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

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

          AH, the end of May and beginning of June. It is time for the annual Derek O’Neill “playshop” in Dublin, Ireland. It is a week of intense transformation, growth, struggle and perhaps even a little discomfort as we learn how to deal with our issues and let go of the misery and challenges that makes life so hard. The truth is this process started several weeks ago for me in that negative emotions seems to be waiting around every corner and behind every door. For someone that claims to know how to deal with these human hurdles, it is very disconcerting to find out that “all is not well” with my self. I hurt, I chafe, I rail at the Gods because all of the things that I seek for happiness is now causing me pain greater than I have experienced in a long time.

          What is heavens name am I doing? I was told very early in life that if I acquired a good family, an honest living, friends and material things that I would be happy. It didn’t work out that way for me. I have been divorced twice, made and lost lots of money, acquired and let go of many material possessions. I seem to be in a letting go mode at the moment, I have given away most of my possessions and toys. I wrecked my car last December, but I live in a place you don’t need private transportation so I am okay on that one. I know lots of very wealthy people, and they seem to be struggling as much as I finding the elusive state of happiness that we all crave.

          I have written many times on how to be happy, it doesn’t matter what you have or possess, who you are in relationship with or what kind of job that you have. It all depends on your state of mind, what you are thinking about and how detached you are from your circumstances in life. However, when it is your time to suffer, it is a long uphill climb to the top of Happiness Mountain. Many times I tell myself “snap out of it” but when you aren’t getting what you want, it is hard to get to a place where you don’t care. That is really the secret to being happy, not caring about what you get. If you have a lot, great; if you have nothing, that is great as well.

          Sometimes I wonder if Buddha was an alien who merely placed a carrot at the end of a stick and dangled it in front of our heads. After all, detachment and mindfulness are not “human” as far as I can tell. There are so few people that I have met that have achieved those attributes I wonder if they are actually human as well. Are detachment and mindfulness impossible goals?

          Apparently I have created a perfect dilemma for myself where I feel totally lacking of control and yet I see no end in sight. The goal is to connect with the divine and find the love for myself that I always believe only comes from each one of us. I am beginning to discover that even though I feel like I love myself there are days when I don’t like myself very much. I guess that is playing out in my reality as well.

          I am writing this blog simply to let you know that the pursuit of happiness is sometimes difficult and elusive. We do not feel happy and blissful all of the time unless we can give us our attachments to people, places and things. When you don’t want anything, you can’t be disappointed. I am struggling (I hope for the last time) with letting go of the one thing I have always wanted (that is a personal issue for me).  The zen teachers I know keep telling me I can’t get it until I don’t want it, which sounds pretty counterintuitive to me. In any event, it seems pretty certain that I will not solve this problem with the same thinking that created it.

          So the pursuit of happiness seems to be a misnomer. The pursuit of anything likely pushes it away. The only way to find happiness is to “be” happy. So we have come full circle on this little blog, which is that I know that I can’t find happiness. I can only let it steal into my heart like a warm nighttime fog coming through a window. I hope that I can discover how to speed up the process in Ireland. Their fogs are legendary. It may mean being unhappy for a little while longer, but I have been promised that all I have been through and done will be worth it. I have hope that it will.

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

THE MEANING OF EASTER

             According to the Christian/Catholic history of the World, almost 2000 years ago the world subjected a human being to the worst abuse and torture imaginable, crucified him and watched as he arose from the dead.  On Easter Sunday we celebrate his rebirth as the risen lord. I keep thinking about this metaphor as “The Secret” to peace and happiness in each of our lives. According to the New Testament, things weren’t so great in the Middle East 2000 years ago. Not much has changed on that front. Then came a couple of guys, John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth (Bethlehem) that supposedly made things a little different.

            So here we are 1985 years later (give or take) and we wonder what in the world did that mean. Looking from this from my perspective I want to offer the following observations:

(1)  Life is uncomfortable. Get over it. We are here to open our hearts and learn not to fear. How does that work exactly? Hug somebody. Quit thinking that you are a victim. Be happy with what you have. Love somebody. Think about what you have and forget yourself.  If you live in the United States you have it better than 95% of the world. Be grateful!

(2)  Pray: For those who don’t like to pray, the only prayer that means anything is “thank you God”. For those who like to pray, the only pray that means anything is “thank you God”. The story of Easter begins with Jesus spending most of his time before his arrest in prayer and meditation. What this means is prayer will not prevent our karma but it will give us the means to handle it.  

(3)  Practice Gratitude: For those familiar with the story of Job (a whole chapter of the Bible), the test often is to be happy with what we have even when we don’t like what we have. Keep the faith; never curse the circumstances. According to the New Testament, Jesus lost one of his closest friends and relatives, John the Baptist just before he was arrested. How many of us would be grateful for such world-changing event? Like Job, Jesus went through his trials and was grateful to God even when his life was offered up.

(4)   Dream Big: Did Jesus really know he would come out of that cave and change the world? Who knows? What do we know we can accomplish when we come out of our cave and claim our true self? Many times we go through suffering and even emotional and mental death to be reborn into higher levels of consciousness. Whatever we dream places ceilings on what the Universe can deliver. Dream of being of service and devote your self to that ideal and anything can happen, even things we cannot imagine.

(5)  Everything changes: The story of Easter is a story of transformation. Jesus went from a radical rabbi to the resurrected Christ. Even though we may be going through the dark night of our souls, we have to remember that the potential of rebirth and resurrection is promised and when we focus on God we have the potential to change the world.

(6)  Life/Death is an illusion: The central theme of all religions is that death is an illusion and the afterlife is just as important as our life in this world. What we do in this life affects every life forward and every life backwards. When we look at the story of Easter as a metaphor, we all have to face our trials and metaphorical deaths before we can be Christed (enlightened). Jesus’s whole life was the story of resurrection and rebirth. He survived death over and over, from the slaughter of the innocents, to the resurrection of Lazarus, to his own resurrection, it is the story that we never really die. Metaphorically it means that we should never give upresurr hope, because we may feel like we are dying, but through death we achieve true life.

(7)  Grace is more powerful than karma: The story of Easter is the story of Grace. The grace given to Jesus; to Lazarus; to Mary, Mary and Margaret; the apostles; and the whole world. Prior to this story the laws of Karma were immutable, an eye for an eye prevailed over the entire world. After the story of resurrection and rebirth, we understand that an eye for an eye does not apply. We can forgive because nothing is as it seems. We do not need to exact revenge because we do not need it to keep the checks and balances in place.

(8)  We are immortal: What is resurrection other than reincarnation? For those beings that know this truth death truly is irrelevant and nothing that we experience is permanent. Our lives are just steps on a longer journey from ourselves to ourselves.  If you consider that we will live forever, nothing is a life or death situation anymore and fear evaporates like the morning dew.

(9)  Nothing separates us from God: One of the often-overlooked details of the Christian/Catholic version of the story of Easter is that when Jesus died the veil in the Jerusalem temple was rendered (torn away). This symbolizes that God came out from behind the curtain and is no longer hidden behind dogma. Jesus removed the priests from between God and the individual so we all can discover the God within us all. All that is left is that we remove the inner veil that we place between God and us.

I am sure that there are other messages that one can find in the Easter story for each of us. I stopped at nine because that is the number of completion. I invite each of us to consider that we are much more than we think we are and the story of Jesus is a metaphor to discover who we are and seek enlightenment. Happy Easter!

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

A CRISIS OF CONSCIOUSNESS

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.