Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

WHAT IS MONEY?

          I was reading Forbes Magazine a few years ago because it had a headline about how the recession had affected the richest people in the world. (“Billionaire Bust” March 30, 2009). The article summarized the net worth losses of the 20 richest people of the world. They were:

Bill Gates:  18 Billion dollars

Warren Buffet: 25 Billion dollars

Carlos Helu: 25 Billion dollars

Larry Ellison  2.5 Billion dollars

Ingvar Kamprad: 9 Billion dollars

Karl Albrecht:  5.5 Billion dollars

Mukesh Ambani:  23.5 Billion dollars

Lakshmi Mittal:  25.7 Billion dollars

Theo Albrecht:  4.2 Billion dollars

Amancio Ortega: 1.9 Billion dollars

Jim Walton:  1.4 Billion dollars

Robson Walton:  1.6 Billion dollars

Alice Walton:  1.4 Billion dollars

Christy Walton: 1.6 Billion dollars

Bernard Arnault: 9 Billion dollars

Li Ka-Shing: 10.3 Billion dollars

Michael Bloomberg: 4.5 Billion dollars

Stefan Persson:  3.2 Billion dollars

Charles Koch:  3 Billion dollars

David Koch  3 Billion dollars

Brother, can you spare a million?

            So what does this mean? Many people are looking at their nest eggs, 401K plans and wondering how they will survive. There are many others who put all of their savings in the stock plans of the companies that they worked so hard to grow which are now worthless. Then there are those who depend on pensions, social security plans, and retirement plans far beyond their control. They have spent their whole life looking at a piece of paper and basing their decisions on the numbers that they see on that piece of paper.

            The core of all of this suffering and elation is money. Most people have never touched what they thought was their money. Everything they thought was money was simply a number on a computer screen or a piece of paper. Imagine going into a place which only accepted gold. No paper, checks or plastic credit cards would do. Most people would throw their noses in the air and walk out. After all, civilization is based on plastic and promises to pay. Paleolithic society (65 million years ago) was based upon what you could hunt and kill on a daily basis. Credit is a concept that was invented in the middle ages, a mere 500 years ago and even then it only applied to kings and queens. Personal credit has only been available since the industrial age descended in the early 1800’s .

            It is truly a figment of our imagination that we should feel safer looking at a big number on our bank statement. That number is only an illusion that we are safer in some way if it is big, and not so safe if it is small.  We sacrifice ourselves  “saving for a rainy day.”  Can we be so arrogant that we defy the generosity of God and horde our earnings and not share them with others? What karma are we creating by building huge nest eggs and not feeding the hungry or sheltering the homeless and then losing the nest egg?

            Enjoy your life on a daily basis. Live simply. Love hugely. Hug your friends and especially love those who piss you off. Smile as if every smile deposited 1000 dollars in your spiritual bank account. Seek wisdom and not approval. Leave small footprints on the planet. For those who want to leave their mark on the world, all I can say is “how dare you?” I want to live a life that left a smile for everyone I ever met and left no footprint. From an early age I did not want anyone to know I passed by. Now I want everyone to know I was there without any proof.

            So what to do? Forget all of your programming. Find others to help. Give away your clothes. Open your doors to those who need shelter. If you fear the loss of your material possessions, your salvation lies in loosing the most precious thing you own.

            Personally, I count my children as the only things I would rather not lose, but I know they belong to God, not me.  So if God wants them, there is nothing I can do about that.

            So there are a lot of us that look at our bank/stock statements and get really uncomfortable. After all, the black places on those statements in between the white places makes the difference between whether we can have a big Lexus or walk. Maybe we should just buy a bicycle. Or walk. I have met some amazing people on my walks.  So are you really afraid, and if so, of what?  Is your fear that you won’t have enough money? Do you really believe that? How much is enough anyway?

            We need to enlighten up. We need to forget about the bank statements and look for opportunities to help someone else. I was in Los Angeles the other day and was walking with my son through an affluent outdoor shopping mall. There were lots of outdoor entertainers, and some panhandlers as well. For some reason, we walked by a woman who had seen better days. She had a cup and asking people for help. I did not have any loose change and was ready to walk by, because there were lots of homeless people in LA. The climate is good for them.

            The thing that caught my attention to this woman was that she caught my son’s attention. My son is a good man, and has a heart as big as Montana. He sees a lot of beggars, so when one gets his attention I pay attention. He gave her a pocketful of his change, so I was intrigued. So I stood with this woman and asked her name. She told me her name was “CC”. I asked her how she got “here” and she told me her tale of woe. It was a good tale of woe, not selfish or whiney, but one of compassion and family lost. So I reached in my wallet and pulled out the smallest bill I had, which was a $100 bill. I folded it as small as I could and wished her all the best that life could give her, and put it in her cup. We left and could hear her cry when she realized that it wasn’t just a dollar. I just turned and smiled, and knew that the universe did that for me every day. My son looked at me and smiled, because he knew I am insane.

            So we can either believe that money is real, or not. We can share it when we have it, or not. We can trust that God will give us what we need, or not. We will travel this planet however we will, with or without money. We are free, with or without money. Money is the great illusion, for our true wealth is our experiences. I am truly wealthy from having met CC. I hope she reads this. It would make me laugh out loud to find out that she has more money than me.

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

HOW TO SAY GOODBYE

            Many times in our life we have to say goodbye. We say goodbye to loved ones who graduate to higher dimensions through the illusion of death. We say goodbye to people we become attached to that leave us on the physical plane. We say goodbye to children who grow up and become adults. We say goodbye to most people on a daily basis as we move from one physical location to another.

            This is the subtlest of illusions we encounter on this physical dimension. If you believe in any sort of god, angels, ascended masters, higher beings, higher consciousness, spiritual guides, you would know that when we part on a physical plane we never separate on all of the other planes. When we believe that we are separated one from another, it is called duality or separation consciousness. We think that we are separating one from the other. As a divorce attorney for many years, I encountered frantic telephone calls from parents who experienced a traumatic experience when their children were delivered from one parent to another. The child throws a temper tantrum, and the parent who is handing off the child thinks that the child is expressing fear of being with the other parent. This is not what is happening. Psychologists have a term for this experience; it is called “separation anxiety.” The child thinks that they will never see the other parent again, they are not old enough to know that they will see the other parent soon.

            As children, we experience separation anxiety when we are taken from someone we love. As adults, we experience traumatic emotions when someone we are attached to dies or leaves us for any reason.  Whether it is the death of someone, or children growing up and leaving, or a lover who leaves, we experience the panic of separation anxiety unless we have a higher consciousness of what is happening.

            I have raised three beings, two sons and a stepdaughter. Due to the divorce and trauma of my divorce, I have not spoken to my stepdaughter (her decision) for over 15 years. I could let that bother me, but I know better. I know that we are not separate, because I have the teachings.

            The teachings are ancient wisdom that sustain us and help us experience life without suffering as best as possible. The teachings tell us there is no goodbye. There is no separation because we are all one. I see a lot of spiritual beings getting caught in the illusion that when someone leaves us we will never see them again. Again, this can be very subtle. It can be the twinge when a loved one goes away for a short while. Or it can be when someone we love dies.

            I have experienced the pain of my mother’s graduation from this life while I was on a transatlantic flight hurrying to get back before she left. I have experienced the pain of not talking to someone I love for over 15 years because they don’t want to have anything to do with me. I have been divorced twice. I have a lot of reasons to hate goodbyes, but I don’t.

            I firmly believe that we are all one. A person can go out of our life for a while, but the truth is we are not separate. My friend Derek O’Neill tells the story that after his beloved wife was promoted to higher duties on other planes he can’t hide from her anymore. When she was alive he could play hooky once and awhile. Once she went to the higher dimensions, she is always watching what he is doing. She never left him.

            There is a teaching that we are all one. This is easy to say but hard to put into practice. Many people say it, but when someone leaves or dies they go into great drama. This is somewhat inconsistent it seems to me. If we truly believe we are one, we would not loose a moment’s sleep or happiness over the illusion of separation. So when we go into great grief or melodrama over separation on the physical plane, we are not applying the teachings.

            One way of expressing this illusion is imagining you are a fingernail and feeling separate from all of the other fingernails. From a higher (or broader) perspective, we are part of the same body, but from the fingernail’s perspective you are not one. It is the same way with separation consciousness. You can look at our universe as one big melting pot of energy taking many different forms, but it is still energy.

           We have to get outside of our limited perspectives to understand the bigger picture, that what we do has consequences and ripple effects that go beyond our limited vision.  The same consciousness that recognizes that when a butterfly flaps its wings it can cause a typhoon somewhere else, recognizes that cutting down a tree to make pasture for cattle to be used for unhealthy hamburgers will cause more destruction than the loss of a single tree. In fact, it will create a wasteland.

          The truth is our souls are immortal. Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, all religions agree souls are immortal. So how would we handle “goodbye” if we knew we would see that soul again? Maybe not in this lifetime, but in another or on another plane. Perhaps we should get into the habit of saying “see you later.”

           

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

KARMA IS AN ILLUSION

            Religions and philosophies teach us that there are three kinds of karma. There is (1) the karma that we are born with;  (2) the karma that we are creating at any one moment; and (3) karma we will encounter in the future. All of these karmas are created by action, whether by thought, word or deed. It is this karma that keeps us bound to the wheel of death and rebirth, for we keep coming back to pay off these karmic debts over and over again.

            The most intense karma is created by desire and craving. We long to be rich, powerful, or in control. We are attracted to pleasure and adverse to pain. We are like puppets on strings controlled by these addictions and aversions. For every longing and desire that we crave and do not experience in our lifetime, we are bound by karma to return to experience.  It is the desire and aversion that creates the karma that binds us to the cycle of death and rebirth.

            Furthermore, we believe that we create karma when we cause suffering in others, consciously or unconsciously. As we are all one, we have to experience that which we do to ourselves in order to understand what it feels like. This is the Mosaic law, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. The aspect of the law that is often overlooked is that since death is an illusion we will keep coming back to satisfy the law that must be satisfied. These are the teachings of the religions and philosophies.

            The higher teachings of the saints and enlightened masters state that all of this is an illusion we create for our own enlightenment. We perceive karma is self-perpetuating and inescapable because of our limited grasp of the situation we call life. However, the illusion can be overcome and enlightenment reached when we recognize the simple fact that we are the divine creators OF EVERYTHING and can change this by simply changing our minds.

            We can’t do this by ourselves. As Albert Einstein once stated, “a problem cannot be solved by the thinking that created it.”  The only way we can find our way out of the illusion is to find an enlightened teacher who can show us the way. In other words, it is our desire-filled conscious that keeps us enslaved to the operation of karma, and it takes a teacher or saint to show us how to detach from this illusion. This is why the teacher will tell us “to keep our eyes on the teacher” because it is the only way to escape the distraction of pleasure and pain. If we focus on the teacher and the teachings, we have a chance of self-realization and liberation. If we are constantly distracted by desire and avoidance, we will stay caught in the illusion of thoughts and matter.

            It is a self-fulfilling belief that karma is inescapable. Until we understand the nature of our thoughts and attachment to materialism we will always be hooked by karma and its operation. The only way to escape this illusion is by the practice and discipline of self-analysis and awareness of every thought, word and deed in the light of our own divinity. When we can see God at all times in ourselves and others, we will be freed from the operation of karma and its illusion.

            When someone does something that makes us feel like a victim, we are buying into the illusion of karma. When we feel imperfect, unworthy or unhappy, we are buying into the illusion of karma. When we compare ourselves to others or sit in judgment or lack, we are buying into the illusion of karma. Anytime we believe that we are anything other than God creating our experiences for our enlightenment, we are buying into the illusion of karma.

            By finding a saint or enlightened being and becoming a student, one can learn to discipline him or herself and through practice release the bondage of karma. Discipline comes from the word “disciple”, one who follows a teacher. By focusing on the teachings, one can let go of the illusion of materialism and thought forms that arise as addiction to pleasure and aversion to pain. By focusing on our innate goodness, one no longer strays from the five virtues; peace, love, truth, non-violence and right action. By contemplation and meditation of our role in this life to create the experiences that will lead us to enlightenment; we escape the (de)illusions of perception and projection.

            I had a wonderful experience in Scotland not too long ago. I was blessed with the occasion to stay with a man whose whole life is focused on helping others. On a day a winter storm was closing roads and airports, I went with him to help push total strangers out of snowdrifts. He laughs often and helps many. His first thought on arising is always “how may I serve?”  It was a humbling experience to be in his presence.  My guess is that he knew on some level that life is an illusion to be enjoyed and not suffered.

            We all get what we need when we are ready. When we follow a teacher and apply the teachings (disciple/discipline) we have a choice to believe that karma is inescapable or an illusion. We have a choice to follow a higher path to enlightenment or continue to wallow in the maya of our illusions. We have a choice to believe we are divine creators of our experiences or the victims of our karma. This is the true nature of  “free-ing” will.

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

FOCUSING ON THE JOURNEY

          I suffer, primarily because I am constantly comparing myself to others. I make irrational and unjustified conclusions and assumptions about how I am doing by observing other people. I may be doing my best, but I will not feel satisfied or fulfilled if I observe other people further down the path or having more “success.” Conversely, I may not be doing my best but I will feel relieved or smug if I observe that I am ahead of others or more successful than others engaged in similar activities.  I suffer because I was trained to think this way by an educational system that thought that way. The system was all based upon results, never upon the effort or discipline put into the grade.

          Having spent the better part of twenty years receiving formal education, the early part of that period being in my formative years, I learned that the acceptance and validation from those I loved depended on results, not who I was. This is the western philosophy of life, and it is deeply ingrained into my personality and my view of who I am. I have a positive self-esteem when results were positive, and a negative self-esteem when results were negative.

          Probably the biggest cause of my suffering is my ego-based sense of right and wrong. This is totally self-destructive and causes great fits of self-flagellation. I beat myself up constantly and second-guess myself if the results of any given situation do not match my expectations.  In my most secret place, my expectation is that everyone will love me and do what I think is right. I was born under the astrological sign of Leo, and there is only one rule for Leo’s, “everyone has to love me.” When I don’t get the results I want, my oversized ego believes that I must have done something wrong, so I beat myself up and suffer.

          I spent almost thirty years practicing law in partnership with other lawyers. One of the most distasteful exercises practiced annually was the apportionment of partnership shares. In most law firms, this is determined by gross revenues, client production, years of practice, academic prowess, successful results for clients, and a long list of esoteric considerations mainly given lip service.  Every year the amount of money I would make for the next year was debated and lobbied fiercely by my partners. I stayed out of the fray, mainly because I felt that if they did not give me a fair share I would simply leave. However, the point is that for the first fifty years of my life, in one way or another I was comparing myself to others and directly competing with everyone. I suffered because if I did not get what I expected, I eventually left or I dissected myself in an attempt to discover what I had done “wrong.”

          Despite my reluctant self-image, I know that for most people I was a likable fellow. When I go back to my hometown and run into my former colleagues, most say they miss me. These words make me wonder if my memory is failing me.  Probably is, memory is imperfect at best.

          I have chosen a spiritual path, a path including service, teaching, and facilitating healings. Yet I still suffer. The thinking patterns learned over many years are still with me, and I still criticize myself for results not matching my expectations. I am still plagued by my imperfect sense of right and wrong. I have observed that my suffering becomes the most intense when I observe someone doing something “wrong,” or behaving in ways I judge to be inappropriate.  This causes more misery for me than when I do something “wrong.”

         I had a wonderful experience the other day, which illustrates my point. At lunch I sat down beside an acquaintance who had been on a mission to slim down ever since I met her almost over a year ago. She has slimmed down, and looks much different than when I first met her. She was eating wafers of some sort that did not look appetizing to me. I joked with her, saying, “are you still eating cardboard?”  Her response was so profound that it stunned both of us. She said, “Focus on your own journey.” All at the table laughed, but it has become my own personal mantra.

           A mantra is a word or series of words that when repeated regularly will change life in an intended direction. Hindus have been using mantras for thousands of years to gain enlightenment and to find the nature of God. Modern day life coaches and self-empowerment gurus have reintroduced them to the world to empower our lives. I say mantras repeatedly all day long, in order to focus on positive thoughts instead of negative thoughts.

         The effect of this mantra, “focus on my own journey” has brought to light many stumbling blocks I have put in my own path over the years. First and foremost, I have avoided dealing with my negativity and egotism by constantly putting those around me under the microscope. As I have said before, “Put down the microscope and pick up the mirror.” I would much rather obsess on what other people are doing “wrong” than work on my insecurity and passive aggressive behavior.  It is a lot easier to focus on other people, and it avoids the painful introspection that is necessary for emotional and spiritual growth.

      Secondly, I have successfully avoided dealing with subjects that are painful, such as suppressed anger and the causes for it. I love to obsessively recall painful events in my childhood or earlier life and feel sorry for myself. In effect I am wandering all over the spiritual map getting no closer to my goal because I would rather feel sorry for myself than chip through the hardened defensive walls around my heart.  Ironically, I am beginning to believe that these “memories” may have not happened at all the way I remember. My “memories” are simply roadblocks my ego erects to my spiritual growth.

        Thirdly, I know that one day I will have to forget all of this nonsense and get on with my purpose in life. My purpose in life is to serve and love others (and myself) and to know God.  This is not an easy path, and my ego knows many ways to distract me from it.  There are many distractions on this path, none of which are any of my business. However, I continue to compare myself to others, get upset because someone is not acting the way I want them to, or get upset with myself because I am not getting the results my ego wants.

       As I repeat, “focus on my own journey” to myself, I remind myself to get back into “the game.”  Athletic metaphors abound, as I need to “get off the bench on the sidelines” and start “moving the ball down the field.” What this all means is that I have to quit criticizing others and myself and accept others and myself as we are. My teacher Derek O’Neill teaches that we have to allow people to have their own experience. When I get upset because someone is not behaving appropriately, I am not allowing someone to have his or her own experience. When I second-guess myself and beat myself up, I am not allowing myself to have my own experience.

       Finally, I remind myself that life is a journey, and I need to focus on my own path. When I say focus, I mean put on the blinders and care not what others are doing. My ego places all sorts of distractions in my way, usually in the form of people. Interestingly enough, God is there too. Not only is God in me, God is every single one of the people I criticize as well as the ones I praise. When I remind myself to focus on my path, I have to remember where the path is going. It is going to God.  So the next time I see someone doing something that my ego thinks is “wrong,” I will smile and tell myself, “focus on my own journey.” Not only will I stay more to the path, I might even get farther along the path than I can imagine. Happy Journeys.

 

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

NON-JUDGMENT VS FORGIVENESS

            Many books, seminars, workshops, and meditations concentrate on the power of forgiveness. Even I have taught numerous workshops and written about forgiveness. Forgiveness allows us to let go of resentments and negative thinking that will eventually make us sick. The notion is that we have to forgive everyone who has harmed us, including ourselves. I have come to the realization that philosophy only scratches the surface and needs deeper analysis.

            Why do we need to forgive? What do we need to forgive? The deeper thinker would conclude that in order to have anything to forgive, we have to have judged someone as being wrong. Whether it is a dysfunctional childhood, unhealthy relationships, unkind people or being overly self-critical, the underlying theme is that someone did something to “me” that I judge to be wrong.

            Rather than go through the often-difficult task of forgiveness, go deeper and analyze what we think is wrong with the situation. It is the mind that judges and concludes that it is a victim. Someone has done something to it that it doesn’t like. It then applies the filters of its training and experience and concludes that the things that it doesn’t like are wrong.

            Underneath all of this mental masturbation is the belief that if the mind doesn’t like something, then that something must be wrong. Having been wronged, the mind then goes into victim mode. When we are in victim mode, we go out of alignment with our divine plan and often make ourselves sick. So wouldn’t it be better to not go into victim mode in the first place?

            When we are in victim mode, we violate one of the basic teachings of our existence, which is we are the creator of our reality. We can’t blame anyone else for our situation; everything that happens is on purpose, for our enlightenment. The art of forgiveness will lift us out of victim mode, but it doesn’t deal with the underlying judgment that put us there in the first place.

            It is far better to realize that everything happens because our divine self wants it to happen so that we can have the experiences that lead us to enlightenment. Often it takes time to gain the perspective necessary to understand that something that happens that we don’t like is actually for our own enlightenment. The loss of a loved one, job or finances can be traumatic if we don’t focus on the one universal rule, and that is we are the creator of our lives so that we can become enlightened. If we are consistent and disciplined in our understanding that we are creators, and not victims, there will be nothing to forgive.

            Thus, it is much better not to judge something as wrong. When we don’t like something, we must understand that is our mind judging something we have created. There is no need to judge, simply accept. If we don’t like it, then we can change the behavior that created it in the first place. This is the path to enlightenment, to understand that everything is for our enlightenment. When we presume to forgive, we fall into a trap that the mind creates to keep us suffering. Instead of forgiving, don’t judge. You will become enlightened much quicker.

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

HOPE

            I was contemplating my navel the other day and realized how much we have going for us in this universe. The truth is that no matter what your circumstances, this is a kind universe and everyone in it has the primary motivation to work in favor of a peaceful, bountiful life.  The only obstacles in our way are created by the projection of fear into our present and future circumstances. Granted we are far away from universal peace and cooperation, but happiness is readily available anytime we want it. Love is pouring into all of us in amounts hard to perceive much less feel. If we are not open to receive it life can become very uncomfortable.

            At least once a day we should take a moment and practice quieting our mind from worries and fears. Focus on our breathing, and allow nothing else to intrude on our focus, at least for 1 minute and longer in time. Demand from ourselves an increase of hope, faith and optimism. No matter what seems to be in your way, remember that it will pass. Take off the black hood of despair and needless worry and open our eyes to everything that is beautiful in this universe. Do this at least one minute a day.

            Hope, faith and trust are all intertwined. The increase of one will increase the others and raise the light contained in and around us. So choose which one each of us would like to increase. The most common core issue is lack of trust, hope and faith. We think we are not enough because we can’t control everything in our lives. This is nonsense. We have to grow in our own power and stop giving all our hope, faith and trust to others. Don’t blame anyone for anything. It is not the politicians who have created our present situation. It is the greed that we all mistakenly held in our hearts because we did not trust that there was enough for everybody.

            It is simple to stop worrying, simply remember that everything we are experiencing is designed to bring us closer to the one thing we want the most, which is an intimate connection with ourselves, to love ourselves, and to be happy. So quit comparing us to each other, start cooperating, and have hope, faith and trust that we will solve the unhappiness in our world today.

            If you believe, there are millions of angels, guides, devas, ascended beings and other magical beings all sending love, hope, trust and faith, more than we will ever need. Not to mention the energy which put us here in the first place and lives within us every minute of our life. It doesn’t matter what we label this energy, we used it to create ourselves and we can use it to create an abundant future. Even atheists can accept this concept, for without this energy they can’t be here. Although I can’t help but observe that atheists may be the most arrogant believers, they can’t argue that it takes energy to run this planet and keep their life force in place.

            Fear, anxiety and worry are our minds at work, closing off our ability to accept our divine birthright of joy, gratitude and abundance. Ninety percent of worry is useless, and the other ten percent is distracting. If you look long enough with enough energy, you will find the fly in the ointment. Why use all that energy on looking for something that may prove you are right when you think the world is a horrible place? You can use that same energy and develop hope, faith and trust that tomorrow will be better and connect with the universal creative energy to create happiness for yourself NOW!

            The next time we find ourselves worrying about life, remind us that we need to increase hope, faith and trust instead to create heaven in our lifetimes.  Heaven is not something to wait for; we can create it here and now. I know, because I have seen it. As I create more hope, faith and trust, I see more and more of it. There is no end to this happiness, and it is only blocked by my needless fear and anxiety. This is the universe’s promise to us, have hope, faith and trust and we will live in heaven.

             It may take great discipline to focus on heaven, rather than hell. Our consciousness oftentimes has been trained to avoid hell, rather than find heaven. The more we resist hell, the harder it is to find heaven. We have to start first thing in the morning with prayers, mantras, affirmations and positive thinking. This is the path to heaven. Negative thinking, thoughts of doubt, fear, anger and similar thinking ends in hell. This causes more pain and suffering even though we think we are trying to avoid that. If there is only one word to think throughout the day, a good one is “hope”.

 

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

LETTING GO

           Many people ask, “how am I supposed to let go”, or “what does it mean to let go?”  Most people have attachments to others, to money, to beliefs systems (“BS”) or to self-image. People are most attached to how other people think about them. All of this may lead to suffering.  In order to let go, we have to detach ourselves to preconception, projection, prejudice and judgment. It is not a physical action, to “let go” of someone doesn’t mean to physically leave or to throw them out of the house. What “letting go” means is detachment and opening your heart.

            I often have debates with people who feel like their lives are unfair or they are victims. They don’t have what they want and they get depressed about it.  I often think of that old song what sings, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you are with!”  Another way of saying that is if you want to be happy, be happy with what you have. I remember a saying “Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get.”  If we detach and let go of wanting something we don’t have, or detach from the fear of losing what we have, we would be so happy we wouldn’t have time for fear.

The following is a good list of do’s and don’ts for letting go.

To “Let Go” does not mean to stop caring.

It means we can’t take responsibility for the actions of others.

To “Let Go” does not mean to give up,

It means to quit expecting a certain result to our actions.

To “Let Go” does not mean to isolate ourself,

It means that whatever anyone thinks of us is none of our business.

To “Let Go” is not to cut myself off.

It’s the realization that I can’t control another.

To “Let Go” is not to quit living,

But to recognize the outcome is not in my control, but in God’s.

To “Let Go” doesn’t mean we give away our power,

It means that we quit playing God.

To “Let Go” is not to try to change or blame another.

But to know who we are.

To “Let Go” is not to enable,

but have compassion with detachment.

To “Let Go” is not to fix, which is playing God,

but to be supportive and celebrate the paths of others.

To “Let Go” is not to judge,

but to accept that we all are perfect.

To “Let Go” is not to be in the middle, arranging all the outcomes,

but to allow others to affect their own destinies.

To “Let Go” is to quit comparing ourselves to others,

And to recognize how precious we are.

To “Let Go” means to quit manipulating others

And start living our own lives.

To “Let Go” means to quit complaining about others;

And instead search out our own shortcomings and correct them.

To “Let Go” does not mean to give up on our dreams,

but to take each day as it comes and be glad we are in it.

To “Let Go” does not mean to ignore our lessons,

but to quit beating ourselves up for them.

To “Let Go” is not to be in denial,

And to realize that others are a reflection of me.

To “Let Go” is to put down the microscope

And pick up the mirror.

To “Let Go” is to stop being responsible for everyone else

And start being responsible for my actions.

To “Let Go” does not mean to turn your back on wealth

It means the realization that wealth does not create happiness; happiness creates wealth.

To “Let Go” is to stop worrying and to love more. By using these steps, letting go is more understandable and effective. Good luck!

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

OVER THINKING

          Many of us are affected by a terrible affliction, a disease that causes suffering and misery in billions of people. The most amazing symptom of this disease is that most people don’t even know that they have it. Other symptoms include headaches, stress, restlessness, heartburn, ulcers and other digestive issues, loss of sleep, shortness of breath, memory loss, low self-esteem, substance abuse, and absent-mindedness.  It is a condition loosely described as “obsessive thinking.” This is not to be confused with obsessive-compulsive disorder, although I believe the two are linked.

          As I trudge the path of happy destiny, I oftentimes notice my mind churning endlessly about minutiae, known as “pole-vaulting over mouse turds.” Endlessly asking “what if,” my mind reviews and replays every event in my life to squeeze every possible nuance and possibility out of each memory, no matter how insignificant or overwhelming it might be.  I analyze everything into an exhaustive state, as if chewing on each memory will change it or make me happier. As I engage in this totally useless activity, I beat myself up second guessing my past actions or thought processes.

          As if constantly dissecting my memories were not enough, I also fantasize about how various scenarios will play out depending on what I say or do. I obsessively fantasize about how things can go wrong and what I can do to prevent it. This is taking worrying to a whole new level.   I also describe it as “worst case scenario thinking.”

          Thousands of years ago our ancestors’ biggest concerns were which end of the food chain they found themselves. It made a life or death difference whether people could perceive and analyze warning signs such as dinosaur poop or raptor tracks. Being ready to instantly react to signs of danger were defense mechanisms that helped prolong life. The problem is that the dangers of being eaten no longer exist, but the defense mechanism continues to run and has evolved into obsessive analysis of what is being perceived around us.

          When we engage in “worst case scenario” thinking, we perceive everything as a potential threat and continually analyze this data in order to hopefully overcome these perceived threats. We project an infinite number of possibilities and permutations into the distant future, worrying about how life will turn out or avoiding possible pitfalls. Our brains act like computers who are continuously running on a “loop” with no possible conclusion to the program that is running. When we over analyze and think too much, we cut ourselves off from two of our most powerful survival tools, instinct and intuition.

          To make matters worse, when we engage in these thinking patterns, oftentimes we get so wrapped up with what is happening in our minds that we forget to breathe. Some people actually stop breathing for long periods of time as their analytical brains take over. When this happens, oxygen ceases to flow to our frontal lobes and we fall into crisis mode known as “monkey brain.”  At that point we only have two choices, to run away or fight. Neither choice is needed in today’s world, although it was quite handy when we found ourselves face to face with a saber-toothed tiger.

          Analytical thinking is useful when planning a war or programming a computer. It sucks when it comes to dealing with relationships and our personal issues. The more we think about our past, and analyzing our actions, etc., the more we suffer. The more we engage in “worst case scenario” thinking, the more we suffer. The more that we wish things were different, the more we suffer. The more we compare ourselves to others, the more we suffer. The more we second-guess ourselves, the more we suffer. The more we beat ourselves up, the more we suffer.

          The more we suffer, the more stress we create in our lives that in turn creates the medical problems listed above. We are literally “thinking ourselves to death.” So what do we do? How do we think less and feel more? There are some very simple exercises to heal this disease. First, detach from your thoughts. The mantra is “I am not my thoughts.” A good meditation is to sit in front of an empty chair, and imagine yourself in that chair looking back at you. The more you can visualize yourself sitting in that empty chair looking at you, the easier it will be to detach to your thinking.

          Second, get some exercise. It is impossible to engage in analytical thinking while you are gasping for breath. The endorphins that are released in your brain as a result of exercise are powerful chemicals that create a euphoric feeling and slow down obsessive thinking.

          Third, eat healthy foods. When your body is happy, you do not need to engage in survival thinking and your mind will slow down. I notice that eating unprocessed foods (raw) makes me feel much better about myself and slows down my thinking. When I am on the road eating truck stop food, my mind goes berserk.

          Fourth, focus on your breathing. Breathe long and slow breaths at all times. Yogi masters tell us that we are given a finite number of breaths in our lives. When we breathe long and slow breaths, we live longer happier lives.  Fifth, drink more water. Dehydration causes the mind to go into crisis mode. Sixth, practice gratitude and forgiveness of yourself. You do not have to forgive anyone else, only yourself. Be grateful for your life and the people in it.

           I notice that my life is much different when I stop over thinking. Events that used to create great melodrama in my life now are simply stepping stones and building blocks to more and more happiness. I am healthier, weigh less, and smile more. People like to be around me and even invite me to visit. They are glad to see me and invite me back. They even laugh at my jokes.

          The amazing thing is that whatever is going through my mind creates my reality. As I reduce the number of negative thoughts running through my mind, my life becomes more and more positive. Rather than fretting over whether the glass is half empty or half full, I drink the water and fill up the glass again. This is true abundance.

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

FINDING A TEACHER

           Many people wish to be enlightened or find happiness in life. There are thousands of self-help books, thousands of self-help workshops and even more philosophies and teachings promising to make people happy or enlightened. It is possible to become enlightened and happy by studying all of these resources. It is far easier to become happy and enlightened with a teacher.

            A spiritual teacher is a person (living or dead) who guides us through the “mindfields” of life. By passing on truth and wisdom, spiritual teachers can help people see where they are, point out where they are stuck and give guidance on how to live a worthy and value filled life. Teachers can do this by showing us how to be or by showing us how not to be. Everyone that we encounter in life is a teacher on some level. Choosing to study life with a teacher is a meritorious endeavor that can greatly speed our journey to happiness and enlightenment.

            Choosing a spiritual teacher can be a challenge. Ideally, a teacher would embody those qualities that we wish for ourselves.  While there are no “bad” teachers, there are teachers who have the qualities of honesty, integrity, character, joy and charity that we seek.  We should beware teachers who are only seeking material wealth without sharing their abundance with those with greater needs.

            It is best to choose a teacher and to focus on that teacher. Spiritual “grazing” will not help us find enlightenment or happiness. Many people go from teacher to teacher seeking spiritual “highs” with each new teacher and avoiding any real progress through application of the teacher’s teachings. Dig deeply and find water, dive deeply and find pearls. If you find that you no longer resonate with a teacher, simply leave without criticism or animosity.

            I have had many teachers … parents, brothers, ex-wives and gurus. Some of my teachers were kinder than others. Some were more advanced than others. Some challenged me and others flattered me. Teachers oftentimes reflect where and who we are at the time the teacher comes forward.

            Your teacher should be a role model for you. Sharing knowledge and information is important, but the most value of a teacher is the example that they set for their students. Teachers who challenge their students oftentimes are surrounded by controversy. Seek the truth and make up your own mind whether a teacher is appropriate. Do not be afraid of controversy, and separate fact from fiction.

            Teachers are guides who lead us through the quicksand and treacherous situations in life. They can see further ahead than we can, and have experiences that can help us experience ours. They light our way and shine brightly for us to follow.

            Sometimes, our destiny is to meet with someone that will turn our life upside down and destroy beliefs we have about integrity or honesty. For whatever reason, I just experienced a long relationship with someone that turned out to be less than what he professed to be and his character led much to be desired. This is why it is very difficult to recognize someone who can lead you to higher consciousness by guidance versus someone that is just trying to take advantage of you.

            There are a couple of red flags that you should be aware of when you are searching for a teacher who can help you. You should do your research and be very wary of those who are accused of sexual abuse or other abuse of followers. There is an old tradition from India where teachers are treated like Gods, and they are allowed to be as destructive as they want. You need to steer clear of any teacher that is abusive. There is no reason for this and it is very dangerous.

            Second, you should be very careful with teachers who want control of your life, finances and family. If they recommend an investment they are involved in, RUN AWAY. Any teacher who puts financial reward over their client’s well being should be avoided at all costs.

            Third, watch out for charlatans and snake oil salesmen. Social media and marketing can make anyone look divine. In fact, many times I have seen marketing that was years old, and the teacher had not accomplished anything in years. However, the marketing made the “miracles” look fresh and recent. Again, do your research.

            If a teacher gives you any cause for concern, you should follow your own guidance and not disempower yourself to anyone. If you have a gut feeling that a person seems too good to be true, they probably are. If you have heard rumors about someone that questions their integrity, you should research and investigate.

            Furthermore, if the teacher places you in a dangerous physical situation, RUN AWAY. Walking on coals or sweat lodges have caused serious medical injuries to clients/followers. That is not the way to expand your consciousness. It fact, if seriously injured you can cause great trauma. Please do not participate in these types of activities.

            Finally, the path that you want to go on is between your heart and your head. That does not have to be expensive or dangerous. Find someone who has proven results and doesn’t put people in dangerous circumstances. Good luck on your quest!

           

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

MASTER YOUR EMOTIONS TO MASTER YOUR LIFE

          Many people want to know the secret of life. The answer lies in mastering your emotions. How you experience life, both in the workplace and at home, depends on this. Consciously deciding how you feel will determine the quality of your life. Whenever people talk about mastery or taking control of their lives, one aspect of that process is to control emotions. This does not mean ignoring or suppressing emotions, it means controlling how we feel about our life from moment to moment. Emotions are states of feeling caused by our mind to deal with events that are happening in our life. How we respond to daily events, whether they are catastrophic or mundane, determines whether we are happy masters of our lives or suffering victims.

          Emotions are based upon our core beliefs, or how we view the world and ourselves on the most basic level. For example, if we believe we are defective in some way, we will probably react to stimuli with fear or anger. If we believe that we are unlovable, we will probably experience sadness and rejection. If we believe everything  happens for a reason, we will probably experience peace.

          The most basic negative emotions, fear, anger, envy, shame and grief, are generated in the reptilian brain—the most primitive part, or the fight or flight center. Higher, more positive emotions such as love, joy, gratitude and peace are generated in the frontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for reasoning and creative thoughts, with hundreds of secondary and tertiary emotions that arise from these basic emotions.

          Many people believe that we are victims of our emotions, unable to control how we feel.  Not true. We can control how we feel and what we feel in any given moment. We can determine how we feel by being better aware of our beliefs, thoughts and emotions, and how they are interconnected and interact. Researchers have discovered hundreds of identifiable emotions on a spectrum, determined by the vibration or frequency of the emotion, or “how they make us feel”. At the top is enlightenment and the bottom is shame. A sample of this spectrum is:

  • Enlightenment (Ultimate consciousness)
  • Peace
  • Joy
  • Love
  • Reason
  • Acceptance
  • Willingness
  • Neutrality
  • Courage
  • Pride
  • Anger
  • Desire
  • Fear
  • Grief
  • Apathy
  • Guilt
  • Shame

          We can go up and down this spectrum consciously with our thoughts. What we think determines how we feel. This is because the mind determines how to react to the thoughts and beliefs running around in our conscious and subconscious minds. The mind has learned that by creating emotions, its chances of surviving perceived threat is much greater. Thus fear motivates us to fight or flee in the face of threat. When the mind is experiencing bliss, it becomes focused on other aspects of life and is not subject to false perception of danger. So if we use thoughts comparing ourselves to others, wishing things were different, blaming others, we will go down the spectrum. If we think thoughts of gratitude, love, acceptance and kindness, we go up, and feel a higher emotions’ correlating vibration.

          Remember that we are not our beliefs, thoughts or even emotions. They are all products of our mind, and can be controlled with discipline and practice. As long as we don’t attach to our beliefs, thoughts and emotions, these products of our mind can be quite entertaining. If we attach to them, life can become quite difficult.

          So when you’re working, relating to others, exercising or walking down the street, be aware of the thoughts going through your mind, because that will determine how you feel. We can change our thoughts much easier than we can change our emotions. By focusing on positive aspects of our circumstances, we will experience more positive emotions. When we concentrate on what we are grateful for, we will feel more grateful. If we concentrate on how we can help someone, rather than what we are getting out of a situation, we will feel more worthy and valuable. How will you choose to feel?

          Other techniques that have proved helpful in raising our vibration and thus, emotional state include:

o   Breathing techniques

o   EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)

o   EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitivation & Reprocessing)

o   The Havening Techniques

o   Meditation

o   Contemplation

o   Mantras

o   Compassion

o   Professional psychological therapy

o   Alternative healing (to heal wounded inner child)

o   Be empowered (stop disempowering yourself)

o   Be present (stop living in the past or future)

o   NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) – Pattern interrupts/anchors

o   Exercise

o   Yoga

o   Laughter

o   Help someone else/service

You can learn more about mastery, these techniques and much more with me on Get Real Radio.  Tune in live on Fridays at 11 am PST / 2pm EST / 6pm GMT. Visit the archives here.