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

How To Suffer, Part Two

After I posted my first How To Suffer blog, I realized that I had left out some important ways to be a totally miserable human being. In order to make sure you have as many tools as possible to suffer, here they are.

(1)           Be Right:  Yes, you are right. Do not accept anyone else’s point of view. Do not, for any reason, put on their shoes and walk a mile. Do not care what anyone else says, you are right. The best part is not only are you right, everyone else is wrong. Keep repeating to yourself “I am right and everyone else is wrong.” This way you will be sure to alienate every being on the planet and even your dog won’t like you.

(2)           Lie Whenever Possible: Let’s be honest, truth is a slippery slope and all reality is just perception. You just can’t manipulate people if you don’t lie. Some people say you can’t lie to yourself, but if you practice enough actually you can. The bigger the lie the more miserable you will be so don’t hold back, tell a whopper. Be sure to lie to those people who trust you. When you get really good you will transit into sport lying, when you lie just for the sport of it and to see what happens. You can be sure when all of that boomerangs the misery levels will go off the charts.

(3)           Never take responsibility: Be strong and know that it is not your fault. Life happens to you, not for you. There is no sense in contemplating your role in any situation, you are just a victims. Victims don’t have to change, they just complain. It is not your fault you were born in a dog eat dog world. So relax, life sucks and then you die.

(4)           Have Unreasonable Expectations: Always raise the bar and never be satisfied. Never believe you are good enough because that philosophy is for losers. Be sure to beat yourself up when you wake up, during the day, and especially as you toss and turn during the night when a happy person would be grateful. If you don’t feel like a failure, it is really hard to perfect your misery.

(5)           Covet, Covet, Covet: The grass is always greener on the other side. You have to gaze lustily at your neighbors’ possessions and be sure to ignore your own. After all, if you ever watered your grass it might be greener on this side. It is very important to suffering to want what you don’t have and panic at the thought of losing anything you do have. It may not be as good as the neighbors’ but it is yours. Desire is very important to fuel your misery.

(6)           Eat poorly: In order to maintain a proper level of suffering, it is very important to eat everything that is not good for you. Fresh might make you feel better so always eat frozen processed foods loaded with preservatives. Diet sodas are very important because aspartame turns into methyl alcohol and formaldehyde, insuring that you kill your entire intestinal flora. You are what you eat, so eat like teenager on a sugar high.

As I said in the first How to Suffer, I am being tongue in cheek. If you avoid these you have a good chance of being happy.


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

Spiritual Dogma

I have noticed, as I go along the spiritual path that habits are hard to reprogram. Even the spiritual movement has its dogma, which is the same dogma that spiritual people are rebelling against in organized religion. We just call it something else. If you find that that you are defending your spiritual beliefs, you have fallen into the dogma trap.  Here are some examples of how religious dogma has crept into spirituality:


Religious                                                         Spiritual


Jesus/Allah/Buddha loves you                     The Universe supports you


We will pray for you                                      I will send you healing energy


God provides                                                 You can attract whatever you want


I want to go to heaven                                   I want to be one


Hallelujah                                                        Om


God will punish you                                       Karma


I go to church                                                  I meditate every day


God is omniscient                                           My thoughts create my reality


If you find yourself defending any of the statements on the right, you are practicing spiritual dogma and you may want to let go of those beliefs.

If you talk about energy, vibratory rates, auras, prana, chi, life force energy, or chakras all of the time, you have probably adopted the philosophies about these forces as your dogma. You probably hold onto these beliefs with as much eyes closed white knuckled intensity as your Baptist friends who think babies go to hell.

One thing I notice quite a bit is competitive spirituality. If you compare your spirituality to anyone else, you are guilty of this type of dogma. If the thought has ever crossed your mind that you are more conscious or more spiritual than that other person, you are guilty of competitive spirituality. The best way to get away with this type of competitive spirituality is to practice it silently and passive-aggressively, perhaps gossiping about those who aren’t as spiritual with your highly dogmatic spiritual friends.

To be really dogmatic, it is important to emphasize your intuitive gifts, especially when you are not asked to do so. Have you ever called someone and said: “my intuition told me to contact you?” This is also passive-aggressive spirituality because what you are really saying is that you are more psychic than the next fellow. Nothing is more irritating than conversing with someone who regularly peppers their conversation with their ability to intuit things. It is like talking to someone that wants to save your soul. Egads.

It is really important to look like you are spiritual. Be sure to burn incense 24/7 and wear loose fitting clothing. Practicing yoga is also helpful. Be sure to silently maintain eye contact longer than is comfortable and smile while doing so.   It helps to focus on transmitting healing energy to the other person even though they didn’t ask you to do so. A clear flag of spiritual dogma is denial of emotional involvement. Everything is love, everything is cool, and even though your best friend just ran off with your spouse, everything is perfect. You have lost your health, your wealth and your family, and everything is perfect. Your karma will run over your dogma when you deny your emotions.

Finally, if you find yourself recommending modalities and teachers to others to help them achieve enlightenment, welcome to dogma world. If you talk about your teacher all of the time, or your beliefs all of the time, you need to contemplate whether you have become dogmatic and are just trading one set of beliefs for similar beliefs with different names. Spirituality is an inside job.

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

Finding Love

            I have been writing articles for years about attracting a soulmate or companion. The basic understanding of most spiritual people is you have to love yourself before anyone else will love you. You can only attract what you have inside of yourself, as the theory is that everyone is a mirror of what you are. Having said this and taught workshops where everyone ended up getting married fairly soon after the workshop, I was thinking that God was playing a cruel joke on me because I could not find that special person. In fact, it seemed that I was doomed to be attracted to angry, emotionally unavailable people. If the theories hold true, that must mean that I was an angry, emotionally unavailable person as well.

            I had to go pretty deep into myself to see what was blocking that perfect person for me. What I found wasn’t pretty, but the pain of the end of my last relationship was deep enough that I had to start looking for what I could not see. Most of my friends were telling me I was a kind, compassionate and generous person, but there must be something hidden under all of that to block the one I dreamed about from appearing. If the spiritual principles were correct.

            For me, what I discovered was some deep-seated resentment against my parents, primarily because they were very hard on me and insisted that I always do better. My adult consciousness understands that they wanted me to be a success and do the best I could, but my inner child felt rejected and abandoned. Once I started being grateful for all of what they did for me, including instilling in me a drive to excel, I noticed that more and more people were starting to notice I was attractive and wanted to be around me. Then the miracle I had been wishing for happened. I met The One.

            I have contemplated at length why now, what was different and how I was different to have attracted someone I am totally attracted to. She is gorgeous, intelligent, successful, funny, and understands me. I hope that she is a reflection of me, which means I really have shifted. I am fairly sure this is a different relationship than any of her predecessors, including the way I feel. I do not feel like a child looking for a mother. I do not feel like she will disappear if I say no. I do not feel like being someone I am not, and I definitely do not feel like telling her what I think she wants to hear. I do not feel threatened if she can’t be with me all of the time. That is a huge shift in my consciousness.

            I do feel like telling her how I feel, whether I think she will like it or not. I do feel like doing everything to make this work. Those poetic notions are starting to rekindle in my heart; I want to write poetry again. Best of all, I do trust her, which is something I didn’t know whether I could ever do again. I trust her when she says she adores me. I trust her when she says she wants to be with me. I trust her when she says I am special. The biggest change in all of this is I love myself enough to know that I deserve such a special person in my life. So perhaps loving myself has made all of the difference, after all. I love you Linda.

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

Meeting God

            Many people search for the being or consciousness that could be called “God”. We all seek to know God, the Divine, Universal Consciousness, that which created us. We are told that joining with this being with give us access to information and knowledge that expands our consciousness and gives us insights into the nature of our being and our future. We will know things that we wouldn’t otherwise know and understand the nature of life in ways not previously available.

            In the past, mystics and devotees spend lifetimes or long periods of time in undistracted isolation stilling their minds and searching for whatever leads them to believe they have connected with the divine. Most of the accounts and stories about this “enlightenment” involve an expansion of consciousness beyond what our minds can control. I always wanted to experience this expansion of consciousness, a knowing of something more than what I could experience with my five senses.

            I have spent countless hours in meditation, contemplation, breathing exercises, all designed to help my ego step aside so I could experience whatever is left. Many of my more mystical experiences were more deep periods of calm and stillness of mind. There were no voices, no visuals, no visions, no deeper understandings. So when I was offered the chance to experience a hallucinary drug taken for thousands of years by the ancient cultures of South America, I agreed.

            San Pedro is a cactus that grows freely in South America. It is named San Pedro because it refers to St. Peter, and drinking a tea brewed from the blossoms of the cactus plant is supposed to give you the keys to heaven. The base of the tea is mescaline, a drug that was no stranger to me in my educational years. I did not remember any spiritual or mystical experiences long ago, but perhaps all of my spiritual training over the last 15 years would help me get to a place of mystical discovery.

            So I went to the casa of a shaman in Cusco Peru to experience San Pedro. We started early in the morning, about 9am. I noticed that the shaman gave me a double portion of the tea, I hoped he know what he was doing. I drank the potion, and immediately noticed that it was strongly bitter, reminiscent of Chinese medicine. The effects were immediate, I started feeling detached and fuzzy headed. We went outside to sit on a bank in the back yard with a beautiful view of the Andes. In one hour, I had lost the ability to think and walking was impossible. So I sat there for at least two hours with a pleasant feeling of total body tingling and loss of cognitive thinking.

            I don’t think I ever had any visuals other than the fact that everywhere I looked would expand and contract like a heart beating. I could feel the life flowing through everything I could see, whether it was the cute dogs that would lie beside me to keep me company or a rock. I think they could perceive that I was in an altered state of consciousness; they stayed pretty close for the whole day. There was an heightened sense of perception, colors were much more intense, I could hear voices from miles away, the sunlight was blinding. I got unmercifully sunburned, even though I stayed in the shade as much as possible. I wasn’t even aware of breathing; it was more like oxygen was being absorbed through my skin.

            After 6 hours of this experience, I was starting to look for some relief. Even though my mind was not thinking, it felt like it was on overdrive with the sensations I was experiencing. After 8 hours I was finally able to walk and we went for a walk outside of the compound to a field overlooking the Cusco valley. We could look down see jets landing and taking off from Cusco airport. The light was still extremely bright and it seemed like I could hear voices speaking from miles away.

            After about 9 hours it was time to go back to my hotel, but the experience was far from over. My mind was still percolating until 3am when I finally passed out. I can’t say that I received the keys to heaven, but I definitely felt like I had passed into another dimension. The after effect of the experience still can be felt, San Pedro is a gift that keeps on giving. I definitely can appreciate being in a “normal” state of consciousness. I can see how someone would interpret the loss of cognitive thinking and visuals coupled with the constant tingling in my body as being possessed by the divine. I can’t say that I had any mystical insights; I simply experienced another state of being. Quite frankly that was enough.