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

PERCEPTION FOLLOWS JUDGMENT

           Perception drives everything. It defines our reality and determines how we will experience life. If we perceive the world as a scary place, it will be. If we perceive relationships with our self and others as difficult and painful they will be. It doesn’t matter what is really happening, how we perceive it is how it is for the individual. Underlying the perception is judgment. We decide and choose how we are going to perceive the world. This is the basis of the conclusion that we create our own reality. We perceive what we want to perceive. This all may be happening subconsciously and to the ordinary citizen life may seem to be random and chaotic. Life is neither; it is determined by how we perceive it.

            I read an interesting study the other day that reported that scientists have discovered that addictions are caused by environment, not by drugs. There was an experiment using rats decades ago where rats were given a choice between water and drug filled water. The rats apparently preferred the drug water. The conclusion was that drugs are inherently addicting. More recently, however, when the rats were given food, toys and room to play, they preferred the clean water. In another social experiment, Portugal decriminalized drug use. The money used to fight drugs was used to house and feed addicts. When people are taken out of stressful environments and placed into safe and nurturing environments, the majority of addicts voluntarily chose to stop using the drugs that they were “addicted” to. This is a huge shift in consciousness from victim (the drugs hooked me) to circumstantial (choosing to escape conditions). It goes to prove that we are making choices and judgments all the time either consciously or subconsciously that determine what we experience. This is why recovery programs have such a low percentage of success; as long as the addict continues in their perception of their condition they will be addicted to artificial ways to change their perception. That to me is proof that we are much more powerful than we believe, because we can control our perception one way or another. If all we have to do is change our perception to heal an addiction, then we are truly powerful.

            We see what we want to see. We can see the pile of garbage or the flower growing on the side. Or even both perhaps. We can see the good in people or the evil, or both. We can see the events in our lives as something we liked or we can be consumed by the events that we don’t like. The switch that determines whether we like what is happening or we don’t like what is happening is called judgment. When we can eliminate judgment from our lives we start to see life as it truly is from a detached and totally conscious viewpoint. We stop wanting things to be different, because what is the point? Without judgment, nothing is better than anything else. We stop reacting to life; we simply witness life. We cease experiencing anger, fear, rejection, and the host of other negative emotions that cause suffering. Everything simply is.

            It takes radical and rigorous honesty to be free of judgment. We have to admit to ourselves when we are being judgmental and stop it. Judgment is so deeply ingrained in our mental processes that it is like dandelion roots that keep growing back in the lawn of our thoughts. When we rid ourselves of judgment, all prejudices disappear and we can start to see people who they truly are. We start to see how others suffer because their judgments color their perception and we can have compassion because we know their suffering. Judgment affects everything, creating the perceptions of good/bad, right/wrong, and love/hate. When judgment is removed, all of those polar opposites disappear. This is the consciousness that will bring about huge change in the world and will allow groups to see other groups as they really are, not how prejudice and the resulting emotions color their perception.

            The bottom line is we have to examine what judgments are causing us to limit ourselves and prevent us from being happy. We have to dig deep under all of the rationalizations our psyches have built around our judgments that color our perception and create our reality.  Here is an example of how judgment alters perception that changes reality. If we believe/judge that events happen “to” us, we are in victim mode and we will be constantly afraid of what will happen next. We will be stressed and anxious about what can happen next. However, if we were to eliminate that judgment, or at least change the judgment to life happens “for” us, then we can relax, enjoy our lives and be happy. This is what we do to ourselves and we can easily change it to what we can do for ourselves. We are that powerful.

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

THE LEVELS OF CONSCIOUSNESS

              Consciousness is a term which many people talk about but few really understand. Most vaguely know that having it is a good thing, and being un-conscious may be problematic. Many people go through life with the lowest entry level consciousness wishing things were different and wondering why life is so challenging. It doesn’t have to be that way. We are human beings and most of us don’t have the focus and discipline it takes to transcend the quirks and daggers completely all of the time. Sometimes we can, if we understand what the different levels of consciousness are.

            The entry level of consciousness is survival mode. We spend a lot of time in the past in order to survive the future. This is where victim consciousness is strongest, which is the belief that life happens “to” us and we have no control over anything that happens in this world. We are consumed with materialism because we believe that will keep us safe. The more we have in the bank accounts, our stock accounts and possessions hopefully will help us in hard times. We are always wishing life was different or better and we grasp for whatever our desires may be in the moment. Happiness is often confused with pleasure, for we feel good when we get what we want and we suffer when we don’t. We are controlled by our emotions. We suffer at all times, afraid that we will not get what we want and afraid we will lose what we have. We suffer from anxiety, high blood pressure and illness that are caused by the constant stress we create. We are trained by society and the powers that be to be stuck in this level of consciousness because we are controllable and easily manipulated.

            A next level of consciousness is self-awareness. In this level of consciousness we strive to discover who we are and what our purpose is. We begin to understand that our place in the world does not depend absolutely on what we possess. We start to examine the effect of our behavior and actions upon others, we relate to others and the world. We begin to be aware of the world and life is more than just survival and collection of possessions. It is at this level we become to be aware that there is more to life than survival. It is also the level that we begin to suspect that there is a God. Oftentimes we connect with a teacher or guide who has a higher level of consciousness to help us transcend the lower levels. We can transition from survival level to self-awareness through the practice of gratitude.

            The third level of consciousness is the dawning of the awareness that we are not who we think we are. We are not our thoughts, emotions or beliefs. Our awareness is not the same thing as our thoughts, memories or beliefs. The social conditioning that we experienced in the survival level begins to fall away and we seek the truth of what is really going on in life. We begin to connect with a larger consciousness that animates us and sustains us (all along). We are aware that the lower levels of consciousness are a dream state and we are beginning to wake up. We begin to take control of our mind and emotions, understanding that they will control us if we do not control them. We begin to focus more and more on the search for connection to the divine, universal aspect of our being. It is at this level we start to detach from our addictions to pleasure and pain, judgment as well as people, places and things. The need for companionship or a significant other decreases. We can transition from self-awareness to detachment through meditation and mantras.

            The fourth level of consciousness is forgetting our self and our selfish wants and desires. We are concerned solely how we can help others anyway possible. We have a deep and total compassion for all beings, we connect with the universal energy of love. We let go of our desires for sex, companionship, material possessions or status. We are only concerned with serving others and raising the consciousness of the planet. We begin to merge with universal knowledge and consciousness that results in longer periods of bliss and enjoyment of all that is. We spend longer times in meditation and solitude and seek only that connection with the divine that gives us joy. At this level we are in a state of being, and have dropped the need to do anything. Whatever actions we take are directed by our divine consciousness and intuition and for the good of all. We know that all of our needs will be met and we have let go of needless and foolish concerns of materialism. We transcend from the level of detachment to selflessness through focus on the divine.

            The highest level of consciousness is enlightenment. It is difficult to reach this level and to stay at this level for any length of time because it requires long periods of solitude and focused devoted thoughts to your divine self. It is simply a matter of reality because when we are at the highest level of consciousness we are not able to function in what most consider the real world or what some call the 3D world. We meditate for long periods of time, surrender the need for interaction with others because we are connected to the divine. Oftentimes we don’t eat or sleep, we simply bask in the arms of the divine.

            Most of the highest beings will spend time at the level of enlightment and then come back to the 3D world to interact with others. It is their karma to know the difference between being in the arms of their divine self and interacting with the real world. It is their recognized duty to help all beings raise their consciousness. We can be born into any level of consciousness. It is the grace of the divine that we can raise our consciousness anytime we like. It is also our ability to lower our consciousness at anytime based on our circumstances. This is what is known as free will. The choice is ours.

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

KARMA IS AN ILLUSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE WORKSHOP OF NOT GOING TO A WORKSHOP

            The other day I found myself in a different kind of space. I had just found out that a workshop I wanted to go to was already filled up. For the first time in six years, I was not able to go to my favorite teacher’s workshop. I must admit I was not comfortable about that situation. So I had to discover what was going on in the battlefield of my mind. Most people would have just shrugged it off, but to me it was much more serious than that.

            The first step was to be still. This was not easy, I was in the space of “my guru walked by me and ignored me. He didn’t give me a flower.” In other words, some deeply buried feelings of unworthiness, rejection, and abandonment were coming up to be healed. It did not feel pleasant. Had I done something wrong? Was I being punished? Why were some people lucky enough to go and I wasn’t? Was life really that capricious and unfair? Luckily I didn’t have to experience that nonsense for long, I quickly realized that I was in an old thinking pattern that was making me a victim.

            The second step was to look for the lesson. After all, I had created this situation somehow for my own enlightenment. I am still contemplating that one, new revelations arise constantly. I marvel at how the lessons that we least want are the ones that teach us so much. For me, I think one of the lessons from this situation is that not going to a workshop is a workshop. Sometimes we get more out of not getting what we want than getting to go to a workshop. I know that I talk with a lot of people who can’t afford to go to all of the workshops that they would like and that makes them feel a certain way. I have compassion for anyone that is attached to going to workshops like I am. This is a sure source of suffering.

            So the third step in the process was to detach. The contemplation of this little mouse poop of a situation has brought me some valuable insights.  First, I am not going to die if I don’t get to a workshop. If it isn’t my karma, it just isn’t my karma. I have to learn to love myself even when I don’t get what I want. The most valuable lesson I have learned from this is that I am in control of my suffering. I create my suffering, and I can let go of it. I can hang on to it as long as I want, and I can return to my bliss anytime I want. Sometimes being a victim can be so much fun though, even when it doesn’t feel all that great.

            I was quite mystified as to why I felt so abandoned and rejected because I was not invited to this workshop. After all, I go to many workshops and teach many myself. To be able to spend that time by myself and search for the cause of these irrational feelings was a gift that I finally accepted. I later found out that this particular workshop was not for me, the teacher had carefully picked the people that were invited to go and they were in great need of healing, much more than me. I did get the opportunity to look at my desire to belong, to be apart of the group and why I felt like I was being excluded when the reality was there was only so much space and I did not need the workshop. So I finally concluded that it was all in divine timing and destiny. I did not miss anything, I actually was able to learn some valuable lessons about myself.

            The final step for me was to be grateful for the lesson and the teacher. This includes myself. So by being grateful for not being able to go to the workshop, I transformed the energy of being a victim into being a creator. When I do that, I go from suffering to bliss. Like the old saying goes, “life doesn’t happen to us, it happens for us.”

             I am actually feeling pretty good about not going to a workshop. The workshop of not going to a workshop was very helpful.