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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

A NEW RELATIONSHIP

           I hear from a lot of people that our reality is changing. I know that the poles are shifting (even NASA confirms this), weather is really getting weird, politics and world economies are changing. The most profound shift I hear about is how relationships are changing and becoming less codependent and more divinely inspired. Predictions are that the old way of relating to someone has to change, and will change. This is attributed to the fact that our consciousness is shifting out of the physical, three dimensional reality to a more spiritual, five dimensional reality. To be honest, I am not quite sure what this means, but I can tell you that one of the most incredible relationships I have ever experienced is far different than any relationship I have ever experienced.

            In the past, relationships were based primarily on whether the participants could  satisfy basic needs and desires of their partner. There was the chemistry factor, which is an antiquated way of saying that more needs were satisfied than not. There is also the Cinderella factor; that is the person you fell in love with may be a magical fantasy you create in your mind and project on the other person. When the clock strikes midnight and the magic wears off, you are left with someone that you may not even recognize. There are pheromones, organic compounds and brain chemistry involved in the old way of relationships that may change at any moment. Being a divorce attorney for many years proved that attraction can change almost over night and people jump in and out of bed with a frightening frequency.

            From a socioeconomic perspective, we created a fantasy life reflected in fairy tales of love at first sight and committed long term relationships as the ideal relationship. I grew up being told that humans were one of the few species that was monogamous and love was forever. My experience in adulthood was far different; I discovered that pain decides whether a relationship is forever — more than love. Statistically more marriages fail than last a lifetime. My observation is that many relationships that did last a lifetime probably shouldn’t have. In other words, the ideal committed permanent relationship may have died a cultural death, and we pick and choose who we live with based on many factors other than love. Obviously when one partner chooses not to fulfill the needs, desires and fantasies of their partner, the relationship loses its attraction. So what is the future for relationships and what are they going to look like?

            The first thing I have realized about the failure of my past relationships is a lack of maturity. Many others and I looked for people who will be more of an incestuous parent than an equal partner. Psychologists predict that most people marry a version of the parent we had the most issues with, hoping that we will have a parent who will do what we want. I have found this doesn’t work very well. This is especially true with potential partners who don’t want the responsibility of being my mother. So the answer is I had to grow up and stop looking for someone else to make me happy. I had to learn how to make myself happy and share that with someone. When I acted like a child needing something (sex, compliments, validation), the relationship failed. When I act like an adult that offers happiness, commitment and stability, relationships changed.

            When my sons were growing up, I noticed an amazing thing. The people in their peer group did not split off into couples and begin dating. They stayed together more as a pack and relationships were based on the group dynamic than a one on one dynamic. Eventually my oldest son bumped into one of these members in a more meaningful way and they now are married. They still have a large group of friends who they interact with, and they did not polarize into a separate unit like my parents did.

            Based on this trajectory, I can foresee relationships that are more like intense friendships than codependent polarized units that are separate from everyone else. The real relationship will have to be within our higher selves and us. When we connect with our spiritual core, the energy that created us, we enter a state of bliss that does not depend on how someone else is behaving. That is irrelevant. It also takes the responsibility off of our backs to make someone else happy. People take responsibility for their own happiness. The difference between this way of relating and the old ways of relating are huge. When we are strong and compassionate for our partner we can let them be who they are. We do not put any pressure on them to be someone else. We do not fantasize about who they could be to make us happy, because we are already happy. When we are in this state of being, there is no need to leave to find someone that will make us happy because our partner has ceased making us happy. It allows us to be free. There is a lot of fear wrapped around letting someone be who they are because we are afraid they will not like us and leave. If we truly loved ourselves, that thought would not manifest.

            I am still working on that relationship with myself. However, I am happy to report that my other relationships are doing well and I am constantly amazed how better it gets as my relationship with myself improves. I can see where we are going and I believe that it will look far different than anyone can imagine. Hopefully divorce lawyers will have to find something else to do.

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

RIGHT VS WRONG, GOOD VS BAD

           One of the most difficult concepts to let go of as we trudge the path of happy destiny are the notions of right and wrong and good and bad. This goes even deeper to the act of judging what we perceive. We perceive an event, and our mind/ego jumps to assumptions or conclusions that judges the event as “right”, “wrong”, “good” or “bad.” This can be a major cause of confusion and suffering, especially when someone challenges our judgment.

            When I was a trial lawyer and someone came in for a divorce, the first question I would ask is “would you rather be happy or right?” Luckily for my pocket book, most of them wanted to be right, or at least to prove their spouse wrong. Being right is an expensive proposition and many times does not result in happy endings. I also used to have a framed cartoon on the wall in my office that depicted a naval officer clinging to a piece of flotsam with ships sinking all around them. His fist was in the air and he was yelling, “We’ve won! We’ve won!” The only divorces which I recall being successful were the ones that the couple had already decided on how to split their assets and agreed on a parenting plan for their children. They only wanted me to put it in writing.

            People who can’t agree on major issues or come to a mutual resolution of major issues are in for much pain and suffering. The biggest impediment to a successful dissolution of a partnership (of any kind) is the fear that someone will not get what he or she deserves. It is amazing to me how shortsighted people can become when they are experiencing fear. They want to fight over everything and don’t want to compromise. That is fine with lawyers and exactly what they want to hear as they collect their large retainers and start billing by the hour.

            The only solution is love. Think about what the other person needs before your own needs. When I was divorced (for the second time), I was bound and determined not to make a fight out of it and give my spouse whatever she wanted. The problem sometimes is that is not enough. Every offer was rejected without a counter offer. As a result, we went through five years of litigation and she eventually got less than what I offered. Sometimes we just have to be brave and send love to people who can’t feel it and not resent their ignorance.

            When we feel like we have to fight to be “right” or “good”, we probably will at some point question the wisdom of that position. Sometimes we don’t have a high enough perspective or enough information to understand that we are fighting for an illusion. History teaches us that point in tragic ways. Germans still harbor huge guilt over the atrocities of WWII. The Middle East continues to create orphans and catastrophe after catastrophe over who is right. The United States has made a battlefield out of the world in the name of national security.

            The biggest problem is we have delusions about what is right and what is wrong. Bertrand Russell once said, “I will never die for my beliefs. I might be wrong.” The perception of what is right and wrong is constantly changing. I am sure that in the far future people will shake their heads over all of the pain and suffering the battles over marital rights, race, religion and abortion have caused in this country. It was not too long ago that belief about right and wrong regarding segregation caused bloodshed and death.

            I hope that one day we can open our hearts and minds to the proposition that there is no right or wrong or good or bad. There is only karma. We eventually learn what is best for us, even though it may take a few hundred years. These days karma seems to be coming quicker and the consequences of our actions hit us almost immediately. No one is getting away with anything anymore. Even the illuminati will have to face their karma at some point.

            I don’t want to be right. That is a double-edged sword that could mean that I am wrong. I want to be kind, considerate, loving, compassionate and patient. I want to embrace everything. I want all people in all of the worlds to be happy. The first place to start is to eliminate judgment and increase compassion. I hope it is in time.

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

ESCAPING FROM REALITY

             We live our lives of quiet desperation and wish that things were different. We feel stuck in this world, having no control over our lives and our circumstances. We work hard and then harder to get ahead and seem to lose ground. We search for love and it eludes us; our soul mate never shows up no matter how many workshops or energy sessions we attend. We look at our neighbors and despair that we are losing the rat race. We seek counseling and the secrets to happiness. It doesn’t matter what we do or what we have, there is always that sense of anxiety and longing for something else. We are afraid that we will not get what we want, and when we manifest it we are afraid that we will lose it. Buddha called this “samsara”, or the “dream”. Samsara is the world, as humans with an unsettled and agitated mind perceive it. I call it a false reality invented by our unrealized ignorance.

            There is a story about Sai Baba, a revered holy man in India who recently left this reality. A man suffering from insomnia came to him and asked Baba to help him sleep. Baba referred the man to a yogi master who taught him how to breathe and yoga. The man returned to Baba to thank him as he was finally able to sleep. Baba told him, “if you want to sleep, follow the yogi. If you want to wake up, follow me.” There are some basic principals that we can follow to “wake up”. These may or may not make you happy, but at least you will have the tools to be so.

1. Being busy does not equal being successful.

It’s surprising how easy it is to lose sight of the important things in life. Busy schedules and weekly routines have a tendency to make us numb and unconscious. We forget where we put our keys, we need personal assistants to remind us what day it is. We become walking zombies.

Look at everyone around you. They all seem so busy — running from meeting to meeting and firing off emails. Yet how many of them are really producing, really succeeding at a high level? Success doesn’t come from movement and activity. It comes from focus — from ensuring that your time is used efficiently and productively. You get the same number of hours in the day as everyone else. Use yours wisely. After all, you’re the product of your output, not your effort. Make certain your efforts are dedicated to tasks that get results.

Speed is not the same as efficiency. Slow down. Breathe. Focus on what you are wanting to achieve. Achievement is not success. Success is being happy.

2. There is no success and no failure.

The biggest achievements often come when you’re feeling the most frustrated and the most stuck. It’s this frustration that forces you to think differently, to look outside the box and see the solution that you’ve been missing. Life takes patience and the ability to maintain a good attitude even while suffering for what you believe in. In the long run, there is no success or failure. There are only lessons about what is important and what makes you happy. The fact that someone has more money or possessions or a trophy spouse has no relevance to a happy person.

3. Fear is not real, never regret.

Many of us believe that death is the worst thing that can happen, followed closely by ridicule and poverty. We often dwell on our memories, incarcerating ourselves in the prison of the past. We regret what we have done and are afraid to do anything new because we are convinced by our memories that we are losers and will always fail. We do understand that we are never doomed, we are never failures. We are always works in progress and we all have the potential to change the world. The worst thing that can happen to you is allowing yourself to die inside while you’re still alive.

4. Love and self-worth must come from within.

When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from comparing yourself to others, you are no longer the master of your own destiny.  When we look at others, we disempower ourselves to them. When you feel good about something that you’ve done, don’t allow anyone’s opinions or accomplishments to take that away from you. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain — you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.

Stop looking for someone to make you happy. That is not their job. Your job is to be authentic, strong, caring, kind and considerate. When you have those qualities, you will be happy. So many people postpone their happiness because they are waiting for someone to do that for them. The truth is even if you find your soulmate, you will not be happy because they can’t make you happy. Most of us fantasize that someone will show up that do everything for us and be everything for us. Unfortunately, that is a fantasy because the universe does not revolve around us. When we love ourselves and have self-worth, it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. We are a bright light shining for everyone.

The other problem with looking for a soulmate is we limit our compassion and caring to that one person. We have a bigger role to play, we have to be kind and compassionate to all people. We have to love everyone equally, not just one person. Realize that our roles are much bigger than we know and our lives will expand to include what we want.

5. Your friends are your mirror to yourself.

Look at who you spend your time with. Are they friendly, supportive, kind, caring, inspiring and nurturing? If not, you need to look at your behavior and actions because they are probably reflecting who you are. Do you spend all of your time gossiping? Do you spend all of your time regreting and talking about the past? Do you endlessly and constantly criticise yourself and others? These are the bars of the jail cell you have built yourself in this world. Consider being what you want in your life. Be friendly, supportive, kind, caring, inspiring and nurturing. If your friends are reflecting what you want to change, change your friends. When we surround ourselves with people who are filled with negativity, that is what we have to deal with on a daily basis.

6. No one gets out of here alive.

Yes, we die, often before we are ready. Yet when someone dies unexpectedly it causes us to take stock of our own life — what’s really important, how we spend our time, and how we treat other people.

Remind yourself every morning when you wake up that each day is a gift, and you have to make the most of it. The moment you start acting like life is a blessing is the moment it will start acting like one. Despite the debate on what and where God is, the truth is we create the kind of day we live from the first waking breath. A great day begins with a great thought. Choose wisely.

7. Stop judging.

Life goes a lot smoother once you let go of negative emotions. When we judge something or someone to be bad, we are judging ourselves. Grudges and resentment let negative events from your past ruin today’s happiness. Hate and anger destroy your joy in life. In order to free yourself from negative thoughts and emotions, stop judging. Recognize that everyone is doing the best they can and everything that happens in life is a lesson. If someone cheats you or cheats on you, free yourself and thank them. If you leave a relationship or a job, it is the universe’s way of expanding your life and your awareness.  You now understand the pain of that experience and you are much wiser. If you are the cause of the event, take responsibility and accept the consequences of your actions.

No one is a victim. No one can force anyone to make decisions and take actions that run contrary to their values and aspirations. You created your past, just like you are creating your future. If you’re feeling stuck, it’s probably because you’re afraid to take the steps and change what is necessary to achieve your goals and live your dreams. Let go of your fear. It’s always better to be at the start of a path you want to be on than being at the end of one you don’t.

8. Forget the past.

It is our memories of the past which trap us in this false reality. No amount of guilt can change the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future. Mark Twain said, “Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.” It’s impossible to be happy if you’re constantly somewhere else, unable to fully embrace the reality (good or bad) of this very moment. Accept your past. If you don’t make peace with your past, it will never leave you and, in doing so, it will create your future. Accept the uncertainty of the future. There is a reason that we don’t know everything at once. Our heads would explode. The universe created time expressly for that reason, so everything would not happen at once. 

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

THE ART OF PREMA AGNI

            Many times we have conflict with people or ideas that make us suffer. Due to the fact that we don’t know how to properly respond to these conflicts, we suffer even more. We beat ourselves up because we don’t know what to do.  When we take action to avoid suffering and we don’t get the results we want, we suffer more. The path to enlightenment is concerned, in part, with the discovery of how to respond to conflict and adversity in a conscious way. We become aware of the thoughts that produce suffering, and how to deal with those thoughts. When a thought arises that causes suffering, the proper response to the thought is to love the thought. We can’t stop suffering by hating the suffering. This negative response only causes more suffering.

            The conscious way to deal with suffering is to contemplate the thought that is causing the suffering and to let go of it and all attachments to it. The thought might be that we are unworthy, unlovable, stupid or variations on those themes. The thought might be about how others are compared to us. The thought may be about how life is unfair or that God has abandoned us. We become attached to these thoughts and they become engrained in our subconscious. As long as they stay in our mind, we will suffer. When they surface into our conscious mind, we become enmeshed in the emotions that these thoughts cause and forget to deal with the thought itself.

            Thoughts are not real, no matter how attached we become to them. We are not our thoughts. When we can detach from our thoughts, we can let go of the emotions they create and stop suffering. When a thought arises, we need to be able to look at it as simply a thought and nothing more. It is an illusion, a neuron flashing on and off in our brain. It helps me to compare a thought to a cloud in the sky floating across the blue sky. The blue sky is my true self, the observer, and blissful awareness. The clouds that separate the mind from the blue sky can be wispy or hurricane forces depending on the nature of the thought. In all cases the thought is not the sky. When I do not allow myself to become attached to the thought, eventually it will float away like a cloud.

            Whenever I have a thought that causes suffering, such as judgments or critical thinking, I can either obsess on it or allow it to float away. When I obsess on it, it will stay in my consciousness for much longer periods of time, causing suffering like a radioactive isotope buried in my mind. There are ways to consciously remove these thoughts from my consciousness. One way to let go is to replace it with a pleasant thought, such as “cancel, I send love.” Every time a thought arises that causes me pain or suffering, I simply override it with “cancel, I send love.” This is a highly effective way to let go of thoughts.

            I like to use another technique as well, the technique of placing the thought, and the object of the thought, into a fire of purple and pink flame. I call this the Prema Agni flame (Prema Agni means “fire of divine love”).  I imagine that these flames burn and destroy the thought and what ever the thought was about. The flames are pleasant to the touch and do not hurt the thought or the object of the thought, simply removing them from my awareness and consciousness. I may have to do this repeatedly for a thought or an object that is particularly painful and is deeply engrained. However, eventually the thought will disappear and the suffering will be eliminated. For example, if we have to deal with an unpleasant person, or someone that is creating conflict, we can put that person in the fire of purple flame. Eventually that person will stop being unpleasant, we can resolve the issue or that person will disappear from our awareness. This technique is truly magical.

            I recently had an unpleasant encounter with someone that caused me to doubt myself and dislike that person. I put that person and all of the thoughts I was having with that person into the fire of Prema Agni flame and watched it all go up in smoke as an offering to the universe. In a relatively short period of time I was able to stop thinking about that person, think positively about myself and get over it.  I was amazed at how quickly this happened because I normally would obsess over this for days. Instead I processed these thoughts in a matter of minutes. Whatever suffering I was experiencing quickly stopped and I was able to return to a state of grace.

            There are other ways to deal with unpleasant, painful thoughts, but these two are the most effective way of dealing with them. When we practice these techniques, they will start to engage as soon as a thought flashes into our consciousness. This automatically avoids melodrama and suffering and allows us to respond in love, not react in fear. When we can stay grounded in these teachings, our lives become less stressful, chaotic and painful. When we can focus on these teachings, we begin to experience the nature of enlightenment. Enjoy!

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

THE MIRACLE OF A BROKEN HEART

            It is my experience that the ancient teachings (God) come to me in times of my greatest growth and help me to understand that everything is in my highest good. I had the sublime and transformational experience recently of not getting what (or who) I really, really, really wanted. Specifically, I met someone that I have a great deal in common with, and share many common beliefs, profoundly enjoy every minute with this person and was convinced that I had finally found my soul mate. The kicker was that this person is in a relationship that they are not willing to leave. So by not getting what I want, I got to feel the old familiar intense pain of a broken heart.

            The illusion of separation is greatest in these situations. Imagine someone who doesn’t even know of the existence of the illusion of separation who faces this situation. Most people would go into victimhood and depression. However, the teachings tell us that when we don’t get what we want, a space is opened up in our psyche that either causes our greatest suffering or gives us the opportunity to fill it with a connection with the divine. That part of the spiritual journey is called the dark night of the soul. We cry out to our higher self for comfort and guidance, and the cry is answered with peace and equanimity. Stated another way, a broken heart is one way God uses to come into our heart.

            I am well aware that the illusion of a broken heart is a melodramatic reaction to not getting my way and wishing life was different. It is an adult version of a temper tantrum.  The teachings state that the cause of all suffering is wishing life were different. So the truth of the phenomenon of any emotional trauma is that it is our reaction to not getting what we want. The path to enlightenment is paved with the stones of not getting what we want. After all, if we got what we wanted all of the time, there would be no motivation, no opportunity to change our beliefs about ourselves and grow.

            What is different about this experience is that realization that I caused it and am fully responsible for the lesson. The poor woman probably was not ready for a committed relationship (especially with me) but that did not stop me from building romantic castles in the air and making plans for our eternal bliss. She probably didn’t know what hit her. A full frontal assault from a highly spiritual Leo is daunting, I would imagine. Even more important is the lesson that we cannot find love outside of ourselves. By reaching outside of myself to find love in the form of this person I created in my own mind, I created this scenario. When the full light of the being that I am shined on this illusion, it evaporated like the morning dew.

            It is humbling at times to realize just how powerful we are. The uncomfortable question is how am I behaving in order to create this reflection of my heart? Do I disregard my feelings or not love myself the way I need? These are important questions for my own spiritual growth, for the people I encounter in my life are merely reflections of how I relate to myself. There is lots of food for contemplation from this experience.

            The most important question is how do I move on? I have decided that I will be open to whatever happens and look forward to seeing who I become after all of this. I find that as I move along the spiritual path, my feelings have become much more intense.  I feel joy and pleasure much more intensely as well as feeling loss and drama more intensely. If I were honest with myself I would admit that I saw this event coming. I saw the red flags and chose to ignore them. Obviously this was a lesson that was necessary for my spiritual growth (as are all of my experiences).  Everything is important in this experience. I am sure there are many more revelations to come. I do feel calmer, centered and grounded than before the experience, perhaps that was the purpose of the whole drama.

            I am reminded that one of the milestones of enlightenment is being able to be happy in my unhappiness.  Whenever we feel unhappy, or ask a question, that is our ego. Whenever we feel happy, that is our heart. When we can let go of our thoughts, to remember that we are not our thoughts, we can be still and feel the happiness. Everyone plays a role in this drama we call life. I am going to play my role, the role of happiness. 

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

STRENGTH

           Ah, a new day…a day of beginning, promise, hopes and plans. The day “resolutions” are born. Everyday we can remember the past and seek changes to improve our lives. My thoughts today are on strength. It is said that only the strong survive, but in this male dominated left-brain world, this is normally interpreted to mean the physically strong. So we lift weights, worship the low fat body, and exercise ourselves into a frothy lather trying to be strong in the way our egos, our left-brain, would have us be. Our society worships the male form without fat, muscles rippling, plainly defined. Interestingly enough, the male ideal form has not changed much over the millennium, while the female ideal changes over time. Now we worship emaciated models whose height/weight proportions are insane. I wonder if anyone has done a study on the life expectancy of a runway model. Fifty years ago society worshipped the Rubenesque form with the healthy curves of Marilyn Monroe or Jane Mansfield.

            I think the reason that we have seen these changes is due to the effect of civilization on the human psyche. When people became domesticated and lived together in large groups, certain beliefs started to manifest in males versus females. Roles were assigned by subconscious agreement; men assumed (grabbed?) the role of authority and survival and sacrificed their nurturing instincts. Women did the opposite, sacrificing their desire for survival and authority for the capacity to nurture. Thus we created the male dominated society.

            Today we see these roles changing, thank God. Women are becoming more empowered, taking on leadership roles in numbers unparalleled in history. Men are becoming more nurturing, willing to let women share the responsibility of leadership. Women gather to empower themselves, men gather to get in touch with their feelings. Slowly but surely we are becoming more balanced. In the far distant future perhaps we will become more androgynous, only time will tell.

            I agree that the strong will survive, but not the physically strong. The strength that will survive is strength of character, integrity, compassion and self-worth. It is said that the species that will survive is not the species with the strongest physical form; it is the species that is the most flexible with the ability to adapt. So unless we become more flexible, more compassionate and more caring about one another, we may in fact be replaced as the dominant species on the planet. It is not the strength of acquisition that will survive; it is the strength of sharing. It takes a much stronger person to sacrifice for the good of the people than someone to accumulate wealth.

            “Where does this strength come from?” one may ask. This strength arises from our undeniable ability to love one another. It comes from our focus on higher spiritual truths, that we are all connected and we have to put each other before ourselves. It is said that the wealth of the major churches/temples/sects/religions would feed every man, woman and child on this planet for thousands of years. I do not believe that God would approve of such hoarding. On an individual level, whenever we do not share our blessings, wealth and gifts, we also risk poverty of the spirit.

            So on this day, I resolve to think of others before myself. That is it. I don’t want to lose weight, I don’t want to learn a new sport, and I don’t want to accomplish anything other than to improve my connection with the God of my understanding. All of the major religions say this: be joy, be love, be compassionate, bring peace, and do no harm. This is the strength that will survive

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

SOULMATES

           One of the greatest misconceptions about love is the mythical “soulmate”. There are many theories, ideals, desires, expectations and illusions about love, and the idea that there is someone out there that will make our lives better and filled with love is misplaced. I recently read an article about the difference between “Soulmates” and “Life Partners”. The gist of the article was that soulmates motivate you to transcend to a higher level of consciousness and awareness while life partners support you and are in sync with your needs and wants.

            I wrote an award winning book a few years ago called “What is Love?” that looked at the illusions and delusions of the common beliefs about love and concluded that love is much different than what our society deems it to be. Ideal unconditional love is not about finding a compatable partner but loving those who hurt us the most so that we can learn that the hurt is just an illusion. At the highest levels of consciousness, there are no soulmates, ex-spouses, BFF or GFF because we are all one. The question is why do we yearn for someone to make us complete?

            The first issue anyone who is looking for someone must look at is whether they are seeking to replace a parent. People who felt abandoned or rejected by their parents are the most vulnerable when it comes to finding that “perfect person” who will make their life comfortable. I often joke about the fact that most people think a soulmate is someone who can’t say “no”. They want someone to cook their meals, be with them 100% of the time, satisfy their desires, be a Sunday School teacher by day and a prostitute at night. As proposterous as that may sound, if you scratch the surface of anyone that is desperately searching for their soulmate (in spiritual workshops or online), there is a ring of truth to that reality.

            The second issue people need to look at is why they feel they need a companion in the first place. There must be a reason that over 50% of all marriages end in divorce. What are we doing wrong? Are we that misguided or misinformed that the majority of relationships that at some point was perceived as “spiritual bliss” turns into someone’s worst nightmare. I was told at an early age that humans were naturally monogamous and marriages should last forever. Then I became a divorce lawyer and discovered that was a big lie.

            I want to write a “Marriage for Dummies” manual one day packed with sage advice for finding your soulmate and keeping him/her in your arms forever. It would be a great work of fiction, because people are people and they are always learning and growing. Each person is at a specific vibration at any one part of their life. By that I mean that their perspective and perception of the world is at a quantifiable level based on their level of happiness. Each person grows and evolves and their vibration changes. When two people start off at a compatible level, they seem to be well suited for each other. If they grow at different rates they will eventually part because people at different vibrations end up like fingernails on a blackboard. That is what is known as “growing apart”.

            The easiest way to find a soulmate is to not want one. Have you ever noticed that phenomenon? When we are desire-less, the universe will always provide what we need. When we resist what is happening in the current moment (also known as wishing things were different) we repel what we desire. When we let go of the desire of an object, the object of the desire has a tendency to show up. When we really really want something or someone, it seems like there is a barrier to their attraction. So the lesson is to let go of our desires. I am reminded of the old saying “be careful what you ask for because you may get it”. That is especially true for soulmates. The best advice is to just be. Don’t grasp for anyone. Don’t try to manipulate anyone. If we are not in a relationship, meditate on why that is. What are we supposed to learn? What are we supposed to work on?

            I believe that “soulmates” are ourselves. When we want someone to love us, that person needs to be us. When we want someone to take care of us, that should be us. When we want someone to complete us, that person should be us. The sooner we let go of this mythical ideal of “soulmates” and “life partners” and simply live our life with gratitude and wonder, the sooner we will be happy. Then you may meet someone that surprises you.

 

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

HATE TO LOVE

            I read an article about how one college’s students hates another college and its rival student body. This arises out of a sports rivalry spanning over one hundred years. My initial reaction was wondering how in the world we are going to have peace on this planet when even simple friendly sport competitions provokes hatred in the Bible belt. This is not merely a frivolous academic animosity; it breaks into violence from time to time. I observe with great compassion that there is something seriously ignorant and misguided if is this is what the institutions of higher learning are creating. It is rather obvious to anyone that looks that both sides to this emotional violence acts and behaves like mirror images of each other. When one side loses, the other side is “obnoxious or poor losers.”

            If one were to add family, ethnic and religious resentment to this emotional soup, it is no wonder that there is genocide occurring on this planet as I write this and you read it. I wonder if I am contributing to this suffering. If I believe the ancient wisdoms and teachings, if I can perceive it, I am creating it.

            When we say “I” followed by an emotion, we usually follow it with an object of that emotion. If we say “I love”, we usually direct that towards another person or idea, such as “I love you” or “I love America”. Similarly, when we say “I hate”, we direct that emotion towards someone or something, such as “I hate you” or “I hate intolerance.”

             The truth is there is no object for our emotion outside of us, because ancient wisdom states that all perception is projection. We perceive that there is something “out there” to project our emotions at, when it is only us projecting that emotion at us. In other words, when we say “I love you”, we mean “I love me.”  When we say, “I hate you”, we mean, “I hate me.” There is no “you”, there is only “me.” When we say, “I miss you,” we mean that “ I am missing me.” When we say, “I want/need you,” we mean “I want/need me.”

            We have to understand that what we project out into the world will manifest. When we get into the whole “I want…” manifestation illusion what we are projecting out into the world is our lack. When we buy into the “Secret of…” nonsense we are only creating more of what we are attempting to fill, i.e. unhappiness. Grace only comes to those with open and happy hearts, not to those who are trying to keep up with the Joneses. When we say, “I will not be happy until I have [fill in the blank]”, we project unhappiness and lack into the world. When we say “I don’t like [fill in the blank]”, we project rejection and denial into the world.

           The ultimate truth is there is no “you.” When we say, “I love you,” we mean “I am love.” When we say, “I hate you,” we mean “I am hate.” This, of course, is all an illusion that we create to make us realize that we are everything, there is nothing that is not us. The Muslims have a powerful prayer, “La ilaha ilallah,” which means, “There is nothing that is not God.”

            If we want peace, we have to apply it to our lives. It can’t start somewhere else; it has to start in our hearts. Whenever we think unkind or violent thoughts about someone or some situation, someone dies in a far away land on the other side of the planet. This is known in quantum physics and metaphysics as the “butterfly effect.” Thus, when a butterfly beats its wings in Japan, a hurricane is born in the Atlantic. Everything is connected, and to deny this is to live in ignorance. So when we think that someone is an “asshole,” this will have a very real consequence somewhere in our world and ultimately will come back to us, because we are really labeling ourselves with this epithet.

It would be so amazing if we stopped competing with each other and started cooperating instead. Peace might actually break out all around the planet.