The Five Things We Cannot Change & the Happiness we Find by Embracing Them
1. Everything changes and ends
2. Things do not always go according to plan
3. Life is not always fair
4. Pain is part of life
5. People are not loving & loyal all the time
- A given is a fact of life over which we are powerless. It is something we cannot change, something built into the very nature of things
- There are in fact, givens in every thing we do & in every place we enter
The Unconditional Yes
- Yes is the brave ally of serenity; no is the scared accomplice of anxiety. We find help in saying Yes & in facing the givens through mindfulness
- That is through fearless & patient attention to the present moment. We also gain support from nature, from psychology, from religious traditions, and from spiritual practices
- When faced with one of life’s givens, we might ask “Why did such a terrible thing happen to a good person like me? I deserve better.” The mindful version of that question is: “Yes it happened. Now what?” We will notice we are happier when we accept what we do not like about life as a given of life
Givens as gifts
- Accepting the things we cannot change doesn’t mean accepting things we cannot change them. We see the acceptance of reality can be our way of participating in our own evolution. Our own & the world’s imperfections become the raw material for a marketplace.
- “No human action can take away another human being’s capacity to love”
1. Everything Changes and Ends
- ex: relationship, enthusiasm, thing …
- Everything goes through a cycle, rising up to reach its peak then fade away, even career, & friendship & possessions
- Perhaps thing end so that we can reach the high spiritual peak that comes with letting go
- Our attraction & repulsions to people, places & things seem to flow over a bell-shaped curve 3 phases: rising, cresting, falling
- When Things change we choose either to avoid change or to accept it
- Mindfulness escorts us to the middle path between attraction and repulsion. We do not become attached to what is appealing nor we flee what is repulsive. We simply sit in our present reality & notice our desires to draw near or withdraw without having to act on them. In this center position is the Yes to the total reality rather than the No to one or another dimension of it. This choice is for psychological work & spiritual practice.
- Our personality also passes through phases throughout our life span.
- The opposite of Yes is not No; it is CONTROL. Behind that controlling impulse is fear, the fear that we will have to feel something painful. We don’t control because we’re selfish or demanding. We control because we are afraid of grief. To let go of control will mean (focus) that we cannot protect ourselves from any of the givens.
- Worry is directly related to control. There’s only one worry: that of not being in full control of what happens to us (unpredictables ex: future, finances, relationships, jobs,…)
- Our spiritual work is to live more fully in the present
- As long as we are feuding with life’s rules, we will fear the direct contact with reality that is the essence of true growth. We will find mindfulness difficult because it insists on full presence in the moment as it is. We may enlist many outs to protect ourselves: money, sex, alcohol, coffee, food, smoking, drugs, & of course the ceaseless movements of our frantic mind itself with all its hopes & fears.
- We are faced with two axes on which to live. Each axis centers around hope. We can live by faith, hope and love, the axis of light. We can live by fear, hope and greed, the axis of darkness. In addition, looking at the vertical column, on the right we see that love cancels fear. On the left faith makes clinging or fear unnecessary.
- Hope, which can be either positive or negative, is the hub of all our inclinations. Negatively, it can keep us stuck or attached. Positively, it is the trust that darkness is not permanent but rather an eclipse after which the light will return.
- I am aware that I will always be fearful in someway. But I don’t have to be fear-based in my behavior or choices. I can hold my fear in one hand and my commitment to no longer act in a fear-based way in the other. Somehow the combination seems more doable than no fear at all.
- Our limits on self-acceptance are equal to the limits in our power to activate ourselves. The more we believe in our competence to reconstitute our broken state, the less we feel the fear that keeps us that way. Any event held in both hands combines reality with hope for renewal. That is what handling something means.
2. Things do not Always go According to Plan
- We make plans expecting to be in control of what will happen
- Perfect discipline, or perfect control, is the best way to miss out on the joy of life
- Error & errancy are not tragedies. They are ingredients of & directions to discovery. They show us paths that humble us, startle us, & point us to new horizons. They do not have to lead to regret or shame. We say Yes to our imperfection and accept our mistakes, we learn not to do it that way next time. Mistakes are not a sign of stupidity. They are Human ways of learning.
- We usually react to the given that life doesn’t follow our plans with an oppositional defiance – fear and desire, debate and blame. Our plaintive reactions may derive from our inflated ego that insists that everything go our way. This adds to our suffering. It is the opposite of humble accepting earthly conditions as they are (Humility)
· Everything changes and passes from one from to another
· Matter, like spirit, is not created or destroyed, but evolves in transformational seasons of beginning, growing, cresting, harvesting, dying and renewing.
· The universe, like the human soul, is both finite and infinite
· There’s no single reliable configuration of how things are or how they are supposed to be or how they will turn out. Instead, there is infinite and unending possibility, just what animates our own souls.
· Events do not always line up in accord with the human version in order
· Nothing and no one is truly separate; all is intricately and necessarily interconnected.
· Everything is zealously engaged in becoming what it is. Everything is becoming what it is meant to become no matter what are the interferences or odds.
· Nothing is ever complete or finished. Everything is at work in progress, especially our self
· All beings in nature are subject to time by reason of birth and death.
· We are all continually evolving – taking on the new and letting go of the old – to fit the changing condition, yet it doesn’t have to determine their future.
· Love, wisdom, and healing endure as driving forces both in our human stories and in the story of the universe. Simultaneously, nature is driven by destructive forces that are necessary for the survival of us all.
· When we intuit a truth of the universe, we feel a bodily resonance: It “feels right”. We are clicking into the archetypical code of our humanity. And it matches the evolutionary code of the universe.
· The center of both the universe and the psyche is a single movable feast, and the circumference is no where to be found.
this is the true joy of life: being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap, being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish, little cold of ailments & grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy – George Bernard Shaw
- Our universal calling as humans is to be the most loving people we can be. The commitment makes us less likely to be at the mercy of others’ reactions to us or opinions of us. We appreciate acceptance but do not carve or cling to it. We are hurt by rejection but not devastated by it. Our focus is on how we love, not on how we’re loved. On how we can give not on what we can get.
- Our calling is also about other capacities, gifts that are givens of who we are. Each of us is here to discover and share marvelously unique inner gifts.
- There seems to be an orderly intrinsic directedness in all of nature, and certainly in us. Everything is heading into what it’s meant to become.
- There’s a larger life meaning behind every given
1. Everything changes and ends ð renewal
2. Things do not always go according to plan ð Synchronicity and Trust
3. Life is not always fair ð Karma and Forgiveness
4. Pain is part of life ð Redemption
5. People are not loving and loyal all the time ð Unconditional Love
It all balances in love
- Our personal plans work best when they align with a larger plan. This happens when we live not only for ourselves and our loved ones but for the work as well
- Balance happens when love takes us one step beyond fear. Love created a feeling of safety. When we act with love we feel so good about ourselves that courage blooms.
3. Life is not always fair
- Sometimes we are take advantage of
- Sometimes we do all the right things and wind up losing
- Sometimes we act cautiously and are nonetheless hurt
- We may act with good intentions toward others and yet our efforts go unappreciated or are misinterpreted.
The challenge is to meet our losses with loving-kindness
- Any human relationship or interaction can have painful moments in it, a nature adult notices that closing off is dangerous to her sensitivity and that remaining too open is dangerous to her boundaries. The middle path means willingness to open while also maintaining healthy boundaries (we seek amends when others treat us unfairly, ask for redress, and if it doesn’t work, we let go, and our hearts do not close)
- Usually we run from conflicts as we run from closeness
Retribution aims at x Restoration moves toward:
Punishing the evil doer as evil x Seeking to heal the ignorance of the evil doer
Satisfying society’s need for revenge x Harmony
Making someone pay x Having someone make amends
Getting even x Caring that a fallen brother find redemption
Getting rid of a disturbing and dangerous presence x Correcting and then reincluding
Guarantying the safety of society at the cost of causing the aggressor to suffer, with no chance at rehabilitation x Guaranteeing the safety of society while being compassionate to the aggressor’s pain and helping the person recover his humanity
Preserving historical style of dealing with injustice (an eye of an eye) x Finding an exciting and more humanitarian solution to injustice
Imagining and wishing Hitler in hell for all the evil he perpetuated and for which he will never be forgiven x Imagining Hitler in a Zen monastery, where a strict, but wise abbot is pointing to his deeds and teaching him to ask for forgiveness until he becomes an enlightened man and comes back to help humanity
Maintaining the either … or belief in a hell (eternal) or heaven x Generating a belief only in purgatory or rebirth (temporary) and heaven or nirvana
Making sure the cycle of retaliation continues so that war can be justified x Ending the cycle of retaliation so that the war will no longer be an acceptable solution
End of Story x Beginning of a Dialogue
- If someone treats us unfairly in our personal life, the challenge is to make sure something changes in our relationship – not to make sure the person is punished. The former comes from a wish for healing, the latter comes from the dark tendency of the bruised ego to hurt back
The art of Taming Ego
- The 4 motives of a driven ego are: Fear, Attachment, Control, and Entitlement
- The face of ego can be transformed with spiritual commitment. Fear can be replaced with love. Attachment can turn into letting go. Control can soften into allowing. Entitlement can become working for justice without hate or retaliation
- Hate is not in the repertory of a healthy person., neither psychologically nor spiritually
Our ego is never meant to die. Only to be tamed so that its wild energies be put to better use, so:
- We become utterly transparent, no longer trying to look good
- We accept rather than oppose any condition of existence (wait for our turn, and accept losses)
- We act justly in our own dealings and work for justice in society
- We don’t lose sight of the essential humanity of those who do evil things, never give up on others’ transformation
- We drop the expectation of permanence in anything at all
- We acknowledge our own dark side. We admit our wrongs – present and past – and make amends. This helps us let go of regrets and keeps us humble
- We feel compassion for the innocent who suffers, dropping the why if it’s a natural disaster, asking why if it’s human created
- We do not hate
- We cease seeking to be perfect but want only to be faithful to our psychological work and our spiritual practice
- We see the givens of life as moments that present us a gift and a door. We are thankful and we cross the threshold
4. Pain is Part of Life
- A given of life is that there’s a cost for everything, and suffering is part of that cost
- Pain is not a punishment and pleasure is not a reward. They are simply features of any existence.
- Suffering seems to be an ingredient of growth during every phase
- Some people draw pain and crisis to themselves; some have it thrust upon them and make themselves feel more pain by how they react to it. We all have to face pain, and when we experience it mindfully, we simply feel it as it is. When we add the ego layers, the mindsets of fear, blame, shame, attachment to an outcome, complaint or obsession, we make things worse.
- That’s why letting go of ego is so crucial to liberation. It allows us to experience reality with its natural consequences, which are never as severe as the ones we devise in our heads. In addition, reality and its consequences are trustworthy synchronicities that lead us to new perspectives and possibilities.
- Our purpose in life is not to remain upright at all times, but to collapse with grace. We should be vulnerable in an open healthy way, and let ourselves experience the betrayals that life and relationship sometimes bring. They are hurt, but they have a spiritual technology to deal with their hurt. They do not hurt back. They do not let themselves be hurt more. They stand up for themselves and wish enlightment for those who hurt them. This is how they let their hearts open more than ever and become strong against predators while still penetrable to the slings and arrows of love. They may be victims but they are not casualties.
- A spiritually evolved adult seeks not an answer but a significance. Grasping meaning is more a matter of appreciation than of intellectual certainty.
- “Meaning makes things endurable, perhaps everything”
- “When we accept what happens to us and make the best of it, we are praising God”
- “We are transformed by what we accept. We transform what we have accepted by understanding”
- Nature is not just flowers and bunnies; it contains some unpleasant and highly destructive elements. To love nature doesn’t mean having to enjoy all its vicissitudes and moods. But it does mean honoring all the seasons & possibilities. This is befriending the dark rather than fearing or hating it.
Being with the suffering of others
- Empathic presence means listening to someone’s pain with what’s called the five A’s: Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, Affection, and Allowing.
- We pay attention without being distracted; we accept what is said without editing, adding, or blanking. We feel a genuine caring about what happened and what might happen to this person. We allow whatever feelings or silences or head trips the other employs in this moment without attempting to blame him, stop him, or criticize him.
- The same five A’s are the defining features of support, mirroring, caring & intimate love.
- A friend who is suffering in our presence soon knows with certainty that it is always all right to be in disarray, depressed, or confused when around us. He knows he will not be expected to “snap out of it”. He knows he will not be talked out of it with comforting quotations. The person in pain is granted access to the hard & pained corners in her psyche within this holding environment of empathy. She has found a companion who can sit with her in the dark. Her worst side can become visible without her being blamed or shamed.
- When a feeling state of an immediate experience is granted a hearing in full safety, something wonderfully opening happens. Once someone experiences a self-validating moment to the full, an inner permission to let go & move on is granted from deep in the psyche. Bearings are gained when the pilot has an honest view of where the ship is, no matter how lost or off course.
- Compassion is not feeling sorry for someone. It happens when we accept the other as an equal & the other’s pain as what we may feel sometimes too. “Let’s just sit beside one another & look at this together”. The other also has to step back and look at her own experience as a compassionate and alert witness, not as a judge, victim, or prosecutor. Only in mutual mindfulness can the healing shift occur.
- I notice that when my mindsets (fear, judgment, blame, need to fix, attachment to an outcome) recede, I am much more in touch with my heart and its empathy. I see it all simply and only as a fact that speaks for itself.
The fertile Void
- Distressing voids are thus challenges to stay with ourselves. To stay is to say Yes. Mindfulness is a practice of attending and staying. Mindful presence in the void happens when we pay attention to what is with no attempt to understand it and when we stay in it with no attempt to end it. If we simply stay with the experience of the void, something eventually opens in it and us.
5. People are not Loving and Loyal All the Time
- Some people act dishonestly, some lie, some are hypocritical. Part of growing up psychologically and spiritually is noticing all this but without censure or retaliation.
- We do not willingly allow others to be dishonest or hurtful toward us if we can prevent it. If they are, we ask for amends. If all we do fails, we let go.
- Sometimes people keep their promises and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes people love us loyally and faithfully, even unconditionally. Sometimes they hate, reject, abandon, or betray us. An adult has learned to take all this in stride. We feel the pain but it doesn’t devastate us or destabilize us. We don’t want to be so strongly affected by what others do that we lose our own ability to love.
- Some people will like us, some will dislike us; some come through for us, some betray us; some care tenderly about our feelings, and some trample them under foot. Accepting this variety as a given makes it less likely that we will let the reactions of others determine our personal worth.
- No human being was ever loved or treated respectfully by everyone
- We may distinguish two kinds of hurt: Intended and Consequent
- If we feel the hurt more intensely than seems to fit the bill, we may want to examine ourselves and ask if our ego has reared its entitled and demanding head, so we look in the mirror and say:
Fear: I am afraid that I will not survive if everyone does not love me
Attachment: I am attached to a very specific version of what I’m owed
Control: I need to control others’ reactions to me
So you learn to let go of all these
The Lifelong Influence of Childhood
- Some of us do not recall what happened in childhood. We do not quite recall how we were treated till a partner treats us the same way our parents did, then:” This has happened before”. The more we can remember, the more likely we are to grieve the past and let go of it so we can meet other adults not as figures from our past but as real people in the present. This is the journey to mindfulness. If our relationships open old wounds, we realize we are there on horse back. The horse is our innate gift for facing new issues and dealing with them.
- Parents who have an understanding of themselves and have resolved their own childhood issues create an atmosphere in which safe attachment and optimal growth can occur
- What happened in the past should be addressed, processed and resolved
- Our adult challenge is to become self-nurturing while at the same time able to give and receive the five A’s. How to be self-nurturing?? Steps:
1. Sit Mindfully for 15 minutes each day
2. Notice where your deepest needs, values and wishes are and follow them with an engaged focus
3. Remind yourself of your place in the universe
4. Begin to configure other people as pilgrims, not as shrines meant to give you comfort or answers (Other people can relate to you helpfully but not complete you)
5. Act with kindness and respect toward all people
6. Make contact with nature in different ways each day (Nature is the mother of sense)
7. Give up the standard escape hatches (alcohol, drugs, …)
8. Work on yourself through psychotherapy, counseling, spiritual practices, and groups reading books)
Some points that tackle childhood issues
· You may not be treated with the fuss you received in childhood, and this may feel like the equivalent of not being loved
· No matter how your parents may have mistreated you, they are not stopping you now from doing at least therapeutic work it takes to recover
· When the growing question is “why am I not getting what I want in life?” One of the questions behind it might be “What am I still carrying from the past?”
· Love is a teaching device
· Your mind may be saying, “I want a peaceful relationship”, but your body may want what it had in childhood
· The purpose of relationships is the same as the purpose of our work & life (To become fully evolved adults who give and receive the five A’s abundantly)
· The criterion for being in a relationship is the same as that of any important choice in life (Is this a context in which I will find the safety to be myself; to live in accord with my deepest needs, values, wishes and potentials; and to fulfill my life purposes?)
· An ego based question in a relationship is “what can I get out of this?” a spiritually healthy question might be, “what will it take to be a contributor here?”
· In a committed relationship or friendship, partners can challenge one another without fear of disrupting or ending the connection
· Some people, especially introverts, find strength by withdrawing into themselves. Can you handle that as a partner’s style, or will you take it as rejection?
· Sex is so layered with needs, history and ego that its meaning is often secret even from you
· In a relationship, you always face two possibilities: reality and fantasy.” How much of this relationship is based on fact and how on my own fictional sense of or wishful thinking about what is going on or who this person is?”
· In an uneasy relationship, an adult moves away from “He’s to blame” to “ I am choosing to be here”
· You may seek – or be in – an attachment that feels good, and call it love, rather than a connection that is good, which is love
· The central fear of intimacy is that you will have to give up control over how someone loves you. If a partner gets too close, you may feel the fear of engulfment. If a partner goes too far away, you may feel the fear of abandonment. You may be fearful in some way all your life, but you no longer have to be fear-based. There are ways of working with fear in therapy and in spiritual practice.
· If you are sensitive to abandonment, it’s natural to become terrified when you are criticized or when someone shows disappointment in you. This may be because it feels like a serious or permanent rejection, a severing of desperately needed bonds: “This criticism means she doesn’t like me, wants to leave me, and can’t love me anymore. When people don\t like me, it’s my fault.”
· The fact that “love is blind” gives us all a chance to be loved by somebody
· The choice in communication is between two approaches: adult problem solving with focus on the issue, or an ego-competitive or defensive style with focus on writing, self assertion, and not losing face
· Can you distinguish between needs and beliefs that you have a need? For instance, as an adult you do not need someone to take care of you, but you may believe that you do
· A soul mate is not one who say she or she is your other half, but the one who shows you that you are whole
· “He is all I have”: this may be why you are staying in an untenable relationship. Such resignation to pain leads to despair, a loss of your lively energy. Despair in this context is believing there’s no chance for the five A’s. That is a reason to mourn rather than to give up.
· Expectation is a personal longing that we try to get someone else to take care of. An adult has given that up
· When you find a partner’s traits distressing, it is important not to attempt to change her or him but to work on how to handle what you find unappealing. It is harder to defang the bobcat than to learn ways to protect ourselves
· No person or event can force a negative reaction from you when you are committed to standards of loving-kindness
· We imperfect human beings need each other, not perfection, to become happy and whole. We are “good enough” for each other as we are
· There’s a critical difference between living in a commitment relationship and in single life. In single life virtues of humanity, compassion, attentiveness, caring and patience are recommended. In a relationship they are required.
A checklist on Boundaries in our Relationships
As adults our love is unconditional, but our commitment is conditioned by how cooperative our partner is and how responsible the demands of the relationship are
When you give up your boundaries in a relationship (Codependency) x When your boundaries are intact in a relationship (Self-Parenting) you:
Break commitments with friends because the person so important to you is suddenly available x Design your schedule in a cooperative way but respectful of your own needs
Do not notice how unhappy you are, since enduring is your main concern x Recognize when you are happy or unhappy
Do more and more for less and less x Do more when to do more gets results (your commitment to help fits and is based on its effectiveness)
Require the approval of others in order to have self esteem x Take others’ criticism as information with no diminishment of self esteem
Live hopefully while continuing to wait for change x Live optimistically because you are co-working on change
Are satisfied as long as you are coping and surviving x Are only satisfied if you are thriving
Let another’s promises or minimal improvement maintain your stalemate x Are encouraged only by mutual commitment to change
Have few hobbies because you have no attention span for self-directed activity: you are other directed x Have excited interest in self-enhancing hobbies and projects whether or not the other joins you in them
Make exceptions for this person for things you would not tolerate in anyone else and accept his or her alibis or lies x Have a personal standard that, albeit flexible, appeals to everyone and are not afraid to ask for accountability
Are manipulated by flattery so that you lose objectivity x Appreciate feedback and can distinguish it from attempts to manipulate
Keep trying to create intimacy with a narcissist x Are open to relationships only with partners with whom reciprocal love is possible
Are so strongly affected by another that you have become obsessive about him x Are appropriately affected by your partner’s behavior and take it as information
Will forsake every personal limit to get sex or the promise of it x Integrate sex so that you can enjoy it but never at the cost of your own integrity
See your partner as causing your excitement x See your partner as stimulating your excitement
Feel hurt and victimized, but dare not show anger x Let yourself feel anger, say ”Ouch!” and embark on a program to change your situation to the better
Act out of compliance, compromise and appeasement x Act out of agreement and negotiation
Do favors that you inwardly resist while being motivated by obligation or indebtedness (cannot say no) x Only do favors that are motivated by choice and you cannot be guilt-tripped (can say no)
Cannot dismiss lingering guilt even after reasonable amends or no fault at all x Are satisfied and no longer resentful once amends are made
Disregard your own intuition in favor of wishful thinking x Honor intuitions and distinguish them from wishes
Allow your partner to abuse you or your children, family or friends x Insist others’ boundaries be as safeguarded as your own
Mostly feel afraid and confused x Mostly feel secure and clear
Are enmeshed more and more in a drama that unfolds beyond your control x Are always aware of choices rather than feeling trapped or at the mercy of the other
Are living a life that is not yours and are perhaps not quite aware of it x Are living a life that mostly reflects your deepest needs, values and wishes
Believe you have no right of privacy or a life of your own x Protect and enjoy your private matters without having to lie or be surreptitious
Never believe you have given enough x Give generously and reasonably and then let go
Fear your partner will leave or punish you if you disappoint him or her and cannot imagine or tolerate your life without your partner x Trust your self to be able to handle comings and goings and to survive quite comfortably if left alone; cannot be black mailed by threats of abandonment
Arrange things so that your partner will be protected from your real feelings or truth x Assertively and kindly express to the other what you feel, think, and want
Tolerate your partner’s addiction(s) even when they lead to abuse x Confront addictive behavior and detach if change is not forth coming
Place your physical health at risk x Protect your body in all circumstances
Are swayed by looks, charm, rhetoric, sex, history together, or financial security x Enjoy the extras as desserts but are never controlled by them
Give loan, or invest money in appropriately x Handle money matters wisely, generously, and objectively
Lose objectivity, intelligence, and personal powers x Maintain your full range of personal discernment and power
- We cherish love unconditionally, in any form or size. At the same time, we do not make a commitment to someone if the love that person offers is inadequate. We do appreciate it when we have been given the best this person has to offer. But if the best is still unsatisfactory, the only question is: what do I do next? Most of us ask instead: what should he do next to satisfy me?
- Unconditional love happens best within a context of plentitude rather than neediness. Such inner fullness overflows spontaneously into the five A’s, which is a technology for openness.
- When I am present in those five unconditional ways, I find myself opening. And when I give the five A’s to myself, I grow in self-esteem.
- Our spiritual practices have a direct impact on the possibility of our showing love in relationships in an adult way: Mindfulness helps us practice attention, acceptance and allowing. Loving-kindness helps us show affection and appreciation.
The Signs that your love to someone is truly unconditional
· You feel a sense of connectedness with the other that endures and cannot be supplanted no matter what
· You consistently have well-meaning thoughts and are wishing the best for the other
· You act kindly at times even anonymously, with no expectation of anything in return
· You sense your heart opening when you are with the other or thinking of him or her
· You maintain a commitment to nurture the other and the relationship more than your own ego demands
· You are no longer pushed or arrested by fears of closeness to or distance from the other
· You do not engage in ego competitiveness or aggression, actively or passively
· You are sensitive to how the other feels and go to any length not to hurt him or her intentionally
· You have an effortlessly compassionate, forgiving, generous, and non-retaliatory attitude in your thoughts and actions (there’s no vindictive force in the universe. Revenge is exclusive to humanity)
· You keep your own boundaries intact so that your love is always unconditional, but your commitment is intelligently and appropriately conditional
· You are aware of your partner’s negative traits and you see them with compassion and amusement without letting them impinge upon you. Am I willing to play on relationship’s full checkerboard of light and dark?
· Finally, unconditional love is entirely in the present tense. You do not hold a grudge from the past or hold the other’s past against her or him
· “I like you the way you are. What do I care how you got that way?”
6. Refuges From the Givens
We live in a society where the accent on youth and beauty as well as wealth and prestige leads us to suffering in those who do not fit the bill. As long as that us the case, we are not in a world grounded in the truth of things. This is why it’s so important to have a set of values that cherishes not that which is superficial but that which represents the enduring values of virtue and integrity.
Religion as a refugee
- Fear is deeply associated with the idea that there are powers beyond us that can harm or help us. That is why religion has so much to say about letting go of fear, or also why it does so much to scare us. Religion attempts to respond to that scared place within us.
- A mature religious consciousness offers skillful means to face up to life’s givens boldly and even cheerfully.
- A mature prayer is not “Don’t let me have to go through this”, but “Help me through this”. Grace is everywhere doing everything. All we have to do is open to the gift dimension of life. Our attempts to stay in control are denials of grace.
A Religion not geared for Adults x Mature religion or Spirituality
Insists we follow the voice of authority x Offers guidance and leaves the decision to us
Insists on uniformity of beliefs we inherit; we are held to what has already been known x Respects our unique and new realizations; we enter what we did not know yet
Proposes clear-cut dogmas and moral codes x Encourages evolving beliefs that emerge from rather than suppress dialogue
Becomes fear based: ”the loss of heaven and the pains of hell” though it also includes consolations x Emphasizes compassion and a consoling sense of a loving intent in the universe
Insists on membership in an institution x Allows for participatory presence without the need to agree
Holds the keys to the means of grace and keeps them limited to a specific sacraments and rituals x Offers the power to find, devise and expand the means of grace without limitation
There are 3 Refuges:
1. The enlightened mind of any person
2. The teachings and practices offered by his nature
3. The community of fellow practitioners on the path to enlightenment
- Some refuges are distractions and some are resources. Part of adult spirituality is having the wisdom to know the difference
Positive refuges are relationships, friendships, art, nature, music, creativity, career, entertainment, meditation
Negative Refuges are alcohol, food, sex, drugs, gambling, shopping, denial, excuses or extra analysis
Magical thinking – Some illusion thoughts that distracts us from reality .. ex:
- Reality will become or remain the same as my mental picture of it
- Dangerous forces will erupt if I don’t adhere to very precise rules or rituals
- Something has always been wrong with me and I can’t know or fix it – though everyone else is aware of it
- I have been guilty from early life and still have not been fully punished
- We get what we deserve
- I am eternally indebted. I always awe something to God or have to keep paying for something I have done that remains unfixably wrong.
- If it had not been for this one thing happening or if one special thing would happen, everything would be perfect now
- Need fulfillment is scarce, so I must work hard and consider myself lucky to find some satisfaction
- I have to grasp this opportunity right now or lose it. There’s no time for a mindful pause
- If people knew me as I really am, they would not love me or want me
- “What goes around comes around.” This is a wish of the frustrated retaliatory ego, not a karmic certainty
- If I don’t remain in control, everything will fall apart
- The spiritual realm does not exist since it cannot be confirmed by scientific methods – i.e. it cannot be controlled (Disbelief is often a control issue)
- If I bring an issue out into the open, it will become even more serious and dangerous. If I never mention it, it will go away
- Happiness will not last if I enjoy it too much. Full on exuberance is dangerous
- Prosperity will be followed by catastrophe and vice versa
- There’s a by-and-by to come in history in which there will be no violence or evil and the human shadow will disappear
- Allied to magical thinking is wishful thinking (ex: I expect everything to be better in the future although I’m doing nothing to make that happen)
These are all self-deceptions. Once we are adults, nothing satisfies but the truth of what is real. A yes to the facts of life means an attitude of “give it to me straight”
7. How to Become Yes
- Yes is born of trust and heals fear. This is because we are acknowledging that whatever happens to us is part of our story and is useful on our path
- The givens of life show us who we really are and help us be the best we can be
*Only in changes and endings do we find out how we hold on or let go
*Only in failed plans do we find out about a larger plan afoot that has our best interests at heart, trusting the heartfulness of the universe and discovering our spiritual potential
*Only when we suffer do we find our courage and our depth and learn compassion for others’ suffering
*Only when others are disloyal and unloving do we find out if we can really love unconditionally
The Given: Things change and end
Our fear in the face of it: We may lose what we have
How we mask our fear: Being less committed or becoming stoical
The Yes that fits best: Grieve and let go
The Given: Things do not always go according to plan
Our fear in the face of it: Our expectations will not be met
How we mask our fear: Plan every detail and try to stay in control
The Yes rgar fits best: Accept what happens and learn from it
The Given: Things are not always fair
Our fear in the face of it: We might not get our fair share
How we mask our fear: Insist on keeping everything even and blame those who are unfair
The Yes that fits best: Have an attitude of “you win some, you lose some: while working for justice
The Given: Pain is part of life
Our fear in the face of it: We will not be able to handle it
How we mask our fear: Try to be on guard to avoid pain
The Yes that fits best: Allow pain that is natural and do not add to pain by attempting to control it
The Given: People are not loving and loyal all the time
Our fear in the face of it: We will feel hurt and have to grieve
How we mask our fear: Stay away from closeness in the future
The Yes that fits best: Speak up and say “Ouch!” while not retaliating
4 Virtues for Loving Kindness
1. Love – involves an unconditional intention and will that all beings will be well and happy
2. Compassion – being touched by the pain others feel and wanting them to be free of suffering
3. Sympathetic joy – wishes that all have good fortune and rejoices when others are successful
4. Equanimity – is serenity and groundedness in all circumstances, no longer being halted or compelled by fear or desire, memory or anticipation (i.e. develop our ability to go through difficulties without being devastated or becoming embittered)
Ally yourself with nature
- Watch the sunrise and set, watch the moon, look at the night and the sky
- Dreams give answers to questions we have not yet learned to ask
- Be open to the idea that nature is always communicating with you
8. Yes To Feelings
We can be pushed and crushed by life’s pressures or we can become fair and alert witnesses of them and then choose the next best thing to do. Witnessing our feeling about and our reactions to circumstances means not being caught up in them, not taking t hem too personally or too seriously, not being possessed by them, not being devastated by them, not being stopped or driven by them
When events impact a person x When events impinge a person
Feels feelings safely remaining grounded and controlled x Is overwhelmed by feelings becoming destabilized and devastated
Goes through the experience consciously and seeks healthy support at the same time x Use drugs or some addiction to escape or avoid reality
Notices that sleep and appetite are affected moderately x Notices that sleep and appetite are affected seriously
Addresses, processes and resolves the issue x Gets stuck in obsessive dead end thoughts and continues to feel the pummel of events
Feels down, but at a level appropriate to the situation x Is depressed or in despair
Maintains physical health x Damages physical Health
- Feelings are the fast track to intimacy. They reveal us not as tensed against impact and trenchantly in control but as vulnerable and softened. We become disarming and appealing
- The four major feelings are in fact SAFE: Sadness, Anger, Fear and Exuberance
- Other people may be catalysts of our feelings, but no one is a cause of them
- The freedom to feel leads to fearless honesty: we can stop working the angels. We can be who we are; we can act spontaneously and freely, express our emotions. Gradually we notice that we like what we spontaneously say and do, that we are proud of our honesty; that we are no longer trying to look good. We are saying yes to ourselves as we are. This is precisely how our basic goodness is revealed
- Feelings, like everything else in life are ever-changing and impermanent. This is how the cycle of a complete feeling experience flows through us: A stimulus à arousal of a feeling à Showing the feeling à cooling down à a calm openness to what may come next as we get on with life à readiness for the next stimulus and beginning again
- We may interrupt ourselves at any point during the natural sequence, preferring an incomplete experience. For instance:
* We may prevent ourselves from noticing the trigger-point stimulus by engaging in denial or dissociation.
* We may interrupt the arousal of a feeling by intellectualizing what happened or explaining it away or excusing it or failing even to notice it
* We may interrupt the expression of the feeling by simply stuffing it or by going so out of control that it is no longer a feeling but drama.
* We may interrupt the cool down and the going on by holding on to a smoldering resentment, which becomes stress rather than resolution.
At any of these points we may turn to alcohol, drugs, food, or addiction as ways of stunting the lifecycle of our feelings
How do we receive the feelings of others?
In order to fully receive others’ feelings and help them to move through their emotions, we stay present with the five A’s and without the mindsets of ego: fear, attachment, control, judgment, complaint, blame, contempt, or censure. Examples:
- We let others experience grief in their own way, with respect for the time it takes them, with compassion for their pain, and without trying to fix the,
- We listen to their anger with rapt attention and without ego defenses or any attempt to prove then are wrong or to retaliate
- We stay present with them as companions in their fear
- We encourage and join in their fun and joy, saying, “go for it”
Intimacy then comes to mean the exchange of our feelings with the support shown in the five A’s and without interfering mindsets
Most of us do not fully show or fully receive feelings
What do we do when a friend is suffering?
Simply to stay with other’s feelings with no attempt to change, fix, or reduce them honors connectedness. Staying is how love is made present. It doesn’t erase reality for us, only accompanies us through it. Also to stay with our own reality is to become divinely loving of ourselves
Tracking our feelings
- The first challenge in expressing our feelings is to take personal responsibility what we feel, since our feeling is based on our unique beliefs and needs
- It’s as simple as ABC: Action or Stimulus leads to a Belief about its meaning, which leads to Consequent Feeling (an action does not lead to a feeling unless a belief intervenes)
- The second challenge is to show our feelings in ways that do not threaten or impinge on others’ freedom (healthy people share their feelings to be mirrored by others, not to unload their feelings unto others)
- The third challenge is to maintain a connection with others no matter what we may feel toward them (authentic feelings do not have to become disruptions of our closeness to one another. They can be communications that lead to deeper communion)
A useful practice in tracking our feelings to recover by asking questions like:
- How does each emotion arise?
- How do we show it or not show it?
- What happens when we feel it coming on?
- Where did this style come from?
- How is it linked to my childhood?
What feelings are not
Our feelings are our truth. To hide them in ourselves or run from them in others is to fail to face the truth that sets us free and the contact that makes us coherent to one another
Feelings are not beliefs, needs, sensations, emotional states, or judgments. We use the one word feel to cover many subtle possibilities in human communication
The statement = Really means
I feel he is the best candidate = I believe he is the best candidate
I feel like being held = I need to be held
That touch feels good = That touch brings pleasant sensations
I feel lonely = When I am lonely I feel …
I feel you betrayed me = I judge you for your behavior, or when I am betrayed I feel…, or I believe you betrayed me
Some words point fingers at others although they represent our own feelings
Ex: betrayed, abandoned, rejected, disappointed, humiliated, isolated
An adult’s project is to seek out the true feeling that hides behind the belief
We may also confuse feelings with states of mind like loneliness and jealousy. Instead of “I feel lonely”, try “when I am lonely I feel…” This may station you in one or more of the four basic feelings
Jealousy is not a feeling; it’s a combination of three feelings: anger, sadness and fear
“Now that I’m jealous I feel …”
Hate can be confused with anger. Hate has five traits:
- Strong anger
- A malicious need to hurt the other
- An insatiable carving for revenge
- An inability to forgive no matter how penitent the other may be
- Giving up on the other
Hate is a defense against anger, grief and powerlessness. We cannot stand those feelings so we project them onto others as hate.
The difference between anger and hate is that anger seeks to remove an injustice, hate seeks rather to destroy the unjust
Anger engages someone, hate distances
Anger is expressed and let go. Hate can never be satisfied or completed but abides as resentment
Despair (giving up on the other) is the origin of hate
Most of us have noticed in ourselves and in the others that one feeling tends to dominate in our personality. It is our favorite resort, our default setting
Ex: some people cry when anything big happens, some get angry at the drop of a hat, some automatically find something to be worried about, some laugh things off easily. Fear is the most frequent feeling though
Feelings are three dimensional
Body, mind and soul (physical, mental and spiritual)
In a healthy expression of feelings all three dimensions are honored
To show feelings with physical gestures and full body resonance helps us be the true to the visceral nature of our experience. Society may frown on this kind of full expression of feeling, but the challenge of personal freedom is to design our behavior in accord with what is earthly and natural
Mental is to understand the feeling
Spiritual is to be thankful for the energy the feeling generates
9. A Yes to Who I Am
An unconditional yes to who I am, how others are and what the world is places me in the best position to grow
We can say yes to our evolution and self growth in there interdependent ways:
1. Psychological health
2. Spiritual maturity
3. Mystical oneness / Spiritual awakening
- To engage in the work it takes to build a healthier ego (a healthier way of functioning in the world)
- Psychological health means: a combination of thought and action in the world that keeps us evolving
1. It is the key to self esteem that brings both serenity and happiness
2. Effective relationships in which it becomes possible to love without fear
A checklist of progress toward psychological health
· Assertiveness in our dealings with others so that we express our deepest needs, values and wishes without inhibition and with respect for others
· Making peace with childhood issues so that they no longer control our present life or direct our style of relating to others
· A program for dealing with fear, guilt, anger and addiction so that we are not driven or stopped by any of them
· A recognition that our ego can become inflated or self-centered and a choice not to be ruled by those distortions
· A reliable inner program, to which we are committed for handling needs, conflicts, suffering, losses, challenges, and decision making
· A commitment to address, process and resolve issues that arise in us and between us and others
· An awareness that people – and we – have a dark shadow side and a program to deal with it creatively, including making amends when we are at fault
· A recognition that our strong reactions to others, either of aversion or of attraction, may be projections based on our own shadow, our ego, or our early life issues
· An evolving sense of self respect and respect for others with all their diverse virtues and vices
· An ability to maintain personal boundaries and yet be authentic in our relationships with others
· The ability to be intimate without being stopped by fear or pushed by compulsion
· An ever evolving and trustworthy intuitive sense and a non-defensive attention to the feedback of others
· The twofold ability to engage animatedly with new people entering our lives and to let go serenely of those who are leaving
· A recognition that these qualities may require that aid of therapy, self-help books, classes, or twelve-step programs and willingness to go through those resources
Psychological health causes your own happiness
Spiritual health causes the whole world’s happiness
A checklist to explore the effects of your spiritual practices on your present lifestyle
· To act virtuously in all our dealings with others, with no motivation to take advantage or gain adulation
· To show compassion and love not only to those we care about, but to all beings
· To befriend and transform the shadow in ourselves and others so that it yields spiritual riches
· To care that others find the spiritual gifts we have discovered and to do all we can do to share them, especially by example
· To let our life become the story not only of our own advancement but also of our cooperation with the evolution of our planet: a sense of universal purpose and service
· To be free of the constraints of ego, that is, no longer to be driven or stopped by fear, attachment, control, or arrogant entitlement
· To give up all forms, however subtle, of retaliation or violence so that we replace anger with activism and our paranoia with service
· To honor the freedom of others and to work for justice in the world through nonviolence
· To form a coherent foundation or framework of values and standards from which our life choices are made
· To trust more that the world and all that happens in it have a larger meaning and purpose than that of gratifying our ego
· To trust an abiding sense that something, we know not what, we know not how, is always at work to bring us and all beings to our steps become shifts into higher consciousness
· To act with humility and virtuous standards
· To remain aware that, ultimately, we do not achieve spiritual wisdom but receive it as a grace – and it is always and everywhere available
· To trust more and more that the world and all that happens in it has a larger meaning and purpose than that of gratifying our ego. Yes makes this happen.
Mystical experience is pure, content free consciousness. A mystic has an intuitive discernment that transcends and defies rational thought. Here, there’s no division between inside and outside, inner and outer, surface and depth, body and soul
· A recognition that individual consciousness and ego are only provisional designations and repeated suggestions of separate identity and that actually we are interconnected with all that is
· An awareness that everything is permanent because of its cycle of change and renewal and impermanent in its individually ending identity
· An end to being driven or stopped by fear so that we can be released from the ego’s war-strafed world
· An engaged and active compassion for those who are still caught in ego – without feeling that we are superior to them
· A release of unconditional love, intuitive wisdom, and healing power in all we say and do
· A vision of the world as an ever renewing celebration in which is played out the mystical marriage of apparent opposites
· A vision of nature as the container, preserver. And developer of consciousness
· A contribution to the liberation of the collective human shadow through personal moral integrity and commitment to the welfare of other
· A recognition that all is grace and synchronicity so that, no matter how chaotic or puzzling life becomes, our destiny is being beautifully fulfilled
· A sense of a transcendent life behind all finite appearances, in a pervasive non-duality all that is
· An awareness that the divine is the deepest reality of the human and the natural and not a separate state or a separate being, except in personification or metaphor
· An abiding and unshakable loving-kindness toward ourselves and others
· An awareness that everything on this list is inadequate and imprecise, since words cannot contain – pr even successfully approximate – the mystery of the infinite
What exactly defines a coherent, healthy sense of self?
1. A sense of continuity – I am part of history, I am part of humanity, I am part of nature
2. An ability to deal with problems and people – I accept the good and the bad in life events. I accept the good and the bad in others and in myself. When I do these practices of mindfulness and loving-kindness, I become more than an entitled ego, and I like myself a lot more too. I make sense of what happens to me and learn from it. I know what I can and cannot do, I know my limits and accept them as givens
3. A responsiveness to support – People, partners, and parents are not available all the time, so it’s important for me to have the skill to look elsewhere for need fulfillment sometimes. I am appreciative and receptive to mirroring from others, I can trust other people, I can receive support and cherish my sense of belonging to a family, a relationship, a community. Once I acknowledge God, I am no longer alone in the universe
4. A virtuous framework for conscious living – a sense of self includes living life within a framework, that is within a set of ethics and standards
· I say yes unconditionally to the givens of human life: everything will change and end; things will not always go according to my plans; life will not always be fair or pain-free; and people will not always be loving, honest, generous or loyal
· I am happy to appear as I am, without pretense and no matter how unflattering. I am not perfect, but I am deeply committed to working on myself. I am noticing that the more I engage in my personal work, the more I care about the world and the part I am privileged to play in its creation. Rather than simply pass through experiences without awareness, I choose to pause long enough to address and process what is happening to me. I learn from my own reactions
· I am not caught up in regret or self reproach because of my mistakes in life. I take it all as a learning experience so I can do better in the future. I make amends whenever I can. And, of course, any mistakes become a valuable passport to humility
· I examine my conscience regularly. I do a searching inventory not only about how I have hurt others but about how I may not have activated or shared my gifts, how I may still be holding on to prejudices or the will to retaliate, how I may still not be as loving as I can be.
· I listen carefully to others’ feedback rather than become defensive or ego aroused by it. I welcome feedback that shows me where I am less caring than I can be, where I am less tolerant, where less open. I am not afraid of free speech, my own or that of others. I am willing to express and to receive feelings, including fear, joy, grief, and tenderness. I show anger nonviolently, not in abusive, threatening, blaming, or out of control ways.
· I notice that my behavior and choices are no longer determined by what others may think of me. I am making no attempts to get others to accept or love me. I am not changing myself to fit in. I am committed to portraying myself just as I am. No matter what the reaction. I can no longer be manipulated by flattering, but I do show my thanks when others appreciate me
· No matter what happens to me, I remain ever more grounded I remain ever more grounded, unswayed by fear or desire. The events in life and the actions of others impact me, but they do not impinge. I remain secure within myself and at the same time connected to others
· I forgo taking advantage of others by using my charms of body, word or mind to trick or seduce them. To grow in humility, I blow the whistle on myself when I notice myself being phony, mendacious, aggressive, passive, or manipulative. I come clean right then and there by admitting that I am acting falsely. This is how I open myself to finding virtuous alternatives
· I ask for what I want without demand, manipulation, or expectation. I remain respectful of the timing, wishes, and limits of others. I can take no for an answer
· I am less and less competitive in relationships and find an uplifting joy in cooperation. I especially shun situations in which my winning means that others have to lose.
· I do not knowingly hurt others. If they hurt me I do not retaliate, only open a dialogue and ask for amends. No matter what I do not hate anyone or hold grudges. I act kindly toward others not to impress or obligate them but because I really am kind – or working on it. If others fail to thank me or to return my kindness, that does not stop me from being loving nonetheless. I never give up on others. I believe that everyone has an innate goodness and that being loved can release it. I am committed to resisting evil and fighting injustice in nonviolent ways. This is how I focus on restorative justice, not just a retributive justice
· I have a sense of humor but not at the expense of others. I do not engage in ridicule or sarcasm, nor do I use “comebacks” when others are sarcastic toward me. Is imply feel the pain in both of us and look for ways to bring more effectiveness into our communication
· I look at other people and their choices without censure. I still notice the shortcomings of others and of myself, but I see them as facts rather than flaws. I do not laugh at people’s mistakes or misfortunes
· I am able to say “ouch!” to pain and abuse in jobs, relationships, and interactions with others. I take action to change what can be changed and to move on when things remain abusive. I do this without self-pity or the need to make others wrong
· I abide by standards of rigorous honesty and truthfulness in all my dealings no matter how others act toward me. My question is not “what can I get away with?” but “what is the right thing to do?” If I fall down in this, I admit it, make amends, and resolve to act differently next time. I easily and willingly apologize when necessary.
· I am focusing on being consistent: at home or in relationship I am the same person I am at work. I show the same respect and sincerity toward strangers as I show towards those close to me
· I keep my word. I honor commitments and I follow through on the tasks I agree to do. More and more I can tell what my limits and skills are. This helps me set sane boundaries on how much I offer to do for others, rather than simply being accommodating.
· I have and unwavering sense of myself as a person of conviction while still remaining flexible. I am able to change my behavior, to drop outmoded beliefs, and to make alterations in my lifestyle to fit the ever-evolving demands of my world. When I come up against an identity crisis, I take it as an opportunity for enlightenment.
· I am thankful for the values and helpful beliefs, biases, and myths I inherited from family, school, religion, and society. One by one, I dismantle and discard those not in keeping with healthy and virtuous living and cherish those that are
· I am no longer under the binding influence of the four main streets that direct so many attitudes and lifestyles: Madison Avenue (advertising and popularity), Tin Pan Alley (music and dancing), Wall Street (business and work), and Hollywood (acting & fake attitude)
· I measure my success by how much steadfast love I have, not by how much I have in the bank nor by how much power I have over others. Expressing my full and unique capacity to love is the central focus of my life
· I am engaged enthusiastically in meaningful work and projects, and that is the source of my bliss. I keep discovering my deepest needs, wishes, values, and potentials and living in accord with them. I have reason to be proud of some accomplishments.
· I ask this question as I embark upon any project or relationship: is this a suitable context for me to fulfill my life purpose/ My life purpose is to live the unique and exuberant life that is inside me, to love with all my might and to share my personal gifts in anyway and everywhere I can
· I am willing to work indefatigably to fulfill my life purpose but not to stress my health to acquire standing, status, fame, or fortune, the central and often only values in the ego’s worried world. My focus in life is simply on becoming a good person
· My work on myself has made me more conscious of the politics and stresses of the world around me. I question authority while affirming, praying, and working for an end to war, retaliation, greed, hate, and ignorance. This is based on the fact that I have not given up on believing in the possibility of transformation for every person, political and religious leader, and nation
· I am always aware of the pain and poverty of those less fortunate than I. I find ways to respond that combine generosity and personal contact. I am generous with time, attention, money and myself
· Confronted with the suffering in the world, I do not turn my eyes away, nor do I get stuck in blaming God or humanity but simply ask: “what then shall I do?” I respond to pain in others with a plan to help even if it has to be minimal. I choose to light one candle rather than curse the darkness
· My love for nature makes me tread gently on earth “a courtesy toward natural things”
· I can feel myself growing in spiritual consciousness. I can feel a divine energy within me that is behind whatever love, wisdom, or healing power I may have or show. What is in me is not from me but through me. I say thanks for these encouraging graces and yes to the string call to keep living up to them.
The Givens that are our graces
- our irrepressible playfulness and sense of humor
- our ability to go on living no matter how we are treated by others and no matter what happened to us in the past
- our outrage at and courageous action in the face of evil
- our willingness to put ourselves second even to risk our life for others
- our capacity to forgive and let go
- our refusal to accept defeat or abuse in the face of any odds
- our unflappable hope
- our knack for showing our best when things are at their worst
- our skill at finding order in chaos and meaning in disaster
- our intuition, which reveals more than we logically know
- our tendency to be honest even when no one is looking
- our striving for what lies beyond our grasp, our inclination to stretch ourselves and others
- our abiding sense that the universe is friendly and that there is ultimately a loving intent in all what happens
- our kindly understanding of and loving reaching out to those who do not choose to live in accord with this list
· We retain and enjoy a felt sense of accompaniment, of not being alone as we face things in life. This arises in those special moments of synchronicity and grace that makes us realize that our ego is not all we have going for us
· There are resources in and around us and they appear at any time but particularly in our moments of unconditional yes, trust, meditation, prayer, imagination, vision, or intuition
· We experience moments in which we feel that we are in contact with the source of love, wisdom, and healing – indeed, that we are that
· We notice an abiding sense of someone or something that earnestly wants us to evolve and to fulfill our potential. This comforting, judgment, restraint, pause or stint
· We notice we are being given graces that help us realize our wholeness. They take many forms: the givens themselves, particular people, places, things, dreams, or synchronous events that point out our path and help us transverse it. People in our lives who help or hurt us seem particularly to be messengers, mostly unwillingly, from just such a higher source
· We are sometimes in touch with spacious depths in ourselves and aware that those depths are the same as those in other beings and in all the universe. As long as nature is around us, we are enfolded in divine life, the life beyond conditions
· We experience in nature and in our psychic life a sense of wonder, awe, rich pathos; we reach sublime peaks of feeling; we encounter powers beyond human making that seem to reach out to us and never let us go. We feel mysteriously supported at times, and that support is what is meant by divine presence
· We feel a sense of belonging, as if the natural world were holding us in a lifelong caress, like what we felt in our mother’s arms and may be now in our lover’s arms
· No matter how dark or destructive things become, we are aware of healing energy even afoot that indefatigably renews and rebuilds what falls apart. Something keeps putting it – and us – a;; back together. This is why it is all right to fall apart
· We palpably feel a loving purpose built into the very structure and direction of the universe. Why things happen in ultimately a mystery. We cannot exactly say that everything happens for a purpose. However, making the best of what happens to us is the equivalent of a purpose, its evolutionary direction. And the direction of evolution is always onward: “Our God is marching on!”
· We may feel personally loved when we look at the religious images and when we appreciate nature, we fee there is a power in the universe, and at the same time allows us to reject it and yet never gives up on us
· We have it in us to go on loving in trying circumstances and with trying people, and this makes us feel confident that love is our origin, purpose and end. How sanguine and yet inscruble that our human energies can meditate such miraculous powers
· We sense that the world and we are one single mysterious energy, at once transitory and everlasting, at once given and gift. “I am what nature is.” Becomes an answer to the conditions of existence. It is the answer of belonging
· This loving presence is not necessarily experienced as personal, as in the traditional religious belief. Our capacity to hold the sense of a presence can be equivalent of what is meant by the presence of God. For instance, our capacity to go on loving, no matter how harshly we have been treated , is the metaphorical equivalent of trusting that “God draws good out of evil”
· Our deepest inner life has recognized itself as God or saints, none of which are separate persons but archetypal personifications of an ineffable and inextinguishable light in us and in all that is. God is a personification of the essential being that keeps finding itself through the conscious evolution of each of us
· A belief survives in us that is always lovingly at work, we know not how, to make us more than we are yet. That something is our own lively energy and simultaneously the life force of the universe