Whenever there is an impulse to highlight differences between yourself and others, come into the awareness that it is your own mind that is initiating that impulse. Those impulses frequently arise during times we need an “ego boost.” For us to have a strong sense of individual existence, our mind needs to outline those things that seemingly make us different from everyone else. The differences may manifest as political, religious, regional or national. Some will find division in racial, sexual orientation or physical characteristics. In extreme examples, we will create an arch enemy to make ourselves even more superior. In every case, however, the differences are created and exploited by the mind to give the ego a more powerful sense of individuality.

When your mind activates to convince you that you are a being separate from the rest of the individuals {who are almost always more ignorant or inferior) it is displaying the same imperfection it is condemning in the others. Yes, we all seem to be different. We express the appearance of being individuals and, from the human experience, it is easy to convince ourselves this appearance is reality. In fact, we could say human existence is very much all about living the illusionary life of separation. But it is possible for us to do so while also keeping the truth in our consciousness. When dealing with those who live unconsciously chained to a belief of separation, it may even becomes necessary to occasionally act as if we are so. However, to look beyond appearance to the truth of being is the challenge of the spiritual life.

When the impulse arises to magnify differences in others, use the opportunity to look even deeper at the truth. Differences are mind-created and mind-exploited. Tomorrow we may have different beliefs than we have today and the differences we thought we saw yesterday will simply dissolve. Boundaries move, flags change and physical appearance is temporary. Recognize your mind and mental activity are not permanent. See that which is permanent and you will see others as they are in truth. Like a mirror, you will behold yourself.

Does Awareness Come From The Brain?

Q: Isn’t consciousness/awareness produced in the brain?

A: That which the brain produces constantly moves and changes. Over the course of your life, everything under the domain of the brain, including the brain itself, transforms. Comparing your life form at 2 years to you at 22 years and 42 and even 82, will reveal a life form drastically different. All of us look in the mirror and see a different person than we saw as a child. Even the thoughts that our brain/mind produces are not the same as those we thought when we were younger. Sometimes our thoughts can even change completely in a matter of hours. Our awareness, however, has never changed. While the objects of our awareness have changed many times since, the awareness itself is constant. When we think about our awareness in our youth, it seems no different than our awareness now. It feels ageless. Timeless. Unaffected by change or circumstances. How can a brain which is constantly changing and continually manufacturing movement and transformation, produce something that never changes?

The Journey Is An Illusion

The biggest deception in spirituality is “the journey.” Practically everyone participates in it to some extent or another. I’ve found myself many times over the course of my life talking about my own spiritual journey. How I got from where I was to where I am. And while it certainly seems that way, it’s nothing but an illusion. A big lie.

In the Christian scriptures, a rich man comes to Jesus and asks what he can do to follow him. Jesus tells him he should give all of his possessions to the poor, causing the man to walk away. He wasn’t able to give away the most important thing in his life in order to find God. To many of us who have a spiritual practice, it is our so-called spiritual journey itself that we would not be able to give up. I could reveal right here and now that the spiritual journey is a complete waste of time, and there would be so many who would simply walk away. The journey is too important to them to let it go.

Consider that it is “the spiritual journey” that financially sustains the entire religious and spiritual industry. If people realized there is no need for a journey, billions in revenue would be lost all over the world. Teachers, preachers, authors and gurus would be out of their jobs. Entire sections of bookstores would be completely wiped out. Religious television programs, enlightenment seminars and tent revivals would have no audiences. If the truth of this was accepted, all seeking would go away instantly.

Far be it from me to attempt to shut down a lucrative industry and put so many people out of work. But I think we’re okay here because I doubt many would believe it anyway. For the majority of my own spiritual life, I didn’t get it either. And even if I did, I’m not sure how much of a difference it would have made. I loved my spiritual journey. I believed it was a very large part of who I was.

Allow me to suggest this: the spiritual life is not about acquiring or attaining anything. It is not about perfecting yourself, purifying yourself or getting better at anything. While all of these things are the goal of most spiritual teachings, the reality is none of that stuff is important and, from a spiritual standpoint, are actually impossible. You cannot “get” more spirituality. You cannot “become more spiritual.” If spirit is infinite, how can there be more to have? You cannot get more infinity.

The supposed spiritual journey is nothing more than an illusion. It’s you discovering what you already are, what you already have. That illusionary appearance of something happening or that you are gaining something is similar to the illusion one sees when opening curtains to produce more sunlight. The full of the sunlight already exists but is revealed when the obstruction of the curtains are removed. For us, The fullness of Spirit/God is already present and when the obstruction of ignorance/unawareness is removed, it is only then that we can see it. Nothing is really happening but to our mind it seems to be.

I’m not necessarily advocating a complete abandonment of a spiritual practice. The structure of our society continually works to lull us back into unconsciousness so sometimes it takes something which seems like a “practice” or “journey” to keep us constantly aware. It is important to remember though that whatever we think or feel is happening, we are not going anywhere or gaining anything. We have the fullness of spirit where we are at all times. We cannot lose it. We can never be without it. It is that constant remembrance that is the true spiritual practice.

The Universe and You

The most ego-centric position is, “There is the Universe/God and here is me, and the Universe/God is doing stuff to/for me.” How can you be something separate from the entire Universe/God? Do you really believe you are separate from the whole of everything else? No, what the universe does is what you do. What God is, is what you are. There isn’t something out there making things happen to you or for you. You are it, my friend! YOU are the whole of what is happening!