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


            Ever since I heard the word “enlightenment”, I wanted it. It is a word that is surrounded by mystique and mystery, something only a few people in the world have attained. Why is it so illusive? What is the gift of enlightenment, or is there a gift involved at all? Or is enlightenment something that we can only obtain at the verge of dying, when we realize all that we have attained and desired are illusions?

            My understanding of enlightenment is that is the state of our consciousness once we have rid ourselves of all desire. Immanuel Kant argued that enlightenment was the state of maturity, and therefor unobtainable by most humans. Humans are too lazy, too victimized and too comfortable to seek true enlightenment. Who seeks true freedom, which is the initiation of enlightenment, when captivity and immaturity is rewarded? What concepts must we let go of in ourselves in order to achieve this rare state of existence?

            Most people want to use reverse engineering to achieve enlightenment. They have heard that enlightened people know stuff that “muggles” (ordinary people) don’t know. They have powers that muggles don’t have. They can see into people’s souls and heal their greatest illusions. Who wouldn’t want that? The problem is everything is relative and no one is willing to pay the price for these mystical powers. People promise systems and modalities to achieve enlightenment, but they don’t have the dedication or desperation to give it everything they have. They believe that they are willing to sacrifice everything to obtain enlightenment, but when things start disappearing from their lives they revert to victimhood and self-doubt. They forget that the hallmark of the spiritual path is to remove the illusion of pain, and the only way to do that is to go through test after test until they can understand that pain really is just an illusion.

            When I first started on my spiritual path, I asked a very wise person how I could feel safe in a very unsafe world. His statement continues to unfold like a lotus blossom. He said, “get over it”. How do you get over the traumas and experiences that shaped my soul and my psyche? I continue to struggle on that one. While there are some character defects that I continue to heal, I happen to like a lot of things about myself. I am kind, compassionate, generous, wise and humble. (You can laugh). The pity is that in order to obtain enlightenment, not only do I have to let go of my character defects, I have to let go of everything I think about myself. Whatever I think about myself is a distraction and interferes with connecting with the divine. So I have to let go of myself.

            The truth is I have to let know of everything I know in order to rise above my limiting beliefs about who I am. This includes what I consider to be “good” as well as the “bad”. This includes the notion that I would like to have a companion to share life with. This is an antiquated notion that I inherited from my parents which has not served me very well. I have to let go of my expectations and needs, especially the feeling that I need anything. After all, everyone I meet is someone I can love and share my life with and the fact that I am interacting with any person is by definition sharing my life with someone.

            Intellectually I know that if the divine wanted me to have a life partner I would have one. Intellectually I know that if the divine wanted me not to have a life partner there is nothing I can do to have one. Enlightenment is the realization that the divine is operating in my highest and best good and it is only my myopic and short sightedness that keeps me from embracing that thought. I think I know what is best for me, and that is my biggest trap and impediment from achieving enlightenment. I must accept the fact that my highest self, my divine self, is running the show and as a physical being I do not.

            So I have to give up everything I know or want from life in order to transcend the physical, mental and emotional barriers that keep me bound to suffering in this life. As an aside, that doesn’t mean reject abundance given to me by the divine as karma, dharma, or grace from the divine. Simply because I have abundance does not mean I am attached to it or desire it. The zen nature of enlightenment requires that I not want it in order to achieve it. I have to give it up, let it go, and accept what karma and grace has given to me. That is probably the hardest thing in life to do but it must be done to transcend the illusions of reality and human life in order to achieve the deep divine connection that my soul seeks.

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

All Perception is Projection

All perception is projection is one of my favorite teachings of Derek O’Neill, a spiritual teacher from Ireland. It is one of those ultimate truths that apply to every facet of life. Sometimes it is so basic that I totally miss the true meaning of the teaching. It is the basic premise of the higher teaching that we create everything that we perceive for our own enlightenment. I had a great example of the operation of this teaching in action this winter.

In all of my travels this winter, I kept running into snow. As I child, I loved snow, primarily because I got to skip school and play in the snow. I did not have to travel or be responsible for anything; snow was the great escape from the discipline of school.  When I got older and became responsible for supporting myself and others, snow become more of a problem. I do not play much in snow anymore; I don’t participate in snow sports. Whenever it snowed, it was more of an inconvenience than anything else.

During the winter of 2010, I encountered snow in everywhere I went, including Mobile, Alabama and New Orleans, Louisiana. I spent November and part of December in Ireland and Scotland, and experienced one of the biggest travel snafus in their history. I was frustrated again and again as my travel plans were canceled or delayed by snow. As I originally wrote this article on Christmas day in the southeast, I watched it snow. It was one of the biggest winter storms in over sixty years to hit the Southeast on Christmas day. It was truly beautiful, and I was snowed in. The roads were deep in snow and I didn’t have a way to get out. So I was forced to stay still and meditate, contemplate and concentrate on the experiences of my life. As I did this, I begin to understand the teaching that all perception is projection. I have experienced snow in various ways this year. When it was not an inconvenience, it was truly beautiful. When it interfered with my travel plans, I had a different perception of snow.

Snow is snow. It is not good, bad, frustrating or anything other than snow. How I perceive it makes it good or bad, beautiful or a nuisance. It forces me to be still and come to the realization that this is what I do to everyone and everything in my life. I judge events, people, places and things based on whether they fit into my belief systems or not. If an event produces pleasure, it is a good event. If it produces fear and negative thoughts, it is a bad event. The event is just the event; I am in control of everything that happens after the event arises. I control whether I feel pleasure, I control whether I feel pain. It is all a function of my perception. I like snow when it doesn’t interfere with my plans. I don’t like snow when it interferes with my plans. The same can be said for people, events, thoughts, words, actions and everything else that makes up my life.

This brings me to the ultimate truth, and that is I am in control of everything I perceive. I create the snow. I create my reaction to the snow. I create the effect (“Karma”) of the snow. I can substitute any word for the word “snow” and I will get the reality of my life. How different my life could be if I truly realized that fact and applied the teaching of it in my life. It would not matter if it snowed or not. If I needed to be still, I would not have to manifest record-breaking winter storms, I would simply know it was time to be still and be still. I can be so stubborn sometimes.

Another realization is that people are just people. I judge them based on their ability to bring me pleasure or pain. The people who act the way I want them to act are my friends; the people who don’t act the way I want them to act are not. That is my loss, for putting people in boxes that they don’t belong in robs me of the opportunity to learn some important lessons from them. The irony is that they have nothing to do with my perception of them. I am in complete control of that aspect of our relationship.  This raises a whole new set of meditations for me, to understand what my motivation is for putting people in “friend” or “foe” categories. Like snow is only snow, people are themselves no matter how I perceive them.

So I have a resolution, to not to project my stuff onto other people. People are not friends or foes, they are just people. They are not good or evil, thin or fat, beautiful or ugly. They are just people. Ultimately, they are reflections of myself.  I want to stop judging them and start looking at myself more. Perhaps if I loved myself more I would not have to put labels on people (or myself). Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

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


Recently a spiritual teacher and leader was calling on all “light workers” to pray for healing for the world and for an end to the world’s problems and strife so that love and happiness could rule supreme. This misunderstanding—that something is wrong with the world– is at the core of the issues challenging our reality at the moment. Not coincidentally, the world stock markets are plunging (again) and financial uncertainty is again at our doorstep. Financial doom and gloom are causing suffering all over the planet. It is my belief that it is the belief that something is wrong that is causing all of the suffering and misery so rampant around us.

Consciousness is a term often used by spiritual people but rarely understood. The simplest definition of consciousness is the manner in which we view the world. At the lowest form of consciousness, we are in survival mode, living from crisis to crisis. At the highest form of consciousness, also known as enlightenment, we realize that what we perceive is only an illusion and nothing is real. When we are enlightened, we know that we create our own reality.

The belief that something is wrong with the world is at the lower end of the scale of consciousness. When we are in survival mode, everything appears to be a threat and we constantly wish that the world would be different. We want love and harmony, peace and abundance to be available for everyone. What this rose-colored fantasy fails to consider is that without challenges and distress, we do not grow. All growth is painful and we have to take responsibility for our actions.

We blame governments, bankers and the rich for our economic woes. If you have a credit card and use it, then you are part of the problem. Try going off the grid for a while, canceling all bank accounts and pay everything with cash. Impossible for most people I would wager. However, if you have bank accounts, credit cards, a mortgage and charge accounts, then the only person you can blame for this financial mess is yourself. The only reason people have bank accounts and all the rest is for material gain. The big house, the big car, a spouse and lots of money are supposed to make you happy, but it doesn’t. It only contributes to the financial gluttony that is at the root of our financial upheaval.

The higher consciousness would recognize that we are only changing. Whether the change is good or bad is totally a matter of perception. Everything changes. We get older, we get sick, we get healthy, we get “it” or we don’t. When we view anything as bad or good, right or wrong we are experiencing a low level of consciousness. The only thing that is immortal is our awareness, our soul. It only seeks to join with God (however you perceive it).  We grieve the loss of others, pets, houses, money, youth and peace. What we forget is that we haven’t lost anything. It hasn’t gone anywhere. The great thing about this universe is that things do not go away, they change. If you are grieving anything, it is because you are at a lower level of consciousness and are afraid of change.

One of the most interesting aspects of human consciousness is that it changes as well. If we focus, we constantly raise our consciousness and start to enjoy happiness and clarity. If we are unfocused, our consciousness raises and lowers based upon our circumstances like a roller coaster. When we feel like life is a roller coaster ride, it is not life that is going up and down, it is our perception/consciousness that is going up and down.

So the world is a hugely dynamic place. Everything is changing all at once. This planet is where souls come to raise their consciousness at a very fast rate. Until we raise our consciousness to a height that recognizes that there is nothing wrong with the world, we will continue to suffer in lower consciousness. It is like we buy a ticket to ride on the roller coaster and then criticize the roller coaster for going up and down. Of course people are going to suffer and die. This is what we do on this planet until we realize it is all a game.

If we “should” do something, it would be to seek to connect with our awareness and raise our consciousness to enlightenment. It would probably surprise many people who are suffering because of failing bank balances to go to India and see the smiles on the faces of children who have never heard of Apple computers, cell phones or SUVs. Those smiles convince me that nothing is wrong with the planet. The only thing wrong is how we perceive it. If you have a big house and lots of rooms, start boarding homeless people. The world will sort itself out very quickly.

Rather than trying to fix the planet, we would accomplish far more if we were charitable, kind, forgiving and compassionate. Rather than criticizing anyone we would change the world if we let go of our fear and simply enjoyed what we are doing at the moment. Rather than comparing ourselves to others, if we accepted what is as a gift and be truly grateful then the world would become a wonder filled universe. There is nothing wrong with the world, it just is. There is nothing wrong with others; they just are a reflection of our perception. There is nothing wrong with us; we are simply here to be happy no matter what happens. If we focus on our own paths, it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing.