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

FEAR OF THE FUTURE

            My personal opinion is that our biggest health issue on this planet is fear of the future. We stress, worry, plan, analyze, manipulate and attempt to control everything and anything in our life because we don’t know what the future will bring and our ego/mind cannot live with that. So rather than have trust and faith that the divine and the creative forces of the universe are conspiring to give us far more than we can ever dream. It must be a primal fear, a fear that we have encoded into our genetic code, because there are very few people that do not live with this fear on a daily basis. The gifted few that do not have a fear of the future are either deeply connected to God or have a mental disorder that prevents them from cognitive thinking. The stress and anxiety caused by this fear of the future puts great strain on our immune systems and causes disease, accelerated aging and illness. We have to find a way to let go of the fear of the future.

            The first step is to recognize the source of this fear. The mind/ego is the source of all questions, doubt, and fear. The heart does not have any fear of the future; the heart is always in the moment sending love and compassion to the world. When we have questions or doubts or fears, this is generated by our thoughts based on our past experiences. We always want to know what is going to happen in the future. Psychics and fortunetellers are making good livings these days predicting what is going to happen in the future. The irony is that we are the ones that make the future by our thoughts and actions. We can either make the psychic right when we believe what the psychic tells us and we subconsciously manifest it, or we can rebel and make the opposite come true.

            The second step is to recognize that it is our desire for something that pushes it away. That is why we are afraid, we are afraid that we will never get what we want. The truth is that there are a limited number of outcomes to our desire.  First, we will either not obtain what we want because our guardian angels know it is not good for us and will not let us have it. That answer is “no”. Second, we will get what we want and we will realize that what we thought we wanted isn’t what we thought we wanted. In other words, when we desire something and get it, we realize that is not going to make us happy. That answer is “oh no.” Third, we can get what we want and then discover after time that we have changed our minds and we want something else. That answer is “oh no, not again.” So basically our mind automatically sets us up to suffer because we look outside of ourselves for something that is inside us, and that is happiness.

            The third step is to want what we get. When we accept whatever comes in our life with gratitude, we prime the pump for more deliciousness to come in the future. If we are afraid of the future, it is because of ignorance. When we accept one universal principle, that everything changes, and we can accept life or reject it, we understand that we really do have control over what we experience. If we are happy with what we have, and we know that we will be happy with whatever we have in the future, all of the angst disappears. We still wake up, suit up, and do the best we can, but we let go of the desire. I mean, really, do we really want to stay in perpetual fear and angst?

            Finally, we have to realize that fear of the future is the number one indication that we have disconnected from our heart. When we live in our heart we are focused on what we can do for others, we are focused on being openhearted. This is the path to connecting with our heart. When we are connected to our heart we do not fear. There is no point because we accept all that was, all that is and all that will be as a gift, the present. Whenever we feel afraid, panicked, or stressed, we need to reconnect with our heart. We can’t think two thoughts at the same time. We can either focus on being grateful and openhearted or we can be terrified of our future. It is one or the other. Sometimes we have to post sticky notes all around the house to remind us to think positively, be grateful and be open-hearted. When we are openhearted, we feel peace and calm. We know that we will be fine. We do not fear the future. And life becomes wonderful.

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

A Mother’s Day is Not Enough

          I always marvel at how we reduce to one day being grateful for something we should celebrate everyday. We should have a daily “Mother’s Hour” not an annual “Mother’s Day”. This also applies to Father’s Day, Christmas, Easter and my birthday. Interestingly, the initial idea for a day devoted to mothers in the United States came from the devastation mothers felt after losing their sons during WWI. Later, the recognition of a national Mother’s Day came when U.S. President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother’s Day a national holiday in 1914. Not surprisingly, over the years the celebration of motherhood spread far and wide and is now thankfully a holiday around the world.

          In truth, Mother’s Day is about more than just honoring the woman that gave birth to us. In fact, it celebrates ‘mothering’ in any way: that special aspect in all of us that conceives, creates, tolerates and nurtures life in its millions of varied forms. It celebrates the feminine energy that is reemerging into balance with male energy, thank God. Feminine energy is the energy of home, reason, sharing, community, nurturing, safety, traditions, healing, love and potential. It resides in us all, but is uniquely carried and entrusted to women.

          As you pick out your Mother’s Day card, remember our shared mother, Mother Earth. She is the epitome of silent acceptance, despite our gross neglect and pollution. Like so many of our mothers, she graciously accepts our selfishness and irresponsibility in silence, and continues to nurture and tolerate us, knowing that we will understand one day, even if it is too late. So send an acknowledgment to her, too, in any form that feels good to you. You could pick up some litter or simply sit, send love to the earth each morning, or send gratitude in the evening for being supported and nurtured for one more day.

          As you are write in your Mother’s Day card, commit to celebrating feminine qualities such as tolerance and acceptance. Who we choose to share our lives with and how that relationship looks should be a universal freedom for every one. The whole debate over who can be married is based on fear and intolerance. Additionally, the abuse of children must stop. Mothers everywhere, living or dead, must be grieving over the way their children are being treated. With your cards, let’s continue our commitment and work to protect our children’s rights, remembering the oneness of us all.

         As you sign your cards to mothers for Mother’s Day, not only should you thank them for their sacrifices and gifts, we should encourage each other to make the world a level playing field that does not discriminate on the basis of gender or any other criteria. All positions of leadership or otherwise should be filled with the person most qualified to fill it, and we need to let go of the illogical and antiquated notions of bias, prejudice and fear. If a woman wants to take a weapon into battle, that is their right. If a woman wants to be the leader of the free world, that is their right. Anything a woman wants to do should be their right. As you sign your cards, vow to support equality and empowerment for all genders.

         This Mother’s Day I want to cry out from the roof tops for men to embrace women as their equals, and empower women to take their rightful place beside them. At some point in time in our past, men took control of running the world and women took control of the home. It is time for those duties and responsibilities to be shared equally regardless of gender. Time is long past due for a female President of the United States, a female Catholic Pope, and a female Dalai Lama. For far too long religion has been a bastion of male power and authority. Some religions demean women and place them in a subservient role. I was overjoyed to learn that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter left the Southern Baptist Church because its dogma included women as being subservient to men. In this age of enlightenment and evolution could there be a more useless and counter-productive belief?

         It is obvious that women make exceptional heads of state as well as ruling in the home. Look at Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, and the great Queens of history. Their inner power and grace helped their nations become leaders of the world and bastions of civilization. It is the balance of intuition, intelligence, compassion and nurturing that women uniquely possess that makes it the time for them to once again share the reins of power. I encourage everyone to commit to these ideals for everyone’s benefit.

Happy Mother’s Day and let’s make it transformational!

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

THE DILEMMA OF ACCEPTANCE

           I read in the paper this morning that Al Queda was claiming responsibility for the machete death of a civilian Bangladesh blogger it claimed was a blasphemer, along with other victims it had recently murdered. In the same paper was an article on the mounting suicides of Lakota youth on the Wounded Knee Reservation in South Dakota. In a synchronicity of irony there was another article on the return of a golden statue that held the remains of a meditating Buddhist monk to its original temple in China. A foundational premise of Buddhism is that peace and serenity can only be obtained through acceptance. The instant question arises, “does acceptance prohibit taking action to change something that appears to be inhuman?”

            The Al Queda story is a story of religious intolerance that has been repeated over and over and over. When will the world say “enough”? Does the world have the right to say “enough”? How many mutilated girls, murdered innocents and kidnapped virgins in the name of Allah does it take for the world to push back? Is the answer really prayer and acceptance? It is the Buddhist way to abhor violence and accept whatever is as the interplay of karma and the human condition. It is extremely difficult to take a benign position on something as inhuman as the taking of life. However, the Buddhists also take the view that this is all an illusion and if we find Samadhi (bliss) in this lifetime through meditation and acceptance, we can influence these events. Sometimes I wonder what we are up to…

            The climbing Lakota suicide rate seems to also be a complicated issue with no easy answer. The youth are targets of racism and poverty, living in below poverty level conditions without much hope of improvement. Native Americans in general are still warehoused in governmental reservations in substandard conditions. How can we allow this to happen on our soil? Yet it does.

            I wonder sometimes if Buddha got it wrong. I read another article the other day that argued that acceptance is an avoidance of working through hard problems. When we accept someone for who they are and don’t confront inappropriate behavior, we avoid having hard conversations which may be needed to challenge that individual and help everyone grow.

            I recently spent over a year in a cult organization headed by a charismatic man who is highly abusive to his employees and his followers. I accepted that behavior because I was a “spiritual” man, and felt that since he claimed to have mystical powers (which some claimed was a fraud) I had to accept his behavior. I learned a very valuable lesson during that time. No one has the right to abuse others and I do not have to accept that behavior.

            There is a saying that in the West we would stop a man from beating a donkey for the donkey’s sake and in the East we would stop a man from beating a donkey for the man’s sake. This means that if a man is committing violence, it is acceptable to stop him because “he knows not what he does” as Jesus said on the cross. It certainly seems plausible that if Al Qaeda seemingly has no conscience or care for the sanctity of human life, we should stop them. The question is how.

            Gandhi, Martin Luther King and other spiritual leaders have achieved great things through the practice of passive resistance. This is not acceptance; rather it is a means of interfering with the socio-political economics of a group without resorting to violence. It is obvious that attempts to bomb and destroy Al Qaeda have been ineffective. Perhaps it is time to discover who keeps supplying them military aid and intelligence. God forbid it would be some of the clandestine intelligence agencies which Hollywood suspects of everything. However, a civilized society cannot accept violence in any form without causing more violence. We have certainly seen in this country that prison is not the answer either. I wonder if a million man march to Washington DC protesting the actions of terrorist groups would have any effect? If the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in China can cause a hurricane in the Caribbean, can we affect the actions of religious fanatics/criminals in other countries.

            I certainly get that these are complicated issues and there are considerations that I am not aware of on national or global scales. However, it seems that we are just accepting the fact that terrorism is a given in this world and we just have to live (or die) with it. Sending troops seems to be a colossal failure. It is time to stop the man beating the donkey. We have to come up with a better solution. 

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

THE PATH OF PEACE

            Sweet Jesus there is so much fighting and violence on the planet these days. Unfortunately much of it was financed or created by United States Intelligence Agencies, otherwise known as US. We do not need any more warriors to fight for peace. What we need are warriors of peace. We must instill the qualities of courage, wisdom, love and kindness into our children and ourselves if we are to survive the Armageddon that is raging around us. As one fatally injured three-year-old Syrian boy told his doctors, “I am going to complain to God about you.” We must rediscover the principals of reconciliation, harmony, cooperation and empathy and apply them to all who are dispossessed, injured, angry and vengeful. If not, we all will suffer the consequences of our failure to find the path of peace.

            The path of peace begins within each one of us. Everyone has a soul that can be refined and enlightened, and everyone has a path of peace to follow. No one can be left behind. We are here for no other purpose but to find the path to peace, realize our divinity and find our enlightenment. The path of peace begins in the heart and goes from there into our world. We must find the peace that exists in our heart and leave behind the constant battles of our minds. The famous Bhagavad Gita is all about the conflict between right values (Pandavas) and selfish desires (Kurus) that will always battle in our minds. We must leave that battle behind and discover the peace beyond all understanding that lives in our hearts. We do not need anything to begin; heaven exists right where we are.

            We must let go of the illusion of separation. We are all one; we all came from the same source. Isn’t it ironic that most of the warfare is now being waged between tribes who were once one? Cousins are fighting cousins; enemies were families not so long ago. This is exactly as predicted by the Bhagavad Gita 5000 years ago. We must return to the unity and common source that created us and remember that it is this illusion of separation that causes all suffering in the world. We have to remember that we either grow or die. To kill one another over religious nonsense or forgotten wrongs is not growth; it is death.

            Do not compare yourself to anyone one. There is nothing to compare. We are each unique into our self and any perception of have and have not is simply an illusion created by those who would wish to control us. Always keep our minds clear of any thoughts of lack or less than. Be a warrior and keep our minds clean and peaceful. The battles are won and lost between the ears.

            We all have forgotten to breathe. When we breathe in, we must expand to the ends of time and space, when we exhale we bring all of it back into us. When we breathe in, we need to inhale all of the energy of heaven and its promises of peace and joy. When we exhale, we need to release all hatred, evil, lust, greed, selfishness and fear. When we breathe properly, we have no time or desire to harm another human being. When you breathe, feel the rise and fall of the tide and the waves within you. All life exists within you. Life does not exist anywhere else.

            If we fight, we must fight to clean our water, air and land and protect Mother Earth. It is insane to pollute the only source of life, we will not survive for long. Everything we do must be with the goal of protecting our habitat. Not only are we one with each other, we are one with our planet. Water, earth, mountains, air and oceans combine to keep us safe. We must return the favor.

            Be mindful. Be aware of life, plants, animals and each other. Study each other intensely. If we are aware of all of who we are, we could not conceive of doing violence against each other. Each one of us is an incredibly complex and multidimensional being. Who is so arrogant to destroy such beauty and miracles of life? Fill our hearts with seeds of compassion and understanding. Let each one germinate from the muck and mire of negativity around us like the lotus blossom arises from the stagnant waters. Fill yourself with the power of wisdom and enlightenment.

            The Path of Peace requires focus, vigilance and discipline. However, it is much easier to travel the Path of Peace than to destroy all that we know. We all believe that we are justified in taking life when the time comes, but that is an illusion. Life is eternal and never dies. We have just forgotten.

            

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

WEIGHT LOSS

          Oh, how I punish myself with New Year’s Resolutions. This year, for the 57th yearin a row, I have decided to get fit, lose the fat shaped like an inflated inner tube around my abdomen, and not be afraid to take my shirt off in public this summer. Yeah, right. I can say that I am a warehouse of facts on nutrition, genetics, exercise, supplements, self-analysis and articles on losing the fat and getting ripped like the professionals. I still have self-image issues despite all of this knowledge.

          The Food and Drug Administration has released some startling figures about obesity in the USA. Apparently 26.7% of America is obese. Minority groups of blacks (36.8%) and Hispanics (30.7%) are even more obese. The trends are we are getting fatter. To be obese means that you are at least 30% fat by weight, which in turn makes us unhealthy. There is only one cause for obesity, and that is overeating. Sorry all you people who claim it is your glands or big bones. You inhale more calories than your body and lifestyle needs and create fat in your body.

          The interesting thing about fat is that it actually helps us by absorbing toxins in our body. So we have to look at why the toxins are there, and why we have to generate so much fat to protect ourselves. Toxins can be generated from two sources. They can be introduced into the body by consumption or absorption, meaning that they are eaten or absorbed from our environment. Eating processed foods that contain preservatives and chemicals not found in nature probably is the primary source of toxins by consumption. Some nutritionists go so far as saying that if it comes in a box or a bag, don’t eat it. Not only are there chemicals in the food, there are chemicals in the packaging that are toxic.

          A lot of the foods we eat that we think are healthy, such as fruits and vegetables, can be full of pesticides and growth agents that are toxic. The fact that people are ignorant of these facts contributes to a lot of the obesity found in the USA. It is interesting that in Asiatic countries, where obesity used to be unheard of, are now consuming more and more fast foods and beef, and obesity is now on the rise. I guess we are what and how much we eat.

          The other cause of toxins in our body is stress. Worrying, anxiety and depression create a lot of toxic chemicals in our body, which cause us to eat more. Being around “toxic” people also causes stress, and that creates the desire for more food. There are two reasons for this. Many times eating comfort foods (which are usually fatty) will change the chemical balances in our bodies that temporarily relieves stress (chicken soup, for example) and we feel better. The other reason is happy memories attached to eating certain foods can lighten our mood, if not our bodies. I am particularly fond of ice cream, which reminds me of when I had my tonsils removed when I was six years old and I was given all the ice cream I could eat at the hospital to make my throat feel better.

          We have to ask ourselves why we allow ourselves to get obese. The direct caus of obesity is overeating. A combination of emotional eating (eating when the body doesn’t need it) and eating toxic foods adds to the fat. The highest spiritual teaching is wecreate our own reality for our own enlightenment. If you apply that teaching, we have to accept the fact that we do this intentionally, even if not consciously. So why do we make ourselves look like this?

          The answer lies basically in our subconscious, and the hidden delusion that we have to protect ourselves. For most people, body fat is armor that protects us from pain. Ironic, isn’t it that the way we choose to protect ourselves from pain actually causes pain, and a lot of it. Obese people, for whatever reason, don’t want to get close to people and want to keep people away. This usually comes from some kind of emotional or physical childhood trauma, or eating habits formed early in childhood. In other words, we get it naturally; we are trained to do it. If we identify the underlying beliefs, and change those beliefs, it is amazing how quickly the weight comes off.

          No matter what we do to lose weight, if we don’t heal or resolve these underlying issues, the best we can expect is the “yo-yo” effect where our weight goes up and down all the time. There is no pill that does this. This is “home” work, and requires great diligence and awareness to correct. As long as we hide in the delusion that we are protecting ourselves behind hundreds of pounds of fat, we will continue to be obese. When we finally decide to let go of these toxic memories, love our toxic companions or remove ourselves from our toxic environments, the weight will go.

          There is no wonder that the USA is so fat. We are so attached to material abundance, being fat is a symbol of success and abundance. After all, we have most of the food in the world, and as we grow more and more obese, food riots are breaking out around the world. As a word of caution, when the Chinese come looking for payment of the trillions of dollars of debt we owe them, they know we don’t have the money to pay. So they will more than likely take payment in food, by force if necessary. Then we will have the opportunity to experience hunger like we never have before.

          The easiest way to let go of our fat is to help others, to share the abundance we take for granted in this country. I won’t make any lectures on eating healthy foods and quit eating the processed foods that the medical/pharmaceutical companies are forcing us to eat so they can make money on the illness it creates. You can research that yourself. We can start to take food off of our plates and share it with the less fortunate. We can decide to heal our traumatic memories and let all of that go. We can start making more loving choices for ourselves. We can send food to the countries that need it and teach them techniques for growing it themselves. We can quit sending money that dictators use to amass fortunes and military arsenals at the expense of their starving citizens.

          The other day I looked in the mirror and was happy with what I saw. I don’t think I lost any fat, but I am much happier with what I am.

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

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

A KIND HEART

In a recent article about Buddhism I was taken by a statement that happiness is the result of a kind heart. Therefore, in order to develop happiness one has to develop a kind heart. The energy of that thought swept through me like a spring breeze and I relaxed into a deep state of bliss.

            My experience in this world and the experience of many people I have met on the spiritual path includes emotional and physical trauma. Something happens to us that frightened or hurt us and made the world a scary, unsafe place. These traumatic experiences can harden our kind nature like a callus or scar tissue on our heart.  We become defensive and can push people away in order to protect ourselves from pain. Even more subtle wounds are created when we experience something that we don’t like. These wounds are often dismissed or ignored because they don’t necessarily hurt. These more subtle wounds might cause frustration, irritation, anxiety or stress, but are accepted as part of everyday life.

            As I trudge the path of happy destiny towards spiritual freedom and light, I feel it  is my duty to remove these calluses, bruises, or wounds on my heart. This is necessary to allow my heart to open and to expand my consciousness. I am convinced that happiness cannot be logically reached; it must be experienced through our hearts. It is reassuring that one of the oldest belief systems in the world (Buddhism) incorporates this belief in the form of the statement that happiness can only be reached through a kind heart.

            I often contemplate what is a kind heart. So far, the best conclusion I can draw at the moment is that a kind heart is a heart filled with compassion, awareness and acceptance. There is no room in a kind heart for resentment, resistance, anger or any other “negative” emotions. I further believe that these painful energies are the result of what the Buddhists call lazy or habitual thinking. I call it “worst case scenario thinking.” As a former attorney I often imagined what the worst-case scenario would be in a trial and plan accordingly. This defense mechanism was very useful; however, when it spilled over into my personal life it causes great suffering.

            One of the most important steps in developing a kind heart is to understand that we are not our thoughts. When we have thoughts of a hurtful or painful nature, we must not condemn or criticize ourselves for these thoughts. We have to simply accept them as random thoughts that are not real.  When we dwell on these thoughts or resent them (“resent” means “to think over and over”) we are building thicker and thicker calluses and scar tissue on our hearts.

            Another important step is to understand that we create our realities for the specific purpose of becoming enlightened. So when life does not suit us, we have to look for the message we are telling ourselves by creating something we don’t like. Some common themes I am witnessing these days include: (1) money has nothing to do with happiness; (2) companionship is not necessary for happiness; and (3) “common sense is more important than spiritual sense” (Derek O’Neill).

            In order to develop a kind heart, we have to understand that we do not need money, mates, material stuff and thirteen spiritual diplomas to be happy. We simply need to accept the fact that we are exactly where we are supposed to be — going exactly where we are supposed to go. In my experience, one of the most damaging illusions and lies that we tell ourselves is that we are not living the life we are supposed to live, that we are somehow doing something wrong and that we are victims. Whenever we experience stress and anxiety it is because we believe something is wrong somewhere in our life. This leads us away from a kind heart, because a kind heart is flexible and pliable enough to understand that everything is perfect.

            A great exercise for those anxious moments is to sit still and breath into the heart. Imagine that when you inhale you are sending light and oxygen into your heart (not the lungs). When you exhale imagine that you are exhaling all illusions and misunderstandings that hurt out of your heart. It is amazing how fast relaxation comes when one does this.

            It is not so important that we be kind to others as it is to be kind to ourselves. There is no need to feel guilty, ashamed, stressed or anxious when we have a kind heart. A kind heart is like a loving parent observing a child who is angry or frightened and knows that everything will be all right. The child (us) does not know everything will be all right, but the parent does. When we can feel the feeling that everything will be all right, we can relax and enjoy life.

            The payoff for having a kind heart is the inevitable effect that people will gravitate to us. We have to understand that some people will be kind, while others will project their anger and fears all over us. When we have a kind heart, we do not take offense at these people, we understand their pain and have compassion for them. This is how we can develop compassion for others, by being kind to ourselves.

            Ultimately we come to the realization that everyone is simply a reflection of the thoughts and feelings we experience. When we can respond with kindness to everything, to the thoughts, emotions, events and people that we like and dislike, bliss will be ours.