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

Moving On

It is New Year Eve, and I am sure that many people are remembering the past year and looking forward to 2016. When we review the past, we need to do so with a sense of gratitude and never regret. Whenever we remember the past, we need to look for the lessons we learned when we got something we did not want. When we experience negative emotions with memories, we actually reinforce the pain or trauma those memories may bring. When we view events with a sense of gratitude we can view it as a positive experience.

For many years I walked around with a sense of impending doom. I could not verbalize where my anxiety was coming from; I only knew that I was always stressed and afraid of the future. I was afraid that I would do something wrong even though there was no evidence that I would do so. I thought I was happy, yet the reality was I was experiencing a low-grade anxiety.

I started to contemplate why I felt fear. Fear normally occurs when we are faced with losing something we have or we won’t get what we want. Being a trial lawyer, winning and losing meant more than personal loss, it affected my livelihood, my self-esteem, my reputation and my clients. The pressure was definitely on. What I finally discovered that this was only going on between my ears and the fear was an illusion.

As I traveled the road of happy destiny, I continued to have lessons. There are two kinds of teacher: (1) the teachers who teach us how to be; and, (2) the teachers who teach us how not to be. Everyone is our teacher, they have come into our life to help us improve our experience. Finally in the spring of this last year I ended a particularly painful relationship with someone that obviously came to this planet to wake me up. For some reason I get my lessons hard and dirty, I suppose I don’t pay enough attention otherwise.

After the end of this relationship, I decided that I was going to learn how to love myself. I focused on being grateful for everything I had experienced, no matter how much emotional pain I may have experienced from the lesson. There is a great difference between forgiveness and gratitude. You don’t have to forgive anyone if you are grateful for all that happens in your life. So the more I was grateful, the less it hurt. It is easy to be grateful when we get what we want, it is a much bigger challenge when we are not getting what we want. I let go of the wanting, and simply committed to appreciating everything. My life changed drastically.

The one thing I have noticed in my life is that when I finally recognize the lesson, traumatic events cease to occur. However, until I recognize the lesson, the events will continue to occur. When I learned the lesson of being grateful, all of the circumstances of my life that were causing me pain changed. When we change our minds and our attitudes what we experience changes. If there is any lesson I have learned from this past year, it is to see the blessing in everything.

I hear all of the time that we have to let go of attachment, desires and resentments. This is the Buddhist view of the world. To tell you the truth, I don’t really understand what that means other than to stop thinking about something. However, I do understand what it means to be grateful for something. When I decide to be grateful for something, the burdens are lifted from my shoulders; I feel lighter and more loving. The greatest and only prayer we need to say is “Thank You”.

So for this New Year, I intend to be grateful for everything that happens. I can move on from the events that formerly wreaked havoc in my life. When you are grateful for everything, and leave the past behind, you really don’t need any New Year Resolutions. Perhaps we can enjoy what we get more, and be more grateful, especially for the events that teach us how to be more loving, more aware and more conscious. Happiness is closely connected to gratitude. It is impossible to be happy without gratitude. So I can say Happy New Year, and have a Grateful New Year!

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

The Great Balancing Act

I want it all. I want to be young with the Wisdom of Solomon. I want to be a twenty year old and get the senior discount. I want freedom and to be in a deeply rewarding relationship. I want to be rich and bang on the drum all day. I want great health and to party all day and all night. I want to be exceptionally intelligent and sleep all day. I want all of the services government provides and not pay taxes. In other words, I want polar opposites all of the time.

As I get older (mature) and wiser (experience), I have discovered that there are just some things that can’t exist at the same time. It doesn’t matter how unfair I might believe that to be, we can’t have the best of all things at the same time. We have to decide almost every minute of every day what we want. The good news is we can decide what we want. The bad news is we can’t have it all at the same time.

I believe that time was created so that our heads don’t explode. Can you imagine everything happening all at once? Even if we could, it would give us a headache. Running marathons and being a coach potato can’t coexist in the same time frame. Reality doesn’t work that way. So we have to decide what we want, or even better, balance the two extremes.

Our universe operates on the pendulum principle, in that pleasure is always followed by pain, and pain is always followed by pleasure. At least, until we stop being attached to one or the other. If we stop judging something as pleasant or painful, life evens out. For adrenaline addicts such as myself, I see no fun in evening things out, but I also have to be willing to experience abstract concepts such as pleasure and pain. How can those be abstract you ask? Hypnosis has proven that pain is experienced in the mind, and the mind can be put to sleep so you don’t feel pain. If you don’t feel something does it exist? If no one witnesses an event, does it actually occur? Granted these are existential questions but they have application in real life.

You can’t have freedom and be with the same person twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You have to let go of attachments in order to have freedom. There may be consequences to that, but everything (energy, relationships, events) moves in cycles. If we accept the fact that what we want will be followed by what we don’t want, then you can be more peaceful and not resist what you don’t want. When we resist something, it tends to get stuck. When we let things go in their natural order, things shift more rapidly.

The great balancing act is to accept everything as in its natural order. Another way of saying that is accept everything as God. It is often hard to see something tragic or horrible as God, but it is the only way that we will be able to understand how the universe works. Everything we know and believe is an attempt to understand the way the universe works. When we step back from our concepts, our understanding, our world view, then we start to see the deeper truths of life. We can seek the truths that make life bearable, fun, exciting and rewarding. These truths are right in front of us, but our desire to have it all prevents us from see it.

I love a story about the Dalai Lama, who was confronted by a wealthy woman one time who complained that her family hated her and she was destitute. The woman wanted to know what to do. The Dalai Lama said “change your mind”. After all, how we perceive things dictates what we experience. What we experience dictates how we feel and understand life. So when we change our perception we experience a new life. It is the end of the year and a new year is beginning.

What can you do to balance your life, to stop the pendulum from swinging so dramatically between pleasure and pain? I believe that life is a pendulum swinging from one polar extreme to another, between pleasure and pain, between good and bad, between life and death. We don’t have to get off the pendulum, we just have to raise our awareness so that we go up the pendulum to the center point where nothing swings, it just turns. There is no great dramatic shift, there just is. We don’t have to make decisions about what we want, we just experience life as it is. So to get to the center point, that point of stillness, we have to stop judging and reacting. Be the center of your universe. The great thing about our universe is that it has as many centers as it does beings. Each being is the center of their universe. Don’t believe them when they say “you aren’t the center of the universe, the universe doesn’t revolve around you!” Actually, it does. So for this New Year, accept everything as a gift, whether it feels good or not. Be grateful for everything, especially the stuff that doesn’t feel good.

Another way of looking at the challenging stuff in our lives is to think of them as push ups. The more push-ups we do, the stronger we become. So to do more spiritual push ups, we need to welcome the challenges as they come. Oh how strong we will be. After all, that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. So balancing is more about accepting and being grateful. Every time we accept pain exactly like we accept pleasure, be become more balanced. Eventually, there will not be pleasure or pain. There will only be the abundance of a balanced life.

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

It’s Not My Fault

It is becoming increasingly obvious to me that there is an undercurrent running through the spirituality industry that is self-destructive and misunderstands ancient teachings. It is the notion that how people relate to us is not our concern. The popular mantra is “how other people think about me is none of my business.” The problem is that many people excuse their unacceptable behavior by either discounting other people’s reaction as irrelevant or by putting the fault back on the critic by saying the critics are “projecting their stuff” onto them.

We are a nation of victims who don’t deserve what life dishes up. We blame everything on other people and never accept responsibility for anything. We blame politicians for the state of the world, we blame our parents for our past, we blame God for not being abundant, and we never take responsibility for our actions. The truly devious actor commits truly harmful acts and then puts the blame on those they harm by saying “it isn’t my business how you feel. You need to take responsibility for how you feel.”

I counsel hundreds of people who feel victimized by others but do not want to take responsibility for their choices. While it is true that some people are truly innocent, they have every right to feel whatever they feel as a consequence of the offensive behavior. Imagine a rapist or child sexual abuser saying, “How you feel about me is irrelevant.” That is a level of callousness that approaches psychosis.

We have an obligation to not only take responsibility for our actions but to heal whatever we have harmed. The forgotten component to taking responsibility is not only to admit your actions; it also involves making reparations wherever possible. This avoidance of responsibility goes even farther when people play the passive aggressive game of “don’t project your stuff on me.” Spiritual gurus are especially guilty of this behavior in several ways.

First they deflect scrutiny of their behavior by admonishing their critics as not having a high enough consciousness to understand their motivation or the true purpose of their behavior. Second, gurus deflect criticism by saying that their behavior was intended to make the critic understand some mystical principal. In other words, the gurus fraudulent, deceitful or abusive behavior was justified in order to make the student “wake up”. Third, gurus and people deflect criticism by saying that the critic was guilty of “judging them” and the critic was not enlightened enough to judge the offending party.

What a mind game the spiritual practitioners are playing!

If someone has harmed you, it is totally human and natural to have emotions about it. Do not let someone excuse their behavior by deflecting the focus from the offensive behavior to the emotions of the victim. I was involved with a spiritual organization some years ago whose guru claimed he has special powers that had been gifted to him by God. He offered to teach others how to do what he could do for large sums of money. He also convinced me to invest large sums of money into his businesses. I lost everything because he failed to do anything he promised to do. He refused to take any responsibility for his actions and he continues to prey upon innocent people.

My decisions to pay him money and invest into the guru’s businesses were my responsibility and I take total responsibility for disempowering myself and making risky investments. When I confronted the guru with his behavior, the only response I got was I was too stupid to understand what he was trying to do for me. What an interesting position for an “enlightened being” to take. After learning this lesson, I have noticed that this type of behavior is starting to be rampant among people who are armed with this type of reasoning.

If someone breaks his promise, it is their responsibility to correct this error. No spiritual psychobabble will change this obligation. If you are the victim of this behavior, you have every right to experience whatever emotions you experience. Look for the lesson and learn from it. However, it is also “spiritual” to seek reparation for any damages that you incurred. If you are the person who caused the harm, be responsible and do whatever you can to do to make the other person whole. Otherwise, the spirituality movement will become nothing more than predators victimizing the innocent and naïve.

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

New Year Resolutions

I am sure that lots of people are considering their New Year resolutions to be made in the interim between Christmas and New Years. What they may not know is that the custom of making promises on the New Year goes back to Babylonia when people would promise to repay debts and return borrowed goods. This was done in order to please the gods and hopefully bring bounty for the upcoming year. In medieval times knights would renew their vows of chivalry, known as the Peacock Vow. Most cultures have traditions involve promising to improve as a part of the new year.

Most New Years resolutions focus on self-improvement:

  • Improving health either by eating healthier foods, exercise, or losing weight;
  • Improving attitudes by meditating, laughing more and enjoying life more
  • Improving finances
  • Improving career, new job or go into business
  • Improve your education
  • Reduce stress
  • Volunteer more
  • Be more spiritual

 

Amazingly, surveys indicate that as much as 88% of New Years resolutions fail. This has been attributed to unrealistic goals, failure to monitor progress, forgetfulness or general laziness. We are creatures of habit and most resolutions require changes of habit. Habits are simply repetitive behavior that becomes ingrained into our psyche. Addictions are the most destructive habits while positive habits can be very beneficial. Studies indicate that habits are formed after 20-30 days of repetitive behavior. In order to change a habit, it is easiest to replace it with another, more beneficial habit.

If there is anything you wish to change, be sure to make it realistic and easy to achieve. Don’t set goals that are impossible to achieve, like losing 60 lbs of fat in 7 days. When we set goals, we have to also think about the habits we have to create to achieve those goals and be dedicated and disciplined enough to create those habits. If your goal is to do 100 push-ups and you are a Tyrannosaurus Rex, you may be a little unrealistic. Start with the habit of doing 10 push ups a day and increasing that 1 push up a week. By the end of the year, at a minimum you will be doing 60 push ups a day. You will have some guns by then.

One of the most challenging aspects of any goal setting is to be patient for the payoff. When we set a goal that will take more than a day to achieve, patience is the key. If we want to change a habit and form a new one, patience is the key. Be realistic with what you want to change and your resolution will be a success. If you are unrealistic, you will fail and incur all of the negative emotions that come with failure. It is much better to achieve a goal, no matter how small, than to fail. There are a lot of motivational coaches who encourage people to exceed their limits, but they do more harm than good. You will exceed your limits but you have to do so one step at a time.

Pick habits that have benefits beyond the initial goal. For example, reading an inspirational quote every day has benefits far beyond the goal. Learning something new every day has the same effect. Taking a piece of fruit to the homeless beggar around the corner every day is the same. Volunteering once a week, once a month, once whatever will have a ripple effect that is self-reinforcing.

If you are making resolutions that you have failed at before, change it up. If the goal was to change a habit, be more specific, give yourself more time, be more realistic. If you want to lose weight, pick a smaller number. If you want to eat healthier, put a photo of yourself in your underwear on the refrigerator. Do something different. Change your perspective; change your mind. If you are trying to change an addiction, pick something else you want to be addicted to. If you are trying to exercise, change your exercise. Change something and you will be able to be successful.

When we change our minds, reality changes. Our relationships change, our fortunes change, our future changes. A great resolution is to change our perspective on things by taking a deep breath before we say anything. Walking in other shoes is a great way to avoid saying something that we will regret. Resolve that before we open our mouth, we imagine being the person we are saying it to. Before we get angry, take a walk around the block. Before you take a drink, put on a pink hat. There are many ways to replace patterns. Remember that we are making resolutions to please God. And let the blessings flow.

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

Having Healthy Relationships

 

One of the biggest challenges everyone faces in the workplace as well as life in general is how to have successful and rewarding relationships. While my perception is that women do a better job of this, there are some behaviors that society has hardwired into both romantic and professional relationships that make having meaningful relationships difficult or just about impossible. Women should share this article with their male counterparts.

There are certain rules about relationships that current societal norms seem to ignore. In order to have a successful relationship with your significant other, coworker, superiors of either sex, you have to be able to have truthful and honest conversations about issues, challenges and problems you are facing. Unfortunately, most relationships avoid these types of conversations like the plague, and many behaviors are calculated to distract or ignore these issues. The trick is to recognize these behaviors when they come up so you can direct the conversation to meaningful and positive ground.

The first counter productive behavior we engage in is keeping score. This is a trick we use to control others or to rationalize our behavior, because if you can remember some mistake someone else made (it doesn’t matter how long ago) then you have a weapon you can use to bring guilt or shame into your corner. About the only time it is productive to remember mistakes is if you have to discipline an employee. Otherwise, it is best to through that scorecard away. No romantic relationship will thrive if the past is brought up over and over again to attempt to control the other’s behavior. The truth is our memories are rarely perfect and we normally have a distorted memory of what really happened. So what happens is an argument ensues over what happened in the past rather than address the problem you are facing in the moment. So never bring up the past unless it is a recurring problem and legitimately connected to the current issue. Forgiveness is good; forgetting is better.

Another habit that we learned from society is passive aggressive behavior. We love to make snide remarks or drop hints instead of addressing a problem directly. We make snotty or petty comments about the other person that are calculated to upset the other person so you can step in and complain about that person’s reaction rather than talk about what is really bothering you. We all know the kind of comments I am referring to, comments designed to undermine confidence, question judgment or make a problem about the other person. When this type of behavior happens in the workplace, it is extremely destructive and inappropriate. You have to confront the person engaging in the passive aggressive behavior and make the conversation about what the problem really is.

Another behavior that is counterproductive to relationships is melodrama. We over react and over emotionalize minutiae to direct the issue away from our behavior. This also involves victimization, as the person who over dramatizes an issue is usually feeling like a victim. When we direct the attention away from us onto someone else then we don’t have to be honest about our part in the conflict. I call this pole-vaulting over mouse turds. We need to talk these people down from the ledge and get them to talk about that is really bothering them. When people’s feelings are hurt, they can easily over react and deflect the conversation away from their feelings onto the behavior they object to.

In fact, we often blame our emotions on others. Honesty and reality requires that we take full responsibility for our emotions. We can’t control what other people do, but we can control our emotions. When people start accusing us of causing their suffering, you have to have an honest discussion about both the behavior and the reaction. In many ways this is co-dependence. Of course, if your superior is having a bad day and you have done something to make this worse, the result may not be productive. However, if you take responsibility for your actions, it is entirely appropriate to discuss whether the emotional reaction was appropriate. Projecting the cause of our emotions onto others is always counter-productive.

The bottom line for relationships in the home and the workplace is to be honest and fearless in discussing the current issue. If we can objectively talk to the people we have relationships with about their behavior or reactions to our behavior. This is called maturity. Do not let the other person to divert the conversation away from what the true problem is, and do not let others violate your boundaries. Boundaries are absolutely necessary at home and the workplace. Be courageous with your boundaries, be honest in your conversations and take responsibility for your behavior.

 

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

A New Year Kind of Love

I wrote a book several years ago entitled “What is Love?” (you can download it from my website www.jamesgrayrobinson.com). The book looks at the misconceptions that modern society has about love and what we can do to find love in modern life. The biggest misconception I believe people have about love is that there are so many emotions that are confused for love. There is lust (attraction), greed (control), codependence (love sick), projection (how you think they feel) and many others that people call love. Love simply is the feeling that we have for our fellow man, the compassion that we naturally hold for all living creatures. The other emotions tend to bury love under the biological urges and hormonal drives(lust), along with the other desires that we experience.

As we get closer to the new year, and solutions/resolutions are beginning to be considered, one resolution that we all need to consider is to focus more on love than on the other biological urges we want to satisfy. Love has nothing to do with sex, companionship, possession, looks, or any other physical attributes of relationship. Love is an emotion that is always attributed to the heart. My belief is all emotions arise from the mind, but that is another article. So what is different about love from the other biological emotions? I believe that love is more mindless and more instinctive. y mindless I mean we don’t think about love. Love just is. Other emotions, like greed, lust, desire, and others are more ego related and arise from what we think we need.

There are a lot of people who are looking for their “soul mate”, that special person that “completes” them. This is getting the cart in front of the horse. We have to connect with the love that we have inside of us before we will find someone that can recognize it too. When we connect with that love, our whole demeanor, our personality, and our perception of the world changes. When we connect with that love, we do not lose our temper, we do not feel sorry for us, we do not feel that we are incomplete. In other words, we mature and we grow up. It is truly a zen moment, that we have to get to a place that we don’t need a companion in order to find the companion that we want.

I personally have experienced this. After a particularly emotionally devastating break up, I finally focused on the love I have for myself. I got to a place where I was completely happy being by my self. I did not care anymore whether I would find a companion. I quit trying to control my world, I committed to simply experience life, and I focused on being happy no matter what. Then I met a woman that I believe to be my life companion. It is so perversely ironic. It is important that I am finally focusing on love, not the other emotions. When I love myself, I am not afraid to express what I think, how I feel, and to explore how we fit together and where we disagree. When two people love themselves, it is okay to agree to disagree. There is no separation because we don’t need anyone to complete us.

It is a completely different experience to love someone without needing them. I wake up every morning thanking the universe for the opportunity to share my path with someone who excites me, challenges me, has fun with me and wants to be with me. However, if they want to go someone without me, that is perfectly acceptable. This is something I have not experienced before, to be in a relationship and not need that person. I am excited about the possibilities. I am especially excited to experience a relationship where fear does not exist. Love and fear cannot coexist. So if you focus on loving yourself, there is no room for fear.

So for a New Year resolution, I am focusing on what I can do to be the best person I can be. I am refocusing on my health and wellbeing, I am refocusing on my speaking and healing work, I am redefining who I am to be bigger than who I have been. This is something that would benefit everyone, I believe.

So if you like this blog, please retweet it or share it on Facebook. If you like this concept of love, download my book “What is Love” from my website www.jamesgrayrobinson.com. If you would like to learn more, please contact me through my website, I would love to hear from you. Happy New Year.

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

Spiritually Transmitted Disease

I had an interesting experience coming from Newark International Airport today. The police had rerouted a lot of the arrival traffic to the departure level for some unknown reason so people were having to scramble around to find their rides, including us. So we made it upstairs and to the curb where we stood looking for our ride. Now at Newark, like many airports these days, people are not allowed to park at the curb and wait for their passengers to come out. Police frequently patrol these areas and have to tell most drivers to move on. While we were waiting, an officer asked a driver to move on and the driver refused to leave. An argument ensued and the officer told the driver to move on or he would issue a citation for whatever police issue citations for in that circumstance.

Our driver showed up and had to triple park because of all of the people who were parked illegally. As I stepped off the curb, I brushed up against the car that was going to get a citation. The driver jumped out of her car and inspected where I had touched the car and started yelling at me. I declined to respond to her as I assumed that she was having a bad day, said day getting worse by the minute. What grabbed my attention was all of the bumper stickers she had on her rear window, including “Love” and other “spiritual” stickers.

It is obvious to me that the spiritual movement, like many religions, is full of people who do not practice the principles that they probably talk about in polite company. People meditate, do yoga, attend self-improvement workshops and fail to change in any significant way. Certainly stress can bring out the worst of people, but it is eye-opening that spiritual people are just as hypocritical as anyone else. I listen to many people who are certified healers, teachers or whatever spout their prejudices and judgments and I wonder if anybody is paying attention.

I wonder what Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Neem Karoli Baba, Sai Baba or any other enlightened people would say if they came back and witnessed what we were up to. Spiritual people would probably give their usual “Aum Aum Ram Ram”, religious people would say their religious gospels and atheists would say “what difference does it make?”

I would think that these holy men would shake their heads and wonder what went astray. What happened is we were infected with spiritually transmitted diseases.

These diseases include “that doesn’t apply to me”; “that is someone else’s problem”, that famous yoga pose “headarthainthesandus” (other wise known as the Ostrich pose), “grantedosis”, “holier than thou”, and “detached apathy”. “That doesn’t apply to me” is the condition whereby the mind, body and spirit reject all principals that include acceptance and forgiveness. It is a tenacious disease that can only be healed by a total change of heart. Generally masters recommend that the mouth be taped shut and patients practice cleaning bedpans for one month.

“That is someone else’s problem” is particularly virulent in practitioners who mistake detachment with complacency. Symptoms include separation anxiety, irresponsibility and mindlessness. Complications include prejudice and comparing themselves to others. Victims are also particularly susceptible to this disease because they feel no obligation to change anything. Unfortunately there is no known cure for this condition other than taking responsibility for all that happens in the world and striving to change whatever we can to practice love and kindness.

“Headarthainthesandus” occurs when people turn a blind eye to what they can do to improve the quality of life of others and the planet. They fall into the trap of meditation and workshops to distract themselves from making any effort to change their life or perception of the world. In their obsession with becoming enlightened, they forget that they live in the three dimensional world and they have a responsibility to do everything they can to bring the fifth dimension (heaven) into the world. They are particularly adept at participating in retreats where love and devotion are idolized, but don’t notice the poverty and suffering they drove through to get to the retreat center.

“Grantedosis” is a particularly nasty condition where the afflicted expects something for their spiritual practices. Whether it is happiness, abundance, a companion or health, the afflicted experiences great suffering when they don’t get what they want. They take it for granted that doing the practice will result in getting what they want, and they do not experience the joy and gratitude of simply being alive. Spirituality does not promise anything other than gratitude and acceptance of what we experience in life, which, incidentally, we create for ourselves in order to learn some lesson to become more conscious.

“Holier than thou” is a terminal disease that creates an illusion in the victim that whatever they are doing is better than what anyone else is doing. Their guru is better than other gurus, their system is better than your system, and they know better than anyone else. They are constantly rendering unrequested condescending diagnoses of other people’s problems. Of course the lethal tendencies is to focus on everyone else’s problems and ignore the fact that they are projecting their symptoms into everyone else. Oops. They go on and on about all of the courses, certificates and successes they have enjoyed in their spiritual practice, not realizing that no one cares.

“Detached apathy” is also referred to as the “Cave Disease” because people tend to isolate themselves in order to achieve Samadhi. It is particularly difficult to heal because the people believe that separation and apathy will induce unity consciousness. It is similar to the “Emperor’s New Clothes Syndrome” because everyone else can see the fallacy of their logic while the afflicted cannot. Detachment becomes mutated into an excuse to run and hide from the issues that we came to this planet to address. Detachment is not apathy, a healthy spiritual practitioner cares deeply about his and the planet’s evolution. Detachment simply means that we do not allow our circumstances to cause suffering.

If you feel that you are exhibiting symptoms of a spiritually transmitted disease, please contact me @ james@jamesgrayrobinson.com for assistance. You do not have to suffer with these issues; I can help. Happy holidays!

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

The Addiction of Social Media

I use Facebook, Twitter, and my website to get my message out to as many people as I can. My message is that the universe is inside our minds and we have full control of what happens in it. Emotions, attitudes, perceptions and judgments only live inside of our minds and it is those concepts that color our lives and our thinking. I have a million other observations and comments about life in general based on my various experiences and lessons. However, I want to comment on what I have observed as a general trend in social media platforms.

First of all, the Internet is simply an extension of our culture. Just as there are predators, liars, frauds and scammers in society; there are predators, liars, frauds and scammers on the Internet. I have to sigh from time to time about the fact that Facebook has its sex for sale and Linked In has started offering me business opportunities that include accepting millions of dollars from Kenya.

Facebook in particular has started to reflect the common ailments that afflict society in general. These ailments include melodrama, victimhood, scams, negative attention, political spinning, misquotation, and a troubling naiveté of many people who post intimate details of their lives not understanding that this is public information and available to all sorts of criminals and brigands who will use it for their own gain.

I frequently see quotes attributed to people that probably don’t exist, but because it was shared over and over it takes on a false credibility. Many of these quotes don’t even make sense much less have any meaningful message. One caught my eye today, “you may not understand today or tomorrow but eventually God will reveal why you went through everything you did”. That is victim consciousness pure and simple, but it sounds spiritual. God help us.

I suppose that some of the allure of social media is the illusion that the news is correct. We all know that TV is biased and distorted to suit the needs of the station’s owners. Social media is no different. I see stories that Arnold Schwarzenegger is dead, then he isn’t dead, then it is all a conspiracy. The safest conclusion I can reach is it is all fake and misleading and I don’t believe it until extensive research in credible sources confirms or denies. However I believe that is one of society’s biggest failings, we have become lazy and allow others to digest the facts and make our conclusions for us. The posts about Clinton and Trump and everyone else is so distorted and misleading that it is no wonder that the common voter is totally confused about what the candidates stand for and how they would rule the country if elected.

I am personally addicted to the quizzes that tell my personality type, which cartoon character I am, whether I am an angel or a demon, or what my name means. Now I don’t even have to answer questions, simply logging into the quiz with my Facebook profile generates an answer. I can even take Rorschach tests, delve deeply into my psyche based on what colors I like, and discover my IQ, EQ, SQ and BQ quickly and easily. These quizzes are for entertainment purposes only, most of them are wrong if you do even a little research.

The humor on these social media sites is first rate and another reason for addiction. There is nothing that will cheer me up faster than a great joke, cartoon or story on these social media sites. That may be the only redeeming virtue of these sites.

One of my pet peeves is the constant requests for sharing. Come on. Do these people really expect people to fall for that? Do you really believe that baby Michael will get 2 cents per share? I really don’t understand what the benefit of having some statement or cry for help (that is usually a fraud) go viral. Oh well.

Finally, I do keep track of family and friends on these sites. Once and a while I will find out that a nephew was married, or my sons jumped off a 90 foot cliff, or my cousin was arrested for indecent exposure. These are facts that are important in any family’s life. I also post events that have happened to me that I feel the general public should know, such as what city I live in, what my personal possessions look like, what I look like and enough general details to have my identity hacked or stolen. Oh what fun it is to ride on a one site open sleigh.

There are some don’ts that apparently people aren’t aware of. Do not post information about your address. Don’t post photos of your children. Don’t post photos of when you are on vacation so thieves will know you are not home. Post the vacation photos after you get back. Don’t post photos of you winning the lottery, that is no one’s business but yours. Don’t post photos of your man cave with all of your expensive electronics. Common sense goes a long way on these sites.

Last but not least, realize that these media sites are unsafe. Be careful of what you post. Don’t disclose personal information that criminals can use to target you or steal your identity. Don’t believe all of the drama and most of the “cries for help” are fraudulent. There are a lot of good posts on these sites, just don’t get sucked into the melodrama or someone’s attempts to get attention. And for God’s sake don’t give your email and passwords to anyone. Best wishes.

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

A Simple Misunderstanding

As I see it, we have gotten it wrong. There are a couple of ways we have gotten it wrong. But, I am getting ahead of myself. The first thing that we have gotten wrong is we don’t even know what “it” is. When I say we have gotten “it” wrong, I am referring to life. We are looking for the wrong things, we are looking for the wrong people and we are looking for the wrong payoff. Most people in the USA, for example, are looking for material success. In many third world countries they are looking for survival. The fact that we are looking for anything at all is the first clue that we have gotten it wrong.

At some point in our past we formed the belief that material wealth was good and poverty was bad. We started believing that we had to be better than others and we had to have more than others. We concluded that if we had more than others we had to be more successful than others and thus we should be happier. I am sure that some things are easier with wealth than with poverty but I have met many people with wealth who were suffering just as much as those with poverty. I just read that Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. He supposedly received 100 million dollars for his interest in Vitamin Water. This proves my point.

There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the way energy flows on this planet. In all other dimensions, planets and planes of existence, it is common knowledge that energy flows out, not in. If we suck energy, it distorts into something we don’t want (i.e. life “sucks”). What we put into our environment we will receive eventually. Another material misunderstanding on this planet is time. We have misunderstood the way time operates and how to control it, rather than it controls us. Most people believe that time operates linearly, which is basically illogical. Think about it, why do we think time is linear? It is because we are impatient and think that time only moves second by second. However, if you think about it, time can pass instantly in some circumstances and drag on forever in others. My experience is that the concept of “waiting” is an illusion. When we focus on the future, time distorts. When we focus on the past, time distorts. When we focus on the present, time disappears.

So why is time an illusion? It is an illusion because it depends on our perception. I spent nearly 25 years trying jury trials, and the one thing that never ceased to amaze me was how different witnesses would have different perceptions of events. It was up to the jury to somehow decide which reality was correct, but of course even that was an illusion. I concluded at some point that any event either was multi-dimensional with various realities or we all were living in different realities. Either way, reality was subjective.

So to bring this observation home, the “reality” is that everyone has a different “reality”. This would include time. This includes the meaning of life. This includes the meaning of happiness, success and everything else we experience. So if you understand that life is subjective, what does that mean to the person who lives in a penthouse and the person who lives in a garbage dumpster? What is means is that everyone has the same chance at happiness and success and the definitions of both of those terms are subjective.

When we understand that everything is subjective, then we begin to understand that we have complete control of reality.

I have two amazing sons who are about as similar as night and day. Each one is traveling their passion as only two intelligent beings can. I just spent Thanksgiving and early Christmas with each, individually, and experienced their happiness following two diametrically opposed paths. One is a corporate executive and the other is a cowboy, or is one a cow executive and the other a corporate cowboy. Sometimes it is hard to tell. All I know is I had the best time of my life being with both of them. It is their karma to have lives so individually unique that I can only smile and say “well done”.

So to get back on point, we have gotten “it” wrong because we try to put everything in a box. We want to understand and control everything in our life. That is our ego’s job. Our ego wants to tie our shoes, clean our underwear and conquer the world. However, the ego also perceives our world, and therein lies the problem. The fox is in the henhouse. The only way I know to properly perceive the world is to quit judging it. There is no right or wrong, there just is. There is no good or bad, there is only our perception. We are fed so much misinformation that we don’t even know what is right or wrong or good or bad anyway.

To break free of misunderstanding, we have to accept everything that is right in front of us as absolutely perfect and (emphasis added) everything changes. We jump into the water and we complain that we got wet. We were born, and everything is wet, juicy, moist and alive. That is all we really need to know. We need to stop checking our money market account every five minutes. We need to get to the juicy parts of loving someone and surrendering being the best. In 100 years no one will remember whether we graduated first in our class or not. If you feed a hungry person, they will remember. If you put clothes on a freezing homeless person, they will remember. If you hug an emotionally starved child, they will remember. That is why we are here.

If you are reading this, it means you have enough wealth to get on the Internet and you can read. You are ahead of 90% of the world’s population. When you have that much abundance, how can you not share it? If you can type and email and read, you have been given a gift that few have been given.

The biggest misunderstanding that anyone reading this can have is that they are a victim. If you can read this you are so fortunate that you cannot understand that in the history of the world you are in the top 1% of literacy. If you read this you had better not feel sorry for yourself because I have held the hand of a child who has never seen clean water much less a Gameboy. So understand that if you read this, you are blessed beyond belief. If you want to know more, contact me at www.jamesgrayrobinson.com. And let the blessings flow.

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

Kindness

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. At this time of year, most religions are focused on the “reason for the season”. In other words, Christians are focused on Christmas, Jews are focused on Chanukah, Muslims are celebrating Arba’een, and other religions are celebrating the winter solstice in some form or the other. Most religions preach a message of love and cooperation, and yet we are faced this year with terrorism, fear and violence.

We have all read about the mass murders, terrorist attacks and other acts of violence that evoke emotions in most people. Resentment, anger, revenge, anger and fear are at higher levels than usual this year due to these unfortunate events. In a world where so many people give lip service to the higher vibrations of love and unity, it seems that our behavior is getting worse and worse.

Before we dismiss these issues as acts of others and not our responsibility, I am seeing more and more acts of violence in everyday life in people around me. I was just in an airport, and a gate agent asked a passenger to check her carry on back because the flight was full and it was unlikely that there would be room for her bag. The passenger became irate, and refused to check her bag. The gate agent politely asked the passenger to put her bag in the sizing bin. The passenger did so, more to prove the agent wrong than to see if her bag complied with the sizing regulations. After she literally sat on the bag to get it in the sizing bin, the gate agent relented and allowed her to take the bag on the plane.

The attitude of the passenger was remarkably hostile. The gate agent was only doing her job, but the passenger proceeded to loudly lecture her that the passenger was a frequent passenger on the airline and was offended by the agent. The passenger made sure everyone at the gate knew she was a frequent flier and how unreasonable the agent was to ask her to check her bag.

The first thing to cross my mind was if the woman was, in fact, a frequent flier she should have known that these things occasionally happen and there was no reason to lose her temper. It certainly didn’t help the mood at the gate as most of the other passengers were sympathetic to the gate agent and was surprised at the attitude of the passenger. To further underscore her attitude, the passenger sarcastically yelled “Merry Christmas” to the airline staff. It was obvious from her tone and body language indicated that she was not being sincere. It was also obvious she was a US citizen. Sigh.

I am also seeing more and more cases of road rage, and I notice that I have to be extra vigilant while driving these days. Drivers are becoming more and more aggressive. I suppose that the fear and anger raised by the violent events of late must be more and more evident.

This is where a message of kindness becomes more and more important. I believe that kindness is the ultimate power on earth. Kindness is love manifested, especially to strangers and those we don’t particularly like. People are always asking me how to love, and the starting point is to be kind. When we are kind, we smile more, we are more generous with our time and attention, and we relax. When we are kind to others, and ourselves stress greatly diminishes and life becomes easier. If anyone is uncertain about how to be kind, simply make a list of the ways you want to be treated and then apply that list to your everyday life.

Life has certainly been challenging for me over the last few years, but I never forgot the necessity to be as kind as possible. Yes, we all have to set boundaries and enforce them, but we do not have to go out of our way to injure others. When we harbor thoughts of anger, fear and revenge, we are inflicting those injuries upon us. When we hate others, we hate us. When we injure others, we hurt us. When we get angry at others, we are getting angry at us. We can apply these principles to any emotion or action.

Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek. There are many interpretations of that parable but the one most commonly understood is that we should respond to violence with kindness. If we strike back, we are only lowering ourselves to the level of our attacker. The gate agent who was dealing with the upset passenger applied this principle; she was polite and understanding with the passenger. She apologized to the passenger even though she was simply doing her job. When people cut us off in traffic, how do we respond? Do we run the offending driver off the road or do we slow down and let the other driver room to enter our lane? If we see someone cut in line, do we get upset or do we allow him or her to come into line ahead of us?

This year I challenge everyone to give the gift of kindness to everyone they interact with. Don’t buy gifts, the gift of kindness is much more appreciated and it is free. If we treat our brothers and sisters with kindness, we will bring peace on earth. Happy Holidays!