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

COURAGE

          Sometimes life is too much. We don’t know what to do, we are afraid to do anything. Yet if we don’t do something, terrible things might happen. Our loved ones may leave, our parents may die, our children may fail, we will lose control or we may lose everything. Our minds go out of control seeking a solution for these often-irrational fears. This is a classic case of fear of the future. The only way to shift the fear and agony of the intensity of this circumstance is to seek courage and get back into our heart. When we are afraid and we don’t know what to do, we are completely in our mind. Our mind loves to control everything and everyone and goes berserk when it can’t. There is no way to think our way out of this situation; we have to take certain steps to find serenity and peace again.

          Courage is having faith and trust in ourselves to keep breathing and do the best you can. When we are in our minds and attached to outcomes, we create a self-perpetuating loop of panic and fight or flight. This is the well-known monkey mind that only keeps grasping and demanding life is a certain way. Courage is like a clutch that allows us to disengage the mind even for a brief moment to allow us to get back into being, rather than doing. Courage allows us to face the pain, the fear, the agony, the potential loss and see it for what it is, an illusion. East and West have different concepts of courage…in the West, we conceive of courage as fortitude, the ability to do things in the face of danger. In the East, we say courage is love, the opposite of fear. With fear, we shrink and lose ourselves in the ego. With courage, we expand and become more than we were before the fear.

          In the West, we say, “think twice before you jump”. In the East, we say “jump, then think.” We get stuck in life because we want to know we will accomplish the goal before we even try. When faced with uncertainly, we freeze because the ego mind does not want to take a risk. Courage means taking the first step, even if you don’t know where that will lead. Courage means letting go of results and keep breathing. Courage means being the best person you can be, knowing that nothing happens in life that isn’t for our benefit. There are some strategies for getting past the seemingly insurmountable fear of the future and into peace and serenity.

          First, we have to remember that we control our emotions or our emotions control us. We can change our emotions one step at a time. If we are panicked, imagine that you are only afraid. When you are only afraid, imagine that you are actually excited. There is a fine line between fear and excitement; it is only how you perceive it. Be excited for the opportunities ahead of you, the momentary crisis that you may be experiencing may only be the pain of growth. Set hourly goals for your self, to breathe, to laugh, to love, to forgive. Do these every hour and your emotions will rise to more positive and bearable ones.

          Second, continue to breathe. When we are in fear, it is because our brain is not getting enough oxygen. Just take a few minutes and breathe as deeply and slowly as you can into your belly and then exhale as slowly as you can until your lungs are completely empty. Do this for at least five minutes on the hour. You will be amazed how much better you will feel.

          Third, get still for a few minutes. While you are breathing will be a great time to quiet your mind. Focus on shifting your focus from what is happening outside of yourself into your heart. Allow your self to feel loved, and to feel love. Send love to whoever or whatever is causing your fear. When you connect to that love, you will connect to your immortality and the panic will decrease. Imagine how you would feel if you were truly immortal. Would the issues facing you change in their perspective if you knew you would never die? This is not a religious commitment, it is simply an exercise in shifting your perception to a higher level. When we look at our challenges and fears from a higher perspective (such as we are immortal) they are not so fearful.

          Finally, remember whatever you are experiencing is a reflection of what is going on inside of your subconscious mind. If you look in a mirror and see your hair is messy, you don’t try to comb the hair in the mirror that you see, you comb the hair on your own head that you can’t see. Then the hair in the mirror magically changes. So when we are able to calm our minds and get into our hearts, what we perceive as reality will naturally change. This takes patience and persistence. Sometimes events that took years in the making won’t go away in ten minutes. Simply continue to breathe, go into your heart, and do the best you can. Sometimes the transition from caterpillar to butterfly really sucks. But when you keep breathing and get into your heart, the results are worth it.

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

SENTIMENTALITY

          I have learned that there are many sources of misery and suffering in this world. It seems that every belief system has its pet theory. Buddhists believe that desire causes all suffering. Other religions claim separation from God (sin) causes suffering. Others believe that rejection of what is happening at any given moment causes suffering. Yet still others claim that fear causes suffering.  I offer the case of sentimentality as a major cause of suffering.

          When I say suffering and misery, I am referring to mental and emotional suffering. Physical pain as the result of physical trauma is unavoidable and actually the sign of healing. Mental and emotional suffering is the result of emotional trauma. While mental and emotional suffering cannot be seen, it certainly can be felt and often causes physical symptoms such as depression, illness and chronic conditions.

          Sentimentality is the result of attachment. We can be sentimental about people, things and ideas. This is often confused with love, and causes all kinds of emotional trauma when the object of the sentimentality changes. When we become attached to something or someone, we do not want to lose it. When we do lose it, and we always will because that is the way of this world, we suffer. It requires a higher level of consciousness and enlightenment to understand that everything changes; including people, and what we once became attached to is only temporary.

          When we talk about sentimentality, the most obvious object of attachment is “our stuff”, especially money. We believe that our stuff brings us comfort, security and power. This is an illusion. Many times we learn in history that the wealthy and powerful die penniless and isolated. Lottery winners oftentimes lose their wealth and dreams of security. We can lose our most prized possessions and lose any hope of joy and happiness along with it. I once owned a large house that was fully furnished with valuable collectibles. A business colleague persuaded me to rent it to her daughter. The daughter was addicted to crack cocaine and stole every item of furniture and art to sell for her addiction. At first I was outraged, but later could realize that it was a tremendous gift to show me how I was sentimentally attached to “my stuff”. When I let go of the sentimentality, I stopped suffering.

          People are also a great source of suffering. I cannot begin to count the number of people I have met who pine for their “soul mate.”  Even others, thinking that they have found their soul mate, suffer tremendously when these objects of affection and sentimentality change or leave. Suffering is great when those we depend on for happiness and security do not behave like we want them to behave. Having been a divorce lawyer for many years, I have yet to meet someone who wants to divorce that “bitch” or “bastard” who did not attach some affection or sentimentality to the relationship. When someone we have sentimentally attached to dies, great is our grief and suffering. We do not understand that these are the rules and everyone dies. We attach great emotional pain to the fact that we have been abandoned by those we “loved.” Again, it takes a great deal of consciousness and enlightenment to accept the inevitable and rejoice when someone we love dies.

       Another object of sentimentality is our beliefs. What we believe in oftentimes is utter nonsense, but try to convince someone of that. I have often said to people that we can be right or we can be happy, it is difficult to be both. The great philosopher Bertrand Russell said “I will never die for my beliefs, I might be wrong.”  We attach to our beliefs and will defend them to the death, or at least until we are convinced that we are wrong. Unfortunately, the more we are attached to our beliefs, the more difficult it is to be happy. The great conundrum is whether this is true if we believe we are happy. That question really makes my head hurt.

          The key is to remember that happiness has nothing to do with any of the above. Happiness is the result of our connection to our higher self, our higher consciousness, spirit, source, creator, or God. It has nothing to do with what we own, our beliefs or our relationships. Happiness is a symptom of the ultimate realization that everything is an illusion so we might as well have fun. The way to happiness is to serve others, live simply, and be humble. If you have the bad karma to have lots of stuff, a relationship with your soul mate, or a set of well reasoned beliefs, best of luck with that. Sometimes it is our struggles, misery and suffering that brings us to the realization that it is all an illusion and distraction from our true purpose, which is to be of service.

          So the next time you are upset, miserable or suffering, look at what you may be sentimental about. Is it something you have lost or something you want and can’t have at this time? Fear is simply a symptom of being sentimental. Be aware of your sentimentality and it will change. Be aware of your beliefs and they will change. Be aware of who you are and you will change. What fun!

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

THE POWER OF KINDNESS

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

MEMORIAL DAY

           Memorial Day is the federal holiday established to honor those who died fighting for the United States. It is not clear how the holiday originated (hard to believe in the modern age) with many cities claiming to have had the first celebration for the fallen. Tradition states that it began in Charleston, SC in 1865 with a celebration by newly freed slaves to honor those who died in the Civil War to free the slaves. Whether the national holiday grew from that or other memorials for the fallen soldiers, Memorial Day has grown to be one of the major holidays of the US, at least in part because it unofficially marks the beginning of the summer.

            The irony is that it would seem that we only pay this holiday lip service as we continue to lose soldiers in conflict all around the world. One would think that any intelligent life would recognize the effects of violence on itself and cease perpetuating death and violence. How many orphans does it take to stop war? How many PTSD cases does it take to stop violence? When will we stop the idea that violence is a solution for any problem?

            My father graduated from the United States Military Academy (West Point) in 1945 and joined the occupational forces in Europe for three years following surrender by Germany. To this day he is apologetic about not being a part of the actual war against Germany. When he is asked if he served during World War II, he goes into a long story about not actually fighting Germans but he did have a violent incident with Russian troops. A more telling story is how kind and gentle he was before he went to West Point; and how angry and driven he was after that experience. Until the US Military Academy accepted women, graduates of West Point were quick to point out that the experience of going to West Point makes men out of boys. I am not sure what the tag line is now, but I shudder to think how many sweet, kind and gentle teenagers were transformed into killing machines and then unleashed upon an unsuspecting public without any deprogramming. This process continues unto this day.

            The affects of military service is overwhelming our VA hospitals and becoming more and more of a problem with PTSD and chemical warfare poisoning, not to mention the physical damage many wounded warriors have to live with. How much suffering do we have to experience before we stand up and cry “ENOUGH”! It is clear that we are losing the war against terrorism. A case in point is the Boston Marathon bombing. The lone surviving terrorist was sentenced to death several times over. One death will never repay the damage done to the victims of that day. Ironically enough, death is what the surviving terrorist wanted; now he gets to go to heaven and have 72 virgins. Somehow something is not computing.

            The truth is the wars that we are waging in other countries will likely bankrupt our country. We spend trillions of dollars in research every year on how to kill our enemies better. We could simply buy our enemies lock stock and barrel more cheaply. I am not suggesting that we do that, but I am questioning why we spend so much money on death and violence. Having the biggest and most deadly weapons in the world has not kept us safe.

            This Memorial Day we have to wake up and become more conscious about what we are doing as individuals and as a nation to perpetuate the fallen. We are the victims of our own device. There is too much money flowing into the hands of those that profit at war. There is too much disinformation being fed to us by politicians that want us to continue funding war and violence.

            I believe that we should honor our fallen and demand an end to war by whatever means are available. We have the resources, technology and intelligence to do so. We are funding both sides of every conflict currently waging in the world. We are so afraid that nations will turn on us if we don’t fund their violence that we have sold our grandchildren’s destiny to continue the fighting. We need to stop making weapons of mass destruction. We need to clean up our mess. We need to stop sending soldiers into harm’s way. We need to learn the lessons of our past so that we do not repeat them. The world will not support the status quo much longer. We either have to chose freedom or totalitarianism. We have to choose peace. 

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

PEELING THE ONION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PEARLS

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Mother’s Day is Not Enough

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

YOU DON’T HAVE TO DIE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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