The other day a client of mine after a one-to-one self-inquiry session asked me a very important question: "What do you think is the one thing that stops people from having a better life?"I paused for a moment to consider this and let my mind flip though the filing cabinet of memories of working with people over the years. A commonality came up and I said,
Last week I had a long conversation with an individual in a religious movement. When he suggested that I was a fool for not accepting his beliefs that were embraced by millions of followers for thousands of years, I ended the conversation. This often happens with people in a fundamentalist path. When they cannot convince others of the veracity of their religion they resort to insult.
But this did bring up an important question. Is a religion true because of its popularity for thousands of years?
Are the words of God true in a religious book because millions of people believe in it even though it’s been translated and altered by men over a 100 times? Am I more spiritual because of the way I dress because the founder of my age-old tradition says so? Will I go to heaven if I kill the infidels because thousands of people believe this is true?
About 20 years ago when I was on Clearing Practitioner training course in California, I went out for a meal with some of the students. There was a Mexican couple waiting at their table for lunch with their little son. While they were waiting for their meal I observed their little boy get up and wander around the restaurant.
He would stand in front of some tables silently watching people talk. When no-one noticed him he would go and do the same thing in front of other tables. But no-one paid attention to him. Perhaps they imagined he would interrupt their conversations.
He came and stood in front of our table and I decided to pay attention to him.
When I looked at this 5 year old boy I could see that he was so inquisitive and so excited about his life. He had the deepest brown eyes and was so amazingly open, innocent and loving. He reminded me of the way I used to be when I was his age and the state of being I was in then. I was trying in my spiritual growth to get back to that state but only with more self-consciousness.
I playfully looked in his eyes and said "I see you".
When I was in my late teens I was a hippie (or at least I tried to be one.) I thought I was rebelling and I put on a good act but underneath the act, I really did believe in Truth, Love and Peace and I was intensely examining the basis of our culture and society.
Now as a parent I have gone through three 3 teenagers. I've concluded that the adolescent rebellion that many parents experience is not really seen for what it is ...it's much deeper...
It's really a search for self.
You see them trying on different ways of being: the preppie, the jock, the rapper, the punk-rocker, the nerd, the whigger, the emo, the hippie, etc. They become part of a little tribe of individuals trying on different "clothes". They really don't know who they are, so they look outside themselves trying on a way of acting to see if it fits. They become part of a little hub of kids with a certain protocol of acting. What socks in the pattern, is one thing: acceptance. They get love and acceptance from their group.
Unfortunately they get stuck thinking that the way to be themselves is to be a reasonable facsimile of someone else, the first step in their socialization. They learn that their happiness is outside themselves in adopting an act, a persona or a mask, even if that mask is the rebel.
After that, the next steps are logical, continue to get socialized
"To be religious is to be sensitive to reality. Your total being - body, mind and heart - is sensitive to beauty and to ugliness, to the donkey tied to the post, to the poverty and filth in this town, to laughter and tears, to everyting about you.
From this sensitivity for the whole of existence, springs goodness, love; and without this sensitivity there is no beauty, though you may have talent, be very well dressed, ride an expensive car and be scrupulously clean...there is an immediate response to that which is lovely and also that which is ugly, the response of pleasure or pain, and we put that feeling into words saying: "this is beautiful" or "that is ugly".
I don't know about you but I have not met too many people that are consistently happy. Life is full of ups and downs, times of elation and deep peace and times of loss and difficult challenge. There are so many things we don't want: the pile of bills on the desk, the extra weight, the long commute, the difficult boss, the cold winter, the dishes that always have to be done, etc. The list goes on and extends even to the tendencies in ourselves: the self-judgement, the procrastination, the perfectionism etc.
All these irritations in life are like one of those children's big punching balloons with the weight at the bottom and the perverse smile. The more we push it away and punch it the more it keeps popping back up. We hope that by ignoring or pushing aside all these undesirable conditions that they will go away. In most cases they don't. They keep coming back.
What if the non-acceptance of the things we don't want is actually preventing us from achieving the things we do want? And what if the acceptance of those very things we are not happy about can in the end bring us greater happiness?
That is a pretty amazing paradox.
Let us examine this.
A number of years ago I owned a retreat centre called the Ecology Retreat Centre in the beautiful Hockley Valley near Orangeville. It was a very fulfilling time in my life even though I overworked getting stressed out creating a stress-free environment.
In my tenure there I received a great personal education of many spiritual and growth practices almost every weekend and met many well known spiritual teachers. I also developed a keen radar for groups that were liberating and others that were more cultish and entrapping. I got to experience the effectiveness of many of the transformational practices either by outside observation or by directly participating.
It can be a loaded word – it could mean trap, pain, struggle, lostness. Or on the flipside it can mean comfort, cave, hideaway, protection, safety.
For me, it's been one of my ongoing difficulties in life – to find my place in the world, on the earth and amongst others. I've lived in 2 other cultures – Jamaica and Mexico – and understand that feeling of being the outsider. I grew up in a home that was rife with conflict, so much so that I left at 16 years old. I have moved over 50 times in my 38 years on this earth, and have lived in other parts of Canada, as well.
A common problem that some of my one-to-one Clearing clients have is not having a clear definition of concepts associated with their goals.
For example if someone doesn't know what a marriage is and they want a good marriage, how can they ever achieve this? The same goes for concepts like success, the spiritual path and authenticity. Frequently, I will get clients to participate in a clarification technique where they tell me what a concept is and what it is not.
We go back and forth until they make a breakthrough, the lights go off and they say "Ah, that's what it is". It's a refining process similar to purifying gold: separating out the precious metal from what it is not. It is a simple and remarkable technique. You may want to try this for yourself.
Most people on the spiritual path want to achieve inner peace.
For years and years we have searched for it on the outside only to find that external happiness never lasts. The great tasting meal is temporary, the beautiful fashion changes, the gorgeous hairdo grows out, the great job goes sour and the wonderful relationship breaks-up.
Inevitably, through our lifelong failure to find this happiness, we arrive at the conclusion that inner peace is really in ourselves. So we begin to look there. We take courses, read books, learn to meditate and attend yoga classes and eventually discover that this inner peace is found in the most obvious place. It is so obvious we overlook it: it's in our awareness itself...
“I have taken half dozen True Awakening retreats, which, for me, could well be described as years of therapy. Once you have a "direct experience" of who you are (or of anything else), you never forget it - it stays with you like a reassuring comfort blanket that lets you walk in the world with trust."
—Frances Raymond, Toronto, Ontario
- Two Words that Can Create Havoc in Your Life (maybe for a long, long time?)
- Why Do Affirmations Sometimes Fail?
- Transforming Bitterness
- Mr Potato Head's Awakening Experience
- Besides Stocking Up on Bathroom Tissue - Is There Another Opportunity in this Crisis?
- Problem Resolver Course
- Let's Stop Believing - Just for One Day
- The Ultimate Context Tool for Making Decisions.
- Owning Your Own Universe Project
- Getting Unstuck from the Have-Do-Be World