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

A SHORT HISTORY OF LOVE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE LEVELS OF CONSCIOUSNESS

              Consciousness is a term which many people talk about but few really understand. Most vaguely know that having it is a good thing, and being un-conscious may be problematic. Many people go through life with the lowest entry level consciousness wishing things were different and wondering why life is so challenging. It doesn’t have to be that way. We are human beings and most of us don’t have the focus and discipline it takes to transcend the quirks and daggers completely all of the time. Sometimes we can, if we understand what the different levels of consciousness are.

            The entry level of consciousness is survival mode. We spend a lot of time in the past in order to survive the future. This is where victim consciousness is strongest, which is the belief that life happens “to” us and we have no control over anything that happens in this world. We are consumed with materialism because we believe that will keep us safe. The more we have in the bank accounts, our stock accounts and possessions hopefully will help us in hard times. We are always wishing life was different or better and we grasp for whatever our desires may be in the moment. Happiness is often confused with pleasure, for we feel good when we get what we want and we suffer when we don’t. We are controlled by our emotions. We suffer at all times, afraid that we will not get what we want and afraid we will lose what we have. We suffer from anxiety, high blood pressure and illness that are caused by the constant stress we create. We are trained by society and the powers that be to be stuck in this level of consciousness because we are controllable and easily manipulated.

            A next level of consciousness is self-awareness. In this level of consciousness we strive to discover who we are and what our purpose is. We begin to understand that our place in the world does not depend absolutely on what we possess. We start to examine the effect of our behavior and actions upon others, we relate to others and the world. We begin to be aware of the world and life is more than just survival and collection of possessions. It is at this level we become to be aware that there is more to life than survival. It is also the level that we begin to suspect that there is a God. Oftentimes we connect with a teacher or guide who has a higher level of consciousness to help us transcend the lower levels. We can transition from survival level to self-awareness through the practice of gratitude.

            The third level of consciousness is the dawning of the awareness that we are not who we think we are. We are not our thoughts, emotions or beliefs. Our awareness is not the same thing as our thoughts, memories or beliefs. The social conditioning that we experienced in the survival level begins to fall away and we seek the truth of what is really going on in life. We begin to connect with a larger consciousness that animates us and sustains us (all along). We are aware that the lower levels of consciousness are a dream state and we are beginning to wake up. We begin to take control of our mind and emotions, understanding that they will control us if we do not control them. We begin to focus more and more on the search for connection to the divine, universal aspect of our being. It is at this level we start to detach from our addictions to pleasure and pain, judgment as well as people, places and things. The need for companionship or a significant other decreases. We can transition from self-awareness to detachment through meditation and mantras.

            The fourth level of consciousness is forgetting our self and our selfish wants and desires. We are concerned solely how we can help others anyway possible. We have a deep and total compassion for all beings, we connect with the universal energy of love. We let go of our desires for sex, companionship, material possessions or status. We are only concerned with serving others and raising the consciousness of the planet. We begin to merge with universal knowledge and consciousness that results in longer periods of bliss and enjoyment of all that is. We spend longer times in meditation and solitude and seek only that connection with the divine that gives us joy. At this level we are in a state of being, and have dropped the need to do anything. Whatever actions we take are directed by our divine consciousness and intuition and for the good of all. We know that all of our needs will be met and we have let go of needless and foolish concerns of materialism. We transcend from the level of detachment to selflessness through focus on the divine.

            The highest level of consciousness is enlightenment. It is difficult to reach this level and to stay at this level for any length of time because it requires long periods of solitude and focused devoted thoughts to your divine self. It is simply a matter of reality because when we are at the highest level of consciousness we are not able to function in what most consider the real world or what some call the 3D world. We meditate for long periods of time, surrender the need for interaction with others because we are connected to the divine. Oftentimes we don’t eat or sleep, we simply bask in the arms of the divine.

            Most of the highest beings will spend time at the level of enlightment and then come back to the 3D world to interact with others. It is their karma to know the difference between being in the arms of their divine self and interacting with the real world. It is their recognized duty to help all beings raise their consciousness. We can be born into any level of consciousness. It is the grace of the divine that we can raise our consciousness anytime we like. It is also our ability to lower our consciousness at anytime based on our circumstances. This is what is known as free will. The choice is ours.

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

THE TRUE MEANING OF CONSCIOUSNESS

                 I wrote this article in December, but it has a timeless message. I considered calling this article “The True Meaning of Christmas”. Even though there are probably thousands of books, sermons, articles, webinars and other self-help literature out there with that title “The True Meaning of Christmas”, the question continues to be contemplated by all sorts of people. For me, the whole message of the prophet named Jesus/Jessua was to become more conscious and that the only hope for happiness (peace on Earth) was to change the way we think.

            The first thing that most Christians don’t realize is that Jesus’s message is a common message. The same themes were shared by Buddha, the Hindu God Krisna in the Bhagavad Gita, Mohammed in the Koran, Sai Baba in his many discourses and many other teachers and sages throughout the history of mankind. Kind of makes you wonder why we have so much trouble with the concept of being happy doesn’t it?

            In order to apply the principles of Consciousness/Christmas one has to be focused. We have to focus on the effects of our actions on others, we have to focus on the fact that most of what we perceive to be real is actually an illusion, we have to focus on the fact that suffering is our own creation, and we have to focus on the fact that life is a gift in any form, and it should not be taken from anyone.

            I certainly applaud all of the efforts to support our troops who are fighting everywhere for peace. The True Meaning of Consciousness is that we are perpetuating our own suffering by hurting others, no matter what the reason. Perhaps it would be a better idea to bring those soldiers home.

        Consciousness requires the focus on serving others without regard of reward or recognition. Not just on holidays, but everyday of the year. In relationships, consciousness requires the focus on the wellbeing of your partner, not of your own wellbeing. Consciousness recognizes the illusion of right and wrong; there is only what you want or what I want. Consciousness recognizes the illusion of separation consciousness that causes the myths of soul mates and marriage in the first place. I think what most people are looking for in a “soul mate” is actually someone who will be obedient. Consciousness recognizes that if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you are with (okay so I borrowed that one).

            Consciousness has to do with being aware of everything that is happening around you. Let someone else have that prime parking space at the mall, go park a long way away and get some exercise. When we go shopping with our kids, make sure they understand that they are buying it for some needy family, not themselves. Instead of taking a family ski vacation, use the money to make someone else’s life easier. Pay their heating bill or rent for a month. Have our children make handmade gifts for their classmates.

            The most important thing is to realize that each of us is the child that is born on Christmas Day, and every day we are lucky enough to wake up. We may have to go through challenges and adversity just like the metaphorical Christ child, but we can have just as big an impact on the world. The question is are we focused on that potential or are we focused on what everyone else is doing? Do people still feel insecure and unworthy because they don’t have as much material stuff as other people? Consciousness would have us realize that what we have has nothing to do with how we feel. Consciousness teaches us that how we feel determines what we have. We have total control over this circumstance. Only we determine how we feel. No one can make us feel this way or that way; consciousness knows that it our individual responsibility of how we feel.

            So today, give yourself the best gift of all and start focusing on what you can do to help others and to think less about yourself. We can rise above being defined by Wall Street and Madison Avenue.  We can stop caring about how our bodies and faces compare to others and start caring about picking up trash and being kind to people. We can stop criticizing others and ourselves. We can stop gossiping and start imagining what life can be if we focus on the welfare of others.

            It is a far more conscious choice to be in church on Monday than it is on Sunday.  Depending on your focus, you can be in church every minute of every day. Consciousness knows that God is in us and we don’t have to go anywhere to find God. So have a wonderful day and ask for some consciousness this year. That never goes out of style.

 

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

THE BLESSING OF THE SHADOW

           There has been a lot written lately about conquering or defeating the “Shadow.” Most people define “Shadow” as negative energy that causes painful feelings that result from circumstances that we don’t like. Lots of workshops advertise wonderful results if and when the Shadow is overcome. Spiritual teachers claim that Shadow blocks us from getting what we want, such as being financially successful or finding a relationship. Most workshops promise secret teachings that will empower us to overcome the Shadow and promise us the life we want.

           When we feel traumatized or victimized by our circumstances, our ego wants to blame something or someone for our pain. Spiritual teachers have taken to creating “the Shadow” as the culprit for these unpleasant results. This is totally incorrect. Claiming that “Shadow” is the cause for unpleasant results is like blaming a doctor for getting sick.

           The Shadow is simply a warning system that tells us when we are off the spiritual path. When we suffer because we are not getting what we want, that is the Shadow telling us that we are battling an issue that needs healing. When we are unhappy and suffering we are focused on ourselves, which is an unnatural and inhuman state of being. We are created and wired to focus on others.  One of our important and natural purposes as a human being is to serve others. When we are focused only on ourselves, we are in opposition to our natural state of being. Then our warning systems set off like a red flag going up the flagpole.

            When we don’t get what we want, we are trained to be unhappy. From birth our society and culture teaches us that we have to suffer if we don’t get what we want when we want it. Patience and acceptance are not as important in our society as success and reward.  When issues concerning self-worth and self-esteem are instilled early in our formative years, we automatically believe that if we are not getting what we want then it is our fault. Our defense mechanisms (also instilled early in our lives) kick in, and we avoid responsibility for the events in our lives by projecting blame on anyone or anything in sight. Thus, clever metaphysicians have created a target for this blame, the Shadow.

             By casting “Shadow” as something it isn’t, we create an illusory target to blame for our misfortunes. If we recognize that the “Shadow” is not the enemy, rather a valid natural warning system, we begin to recognize one of the most basic spiritual teachings, which is we are the creator of our lives. We create each and every event in our life for our enlightenment. There is no “Shadow” out there scheming to sabotage our lives. We don’t have to conquer “Shadow”, we simply have to take responsibility for our lives.

            When we come to understand that we are the creators of our reality, the illusions that life is hostile or unfair evaporate. When we focus on these truths, we stop feeling sorry for ourselves and can start focusing on our purpose, which is to serve others. When we serve others, the illusion of “Shadow” naturally disappears. We do not need expensive seminars to defeat something that does not exist. Simply focus on others.

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

WHAT SHALL WE DO TODAY

Today, I will create a masterpiece of precious thoughts. I will open my being to love. I will think about all the things I can be grateful for and remind myself how fortunate I am. I will give thoughts to the obstacles I have overcome and realize how strong I really am. I know that the power is always there within me.

Today, I will smile and help someone who is in need, or just give a loving hug. I will smile and look someone in their eyes and greet their sweet spirit. I will think with compassion about all the beings in this world who are experiencing suffering and pain. And I will remind myself that we are all connected – that we are all created by the same God. 

Today, I will look up at the sky and watch the clouds, the birds, the sun, the moon and planets– and see their ever-changing formations. Tonight I will watch the sky filled with sparkling diamonds. I will pause for a moment and be in awe.

Today. I will stop and listen to the bird outside who is singing a song for me. I will say thanks to the flowers and plants for brightening up my day. I will give thanks to Mother Earth for the nourishment and beauty she is providing.

Today. I will be aware of my breathing. I will feel my heart beat. I will pause for a moment and be grateful for the life God is offering me. I will be grateful for the incredible body I have and treat it like the fine instrument it is. I will think about what it enables me to do – hearing a child’s joyful laughter, feeling a loving touch on my shoulder, smelling a rose, tasting a salt tear running down towards my lips, or seeing the beauty of the sun rising over a crisp mountain top.

Today. I will pause for a moment and think about my friends. I will feel their love – and smile. I will give loving thoughts to my family. I will give thanks for all they have provided – including both the joys and the sorrows. I will cherish the joyful moments and know that the pains are lessons in disguise.

Today. I will not judge myself. I will give myself the same loving thoughts and compassion as I offer other people around me. I will not judge the people who may have hurt me– for they did not know better. And I will do my best in loving them for whom they really are deep within.

Today. I will not worry. Just for one day. I will focus instead on the loving presence of the power, force or being that created me and offer thanks.

Today. I will ask God to be of service. I will do the best I can in any activity I am engaged in. I will spend the day with an attitude of service and offer up the fruits of my labor. I will do my best to be in surrender and just let the day unfold.

Today. I will spend some time in silence. I will breathe deeply and clear my mind. I will smooth the ripples on the ocean of my mind and feel the peaceful love of God. He is there behind it all – always. I will close my eyes and breathe in his loving vibration – like soothing balm on sunburned skin. I will feel his love permeate my being until I have tears of joy in my eyes.

Today. I will let God’s love flow through me – in every little precious moment.

And tomorrow… is another precious today.

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

KARMA IS AN ILLUSION

            Religions and philosophies teach us that there are three kinds of karma. There is (1) the karma that we are born with;  (2) the karma that we are creating at any one moment; and (3) karma we will encounter in the future. All of these karmas are created by action, whether by thought, word or deed. It is this karma that keeps us bound to the wheel of death and rebirth, for we keep coming back to pay off these karmic debts over and over again.

            The most intense karma is created by desire and craving. We long to be rich, powerful, or in control. We are attracted to pleasure and adverse to pain. We are like puppets on strings controlled by these addictions and aversions. For every longing and desire that we crave and do not experience in our lifetime, we are bound by karma to return to experience.  It is the desire and aversion that creates the karma that binds us to the cycle of death and rebirth.

            Furthermore, we believe that we create karma when we cause suffering in others, consciously or unconsciously. As we are all one, we have to experience that which we do to ourselves in order to understand what it feels like. This is the Mosaic law, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. The aspect of the law that is often overlooked is that since death is an illusion we will keep coming back to satisfy the law that must be satisfied. These are the teachings of the religions and philosophies.

            The higher teachings of the saints and enlightened masters state that all of this is an illusion we create for our own enlightenment. We perceive karma is self-perpetuating and inescapable because of our limited grasp of the situation we call life. However, the illusion can be overcome and enlightenment reached when we recognize the simple fact that we are the divine creators OF EVERYTHING and can change this by simply changing our minds.

            We can’t do this by ourselves. As Albert Einstein once stated, “a problem cannot be solved by the thinking that created it.”  The only way we can find our way out of the illusion is to find an enlightened teacher who can show us the way. In other words, it is our desire-filled conscious that keeps us enslaved to the operation of karma, and it takes a teacher or saint to show us how to detach from this illusion. This is why the teacher will tell us “to keep our eyes on the teacher” because it is the only way to escape the distraction of pleasure and pain. If we focus on the teacher and the teachings, we have a chance of self-realization and liberation. If we are constantly distracted by desire and avoidance, we will stay caught in the illusion of thoughts and matter.

            It is a self-fulfilling belief that karma is inescapable. Until we understand the nature of our thoughts and attachment to materialism we will always be hooked by karma and its operation. The only way to escape this illusion is by the practice and discipline of self-analysis and awareness of every thought, word and deed in the light of our own divinity. When we can see God at all times in ourselves and others, we will be freed from the operation of karma and its illusion.

            When someone does something that makes us feel like a victim, we are buying into the illusion of karma. When we feel imperfect, unworthy or unhappy, we are buying into the illusion of karma. When we compare ourselves to others or sit in judgment or lack, we are buying into the illusion of karma. Anytime we believe that we are anything other than God creating our experiences for our enlightenment, we are buying into the illusion of karma.

            By finding a saint or enlightened being and becoming a student, one can learn to discipline him or herself and through practice release the bondage of karma. Discipline comes from the word “disciple”, one who follows a teacher. By focusing on the teachings, one can let go of the illusion of materialism and thought forms that arise as addiction to pleasure and aversion to pain. By focusing on our innate goodness, one no longer strays from the five virtues; peace, love, truth, non-violence and right action. By contemplation and meditation of our role in this life to create the experiences that will lead us to enlightenment; we escape the (de)illusions of perception and projection.

            I had a wonderful experience in Scotland not too long ago. I was blessed with the occasion to stay with a man whose whole life is focused on helping others. On a day a winter storm was closing roads and airports, I went with him to help push total strangers out of snowdrifts. He laughs often and helps many. His first thought on arising is always “how may I serve?”  It was a humbling experience to be in his presence.  My guess is that he knew on some level that life is an illusion to be enjoyed and not suffered.

            We all get what we need when we are ready. When we follow a teacher and apply the teachings (disciple/discipline) we have a choice to believe that karma is inescapable or an illusion. We have a choice to follow a higher path to enlightenment or continue to wallow in the maya of our illusions. We have a choice to believe we are divine creators of our experiences or the victims of our karma. This is the true nature of  “free-ing” will.

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

THE PURPOSE OF LIFE

             I used to donate a lot of time giving advice to people on “ask the experts” sort of websites. There are two questions that always seem to be repeated. The first is “what is my purpose in life” and the other is “how do I increase my self esteem?” The ironic twist to these questions is that they both have the same answer, regardless of age or circumstance of the person asking. The amazing thing is that after giving the same answer hundreds of times, I have never had anyone write me back and say “you were wrong!”

            The reason that we are here, primarily and fundamentally, is to help each other. We are hardwired to help each other and to cooperate. We are all connected by some great creational energy, whether you call it the “big bang” or “God” or “universal consciousness.” We all come from the same vast pool of energy and are made manifest by actions others. We all have to admit that it took the actions of two or more people to conceive and birth each of us, so we can’t ignore the fact that we are not isolated beings. Our perception of our world and ourselves is largely dependant on the training and programming we have received from others. I am not aware of anyone who was conceived and grew up in a vacuum, deserted island or isolation. If there is one, I would definitely like to meet that person, to talk to someone with a “clean slate.”

           Some of us have bought into the misconception that we are all in this for our own selfish interests and have no concern for the welfare of others. In other words, we are only concerned without our own problems. We jump into a deep pool of self-pity and fear and never seem to climb out. We believe that we are individuals, separate and alone, victims of circumstance or fate. We are losing the rat race because there are always bigger and faster rats no matter where we look. The key word here is misconception, for none of this is real, it is an illusion which modern society wants us to believe so we can be controlled. We need to accept the fact that is not the way life is planned or conceived.

            The only way to find happiness is to stop focusing on what we don’t have or don’t like. We have to focus on others, and stop focusing on ourselves. We can always find people who have more, as we can always find people who have less. When we pitch in, share ourselves with others, a miraculous thing happens, we start to operate as we are originally designed and we are happy. We are happy because we are living our purpose and our purpose gives us life. When we focus on serving others with our talents, without thought of reward, we return to our original blueprint and everything falls into place.

           Every time a teenager complains about their social status, or a young adult complains about their circumstances, or a confused soul complains about their confusion, I always have the same answer, “go help someone less fortunate than yourself.”  We can go sit with an elderly person warehoused in a retirement facility, volunteer at an orphanage or food kitchen, or help out at a homeless shelter. Alternatively we can teach the illiterate how to read, foreigners how to speak our language, or children how to be responsible.

         True happiness comes from self-love. True self-love comes from respecting yourself. Respecting yourself comes from helping and serving others without expectation of reward. The service is reward enough. If everyone with self-esteem problems, lack of self worth or victim issues would go out and do a service for someone less fortunate than himself or herself, the prophesized end of the world would happen in an instant, and this world would become a heaven. I think that it is safe to say that materialism has failed to make anyone happier or the world a safer place. If anything, the opposite is true. The chase for wealth is like eating air. We need substance to our lives, substance that service richly provides.

         If you are afraid, lonely, confused or victimized, exercise your compassion and help someone who has less than yourself. It is easy to find them. Do this for thirty days. If you are not feeling better about your life, nor feeling as your life has purpose, please let me know. I haven’t had anyone call me yet.