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


              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


             In my experience and observation the most tragic and insidious of all addictions is the addiction to suffering. The clinical definition of addiction is “compulsive repetition of a known behavior with adverse consequences.” In other words addiction is repeatedly engaging in actions that knowingly cause adverse results. There are two persistent issues connected with addictions, (1) what is causing the addiction and (2) how do we stop it?

            The reason I believe the addiction to suffering is the most tragic is because many people do not even know they are addicted to it. They live their lives of silent misery oftentimes believing that is how life should be. Many religions promote suffering as necessary and a part of life. The most ironic of all ironies is that the one thing we all have in common is that we all want to be happy. Yet we all suffer from this addiction to be miserable. The lucky ones are the ones that realize that suffering is optional and they do something about it.

            Suffering sometimes is difficult to identify. Oftentimes we experience periods of time when we are not in crisis mode and we are getting what we want. We think that we are happy. In fact, what we are experiencing is low-grade anxiety, not happiness. Happiness has nothing to do with getting what we want. The feeling that we experience when we get what we want is pleasure, not happiness. When we are experiencing pleasure, there is always the underlying fear that it will not last and we experience constant stress. In fact, suffering always follows pleasure. It is part of life.

            It would appear that the addiction to suffering begins at an early age, when we learn that we can get our parents’ attention and the attention of loved ones when we engage in forbidden or negative behavior. This is known as “negative attention”. When we are “good”, and follow the rules laid down by the authority figures in our lives, we sometimes only get occasional attention. We quickly learn that we can get attention by breaking the rules, defying our parents, and engaging in anti-social behavior. It seems that most people believe that they can only get attention by being the best at something or being a pest. It doesn’t matter that engaging in behavior that results in punishment actually is painful, it does have the desired effect, and people pay attention to us.

            Ironically, many times we are not aware we are engaging in this type of behavior. We mistakenly label life as unfair and ourselves victims, when we have created the behavior that has the adverse consequences. Then we suffer, stop making any effort to take responsibility for our actions and become drama kings and queens. Think of the people in our lives that live with the most melodrama, the most adverse consequences, and often view themselves as the ultimate victims in an unfair world. Both the behavior and the complaining about the adverse consequences is subconsciously calculated to get attention.

            Many times this addiction is underlying a more visible addiction, substance abuse, sexual abuse, or criminal behavior. When society has had enough of this behavior, it simply locks these people away with others with similar addictions. We can attempt to recover from these superficial addictions, but end up miserable and self-defeating because we are not aware of the underlying addiction to suffering. AA has a saying, sober up a horse thief and you have a horse thief. You do not become happy by becoming sober. This is why so many people relapse.

            So how does one recover from this addiction?  As with other addictions, the first step is awareness and taking responsibility for what we do. When we admit to ourselves that we are unhappy and want to change, that is half the battle. We have to stop lying to ourselves and saying that we are happy when we are not. The suffering only increases when we lie to others and ourselves. We have to identify the cause of our suffering, which is our thinking. When we are completely honest and admit that it is our thinking that is causing our suffering, not outside circumstances, and then we have a chance of becoming happy.

            You cannot stop thinking. That is humanly impossible. The only solution is to realize that our thinking is not who we are. In other words, we are not our thoughts. Our thoughts are the byproduct of millions of electrical biochemical events every second in our brain. Awareness is not thinking. We can be aware of our thoughts if we detach from them and realize that they are not real. So the addiction to suffering can also be described as the addiction to thinking.

            In order to recover from this addiction — the addiction to thinking – we have to let go of our attachment to thinking. Thinking actually is good; it is what gets us dressed in the morning, accomplishes goals, live in society and helps us survive in this physical dimension.  However, we have to recognize the difference between “I” as a self-aware life force and “I” as a collection of thoughts. The former is naturally happy; the latter suffers. The more we focus on the former, the happier we are. The more we fall into the trap of believing that we are our thoughts, the more we suffer.

            Instead of believing our thoughts, we can look at the sunset, we can observe what is going on around us without thought or opinion, we can enjoy just “being.”  Since we are human beings, we are going to lower ourselves into the hell of thinking from time to time, but it doesn’t have to be all of the time. If we remember that thinking is an addiction that causes suffering, perhaps we won’t do it so much and enjoy life more.

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


         I recently visited an amazing site north of Dublin, Ireland known as the Belvedere House. The House was built in the early 1700’s by Lord Robert Belvedere, known as the Wicked Earl. The theme of the experience of the visit was jealousy, because Belvedere House is most famous for a “folly” named The Jealousy Wall.  A “folly” is a structure that has no practical benefit and exists solely for decoration. The Jealousy Wall was built so the Lord didn’t have to look at his brother George’s house nearby that was bigger and grander than the Lord’s House. To spice things up, George resented Robert because George had courted the Lady Belvedere before her marriage to Robert.

            The Lord was known as the Wicked Earl because he imposed house arrest on his wife, not allowing her any visitors for a total of 31 years. He believed that she had an affair with his third brother Arthur that had produced the Lord’s third son. The fact that Robert and the Lady Belvedere had black hair while Arthur had blond hair was a concern for Robert and when George wrote Robert that the Lady Belvedere had been seen on numerous occasions with brother Arthur (which was untrue), Robert believed the worst and imprisoned his wife. So we have a jealous brother, a jealous husband and a victimized wife and child. And we wonder where romantic Victorian novels come from.

            After 31 years of isolating his wife, the Wicked Earl went on to meet his maker and the son went to free his mother, who he hadn’t seen in 17 years. The mother did not recognize her son and had to be convinced by family and friends that she was free to leave her house. The mother asked “Is the tyrant dead?” It is ironic that she would ask this question because the real tyrant that imprisons us all is the mind.

          Ancient wisdom known as “the teachings” states that we create our reality for our own enlightenment.  Most people would look at this story and instantly feel animosity for the Earl and sympathy for the wife.  Some would buy into the melodrama of the story and not look for the truth of the story, which has nothing to do with the surface themes of abuse, false imprisonment and victimhood.

        There are spiritual metaphors running all through this story. Betrayal, abandonment, rejection, guilt, shame, blame and jealousy as well as the imprisoning nature of wealth are obvious. The Lady had three children who did nothing to help her. The reason for this is that they were afraid that the Wicked Earl would disinherit them.  However, this story is not about the corrupting power of money although it is certainly present.  This is about the illusions of life and how our attachment to melodrama causes suffering. In other words, the “Tyrant” is metaphorically our minds that imprison us with our false beliefs and suffering. Thus, the question “Is the Tyrant dead?” takes on a greater importance to our well-being and blissful existence.

           After touring the house and grounds, I went to take a nap overlooking the lake at Belvedere House. As I dozed, I had a vision about a conversation between two stars shining brightly above the planet Earth. Let’s us call them X and Y, their real names are unpronounceable.  These stars were divine beings who come to Earth over and over to bring us enlightenment. They take the form of humans to play roles for their own enlightenment as well as roles for others.

              X said to Y, “Wow, that was a stellar performance as Lady Belvedere. I bet you get a divine award for that role.” Y replied, “X, you were absolutely brilliant as Lord Belvedere. I haven’t seen you do so well since you played Cleopatra and I played Julius Caesar.

                 At that moment, a comet went speeding by and X called out: “Hailey! I haven’t seen you in ages! How are you?” Hailey replied: “Well, you know us comets, what goes around comes around!” Y said, “really funny Hailey, your karmic humor is getting really good!” Hailey said: “Thanks Y! You know God really liked your Lord and Lady Belvedere…I hear he is going to send you back as Adolf Hitler and a young Jewish girl who survives the concentration camps. God wants the humans to wake up and heal this victim consciousness that has infected planet Earth. Did you know that humans are still buying into the illusion that you acted out for them?”

                X said: “Surely not, I thought Y’s performance would have brought them to their senses.” Hailey said:”Nope, in fact, X, everybody thinks you were wicked and Y was so victimized.” “Oh for Chrissake ,” said X.  A far off start started winking. “I wasn’t calling you, JC,” said X.  The far off star steadied.  “You would think somebody would have seen through the illusion”, said Y.  “Well, SGB, JC and DO’N know what it was all about, but unfortunately it went over a lot of people’s heads.  They think it was all the Lord’s fault”, said Hailey. “When will people understand that jealousy, greed, money, blame and shame are all illusions for their enlightenment?” said Y. “Someday,” said Hailey and it sped off again.

                      X turned to Y and said, “When will those humans quit feeling sorry for each other and realize that they are actually stars like us?” Y twinkled and said, “I hope not soon, we would then have to stop coming to Earth and having so much fun being victims. I can’t wait to be Adolf Hitler, everyone will really hate him!” X twinkled back, “I know, I know, you get all the good victim roles, although this Jewish woman who survives the Holocost ought to wake people up about the illusion of victimhood! Although sometimes I think these humans are attached to their suffering, they cling to it so hard! If only they would look up to us sometimes and remember who they really are…”

            I woke up and smiled, then got back on the bus….

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


            Victim consciousness is the belief that I am a victim, that life happens to me, and that all I can do is suffer. Victim consciousness is the belief that everything that happens to me is not my fault, and people are rude, cruel and heartless. Victim consciousness is a habitual way of thinking that makes me blameless and powerless. After all, the worst thing for a victim to believe is that they are responsible for their reality. Victim consciousness is born in fear, fostered in fear and rejects the notion that we created this mess.

            Murphy’s Law states that “everything that can go wrong, will.” This is the classic victim statement. It is the ultimate fear based thought. People who buy into this kind of thinking live their lives as victims and are constantly blaming their reality on others. If it is not their friends who are at fault, it is the bankers, the money-grubbing oil companies, and the invisible wealthy that control our lives and pull the strings behind the scenes are at fault. Everyone is trying to steal our happiness and bliss. And we let them.

            I look around everyday and contemplate how I give my power away. I have some ingrained behaviors that have come to light recently that startle me. I am constantly seeking to please people so they will like me. If they like me then they will be less likely to hurt me.  I am a pleasure junkie, and fear pain. If I am criticized for speaking my truth, then I hurt. So I don’t speak my truth and calculate how to make people like me. That takes a lot of my energy that could be used for more useful endeavors. The best statement I have ever heard is “what other people think about me is none of my business.” I say that a lot, but I don’t believe it.

            As I give my power away, I lose myself more and more. I do things I don’t want to do because I want others to like me. The irony is that people like me for who I am, and often don’t like it when I try to be someone that I think they will like. It all gets kind of mangled in my devious mind. I call it my “nefarious plan of world domination.”

            I see others wrapped in the same insanity, wanting people to like them and scheming how to do it, when all they have to do is be authentic. Being authentic simply means “don’t worry, be happy.” Being authentic means loving others, and us no matter what. Being authentic means accepting that we are always learning, growing and doing the best we can. Being authentic means to stop judging others and simply enjoying everything. Being authentic means smiling more and frowning less. Being authentic means dropping our masks and facades. Being authentic means no more criticism of others or us. Being authentic means discovering who we are and loving that person, not someone we wished we could be.

            I hear the term “step into my power” a lot, and many times I wonder exactly what that means. A lot of times when I hear that phrase it is an excuse to project, criticize and judge others.  I will be the first to admit to that behavior. I have learned for me, “to step into my power” means to shut up and listen. Just because I have an opinion doesn’t give me the right to share it until I have contemplated where the opinion comes from and what my motivation is for sharing the opinion.

            Motivation is the most important aspect of what we do or say. If our motivation is to prove that we are smarter, more enlightened or better than others, then whatever we do is detrimental to our spiritual growth. As the saying goes, “it is better to be silent and let people think we are stupid than open our mouths and prove it.” Whenever we compare ourselves to others in anyway, we give away our power. This is true whether we conclude we are better than or less than the people we compare ourselves. Most people do not realize that when we think we are better than someone else we actually give our power away to the people we condemn.

            The most empowering thought in the universe is “I created and love _____[fill in the blank].” If you are thinking about a person you can’t stand, the blank is filled with the name of that person. If you are thinking about your life, the blank is filled with “my life.” If you are thinking about your circumstances, fill in the blank with “this.” Whatever you are struggling with, fill in the blank with it.  There are no victims in God’s world.

             If we greet every challenge, every perceived tragedy, every perceived setback with “ I created and love this,” you will be responding with love, not fear. When we respond with love, we create a positive energy around the circumstance and it will grow into a miracle. When we respond in fear and victim-hood, we create a negative energy around the circumstance and it will grow into a disaster. It is in this way that we are the creators of our own miracles and disasters. Do not blame anyone for your miracles and disasters, for they are your own creation.

             For me, Mercury in retrograde is one of the most powerful creative times in the year. It is the time when I can get rid of the old and let it go. When things break down, I can look at it and decide whether I really need another one or if I can do without it. If I need another one, then I can decide whether to replace it with something more ecologically friendly or more economical. I can decide whether to upgrade or downgrade. In any case, I know that I was the one that was responsible for the destruction or loss of the thing, relationship or whatever. How much more empowerment can one handle?

              It is folly to blame a planet for our lives. We are the center of our universe and we are the ones that need to take responsibility for everything! The best time to experience this is when Mercury in retrograde, for instead of blaming a planet for our challenges, we need to go inside and discover how we created the mess and what the message is for us. If someone is accusing us of wrongdoing, we should be seeing where that statement is correct, and learn and grow. If someone has pushed our “buttons” or upset us, we need to go inside and see how we are responsible for the chaos. If we can rise above the melodrama, change and grow, we become more powerful than we ever could imagine. We heal, instead of creating more, melodrama.

              I look forward to Mercury in retrograde. I know that things will not be boring as the old is destroyed and the new takes its place. I know that I will become more connected to my divinity as the stuff hits the fan. I know that I will laugh at myself more as I continue to learn more and more about the melodrama I create. Life is love, the rest is pure illusion.