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

THE PROBLEM WITH HEALERS

           The call begins when we work in the illusion of the material world. There is a nagging voice in the back of our mind that whispers constantly that we are destined for something more compassionate and meaningful in our lives. The work we are doing becomes boring, inconsequential, and unimportant. We could be lawyers, construction workers, clerks, 9 to 5’ers. We want to find meaning in life and start reading books on spirituality or enlightenment. We read stories about ordinary people who “wake up” with amazing healing powers or those who had them all along and only had to quit their day job and take the leap of faith to be of service to the world. So we go online and find a teacher who beckons to us to leave the material world and jump into the bright lights of the spiritual world. So we screw up our courage and take the leap of faith our hearts have lead us to take.

            So we quit our day job, learned a new healing technique, and are ready to heal the world. We may or may not attract a lot of clients. The numbers are irrelevant. The important thing is that we are following our passion, and we are on the spiritual path. Whether we have success with our healing techniques is irrelevant because of the eastern philosophical truth that we must be detached from the fruits of our labor, the effort is its own reward. When we become attached to the outcome of our healing practice or how much we earn, suffering will surely follow. When we subject ourselves to constant suffering, the art of healing begins to lose its luster and that day job starts to wax in the light of nostalgia.

            So we join healing circles, prayer circles, the Association of the Galactic Light Workers Local No. 111-1. We spend our (now) free time sending healing energy to those who have never heard of us and definitely don’t want it. We meditate and emanate for the injured and starving of the world, the riots in Egypt, conflicts that never seem to cease around the globe. It never gets any better. Then we decide that we need more training or a different teacher to jump start our careers and to get the money flowing in, because the savings account is looking a little bare. So we take the last of our savings to attend the weeklong advanced student Grand Convention of Evolved Light Beings, certain that this will transform our lives into bliss and financial security. We become 12th degree masters of the shining sword of Isis knowing that this will guaranty our enlightment and omniscience. Our lives may improve; they may not. The problem is that there are some spiritual principles (teachings) that they don’t tell us when we take Spiritual Healing 101.

(1) DOUBT.   Doubt is the great ego weapon that keeps us in suffering no matter what we do. We could be in our day job, a relationship, a beginning healer or a needy client. If the healer holds any doubt about their ability then they can forget about helping their clients. We need to do the best we can with reverence and respect. If they heal, great! If they don’t heal and accuse you of being a fake, great! It is all about having an experience. It has nothing to do with the client. If the client has doubt, that is beyond our control. There is nothing we can do about it. Depending on the level of our doubt, they can be healed or not. We could be the greatest healer ever born on the planet and we still would not be able to help someone with enough doubt. So get ready, we will not heal anyone that doesn’t want it or doesn’t believe in it.

(2) DESTINY.  If it is our destiny to be a healer, we will be provided for. If it is not our destiny to be a healer, it doesn’t matter how hard we work, train, meditate, practice or want it, the universe will let us know we need to be elsewhere. It is hard to remember sometimes that it is the ego that tells us we need to be healers. It is the ego that tells us that our day job isn’t good enough. It may be that we have a strong urge to be a healer, we have psychic powers, or we talk to dead people. That is the ego talking. The only purpose I have ever found for us to be on this planet is to play the game of life and have fun doing it. We get further down the life path when we help other people without expectation of reward or recognition.  We do it just because that is part of the plan. The world needs clerks, lawyers, nurses, construction workers, cab drivers, too. The world needs a lot more spiritual lawyers, politicians, judges, soldiers, and police, than it needs more spiritual healers.

(3) WE ARE NOT THE DOER.  We do not heal anybody. What we do is hold space and time for our clients to heal themselves. That is why doubt is such a block to healing. If the client is lazy or is invested in being sick (even if they swear they want to heal), they will not heal. The fact that we need the fee more than we want to practice spiritual integrity makes us do the healing anyway and then we feel inept or unworthy when they don’t heal. If we know the client won’t heal because they don’t want to heal, and we do a healing anyway, suffering is sure to follow.

(4) DON’T GIVE A HEALING TO SOMEONE WHO HASN’T ASKED FOR IT. This is the biggest trap we fall into. We all feel for those less fortunate than us, but to take action and send a healing to someone that doesn’t know we are doing it or has asked for it activates the ego and causes great suffering. The first thing we forget that those who are suffering, including us, created all of the suffering of the world. This is their karma and there are consequences for those who interfere with the orderly operation of karma. If we interfere with the operation of karma, it has to go somewhere, and it goes to us. So the next time we want to go send healing to someone we don’t know and haven’t been asked to heal, get ready, because the karma that caused their suffering will come to our door. Are you ready for that? If we want to help those people, then we must heal ourselves and stop looking at the problem. We have to fill ourselves with love and allow grace to radiate out from our hearts to those that need it. That is far more effective than healing circles or meditation groups who send healing out into the world.

(5) COMMON SENSE OVER SPIRITUAL SENSE.  The reality is there are a lot of healers competing for client dollars. Hopefully in the years to come we will see these healers pulling together in a cooperative way to provide services to those that need it. Until then, understand that very few people get rich in the spiritual world. That is the nature of the spiritual world, it detaches from the material world. So if you don’t have the resources, don’t quit your day job! If you are in a relationship, it is a fact that a lot of relationships end when one or both members start evolving. It does happen that both members of the relationship can evolve at the same rate and stay together. I hope that is so for you.

          Enlightenment comes to those who call for it. It is our birthright. We do not need to quit our day jobs and join a monastery or cloister. We do not have to be psychic or see stuff other people don’t see.  Most of that stuff is the ego anyway. The best way to live an enlightened life is to help those who ask, be compassionate, listen sincerely, speak kindly to others and smile. I am always surprised how many people help others and them by doing that. 

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

TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR A HAPPY LIFE

INTRODUCTION

            I had a conversation on Facebook not too long ago with a fundamentalist Christian who was praising her son for killing his first deer.  I took the position that the Bible commandment that says, “Thou shalt not kill,” includes animals. I was surprised by how many people disagreed with me. So I have been contemplating how to rewrite the Ten Commandments using ancient philosophies and wisdom I have learned from my teachers. I have come up with a new list for the “new age.”

(1)       SEE GOD IN EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING. 

This is especially true for people that do not behave the way we want. If we can apply the teaching that there is nothing that is not God, perhaps we can begin to be more loving to these people.This commandment applies to us too. We have to remember that God is in us as well as everything else. If we can focus on our divinity, we will be more likely to act Godlike.

(2)       SEE YOURSELF IN EVERYONE. 

Everyone is a mirror for everyone else. The good we see in people is the good that we have in us. The evil we see in others is the evil that we have in us. By keeping this commandment, we can practice compassionate detachment. When we see ourselves in others, we can understand each other better and recognize the connection that exists between us all.

(3)       ACCEPT THAT ALL PERCEPTION IS PROJECTION. 

Oftentimes we are quick to find fault or criticize what we are experiencing. We have to understand that what we experience is largely based on what we perceive about our life. If we are focusing on the negative, that is what we will experience. If we are focusing on the positive, that is what we will experience.

(4)       BE WITHOUT JUDGMENT.

 It is our nature to judge. We are trained to judge, through our educational systems, by our employers, by Hollywood, by our religions. Judgment is a function of our ego and creates the illusions of right/wrong, good/bad, and pleasure/pain. Judgment compares us to others and prevents us from being truly happy. By practicing non-judgment we can experience happiness.

(5)       TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.

 Whether we like it or not, we are the creator of our own reality. Whether we create the perception that colors our reality or we create the events that we perceive as good or bad, we create our reality with our actions, words and thoughts. There is nothing that we perceive that we did not create. When we take responsibility for what we get, we can seek to change what is creating it.

(6)       DO NO HARM. 

Whether by our thoughts, words or deeds, oftentimes we create great harm without even knowing it. As we become more and more aware of what is happening in our lives, we can start to see the patterns and connections between our thoughts, words and actions to what we experience. If we think an unkind thought, whether about others, or ourselves we do harm. If we say an unkind word, whether about others, or ourselves we do harm. If we inflict harm either intentionally or unintentionally, we do harm. We cannot continue to ignore the harm we commit through our unkindness. Gossip is a prime example of doing harm with our thoughts and words. Gossip can hurt and harm just as quickly and surely as a rifle bullet. All living creatures deserve respect and support. When we harm any living thing, we harm ourselves.

(7)       GIVE AWAY WHAT WE WANT.  

Most of us want happiness, abundance, safety and kindness. We have to give this away to receive it. When we take more than we need and hoard it, we prevent any further happiness, abundance, safety or kindness from coming to us.  When we open up and lead by example, the universe will respond. The illusion of separation is created by selfishness. When we can be unselfish, we begin to connect more deeply with each other and dissolve the illusion of separation.

(8)       BE GRATEFUL FOR EVERYTHING.

It is easy to be grateful when we get what we want.  Being grateful when we don’t get what we want is a act of grace. When combined with non-judgment, we begin to recognize that what we want is just an illusion. It is easy to be grateful and graceful for everything that happens in our lives when we apply this teaching. When we are grateful of whatever we experience, we avoid the operation of Karma.

(9)       LOVE YOURSELF (GOD).  

When we love ourselves, we do not criticize our past, we do not feel inadequate, and we do not allow negative feelings to dwell in our hearts. We do not experience fear of the future; we only experience excitement about all of the possibilities. When we are not distracted by self-criticism, we can focus on serving others.  We do not blame others and we can see the truth in every situation. All happiness lies in loving ourselves and is not dependant on getting our way.  Happiness will not be found in someone else, and whatever others think is none of our business.

(10)     MASTER OUR THOUGHTS.

We may not be able to control what thoughts go through our conscious and subconscious minds, but we can choose what we focus our minds on. We can focus on positive thoughts or negative thoughts. If we do not resist the thoughts that go through our minds and remember to focus on positive thoughts, we will perceive life as a positive experience. This requires effort and discipline. We cannot master our thoughts by ourselves, we need teachers to help us focus and train our minds. Seek out an appropriate teacher to guide and train our thoughts. How we live our lives matters.  We can seek happiness or misery. How we think in every moment determines which one we experience.

I am sure that others can come up with other ideals and principles to add to this list. It is a starting point to raise our consciousness to higher levels necessary for the future. It is my intention to rise above religious dogma and separation, and to find the spiritual principles that will carry us into the new age. You may wish to make up your own list for the future. Best wishes for enlightenment!

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

MASTER YOUR EMOTIONS TO MASTER YOUR LIFE

          Many people want to know the secret of life. The answer lies in mastering your emotions. How you experience life, both in the workplace and at home, depends on this. Consciously deciding how you feel will determine the quality of your life. Whenever people talk about mastery or taking control of their lives, one aspect of that process is to control emotions. This does not mean ignoring or suppressing emotions, it means controlling how we feel about our life from moment to moment. Emotions are states of feeling caused by our mind to deal with events that are happening in our life. How we respond to daily events, whether they are catastrophic or mundane, determines whether we are happy masters of our lives or suffering victims.

          Emotions are based upon our core beliefs, or how we view the world and ourselves on the most basic level. For example, if we believe we are defective in some way, we will probably react to stimuli with fear or anger. If we believe that we are unlovable, we will probably experience sadness and rejection. If we believe everything  happens for a reason, we will probably experience peace.

          The most basic negative emotions, fear, anger, envy, shame and grief, are generated in the reptilian brain—the most primitive part, or the fight or flight center. Higher, more positive emotions such as love, joy, gratitude and peace are generated in the frontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for reasoning and creative thoughts, with hundreds of secondary and tertiary emotions that arise from these basic emotions.

          Many people believe that we are victims of our emotions, unable to control how we feel.  Not true. We can control how we feel and what we feel in any given moment. We can determine how we feel by being better aware of our beliefs, thoughts and emotions, and how they are interconnected and interact. Researchers have discovered hundreds of identifiable emotions on a spectrum, determined by the vibration or frequency of the emotion, or “how they make us feel”. At the top is enlightenment and the bottom is shame. A sample of this spectrum is:

  • Enlightenment (Ultimate consciousness)
  • Peace
  • Joy
  • Love
  • Reason
  • Acceptance
  • Willingness
  • Neutrality
  • Courage
  • Pride
  • Anger
  • Desire
  • Fear
  • Grief
  • Apathy
  • Guilt
  • Shame

          We can go up and down this spectrum consciously with our thoughts. What we think determines how we feel. This is because the mind determines how to react to the thoughts and beliefs running around in our conscious and subconscious minds. The mind has learned that by creating emotions, its chances of surviving perceived threat is much greater. Thus fear motivates us to fight or flee in the face of threat. When the mind is experiencing bliss, it becomes focused on other aspects of life and is not subject to false perception of danger. So if we use thoughts comparing ourselves to others, wishing things were different, blaming others, we will go down the spectrum. If we think thoughts of gratitude, love, acceptance and kindness, we go up, and feel a higher emotions’ correlating vibration.

          Remember that we are not our beliefs, thoughts or even emotions. They are all products of our mind, and can be controlled with discipline and practice. As long as we don’t attach to our beliefs, thoughts and emotions, these products of our mind can be quite entertaining. If we attach to them, life can become quite difficult.

          So when you’re working, relating to others, exercising or walking down the street, be aware of the thoughts going through your mind, because that will determine how you feel. We can change our thoughts much easier than we can change our emotions. By focusing on positive aspects of our circumstances, we will experience more positive emotions. When we concentrate on what we are grateful for, we will feel more grateful. If we concentrate on how we can help someone, rather than what we are getting out of a situation, we will feel more worthy and valuable. How will you choose to feel?

          Other techniques that have proved helpful in raising our vibration and thus, emotional state include:

o   Breathing techniques

o   EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)

o   EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitivation & Reprocessing)

o   The Havening Techniques

o   Meditation

o   Contemplation

o   Mantras

o   Compassion

o   Professional psychological therapy

o   Alternative healing (to heal wounded inner child)

o   Be empowered (stop disempowering yourself)

o   Be present (stop living in the past or future)

o   NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) – Pattern interrupts/anchors

o   Exercise

o   Yoga

o   Laughter

o   Help someone else/service

You can learn more about mastery, these techniques and much more with me on Get Real Radio.  Tune in live on Fridays at 11 am PST / 2pm EST / 6pm GMT. Visit the archives here.

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

APPLYING THE TEACHINGS

As we enter the spring of 2015, we are excited about the new energies that are surrounding us with hope and renewal. Time is definitely shifting, expanding and contracting at faster and faster rates. This shifting can be a cause of great joy or conversely, great concern. It is an opportunity to redefine oneself and grow.

Derek O’Neill talks about the need for all of us to quit giving lip service to the teachings (ancient wisdom) and to start applying them. For myself, it took a lot of trial and error to understand what it actually means to “apply the teachings.” I have heard people proclaim that they are applying the teachings and then complain about their spouse/lack of spouse, clients/lack of clients, job/lack of job, friends/lack of friends and other topics.

I am no expert what that term “applying the teachings” means, but I believe I have found some of the steps to applying the teachings. The warning signs that I am “not applying the teachings” include dissatisfaction, loneliness, anxiety, fear, boredom, resentment, jealousy, shame, blame and guilt. The teachings help us heal these experiences so that they don’t have to be repeated. Some of the steps of “applying the teachings” are as follows:

(1)           Quit blaming anyone for your circumstances. We are the creator of our reality. Since we created it, we can change it.

(2)           Quit talking about our “dysfunctional” childhood. There is no such thing as a “dysfunctional” family. After all, our families got us here, didn’t they? If we even think that word we are in victim consciousness.

(3)           If someone has abused or hurt us, thank them. If we are up to it, we might even forgive them.

(4)           Don’t talk about others unless we are praising them. When we gossip, that is rejecting the teachings.

(5)           Keep a journal of all the people we have served on a daily basis. If we have any days that we don’t serve someone, be sure to do it the next day.

(6)           Remember that people who upset or hurt us were brought by us into our life for our enlightenment. This is especially true for “spiritual” friends and family.

(7)           Are we thinking negative thoughts or positive thoughts? What we think creates our reality. Be aware that we have at least 64,000 thoughts per day, and that they usually fall into two categories: thoughts of attachment and aversion. If you have a negative thought, simply say to yourself, “Cancel, I send love.” This will erase the Karma created by the negative thought.

(8)           Keep our eyes on our teacher and do our duty.  All will be well if we remember that one teaching.

(9)           Stop expecting rewards for our actions. What we get in life is the result of our actions (karma) sometimes lifetimes in the past. We are sowing the seeds of our future at any given moment. Happy seeds grow much better than angry or fearful seeds. There is no such thing as instant gratification.

(10)        Forget about “speaking our truth” and “standing in our power.”  Oftentimes that is just a disguise for insisting on being right and arrogance.  Be humble, forgiving and kind.

(11)        Above all, service, service, service.

As we go into this landmark year, make it the best year of our life! Some days will be better than others, and our application of the teachings is sometimes better one day than others. That is what makes life so exciting, don’t you think?

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

PRACTICING NON-VIOLENCE

             I had an experience with another driver several years ago. The driver had tailgated me for miles, and then passed me on the right of a four lane local road and cut me off at an intersection. I blared my horn at him to let him know how much I did not appreciate his aggressive driving. He got out of his car and started screaming at me and I actually thought I might have to defend myself. The traffic light turned green and he got back in his car and drove off at a dangerously high speed.

            Why did I create this event for my own enlightenment?  Ah, now there is the interesting question. I have to take responsibility for the fact that I create conflict with others in order to create attention. I did not have to blare my horn. The karma of that driver’s aggressive driving would catch up to him sooner than later. My superficial purpose was to help him see where he might need to look at his behavior. That is the superficial rationalization of a lot of my behavior. In fact, I was failing to realize that people I claim to want to help are only mirroring back to me what I need to change about my behavior.

            When we were children, we quickly found out that if we didn’t get attention by getting good grades and behaving politely, we could get attention by acting out, throwing temper tantrums, and eventually behaving in an anti-social manner. I am guilty of all of the above. I am an over-achiever with a guilt complex. Being a very clever fellow I have reduced my anti-social behavior and only occasionally throw temper tantrums in the privacy of my head. Instead, I subtly create conflict so that people have to pay attention to me. I could pass it off as being a type-A Leo, but hanging around spiritual teachers has forced me to look at my behavior and motivations more closely.

            It has been pointed out to me that one of my subtle forms of negative behavior is telling inappropriate jokes and making inappropriate comments that on some level I know will offend others. Up until now I rationalized this behavior by thinking I was helping people see where their issues were, known as pushing their buttons. I even thought I was being funny. Actually I was engaged in a very subtle violence towards people I said I loved. At times it became an art form of emotional terrorism. Now that I am aware of it, I have stopped this. This doesn’t mean that I will stop telling jokes. What it means is that I have to raise my level of self-analysis regarding the appropriateness of my behavior and my motivation.

            Another means of unconscious violence is gossip. When we pass judgment upon others with another person, we are conducting a violent campaign against the energy of that person that is really just a mirror of ourselves. I make every effort not to gossip about others, but sometimes I fall into the trap of character assassination. I rationalize it by pretending concern about the other person or “gathering information.” I know instantly when I realize that I am gossiping because I get a sick feeling in my stomach. Maybe I am starting to understand that I am talking about a reflection of myself.

            The piece that was missing was the realization that I was actually committing the violence against myself. I did not realize that when people state that my articles, behavior or jokes offended them, I was actually talking to myself.  I did not understand that when I was talking about someone else I was really talking about myself. There is the subtlest form of self-destruction, committing violence against myself and not even realizing it.  I kept missing this aspect of my behavior.  Spiritual principles state that what we become aware of will change. What we are not aware of will not change. I am truly aware that this behavior must change. The only way to take advantage of spiritual teachings is to apply them. Applying them means ending violence against myself. Then I can go on to the next issue.

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

BE THE HERO IN YOUR OWN STORY

Many times I see people who are stressed out, unhappy, overwhelmed, angry and afraid. And these are the “spiritual” people. I have to ask myself “What isn’t working?” Then I see people who are happy, self-aware, and enjoying their life. I have to ask myself, “What is working?” The interesting thing is, from outward appearances, there is no rhyme or reason really as to who is happy and who isn’t. Lack of money is blamed for many ills; however, I have met a number of people who have no money and are full of life and love without stress.  So money obviously is not the key. I meet people who blame the people they love for their woes; however, I have met people who are not in relationship who are happy and content. So whether you are in a relationship or not is not the key.

The one common denominator that is shared by all of the happy people and lacking in the unhappy people is a sense of self, the acceptance of who they are. The happy ones do not want to be different; they do not want their life to be different. They are enjoying what they have and don’t care about what they don’t have. They understand that they are constantly growing and changing. They are doing the best they can and that is good enough. They do not look for validation outside of themselves and do not care what anybody else thinks about them.

A hero can be defined as someone who does what is best for the common good no matter the risk, danger or cost. The definition of “common good” gets to be a little tricky because it is so subjective. Morals, ethics, politics and judgment will always make “common good” a shifting ideal. I believe that the common good is anything that helps us to evolve to be divinely inspired beings who put others before us. It takes quite a bit of courage to stand up to a gossip, or your friends when you believe them to be acting against the common good. It takes more courage to be who we think we are, regardless of what public opinion might think about it.

One of the biggest challenges I see with people today is that they are unwilling or afraid to stand up for what they think is best for themselves and others. It could be that they are afraid of losing friends or employment; there is always something that is blocking their willingness to think of others before themselves. In a metaphysical sense, they have bought into the concept that they are separate from everyone and everything else and they can do whatever they want without consequences. However the consequences are inevitable and usually take the form of misery and suffering.

Most of us have some concept of what a hero is. What we don’t have a handle on is what our story is. Even worse, we let people tell us what our story should be.  Basically, our story is whatever we believe about ourselves to be true. We can be victims of our childhood suffering from emotional scars; or we can forget all of our baggage from the past and focus on who we are right now. Our story is whatever we want it to be. The biggest story of all is whether we are happy or not; whether we are the result of our past or the creation of what we believe to be true. Whenever someone asks “tell me about yourself” or “who are you?”  The answer is “MY STORY.”  Our past is only the training ground to be the hero of our story. If we are happy, we are the heroes. When we suffer, we are not.

The highest metaphysical/spiritual teaching is that we create our experiences, perceptions and reality. We create this individually, as a family, community, nation and world. The reality of a street beggar in India appears to be far different than the reality of the people who created Facebook. However, there is one thing in common between the two. They both are creating their experience for their own enlightenment. The street beggar has an illusion that his/her life is either easy or hard, while a multi-billionaire has an illusion that his/her life is easy or hard. The amazing thing is that the street beggar may be happy and the billionaire may be miserable. It depends on who understands that their reality is a self-created illusion and it is all good.

For me, to be a hero in my own story means that I have to take responsibility for my thoughts, words and actions and understand that whatever I am experiencing has a purpose. The purpose for my reality and the purpose of your reality is exactly the same. It is to be happy no matter what and to understand that we are experiencing the same thing viewed through different perspectives. If I am not getting what I want, then to be happy I have to change one fundamental belief. I have to want what I have. This takes a lot of discipline and courage and many people are too lazy to do this. The street beggar can be happy because (s)he accepts life as it is and doesn’t want anything else. The ironic thing is that when they become happy, God will smile and life will change. Here is the absolute truth about being a hero; sometimes it takes more effort to be happy than it does to suffer.

Sometimes being a hero means showing up and giving 100% of myself to whatever is happening at the moment. It might mean letting someone else have that parking space I was waiting for five minutes to get because I can walk. It might mean letting someone in line ahead of me because they are obviously in a hurry. It might mean being kind to someone that isn’t. It might mean doing everything simply because that is who we are, without expectation or desire for reward.

Where and who you are is the result of all your past decisions. Probably the most valuable asset we have is our smile. When we can genuinely smile in the face of challenges and fear, we will always win and be happy. When we can genuinely smile through pain and despair, we are the hero.

 

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

THE MOST POWERFUL FORCE IN THE WORLD

           I used to think that the most powerful energy in the world is love. There were many reasons for this, as love changes everything. Love is the creative aspect to creation, it is the energy that flows through us all, it is life. The love of the creative energy of the universe created us, sustains us, renews us. After experiencing true happiness, I now believe that there is a stronger force, the force of happiness.

            If love is the cause, happiness is the effect. Happiness is the end result of loving ourselves unconditionally. Happiness is the result of loving our lives, not only the pleasant events but also the unpleasant stuff. Happiness is not only getting what we want, it is the wanting what we get. Just as love underlies all of our awareness and consciousness, happiness is the foundation of bliss. I believe that we are programmed and hardwired with happiness at our core, the problem is we are easily distracted by fear, anger, guilt, shame, blame and other negative emotions and thoughts. If we can let go of these negative experiences we can reconnect with our core happiness.

            Happiness is an experiential concept. It is not something to intellectualize, it is not something that you can “fake it until you make it.” You either feel happy or you don’t. Once you feel happiness, you know what it is and you can return to that state by quieting your mind. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to meditate or become completely thoughtless, but it does mean that you have to focus on the feeling of happiness over all other distractions.

            I believe that children are born naturally happy. When we trust that we will be taken care of and we believe that we are loved, then we feel happy. This is our natural state of being. At some point most of us experience trauma in our lives in the form of abuse that distracts us from our natural state of happiness. We create defense mechanisms to avoid any more trauma, however, these defense mechanism also distract us from our natural state of happiness. We fear others, we suppress anger and guilt, we deny our feelings, and we feel unworthy or invalid.

            There is a way back to our natural state of happiness. It requires trust and faith that we are not victims and that the divine creator knew what he/she was doing when it created us. First and foremost, we have to love ourselves. It is impossible to feel happiness if we do not love our lives and ourselves. If we love our lives and ourselves, we accept that everything will be okay and remember that everything changes with time. If we are not experiencing pleasure at any given moment, we are not concerned because we know that will change. If we detach from the pleasure and pain, we can start to get down to the underlying natural state of happiness.

            Our lives may be difficult or challenging at the moment. We are fully aware that the challenges are difficult and we may not know how things will turn out. If we are in denial, we ignore the lessons we have come to learn by creating our challenges, while if we are happy we fully embrace the challenges as rungs in the ladder to enlightenment. We become happy for ourselves no matter what happens and our circumstances are irrelevant.

            The biggest block to happiness is the illusion that if we are not getting what we want then we can’t be happy. We all were programmed from birth with beliefs by our parents, teachers and peers regarding what we want in life. If we don’t get what we want, we are programmed to suffer, especially by feeling that we are doing something wrong. We must let go of this programming and understand that happiness arises when we accept that what is happening is for our greater good. We can be happy that we have challenges because they make us strong.

            I received an email the other day from someone who had made the observation that most spiritual teaching these days are from people who are rich or live in great abundance. He wanted to know what good these teachings would do for people who struggle to survive from one meal to the next. My observation is that people who live in poverty often are happier than people who live in abundance. At least the people who live in poverty understand that happiness does not depend on material possessions or wealth. It is easier to accept this lesson when you are in poverty than if you live in the USA and are surrounded by material wealth. There is a spiritual truth that happiness may be easier to find on an empty belly than a full one.

            Finding happiness requires one to dig very deep under core beliefs and illusions to love us no matter what. That is the true nature of a spiritual path. Happiness is the goal that we all seek. Once we find it, it is easy to hold on to. We can be rejected, abandoned or abused, and we realize how artificial and illusory those concepts are. Happiness is what we all want. Where we become differentiated is how we believe we will find it. When we realize that all it takes is the love of self, we do not need the houses, cars, bank accounts or soul mates to be happy. We cease to suffer and begin to enjoy life. I am beginning to believe that enlightenment is the connection to this state of being.

            When we are happy we are connected to our higher self and our divinity. When we disconnect from our higher self and divinity we are unhappy. This is the easy and simple litmus test of our connection to God. I like to imagine that when we are in our hearts, we are happy. When we are in our heads, we often are not.  So when people say that the longest journey is from our heads to our hearts, what they are really saying is the longest journey is from suffering to happiness. However, even though the journey may seem long, it is easy. All we have to do is allow ourselves to be happy, love ourselves unconditionally and stop the nonsense in our heads. Let it be, let it be, let it be.

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

EMOTIONAL MATURITY

           By definition, the longer we live on this planet, we have to get older. There are various physiological changes that we experience as we go through the process of aging. Ignoring the legends of immortal beings that walk the planet, we all grow older physically. Genetics, supplements, a positive attitude, plenty of water, exercise and healthy diets can help us look young as long as possible, but the best we can expect is a cause of death that reads: “died of advanced age.” I remember the slogans, “live fast, die young.”  Now that I am over 60, I look forward to my life well after 100 years of age.

            Even though physical maturity is inevitable, emotional maturity is not. I observe that many people with emotional and mental suffering are stuck in their emotional growth process somewhere in their adolescent years. Greed, immaturity, fear, blame, shame, resentments, anger, confusion and suffering are all signs of arrested emotional growth.  When we get stuck in our emotional development, we cease to learn how to take responsibility for our actions and our lives. We get stuck at the point of some trauma that happens in our life that we don’t know how to let go of or to process. Abuse, death of loved ones, an unkind word or a fearsome event can all cause arrested emotional development. When we stop growing emotionally, life becomes overwhelming.

            Many psychologists believe that we go through stages of development in our physical life. These stages are youth, adolescence, young adults, adults, and elders. You will notice that even though there are ages assigned to these stages, everyone is different and some people can appear to stay younger longer than others. However, we have to go through these stages eventually.

            Emotion development also goes through stages, and if we are healthy the emotional development matches physical development. I believe that we go through the emotional stages of helplessness and need, formation of personality, fear and suffering, responsibility and acceptance, and finally, peace. Again, although we all start at the state of helplessness and need, these stages are not age specific. We all have probably met people who are stuck in one of these stages.

           Trauma and training have a lot to do with where we are in these stages. If we suffer trauma of abuse (sexual, physical, emotional) we will get stuck in the fear and suffering stages. We believe that life is unfair, hard and dangerous. We all know people who are stuck in this stage. With help and guidance we can all grow through the fear and suffering stage into the acceptance and responsibility phase.

          When we experience fear, anger, shame, blame, guilt, and other negative emotions, it is because we are stuck in some aspect of our emotional development. Let me give you an example I recently experienced. I was counseling a person whose former spouse died. The couple had divorced because of the years of abuse one heaped upon the other. Someone had told my client that the former spouse may have been schizophrenic which may have caused them to act out all those years.

          My client had latched onto that backseat diagnosis and started blaming him or herself that if they had been more observant they could have gotten the abusive spouse help and saved the marriage. I was dumbfounded by the acrobatic logic this person had used to feel guilty and take total blame for the divorce. I asked some more questions and discovered that the person was actually blaming himself or herself for the abuse they had suffered, sort of a “battered spouse” syndrome.  It was quite enlightening to see how this person insisted that they were to blame for their former spouse’s abuse because they should have seen the mental illness and gotten the former spouse help.

          I started asking myself “how would an emotionally mature person handle this situation?” My opinion of that was that an emotionally mature person may have grieved the passing of someone they loved for a long time, but would not have taken responsibility for the abuse in the marriage. It appeared that the client’s taking on the guilt of not being “all knowing and all seeing” was a bit like playing God.

          True emotional maturity involves taking responsibility for your actions, not the actions of others. If we have to protect ourselves, emotional maturity means we do not feel guilty about that. If we find out something later that might have changed our earlier decisions, we do not beat up ourselves about that. We simply accept the lesson and go on about our lives as happily as possible.

           I contend that to be truly emotionally mature is to be happy. Certainly life has its experiences and we do not need to be “Pollyannaish”, but when we learn a lesson in life we can be grateful for the insight and change our behaviors. Life is always about course corrections. We keep going on our journeys until we learn new ways of thinking and acting and we change our course and behavior accordingly. We do not need to know everything that will happen in the future, we just need to know what we are going to do for the next few minutes.

           When we want to drive from Florida to Washington State, we do not need headlamps that will light up the whole way. All we need is headlamps that will light up the next one hundred feet. Emotional maturity means that when we come upon a bend in the road or an intersection, we make the necessary course correction that will get us to where we want to go. That can be all the way to Seattle or the next one hundred feet, whichever brings comfort.

            Similarly, emotional maturity brings happiness and fulfillment no matter what we are doing. We do not need to know our life purpose, the reason we are here. All we need to know is what we are going to do for the next few minutes, hour or day. Everything else is a great deal of speculation. We can be happy and fulfilled being a doctor, lawyer, or shaman. We can be happy being a baker, banker, barber or masseur. When we reach emotional maturity, we understand that what we do has nothing to do with how we feel.  If we are emotionally mature, we have the discipline to do the things that keep us healthy and feeling happy and to not do the things that cause us suffering. This is the blueprint that everyone is looking for.

            I have a spiritual teacher that is forever telling me to “get over it.” I have learned that really means, “Grow up.”  When I grow up, I want to be happy.

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

THE WORKSHOP OF NOT GOING TO A WORKSHOP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A NEW LOVE

Spring is the time of mating, regeneration and rebirth. Winter has fled and summer approaches. Sap is rising in the trees and blossoms, new leaves, and growth surrounds us. For single people, thoughts turn to romance. For people in relationship, thoughts turn to rejuvenation. The reality of today’s culture is that many people are also beginning or finishing the long process of divorce and separation. The global rate of divorce is at an all time high, and no country is immune to its effects.

Whether one believes in all of the metaphysical pronouncements of shifting energy, or not, the truth is that the old way of relationship just isn’t working (if it ever did). In the past, economic hardships kept our ancestors in their marriages or relationships. Today, the younger generations consider a relationship just as disposable as cans and bottles. What is it that we are doing wrong? Why is it that relationships are not working anymore? Have we just become more superficial and impatient?

Having been single for many years, I have had a chance to reflect on what works and doesn’t work in relationships. I was a divorce lawyer for many years, and noticed what caused marriages to fail and prosper. I ended up writing a book, “What is Love?” to talk about what I had learned about relationships. Since I wrote that book, I have had a chance to reflect more on what makes a successful relationship and what causes a relationship to fail. I also have had the opportunity to study with Derek O’Neill and other spiritual teachers and have formed a short list of what is necessary for a healthy, vibrant relationship.

(1)  LOVE IS NOT ENOUGH: We often are attracted to people that we believe are our soul mates. The desire is intense, the intention to live together forever sincere. This attraction is difficult to live with, we think of our love every minute and grieve when we are apart. However, we have to use our common sense. Sometimes we feel attracted to people we will never have compatibility. When the initial biological attraction fades, we sometimes wake up to the fact we are committed to someone that does not support us or want us. We have to use our logical brains to balance the emotional attraction. We can love someone deeply but we do not have to marry him or her or even have a long-term relationship. Move slowly and understand the person before you commit.

(2)  RESPONSIBILITY:  Both parties must understand what they are experiencing is being created by them for their enlightenment. When we don’t get what we want, we have to understand that what we want is only our belief systems getting in the way of our relationship. We should take a very hard look at what is more important, our beliefs or the relationship. Usually there are two possible responses to any circumstance: (a) love/heart or (b) ego/mind. For example, what if your partner says they will do something and then changes their mind. Do you get upset or do you accept your partner as doing the best they can? On the occasions where we get really disappointed, we need to look at whether we had unrealistic expectations in the first place. In the final analysis, we have to take responsibility for feeling bad about something. It is not your partner’s responsibility to make you happy, that is your job. Think about it, if you are unhappy, will that make you any more desirable? If you are happy, I guarantee that your “mate” will be more interested in being with you.

(3)  SELF DISCIPLINE: When we put our beliefs before the relationship, the relationship will fail. If we have rules or needs that have to be met for us to be happy, we are putting ourselves before the relationship. If both parties have the need to have their needs and wants satisfied, there is no way the relationship will prosper. It does require one party to put the relationship first. It also requires each party to do whatever it takes to be happy. If that means being apart, the other party should allow that to happen. Any relationship that involves keeping the other person happy is not a healthy relationship.

(4)  SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: For both parties to thrive in a relationship, both need to understand the concept of spirituality. That does not necessarily require a worship of any particular religion, but each does need to understand that there is some consciousness greater than them at operation in the universe. I am not saying that atheists can’t have a wonderful relationship, but if they have no understanding that the earth is something greater than the individual that would be very difficult.

(5)  ROLE MODELS: We often need help and guidance in relationships and all aspects of our lives. There are always people who live their lives as we would like to live ours. We need to seek them out and ask for guidance. Whether it is a friend, a religious leader, a parent or an author of a self-help book, we need to ask for directions. Only the reckless would go on a journey without guidance.

(6)  CHOOSE WISELY: Face it: sometimes we pick a person who is not compatible with our belief systems. We have a choice at that point; we either change the belief system or the person. We have to make a conscious decision whether our beliefs are more important than the person, and as long as we are clear about the basis of our decision, it is the best we can do.

(7)   DISCUSS, DON’T ARGUE: Whenever we argue, we are coming from a place of fear. We have to be right and the other person has to be wrong. When we discuss something, we come as equals to a discussion about a mutual decision. When we argue; we are not looking for compromise, we are looking for victory. Always remember that no one wins an argument or a discussion, but for opposite reasons.

(8)  FORGIVENESS: We have to forgive ourselves more than we have to forgive others. Whenever we are hurt, it is because we did not understand the lesson. We have to seek the truth of the lesson in order to understand why we experienced pain. To forgive the other person will not prevent similar events from happening in the future. We have to forgive ourselves and understand our part in creating that scenario. We have to stop taking things personally.

I feel that the kind of love that will be required between people from today onward will be a new kind of love that requires clarity, self-reflection and grounded affection. In other words, a more mature love will be required so that we can grow along with our partner.