Monthly Archives: May 2008

The Secret to Happiness

It is precisely in being present to what we’re doing that we discover happiness.

Unhappiness and frustration emanate when we look to something or someone outside of ourselves to make us happy.

Eckhart Tolle, in his book A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose says this. Our purpose in life is ultimately to become present to what we’re doing, to bring consciousness to the world and in so doing we will be joyful. Period! Sounds simple doesn’t it? But just try being fully present to the moment and what you’re doing in that moment without your mind (ego) racing on about what’s happening next, 3 days from now and what happened yesterday! We’ll find it’s not that easy! But I believe he’s got a point. I like his twist on what it is to be joyful and how we discover happiness. Many of us get it backwards and as a result we end up in a consistent state of unhappiness and frustration. Tolle says this:

“When you say, I enjoy doing this or that, it is really a misperception. It makes it appear that the joy comes from what you do, but that is not the case. Joy does not come from what you do, it flows into what you do and thus into the world from deep within you. The misperception that joy comes from what you do is normal, and it is also dangerous, because it creates the belief that joy is something that can be derived from something else, such as an activity or thing. You then look to the world to bring you joy, happiness. But it cannot do that. This is why many people live in constant frustration. The world is not giving them what they think they need” (Eckhart Tollo A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose, p.298). He goes on to say that when we simply become present to what we’re doing we will gradually find that we are more joyful.

Perhaps this is what the Christ spoke of when he spoke of the “kingdom” being in our midst, right here, right now! Perhaps this is what he meant when he said “I have told you these things that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (John 15: 11). Perhaps that’s what he meant when he told us that we will find ourselves if we forget ourselves (the ego mind).

Perhaps today we could continue the process of attempting to simply be present to what we’re doing in this moment – and see what happens!


Songs of Vibrant Living

Songs of Vibrant Living

After a seemingly disastrous meditation session yesterday morning, where my mind kept whirling about the various tasks I had to accomplish that day, I made an effort at simply being present to what I was doing. And you know what? . . . I ended up accomplishing more than I had set out to do that day, AND when I stopped rushing and thinking about the next task, I began to enjoy what I was doing. The day was transformed from being a rushed jumble of activity to a day well lived – filled with a sense of being alive, instead of merely existing and watching time pass.

Some years ago I wrote a poem called “Songs of Vibrant Living,” which speaks to this sense of being present to life, amidst its busyness. I would like to share that poem with you. Try to stay present today and see what happens.

 Enfolded by evening and the echo of the loon

     The stars, radiant and still –

     Teaching grandeur and humility at once –

     Inspire awe.

 

The dawn of light upon silver waters

     The air still

     Spirited creatures of earth quietly fill the space with

     Songs of vibrant living

All a hymn to the desire of my heart

Stillness gives birth to life.

 

To the Great and Awesome Mystery

     That in stillness gave spark to living

The dim flame of my being, seeking new breath,

      Ascends in its desire . . .

In daily chaos from within and without

     Unfold the path of stillness

     Dawn’s light

     Songs of Vibrant Living

 

 

 

 

 


Hurrying Up To Slow Down

As I sat meditating this morning my thoughts couldn’t stay off the day and what was to come; working at home for my job, exercising, some laundry, cutting the grass, cleaning the house.  I could not stay present to silence. I could not stay PRESENT, and that was the problem.

How often I race through what I’m doing in order to get to a point of relaxation and peace.  It’s like I hurry up to slow down!  When I do this, I am not present to what I am doing.  Ironically the slowing down doesn’t happen when I have time to relax, it happens when I am able to be present to what I am doing at this moment without thinking of all that is to come.  There is a stillness of being that is brought to my “doing” when I am simply present to what I am doing.  My day to day living is then transformed from a hurried rush to an experience of living that is a bit more full and rich.  Isn’t it interesting that we run, run, run and then plan a vacation; and then even our vacations become a hurried rush of activity and seem like they’re over in a flash!  Being present to what I am doing right now is like bringing a little vacation to my everyday life.

Remember the long days of summer when you were a kid?  Perhaps they seemed so long because we were a bit more present to what we were doing and not so much focused on the future!  Try to stay present to what you’re doing today, without getting distracted by all that is to be done.


Get Help!

Mark 10: 46-52

The one thing that I pray for every morning is that God would direct my thinking. I want to live well and I don’t want my vision clouded by negative thinking, energy or behavior. I want to live in ways that give me clear sight and clarity of vision. Sometimes though, my vision can get clouded. Sometimes my vision gets so clouded that I cry out like the blind man – “I want to see!”

When I am not processing what’s going on in my life with a trusted friend, spiritual advisor, sponsor or therapist, my vision begins to get clouded. Left to our own devices, we can talk ourselves into anything! At times we need guidance or just a sounding board that can echo back to us what we’re saying and doing so that we can see it more clearly.

Years ago my vision was very clouded. I felt like I was drowning and like Bartimeaus I cried out “I want to see!” And like the people in the Gospel who tried to shut him up, voices tried to shut me up. “You are an abomination,” they said. You must be “this way” in order to be acceptable in the eyes of God. But I didn’t feel myself to be “that way.” I was gay. And I was also a person captivated by God and questions of meaning in life. That God relationship was all important to me; but I was being told that I was not acceptable in the eyes of God. This was a time of great struggle and grief in my life.

I am so grateful for a wonderful spiritual advisor who I sought out. He told me of God’s love and through a long process I was able to begin to see myself as being created in love by God AS I AM. I began to see myself, God and others in a new way. I went from feeling like I was dying to feeling full of energy, light and life!

The important thing was, . . . I sought out a spiritual advisor. If I had not done that, God knows where I’d be! At other times in my life I have continued to seek out therapists, groups or had sponsors in 12-Step programs. These types of things were what that helped keep my vision clear.

How clear is my vision? Is it time to check in with a good spiritual director, therapist, group or the like?

Religion, Spirituality, Gay, Homosexuality

 


The Dating Game

I ran across a guy I know the other day and man, he looked good! I think he likes me, but I’m not sure of the nature of his liking me. Is it as a friend? A friend and romantic interest? Just a social acquaintance?

If you’re anything like me, any modicum of self assurance by which I live sometimes goes flying right out the window when I am in front of someone in whom I am romantically interested! And then the mind starts going: “What does he think of me? DOES he think of me? Does he like me? Am I good enough for him? Would he ever date me?” And the chatter goes on and on. I now realize that when I am in such a state, I am clearly not aware and centered. The ego has taken over.

When I am able to step back from this chatter, I realize that this is not me, it’s the ego. The ego wants him badly. The ego always wants more and is never satisfied. The ego is what makes me self conscious. It makes me think that I am lacking something and that I must always be grabbing after something or someone outside of myself to complete me or make me happy. This is the greatest fallacy of the dating game and relationships. And that’s why so many relationships fail! We enter them thinking that we lack something and that this other person is going to give it to us. Over time, we realize that they’re not going to give us happiness, or security or the like and we are again left with ourselves

When I am centered in the deepest sense of who I am beyond the ego’s chatter, self confidence returns, precisely because I’m not grabbing after something or someone, but simply PRESENT to them! No expectations. When I am able to be present to someone without looking to them to give me something that I think I don’t have (i.e., happiness, a full rich life, love, connectedness) then I am truly able to relate to them from a peaceful, detached place. And this is a good basis for a relationship that is good and true and not based in self seeking. A relationship based in self seeking is doomed to be a disappointment.

If you’re single, . . . how’s your dating game going? If you’re partnered, how present are you to your partner?


Stick With It

Did you ever have some expectations for a day or an experience that simply just didn’t pan out?

I am writing this on the morning of a holiday in the United States.  Today is Memorial Day.  Yesterday evening, after working hard in the garden, I was very tired.  It was only around 9:45pm when I decided to go to bed.  The thought of going to bed early and waking up early on this holiday morning was very appealing to me.  I looked forward to an extended time in meditation in my backyard and assumed that I would have this wonderful, peaceful experience – especially after a good night’s rest.

Well my prayer and meditation time was anything but peaceful!  In the midst of this great morning of sunshine and birds singing, flowers and beauty all around me, my mind was like a car rushing here and there in the midst of rush hour traffic!  My immediate reaction was to bolt.  Just get up and leave!  I was then reminded of spiritual “practice.”  It’s called “practice” for a reason.

In order to get good at something we have to practice.  Meditation is about getting good at becoming conscious of the quiet and eternal as we walk through our busy days.  It is about getting good at experiencing that peaceful place even in the midst of chatter of the mind and the drama of life circumstances.  Even though I didn’t feel like I was getting anything out of this exercise, my challenge was to stay with it. The more I fought this poor experience of meditation, the worse it got.  Also, once I was able to simply accept that this was one of those times I was not feeling connected, I was more easily able to stay with it.

Practice is needed in the spiritual life.  Practice is needed in good relating and good loving.  Practice is needed in the making of a good relationship.  It just doesn’t happen.  We have to work at it – even when we don’t want to!  AND we’re not always going to feel connected, whether it be in our prayer, with our Partner, a friend or Life itself.  Our natural reaction is to bolt when we’re not feeling something, when it’s not freely flowing.  Our challenge is those times is to stick with it.  Although the farmer is not aware of the seed germinating in the ground, they still work at it because they know their work will bear fruit – even though they can’t see immediate results.  Stick with it!


Detachment

Mark 10: 17-27

“Go sell all you have. . . . How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”

Again and again, the Christ points to detachment from possessions as a way to experience life fully, i.e., the “Kingdom.”  In doing this, Jesus was going against the religious understanding of his time.  In his day, riches and wealth were thought to be a sign of God’s blessing.  Consequently, poverty and sickness were thought to be a sign that one was a “sinner,” that they, or one of their ancestors had done something wrong.  Jesus turns this prevalent religious understanding upside down!  He says:  “How difficult it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”  The disciples in this gospel are obviously startled by what he says, so much so that Jesus had to repeat it.  Even so, the disciples were “completely overwhelmed at this!”

Again here, the Christ has the courage to speak out even contradicting prevailing religious thought.  It’s no wonder why he was crucified!

What can this say to our hearts?  In order to enter – that is, experience – the kingdom of God – that is full, rich life – we must be detached from people, places and things.  It’s when we are detached that we are truly free and experience life at its fullest.  When we cling to people, places and things we are living in a consciousness of scarcity.  When I believe that the world and God is stingy, I will be stingy in return and cling to my time and resources.  But when I am living in a consciousness that God/the Universe is without limit and eternally abundant – I freely let go of my possessions because I do not fear that there won‘t be enough.  And, paradoxically, in the letting go, I am given life in abundance!

Perhaps what we most need to “sell” are our thoughts of limitation and our lack of belief that we will be cared for.  In so doing, our perspective and experience of life will change!