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

THE EGO

          One of the least understood aspects of our psyche is the ego. Some psychologists use it one-way, others use it another. Freud had an understanding of the ego; Jung had a different understanding. Both were experts in their field, the study of the mind. The sages of the East have a completely different understanding of the concept of ego. To them, the ego is the mind, and the mind is not the brain. The mind is the cognitive analytical function of the brain, and it perceives the data received by the five senses, judges it as safe or harmful, and then the mind tells the physical body what to do. The movie trilogy The Matrix had an eastern frame to their interpretation of what the mind interprets as reality. The physical mind is separate from the physical body just as the physical Neo was separate from his matrix construct as well as his true physical body.  It gets quite complicated when we try to differentiate between the mind, the body and the spirit.

          When we are born, we have an ego that is an infant. If all goes well, that ego identifies with the world in a safe and healthy way. It perceives the world as basically safe and supportive, a reflection of his first gods and goddesses, his parents. If, however, the circumstances of birth and childhood are traumatic and threatening, that is how the ego will interpret the world and that individual’s reality will be far more frightening than the healthy child. The ego is also similar to the operating system of a computer. Without one, the computer is basically a boat anchor. Depending on the operating system installed, computers can be quite a helpful tool. If the operating system (ego) is corrupted, then glitches and breakdowns are inevitable. This is why we suffer.

          The problem is that we identify with the ego’s perception of the world. So we can feel defective based on how our ego perceives the world. If the ego is defective, we will feel and perceive ourselves as being defective. We create the ego at a very early age to pretend that we know what we are doing. Even with a healthy ego, we have a distorted view of the world because we only can perceive it through the ego. The only way we can perceive correctly is to let go of the ego, the sense of reality. Whatever we desire distorts our perception even further, because the ego leads us to believe that we will die without it. Thus, we can’t kill the ego any more than we can kill who we think we are. However, to truly transcend this false sense of reality, we have to learn to access a higher operating system, known as divine consciousness.

          The problem for many people is that divine consciousness is not neatly wrapped with a box and ribbon. Letting go of the ego can only access it. That means that we have to forget about what we think is important, be still, and seek divine wisdom. We fall short oftentimes because we have identified with the material world, and cannot see that we are far more than the physical. We have to let go of the notion that we are this or that, we have to let go of the belief that this is good or this is bad. We have to let go of the belief that we need anything, we have to let go of the belief that we have to be happy. We have to let go of the need to know the divine. We have to completely open ourselves to the idea that we are perfect just the way we are, that there is a higher consciousness available to us as soon as we wake from the dream of the ego. The ego dreams are just as real as the subconscious dreams when we fall asleep. We just don’t know it.

          Many people ask me how do we let go of the ego? It is a simple question and it has a simple answer. The answer is to detach and observe. Do not get emotionally attached to anything. It is the ego that causes emotional reactions and breakdowns. (Otherwise known as faulty programming). Accept all things as perfect and remember that the true operating system is divine consciousness. We are simply here to experience what we are experiencing. It is the ego that says, “I don’t like this”. So we have to remove the faulty programming of judgment and simply let life flow through and around us. When we resist, we suffer.

          So in order to let go of the ego, we have to open the floodgates of the mind and the heart and don’t resist anything. When we resist, we get angry, we lose our connection to unconditional love. We become afraid, and that is when we get system errors coming up in our perception. Just like the matrix, computer metaphors are like life itself. The best course is to get the best operating system you can and install the best security features you can find. Hopefully this will allow you operate without the ego…or you will have to reboot.

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

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

          AH, the end of May and beginning of June. It is time for the annual Derek O’Neill “playshop” in Dublin, Ireland. It is a week of intense transformation, growth, struggle and perhaps even a little discomfort as we learn how to deal with our issues and let go of the misery and challenges that makes life so hard. The truth is this process started several weeks ago for me in that negative emotions seems to be waiting around every corner and behind every door. For someone that claims to know how to deal with these human hurdles, it is very disconcerting to find out that “all is not well” with my self. I hurt, I chafe, I rail at the Gods because all of the things that I seek for happiness is now causing me pain greater than I have experienced in a long time.

          What is heavens name am I doing? I was told very early in life that if I acquired a good family, an honest living, friends and material things that I would be happy. It didn’t work out that way for me. I have been divorced twice, made and lost lots of money, acquired and let go of many material possessions. I seem to be in a letting go mode at the moment, I have given away most of my possessions and toys. I wrecked my car last December, but I live in a place you don’t need private transportation so I am okay on that one. I know lots of very wealthy people, and they seem to be struggling as much as I finding the elusive state of happiness that we all crave.

          I have written many times on how to be happy, it doesn’t matter what you have or possess, who you are in relationship with or what kind of job that you have. It all depends on your state of mind, what you are thinking about and how detached you are from your circumstances in life. However, when it is your time to suffer, it is a long uphill climb to the top of Happiness Mountain. Many times I tell myself “snap out of it” but when you aren’t getting what you want, it is hard to get to a place where you don’t care. That is really the secret to being happy, not caring about what you get. If you have a lot, great; if you have nothing, that is great as well.

          Sometimes I wonder if Buddha was an alien who merely placed a carrot at the end of a stick and dangled it in front of our heads. After all, detachment and mindfulness are not “human” as far as I can tell. There are so few people that I have met that have achieved those attributes I wonder if they are actually human as well. Are detachment and mindfulness impossible goals?

          Apparently I have created a perfect dilemma for myself where I feel totally lacking of control and yet I see no end in sight. The goal is to connect with the divine and find the love for myself that I always believe only comes from each one of us. I am beginning to discover that even though I feel like I love myself there are days when I don’t like myself very much. I guess that is playing out in my reality as well.

          I am writing this blog simply to let you know that the pursuit of happiness is sometimes difficult and elusive. We do not feel happy and blissful all of the time unless we can give us our attachments to people, places and things. When you don’t want anything, you can’t be disappointed. I am struggling (I hope for the last time) with letting go of the one thing I have always wanted (that is a personal issue for me).  The zen teachers I know keep telling me I can’t get it until I don’t want it, which sounds pretty counterintuitive to me. In any event, it seems pretty certain that I will not solve this problem with the same thinking that created it.

          So the pursuit of happiness seems to be a misnomer. The pursuit of anything likely pushes it away. The only way to find happiness is to “be” happy. So we have come full circle on this little blog, which is that I know that I can’t find happiness. I can only let it steal into my heart like a warm nighttime fog coming through a window. I hope that I can discover how to speed up the process in Ireland. Their fogs are legendary. It may mean being unhappy for a little while longer, but I have been promised that all I have been through and done will be worth it. I have hope that it will.

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

A SHORT HISTORY OF LOVE

          As I get older, I have drastically changed my understanding of love. As I grew up, I was a big fan of Arthurian legends, chivalry, romantic love and happily ever after. As I got older (after two divorces) I started to understand that love has nothing to do with soul mates, life partners or mated couples. Love has nothing to do with how you relate to an individual; it is how you relate to yourself and the world. If you don’t love yourself, and you don’t love the world you live in, I guarantee that you will not find love in a relationship. Love is not a mutual exchange or based on what people can do for you. So many people feel attracted to someone and think “I am in love!” People go into relationships because they think that the object of their affection will reciprocate and then life will be perfect.

          I hear so many times that people are looking for that “soul mate” that will complete their lives. Unfortunately that is a fantasy that been perpetuated by novels and Hollywood and we eagerly believed this fantasy because it made life look so easy. The belief that someone could make us happy is a self-defeating lie, because happiness only comes from within our own psyche, our own belief systems (BS). I was trained by my parents to believe that happiness can only be found in a loving relationship (like theirs). The red flags should have gone up the flag pole, first because their relationship was not loving but an exercise of hanging on, and second because happiness will never be found in a relationship.

          The first thing we have to understand is love is a one-way street. Love is the desire that others be happy. It doesn’t require anything from anyone in order to exist. It is unconditional, in the sense that you don’t care what the other person is doing, you just wish the best for them. You don’t need anything from them and you don’t want anything from the person you love. The truth is we need to love all beings, not just a small circle of people who you feel obligated to or attracted to. The hardest task of all of the masters, prophets and gurus demand is to love those who seek to harm us. Turn the other cheek, in other words.

          We get bogged down in the sticky messes and dramas of relationships when we believe that we need something from the object of our “love”. The truth is that we do not love when we need. We do not love when we feel abandoned or rejected. We do not love when we get angry. We do not love when we lust. We do not love when we demand. We do not love when we are jealous. We do not love when we run away. My point is that there are a host of other emotions which occur in a relationship that have nothing to do with love, but are often confused with being “in love”. When we step back and analyze our feelings and desires, we can quickly see that love is a much higher emotion than lust, greed and possessiveness. Unfortunately, our culture has developed a model of love that is everything but love. The common message is that if someone loves another, then they will make each other happy. This is not love, it is co-dependency.

          If we carry traumas and issues from our parents we often time seek to mate with someone that will replace our parents and make our life enjoyable. We project our fantasy parent onto the object of our desire and believe that we have found our soul mate. This may last days, months or years but at some point the veneer we have surrounded our “loved” one with will wear off and we have to deal with someone we really don’t know even though we may have lived with them for quite a while. Then the lesson really begins. Do we have enough love for and in us to see that person as they truly are and then make a decision that is best for all concerned? Or do we go into fear and selfishness and become angry and resentful? We have the ability to love anyone and live with anyone (unless abuse or violence is concerned, then run). The question is can we separate the satisfaction of our needs and desires from the person we claim we love? This is one of the fundamental tests that we have to face on the path to enlightenment.

          Sometimes loving someone means not enabling unhealthy behavior. If someone is emotionally or physically abusing you, love requires that you leave or do whatever you need to do to keep yourself safe. This is the meaning of self-love. It is only then that the object of your love will be forced to look at their behavior and learn their lessons. If they love you, they will want you to be safe. If their needs and issues are more important than you, then you must let them go. The issue is do you love yourself?

          Fear and love cannot coexist at the same time. If we focus on love, fear will disappear. The mantra for love is “Let me be of service”. When we are focused on letting others find their happiness, we will be love. That is the only way it will happen.

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

THE POWER OF KINDNESS

          We are social beings. Even though we strive to detach and be powerful individuals free of negative emotions, we still enjoy and thrive in a community of like-minded individuals. If you find yourself in a community of people who do not support you and criticize each other, it is time to find a new community. There are usually two things that may be present when you realize that the people you have surrounded yourself with are negative and critical. First, we have to realize that people who are in our lives mirror aspects of our self that we need to heal. If we have surrounded our self with critical, closed-minded people, we need to open our hearts and minds to understand that everything we experience is in divine order and exists to help us grow into enlightenment. While we may not engage in negativity on a regular basis, there is some reason that we experience this in our lives, and it usually is a signal that we have to shift to a higher plane of consciousness. Second, it is when we recognize that we no longer resonate with people who are negative it is a signal that we are ready to grow into a more loving and supportive role in our world.

          The larger issue is trust. We can’t make friends and shift our reality unless we are trustworthy and cultivate trust in others. We do this with kindness and compassion. Manipulating, lying and being out of integrity only serves to alienate people and we send signals to the world that we are untrustworthy. When we are behaving in a way that destroys trust, we will suffer and eventually realize that we do not even trust our self. When we can’t even trust our self, we lose confidence, self-worth and our moral compass. The only way to cultivate true friends and surround our self with support and love is to practice senseless acts of kindness. If we want to shift the planet, more people have to get on board with this simple principle. Self-confidence fosters honesty, truthfulness and integrity.

          When we practice kindness, honesty, truthfulness and integrity, we also become transparent. What that means is we don’t have to hide anything from any one. When we are in service and tell the truth, we also do not have to have a memory. Only people who lie have to remember what they said. The gift of transparency is peace, joy and abundance. When we let go of negativity and controlling others, we can relax and simply enjoy what we are receiving in the moment. When we are playing God, we are stressed and anxious and can’t relax. The ultimate reward for playing God is suffering. God is not on vacation and there are no job openings. When we practice kindness, we also shift our perspective from the head into the heart. Kindness does not exist in the ego, only control and fear exists in the ego. To access kindness, we have to go into the heart.

          When we live in the heart, we find our self. We do not have to be anyone other than our self because we don’t worry about how other people think about us. When we are in our hearts, we only seek to serve others, we do not want anything from them. If you are in a relationship crisis, simply repeat to yourself, “be kind”. Most people who have experienced fear and pain in relationship forget how to be kind because they are in survival mode. We have to shift out of survival mode and be compassionate, which leads to kindness. This is also known as getting out of your head and into your heart. The easiest way to get out of our heads and into our heart is to repeat the mantra mentioned above, “be kind”. We instinctively know how to be kind, but what is usually missing is we try to do it from our heads, and it doesn’t work. What we have to do is get quiet and simply repeat, “be kind” until we relax. And we will.

          Kindness is a virtue they say. It is a virtue because “virtue” means “moral excellence”. Interestingly enough a “virtue” is also the highest kind of angel. So those who believe in the power of angels, being kind is the highest form of angelic energy. If you want to be a living angel, practice kindness, for that is how you will be known. Instead of getting angry, send kindness to the person that cut you off in traffic. Instead of revenge, send kindness to the person that hurt you. Instead of resentment, send kindness to the person that doesn’t act the way you want. Kindness heals all wounds. Pour it liberally on each and every wound you have endured and watch them heal. If you want to be powerful, be kind.

 

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

PEELING THE ONION

            Anyone who has been on the spiritual path or seeking anything in this lifetime has probably heard the term “peeling the onion”. There are many possible interpretations to this metaphor. The onion is a vegetable that has layers of edible goodness that can be peeled, diced, sliced or julienned for baking, frying and sautéing. I happen to love onions. I digress, back to the metaphor. Getting to the root of our psyche and the causes for our emotional issues and mental traumas is often called “peeling the onion”. We peel away layer after layer of memories, perceptions and traumas to get to what mental health professionals call “core issues”. Core issues are thoughts, memories, or beliefs that color our perception of the world and create suffering. Often buried deep in our subconscious minds, we may not even be aware of these core issues. Many times they are only discoverable by the symptoms that surface into the conscious mind in the form of fears, phobias, prejudices and beliefs.

            There are as many different ways to peel the onion as there are therapists and patients. Peeling the onion can be specific to the person whose onion is being peeled, or it can be more general to help groups operate more efficiently and cohesively. Generally people start with what they know, and follow a path deeper into the core of their personality and belief systems until they find their core issues that are causing suffering in their lives. It could be a childhood event that took on distorted importance in their memories or a thought or belief that causes suffering.

            I want to suggest one way to peel the onion that can be beneficial to just about anyone that can be honest with themselves. We can lie to therapists and our friends because we don’t want to be rejected. We can’t lie to ourselves because we know at some point what the truth is. So as long as we don’t try the useless exercise of lying to ourselves, this works just fine.

            The first layer of the onion that needs to be peeled is the belief that we need someone to make us happy. A large part of the suffering I see among spiritual seekers is the angst of being with someone that is making them miserable or not being able to find that person that will “fulfill” them. We have to let go of the desire, the lust, or the need for someone else to make us happy. Let me be clear, this does not mean that we have to be a hermit or shun companionship and friends. It simply means that we need to let go of the feeling that something is wrong if that perfect “someone” isn’t living with us. Look at it this way, if we are peeling the onion to find out who we are, it is almost impossible to continue along this path if we are focused on people outside of us. To outsiders, they may not even know you have given up the need for a companion/soulmate. They may observe that you are a lot more relaxed and peaceful.

            The second layer of the onion that needs to be peeled is the belief that we are victims. We are not victims. Life does not happen to us. We are simply experiencing the end result of our decisions, thoughts and behavior prior to this moment. All we need to do is clean up our act and we will start enjoying life rather than suffer it.

            The next layer of the onion that needs to be peeled is our negative emotions. When negative emotions arise, and they will, we have to let go of them and not dwell on them. If we feel afraid, angry, jealous or other negative emotions, these are being caused by something deeper down and show us that we are on the right track. We have to sit with these emotions until we understand why we are feeling how we are feeling. The peeling process is simply the acknowledgement of the feeling and going deeper to the root cause. We do not resent the emotion; we do not fantasize about why we should feel this way, we simply say, “oh, I am angry. What is causing this?” and go look.

            The last layer to peel is judgment. Judgment causes most of our suffering. We judge something as good or bad, right or wrong, like or not like, and depending on how we judge it we either feel pain or pleasure. It is probably the hardest layer to peel, because it is the basis of who we are and how we perceive the world. If we let go of judgment, we don’t have to do anything, we just are. Once we let go of judgment, we will find ourselves in a very peaceful place. It is almost like we are floating on amrita and experiencing a joy we never thought possible. If you look at an onion, you will discover that when you peel away the last layer, there is nothing left. This is the perfect metaphor for your spiritual journey. When we let go of who we are, there is nothing left but the divine.

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

SURVIVING HELL

            We all have been there. Hell. That place in your life that you did not think you could survive without losing something very important to you, like your self-respect and future happiness. Life often throws us unavoidable surprises that we are not ready to catch. It would have been nice if someone had yelled “incoming!” I just learned of the tragic death of young father in an automobile accident. He was young, and left a wife and two young children behind. Loss is just one level of hell. Other levels include poverty, public ridicule, illness, abuse by a loved one, the criminal justice system, and breakup of romantic relationships. Each person has their version of hell but hopefully won’t have to experience it. Many times one person’s hell is another person’s heaven. It is all a matter of perspective.

            I have found some guidelines on how to survive a trip to hell and return a new and improved version of you. Each one can be used by itself or in conjunction with the others. I have great compassion for those who are going through such traumatic times that they can’t breathe or sleep. Been there and done that. But if you try these practices, your return from Hell will be easier and quicker.

                      1. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. When we go through trying times, we are exercising parts of our psyche that may be weak or needs strength. Life has brutal ways sometimes of making us stronger. Sometimes even a superficial wound like a broken love affair can make us want to lay down and die. We feel like the future is not worth living. However, as we will see below, many times better and more exciting times are ahead and we have to be strong enough to get there. Winston Churchill once said during the German bombing of London, “when you find yourself in hell, keep walking.” So keep breathing.           

                      2. This too shall pass. Sometimes we have to resolve ourselves to outlive our challenges and problems. No matter how bad things get, remember that the current challenges and difficulties will pass. Everything changes. Use this knowledge to your advantage. The good times pass, the bad times pass, and the really painful and difficult times will also pass.

                      3. You are a survivor.  The present may feel like the worst ever, but chances are you have seen worse, or know of someone who has survived worse. If you live in the US, you are better off than most of the world and your survival skill can be pretty good. You’ve survived tough times and challenges, over and over. Remind yourself that you’re an experienced problem solver. And while you’re at it, remind yourself you’re fighter. You overcome, you don’t give up.

                      4. The worst won’t happen. A familiar saying is “90% of what we worry about doesn’t happen”.  While you may feel overwhelmed by life’s twists and turns and the intensity of the current situation, try to take each moment one at a time. When we experience trauma, we immediately go into the future and stress about what we are going to do tomorrow, 6 months from now or years from now. Cancel clear any thoughts about the future while you are stressed. Only make plans or consider the future when you are calm and grounded. If you make decisions about anything while you are stressed and overwhelmed, you will only make your situation worse. Calm down, breathe, and remember that you are stronger than you know and braver than you think.

                     5. Release expectations and control. Often, we deal with so much stress and anxiety not because of what’s happening, but because it is not happening as we please. We grow up having certain expectations about our life. These expectations were programed by our parents, advertisers, authority figures and society. We demand certain consequences and results. We provide the timelines on when we want these things. Life doesn’t care about our every wish and command, or our timeline. The more you can learn to let go of your expectations about circumstances, the more free and less stressed you’ll feel. Trust that the situation will work out for the best and be OK with it not turning out exactly as you had wanted. For once, relax and let the God/Universe take care of you. Take a few days off from running the universe and see what happens.

                       6. Learn the lesson. You may not be able to do anything with your current circumstances right now, but you will be able to reflect and learn from what’s happening in your life later on. When you get the point of the lesson, you will be able to use that wisdom to improve your life and the life of your loved ones. It is when you are in denial and resist the lesson that things get worse. Sometimes life takes loved ones or things away to give us something or someone better. Life is a classroom … imagine that it’s preparing you for a doctorate in living.

                        7. It always gets better. Life is a pendulum swinging between pleasure and pain. That is why it is always darkest before the dawn.  When things get bad, or terrible, rest assured that it can’t continue this way. Remember things always change. Rest assured the worst is behind you. It can only get better from this point onward. Stay hopeful and optimistic that your situation is about to change for the better. It will.

                        8. It is a gift.  When we are going through Hell, it is hard to be grateful for the experience. That is the only way we can learn and grow from the experience, to recognize that God never gives us more than we can handle and growth many times is painful. When we are grieving the loss of a loved one, embrace the gift of grief and understand that your heart will open and love will fill it if you let it in. The more we fail and stumble, the more growth and insight we have about life. The truth is success will follow tragedy if we accept the gift and learn the lesson. Get ready for better things in your future. If the fall was hard and painful, your bounce back should take you to whole new heights. Setbacks aren’t always what they seem. You may feel like you’re taking several steps back when in reality, you’re getting ready to make great leaps in your life.

          And soon enough you’ll realize that life is setting you up for something much greater.

 

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

STOP CARING

         We are taught to care about everything. Another way of saying this is we are taught to be codependent. Codependency is a behavioral disorder that bases your feelings on how everyone else is feeling. If everyone else is happy, you can be happy. When someone you love is unhappy, then you immediately have to find a solution to this problem because you can’t be happy until they are happy. The key to being confident and strong is to not allow what is going on around you affect your happiness or journey. In other words, you have to learn how not to be attached to what is happening around you. Indeed, if we can transcend the attachments and codependency that we form with others we will experience a new freedom and joy that will radiate out and affect all who we interact with.

            Not caring and detachment does not mean lacking compassion. If someone is experiencing pain and suffering, we can have compassion for that person because we understand that is the human condition that we have transcended. We can give them comfort and support because that is our purpose in life, to help others. What we must stop doing is allowing other people to dictate how we feel about our life and ourselves. Have you ever had someone accuse you of “not caring”? “You don’t care about me” is the mantra of victim hood. When we “care” about someone, we tend to take responsibility for his or her happiness. That is not our job. Our job is to understand them and support them, and walk away if they persist in their victimhood and self-pity. Compassion has no attachments to their feelings or suffering, compassion understands everyone suffers and we can be kind.

            True freedom requires that we detach in the sense that we are above the melodrama. Developing the ability to control and manage our compassion without attachment is the essence of integrity. We tend to get sucked into other people’s problems that will distract us from being our greatest version of ourselves. Not caring allows us to be comfortable within ourselves and free to help or detach from whatever problems others are experiencing. When we detach from our compassion, we do not suffer. We only observe. In order to be truly happy, we have to detach from everyone else’s problems. Again, this does not mean that we don’t open our hearts and send them healing and love, or even offer to help them. What it means is that we do not let other’s problems affect our happiness or equanimity. I know that I have enough to do to master my emotions and deal with my own issues. I do not let other people’s issues cause me suffering. That may sound selfish or cold, but it is being realistic.

            One teacher shared with me that sentimentality causes more suffering than anything else. Sentimentality is being attached to everyone else’s pain. Sentimentality is wishing things were different, wishing things were like some half-remembered fantasy world that we build from the past. In order to be free, we have to have common sense and practicality in our lives. This requires detachment.

            Now admittedly, many people find caring terribly exciting. They are the first to come to the door with casseroles and tissues and will stay for hours commiserating and gossiping. Is that helpful? Probably for the short term, but we need to empower each other, not enable victimhood. Unless we are enlightened gurus or psychotherapists, most people have no business trying to cheer each other up. How can you cheer someone up if you are miserable yourself? So stop it. A compassionate being will come and hold space for someone is suffering. Just be.

            Ultimately, life is neutral, no adjectives required. It is our ego that wants to define, question, classify, control and manipulate. We have to allow life to happen, as it will, whether we care and try to control it, or not. When we stop caring, and detach, we can step back and enjoy life, rather than be controlled by it.  

            

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

PEARLS

             When everything seems to be a challenge and life is hard, it is often difficult to maintain a sense of gratitude and faith. At times being happy feels impossible and ridiculously difficult to maintain. There is a Buddhist mantra about seeking enlightenment that goes: “dig deep and strike water, dive deep and find pearls.” When I first heard that statement years ago, I initially thought, “What the heck does that mean?” Years later I have a better understanding of what it means and how to apply it to daily life, especially when it feels like the rats are winning the rat race.

            When we say, “dig deep”, that means find a belief system that you resonate with and go deep. This might be a religion or a philosophy. It means study, read, pray, meditate and immerse yourself in its teachings and wisdom. It is helpful if you can find a teacher with integrity who can explain the more mystical aspects of the philosophy or religion, because the more you dig down into the foundations of the teachings, the more questions will come up. Oftentimes the biggest “aha” moments are found when you have solved a mystery, or come to an understanding of a teaching that is beyond those who do not apply themselves to the teaching. An example would be the concept of “all perception is projection”. Until we realize that we only see what we want to see, and usually a very subjective version of the truth, it is very difficult to grasp what life really is all about. Many times we are stressed and struggling to understand why events happen in our life when the truth is that we are causing the stress. Events happen whether we understand them or not. When we can experience an event and accept that we created it to learn something about our self, then the struggle disappears. Our minds are powerful imagination machines, and we can imagine something fun and exciting or we can imagine something horrible and frightening. So if we are experiencing stress and struggle, what are we projecting onto reality to create a holographic nightmare? When we can answer that question, then life becomes relatively simple.

            When we say “strike water”, we mean that we start to understand that there is more to life than what we think and feel. By that I mean that we start to understand that we are the creator of our reality and our minds are playing a large part of what we are experiencing. Many people have no idea how powerful we really are when we control our minds and our thoughts. Most people are at the mercy of their minds and thoughts, often victims of their minds that are allowed to run rampant through negativity and pain. When we think we are victims, we will be victimized. When we start to understand that we can control our mind and our thoughts, then life starts to flow in the direction we want. The “water” is the realization that we can control our thoughts and our mind. We can use meditation, affirmations, positive thinking, mantras, satsang and worship to ease our troubled thoughts and begin to connect with our higher consciousness and the divine.

            When we say “dive deep”, this is another metaphor for the concept that we digging deep into our subconscious to find the source of our thoughts, our demons, our beliefs and our pain. Water often times symbolizes our subconscious mind as we can’t see what is under the surface unless we are still and let our minds be still. We have to simply be, and let the contents of our subconscious mind settle to the bottom so that they can be seen from above. As we dive deeper and deeper into our subconscious mind, we will discover who we are and how we perceive ourselves to be. We will discover the traumas and injuries which caused us pain and suffering and realize that they are only memories and no longer real. Nothing is real in our subconscious; we just think it is. So we have to let these nightmares and dramas settle to the bottom so they may be removed.

            Finally, as we clear away the debris and muck at the bottom of our subconscious, we will begin to find the pearls of wisdom that were there all along. These include the highest teachings of the eastern philosophies and religions, that we are the creator that we have been searching for. We are not the doer, until we discover that we are. We are responsible for our own happiness. we can’t give that responsibility to anyone else. Finally, we are immortal spirits that take form over and over again and the biggest illusion of all is death. 

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

THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM

            Edgar Allen Poe wrote a short story called “The Pit and The Pendulum” that was a classic horror story. It described a man who was tied down in a pit and forced to watch as a pendulum with a sharp blade descended upon his abdomen. Back and forth it went, lower and lower until…well, read the story and find out for your self. The relevance of this story is that we experience life in much the same way, on a pendulum that swings between pleasure and pain and life feels much like a roller coaster. We go through the highs of pleasure and then through the lows of pain. It is only an illusion of time that it seems that the pleasure is only momentary while the pain goes on forever. The truth is that it is only our perception that makes it this way.

            All of the self-help genre is finally getting on board with the notion that what happens is not as important as how we think about what happens. The irony of that is we can’t control what happens, but we can certainly control what we think about. Only the mentally ill or lazy would disagree. If you can focus for any amount of time on a thought, then you have the ability to control your thinking with enough practice and discipline. Obviously, we have to have the training and desire to control our thinking, and that is not a common thing. Only a small percentage of the population is willing to let go of victimhood, fantasy and delusion. It seems that everyone is hanging on to those deadly three concepts because that is how we are trained to think by those who profit from us thinking that way.

            The other relevance of Edgar Allen Poe’s story is that we torture ourselves by being addicted to pleasure and terrified of pain. The truth is it is all the same, it is only our programming that makes us think one is good and one is bad. A higher perspective would show us that we learn the most from what we think is pain and we stop growing when we wallow in pleasure. Life is about growth, evolution and enlightenment. If we stop growing, we die. So we might as well learn to excel at growth. Now I am not advocating self-inflicted pain. There seems to be enough pain to go around without looking for it. What I am saying is rise above the self-pity and be grateful for whatever you think is pleasure and whatever you think is pain.

            If one thinks about it, the most chaotic point on a pendulum is the bottom end that swings the furthest. There motion is constant, going between the best and the worst. With a small change of thinking, we can transcend the chaos up to the top of the pendulum. At the center, there is peace and calm. There is joy and equilibrium. At the center is the divine. The divine has been described as the limitless center of a circle with no circumference. To get there is not as hard as you may think.

            Sit comfortably and breathe deeply until you are completely relaxed. Empty your mind of worry and anxiety; the boundary of the divine is fear. If you let go of fear, the divine will reach out and embrace you. Imagine that you are looking at a soap bubble that is ginormous. You reach out and touch it. It is soft and slippery. Take a deep breath, and ask the divine to let you in. As you go through the membrane, you leave all of your limitations, your anxiety, your doubt, and your fear behind. You are nothing but pure love and joy. Once you are inside, you feel nothing but the pure energy of love. You float; because you are fully supported. Your body morphs into the body you have always wanted. Your thoughts are positive, joyful and grateful. There is no want, fear or lack. You are complete. As you get to the center of this huge soap bubble, your thoughts expand until they no longer exist. You are simply joy and happy now. And you stay there as long as you want. When you are ready, you can come back into your body, knowing how you are designed to be.

            This is the top of the pendulum of life. There is no pleasure or pain at the top, only joy and bliss. There is no worry, anxiety or fear, that all exists at the bottom of the pendulum and is the sharp blade that tortures us and then kills us. Where we live on this pendulum is our choice. Simply meditate on going through the membrane that is in reality the illusion of life. Find your truest self and escape the pit and the pendulum.

 

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

YOU DON’T HAVE TO DIE

            Roughly 775 people a day have a near death experience in the United States alone. A near death experience (NDE) is when someone loses consciousness, has an out of body experience or has an after life experience. It often involves clinical death or loss of life and resuscitation. Many times people report experiences of heaven, hell, angels, god, spirit guides or the like. Surveys and statistics have established that roughly 5% of the population goes through this sort of rite of passage. So be aware that when you pick up that book in the book store claiming some special message from heaven is waiting for you written by someone who has survived a NDE, well welcome to the club.

            What is that message anyway? If you look at all of the books written by people who have survived an NDE, there are some common themes. First, people should not worry, because the worst that can happen is total bliss. After all the drama and pain of dying, we are promised joy, peace and comfort on an unlimited scale. It all reminds me of a good meditation when I can reach Samadhi and be still and connect with God. You can read books written by Harvard neurologists, housewives, spiritual gurus and everyone else and they say the same thing: be happy because everything else is a waste of time.

So why do we have to die to get this message?

            I have to be a bit of a pessimist here and say something that many mainstream doctors say. That is, no one has ever really died and come back (there is a three day rule which means that both Lazarus and Jesus were only dead three days). They nearly died, but not really died. Who is to say who dies and who doesn’t? I have fallen off a four-story building and saw angels who talked to me. I have been hit in the head with a bat and talked to Buddha, Jesus and Sai Baba. And here I am. I did not die permanently. Maybe I just thought I did.  It certainly felt like it.  Was it a NDE, who knows?

            I am so happy that everyone else had to have a cardiac event, massive brain trauma, induced comas, etc. etc. to find Samadhi. Me, I would rather meditate. The headaches and body aches of NDE are too much trouble. So why die? Why not find another way to find that peace, love, calm and other benefits of NDEs? Look at it this way; some people have to go through real pain to learn peace and bliss. Others don’t. Really smart people learn from other people’s pain. So do you really have to go through a NDE to benefit from what they went through? Of course not. And please don’t.

            The truth is that there are worse things than NDE to bring you to Samadhi. Incest, sexual abuse, physical abuse, disease and violence will take you to the same place if you survive.  Karma is an unforgiving teacher. Only divine grace can help you rise above your destiny. However, we can learn from others and you are able to understand the same lessons that NDE survivors report. It is all about happiness and joy. Nothing else matters.

            Here is a simple meditation to take you through what everyone else reports as the NDE path. Having lost consciousness and being beaten in the head gives me the confidence that this is pretty close to what all the NDEs experience.

            So, lie down on the floor. This is called the Shavasana pose in yoga. Lie totally flat, without any pillows or support. You are supposed to be dead, by the way. Take some really deep breaths, because when you do this and get really relaxed your body will think it is dead and you have to remember to breathe. Now here is the glorious part. While you are relaxed and feel every part of your body touch the ground, imagine what it will be like to be really dead. Imagine all of your friends and family around you saying nice things about you. See all of your family that loves you grieving. See doctors and lawyers circling around you like they always do. Feel a great sense of relief. You don’t have to deal with this 3D (physical) world anymore. You are a spirit, an angel, a perfect being of God that is immortal. Have that last review that you have heard about. What is it you need to know? Remember all that you need to remember and learn what you need to learn. Detach from your body and your thoughts. Who are you now? When you understand who you really are, you are immortal. Nothing can touch you. You are happy and will always be happy. You don’t have to have an induced coma to understand this. You don’t have to incur hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical bills to understand this. You are immortal.

            Think of this. If you really were immortal, what difference would that make? Would you really care if someone disappointed you? Would you really care if someone cheated on you? Would you understand that the same acting group was playing out this whole drama that you call your life over and over again until you understood that death was an illusion? Welcome back.