To Live Our Lives Like Water

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courtesy of: HaPe_Gera

A Guide For Living

Worth Reading! From Off the Web   By:  Parker J. Palmer, On Being columnist

The best are like water…

The best, like water,
Benefit all and do not compete.
They dwell in lowly spots that everyone else scorns.
Putting others before themselves,
They find themselves in the foremost place
And come very near to the Tao.
In their dwelling, they love the earth;
In their heart, they love what is deep;
In personal relationships, they love kindness;
In their words, they love truth.
In the world, they love peace.
In personal affairs, they love what is right.
In action, they love choosing the right time.
It is because they do not compete with others
That they are beyond the reproach of the world.

I’ve been drawn to Taoism ever since I read Thomas Merton’s 1965 book, The Way of Chuang Tzu. The teachings of Chuang Tzu — a 4th century BC Chinese Taoist master — introduced me to a spiritual path often called “the watercourse way.

Taoism counsels us to live our lives like water, but that does not mean “go with the flow” passivity. Taoism is all about nonviolent action. It invites us to flow quietly but persistently around the obstacles that stand between us and the common good, wearing them down as a river erodes boulders.

I don’t think Taoism — or any other wisdom tradition — has the whole answer to living well. Sometimes we must swim upstream against cruelty, injustice and untruth.

But rightly understood, Taoism is an important corrective to the Western obsession with force, even violence, as the way to get things done — which often results in little more than an escalation of violence.

The passage above is from the Taoist master Lao Tzu who names a few of the virtues that come from living  “the watercourse way.”  They won’t make you rich or famous. But they serve the common good, make life worth living, and help keep hope alive!

How The Work Works – the work of Byron katie

UNSHAKEABLE INNER PEACE

Worth reading! From Off the web!



Many people in many traditions have spoken about a state of continuous and unshakable inner peace, in which the mind delights in everything that happens. Byron Katie calls this “loving what is.” It is the mind’s natural state. Through the self-inquiry of The Work, people can return to it as often as they wish, and eventually it becomes constant. Suffering is optional.

THE CAUSE OF ALL SUFFERING

The initial insight, as in cognitive psychology, is that all human suffering is caused by believing our stressful thoughts. As the philosopher Epictetus said, “We are disturbed not by what happens to us, but by our thoughts about what happens.” Byron Katie puts it this way: “The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with what is. When the mind is perfectly clear, what is is what we want.”

ENDING SUFFERING

It’s not possible to end stress or suffering by substituting positive thoughts for negative thoughts. This may work to some extent, but eventually the mind will outsmart you. There is a whole underworld of unexamined thoughts that will override the positive thoughts that you’re trying to believe. Ultimately it’s not possible to let go of our negative thoughts, because we can’t control the mind. When we look deeply into the mind, we see that we aren’t creating thoughts in the first place. We aren’t thinking; we are being thought.

Suffering can be alleviated and ultimately ended by questioning our stressful thoughts. The Work provides a simple and powerful method for doing this. Byron Katie says, “I didn’t let go of my stressful thoughts. I questioned them, and then they let go of me.”

THE JUDGE-YOUR-NEIGHBOR WORKSHEET

One of the brilliant innovations of Byron Katie is the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. This allows people to identify the thoughts and stories that cause their suffering. The first step in doing The Work is to fill out a Worksheet. “Though the mind can justify itself faster than the speed of light, it can be stopped through the act of writing. Once the mind is stopped on paper, thoughts remain stable, and inquiry can easily be applied.”

The stressful thoughts to be identified on a Worksheet are about someone else, not about yourself; hence the term “Judge-Your-Neighbor.” This is sometimes difficult for people, since we have been taught not to judge, though we do it all the time. When you do The Work, you see who you are in a stressful situation by seeing who you think other people are. Byron Katie explains this in the following way: “Since the beginning of time, people have been trying to change the world so that they can be happy. This hasn’t ever worked, because it approaches the problem backward. What The Work gives us is a way to change the projector—mind—rather than the projected. It’s like when there’s a piece of lint on a projector’s lens. We think there’s a flaw on the screen, and we try to change this person and that person, whomever the flaw appears to be on next. But it’s futile to try to change the projected images. Once we realize where the lint is, we can clear the lens itself. This is the end of suffering, and the beginning of a little joy in paradise.”

THE FOUR QUESTIONS

1. Is it true? People are encouraged to meditate on this question and go deeper than answers that seem obvious but that bring them stress or suffering. “My husband (or my wife) should listen to me—is it true?” Most people’s automatic response is “Yes,” indignantly or sadly. After someone truly contemplates the question, the answer may still be yes but there may be a slight weakening of the ego’s position. Or maybe the person sees clearly and shockingly that the statement isn’t true. It may be something they have believed for years and decades.

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? If their answer to the first question is yes, this second question gives people another chance to examine the stressful thought and to go deeper into the open mind, which in Zen is called the “don’t-know mind.” Yes is still a valid answer.

3. How do you react—what happens—when you believe that thought? This question allows people to see the cause-and-effect of believing their stressful thoughts—to witness what happened, what they felt, said, and did, when they believed the thought in that They are encouraged to inhabit the situation they were remembering in the first statement on their Worksheet and trace, in detail, the physical sensations and the emotions caused when they believe “My husband (or my wife) should listen to me.” Someone might say, for example, “I feel anger in my belly. My face flushes. I start to talk louder. I see my husband as neglectful. I become antagonistic. I try to convince him. I see him as the enemy,” and so on. These specific reactions are clear evidence of how unuseful, even damaging, this belief is to the person believing it. Whether they answered “yes” or “no” to the first two questions, they get to see how the thought leads them away from connection with the other person.

4. Who would you be without the thought? This is a question outside the realm of cognitive psychology. It allows people to see reality without the superimposition of their own belief. It gives them a vivid glimpse into what life is like without a problem. They become the seer, the listener, egoless, receiving the other person without blame, demands, expectations, or anything but an open mind. This question has resulted in very powerfully transformative experiences, even for people whose response to questions one and two were “Yes.”

THE TURNAROUNDS

After the mind has educated itself about a particular stressful thought through the four questions of The Work, people are invited to turn the thought around. The turnaround is a way of experiencing the opposite of what you believed was true. Sometimes there may be just one turnaround; sometimes there are two or three turnarounds to one of the statements on the Worksheet (turnarounds to the opposite, to the self, and to the other). For example, the statement in that situation, “my husband should listen to me” can be turned around to “My husband shouldn’t listen to me,” and also to “I should listen to me,” and finally to “I should listen to my husband.”

Once people find a turnaround, they are invited to contemplate specific examples of how the turnaround is true in their lives, how it is as true as or truer than their original statement. This grounds the turnaround in actual experience and further weakens the power of the stressful thought over the mind. For some people, just one deep session of inquiry is enough to completely unravel a belief, so that it doesn’t occur again, or if it does, the response is amusement rather than stress.

Often, after fully contemplating the turnarounds, people who have answered “Yes” to questions one and two, if they are asked the questions again, will answer “No,” often with a smile or a laugh.

When we are suffering in any given moment, we are in a trance, hypnotized.

 The Work wakes us up.

Our True Nature

The Gift

                         https-::www.flickr.com:photos:quinnanya:3298469783-URaGood Listener

“The utmost form of respect

                                   to give sincerely

                                                of your presence.”

― Mollie Marti

Life’s Journey(s)

 THE HEROES WITHIN

Archetypal psychology carries with it an approach to life that values the development of the individual soul. There are times when it is developmentally appropriate for people to be self-centered, materialistic, independent, or a warrior. We help people best by honoring the lessons they can gain from each state. Stories and folklore assist in our developmental tasks – using archetypal characters – by helping us make meaning of our lives.

These stories (Joseph Campbell uses the term “Myths”) reveal for us the attributes commonly seen as the good and beautiful; or the dangerous and destructive. According to Carl Jung archetypes are deep and abiding patterns in the human psyche that remain powerful and present over time, passed down through the generations through the “collective unconscious.” (Or our DNA?)

Using Carl Jung’s terminology, the ego is that part of the psyche that experiences separation. At first the young child feels little or no separation from the environment and especially none from the mother. It is only as the individual completes the task of strong ego development that his or her boundaries can expand and make way for the self. This includes the full conscious self, the personal unconscious and access to archetypal images emerging from the collective unconscious. The result is a renewed sense of wonder and oneness with the cosmos and a reclaiming and redefinition of magical thinking.

So what does the Hero’s Journey have to do with me?

Identity

Identity

Our Soul, I believe, has lessons to learn in this life. Carol Pearson wrote several amazing books which looks at twelve archetypes. These are not the only ones, but they are recognizable to most people. By learning to recognize the qualities of these archetypes throughout our varied life’s journeys, we can see where we may be stuck, and qualities to focus on so we can continue our personal growth. She groups them into three sets of four each.

The Ego relates to the preparation for the journey and includes: Innocent, Orphan, Warrior, and Caregiver.
The Soul (the unconscious) relates to the journey itself and includes: Seeker, Lover, Destroyer, and Creator.
The Self (individuation) relates to the return from the journey and includes: Ruler, Magician, Sage and Fool.

The following describes these archetypes – their respective tasks, virtues that can be attained, and where we go next. As you read them, ask yourself where you are now? Where have you been?

Innocent

Every era has myths of a golden age or of a promised land where life has been or will be perfect. The promise of the Innocent is that life need not be hard. Within each of us, the Innocent is the spontaneous, trusting child that, while a bit dependent, has the optimism to take the journey. Their greatest strength is the trust and optimism that endears them to others and so gain help and support on their quest.
Goal Remain in safety
Fear Abandonment
Dragon/Problem Deny it or seek rescue
Response to Task Fidelity, discernment
Gift/ Virtue Optimism, trust, hope, faith, simplicity
Pitfalls Naiveté, childish dependence, denial, obliviousness
Addictive Quality Denial
Addiction Consumerism/sugar/cheerfulness
Shadow Side Evidenced in a capacity for denial so that you do not let yourself know what is really going on. You may be hurting yourself and others, but you will not acknowledge it. You may also be hurt, but you will repress that knowledge as well. Or, you believe what others say even when their perspective is directly counter to your own inner knowing.
We begin with the Innocent archetype. The world provides all that we need. Then the “fall” occurs and we are faced with a loss of innocence and the Orphan archetype comes into play.

Orphan

The Orphan understands that everyone matters, just as they are. Down-home and unpretentious, it reveals a deep structure influenced by the wounded or orphaned child that expects very little from life, but that teaches us with empathy, realism, and street smarts. To fulfill their quest they must go through the agonies of the developmental stages they have missed. Their strength is the interdependence and pragmatic realism that they had to learn by being disillusioned.

Goal Regain safety
Fear Abandonment, Exploitation
Response to the Dragon/Problem Deny its existence, wishing for rescue.
Response to Task Overcome denial or identify with being a victim
Gift/ Virtue Interdependence, realism, resilience, empathy
Pitfalls wants caretakers and authorities to fix them
Addictive Quality Cynicism
Addiction Powerlessness/worrying
Shadow Side The victim, who blames his or her incompetence, irresponsibility, or even predatory behavior, on others, and expects special treatment and exemption from life because he or she has been victimized or is fragile. When this Shadow of the positive Orphan is in control of our lives, we will attack even people who are trying to help us, harming them and ourselves simultaneously. Or, we may collapse and become dysfunctional (i.e. “You can’t expect anything from me. I’m so wounded/hurt/incompetent”)
When everything seems lost, the Warrior rides over the hill and saves the day.

Warrior

Tough and courageous, this archetype helps us set and achieve goals, overcome obstacles, and persist in difficult times, although it also tends to see others as enemies and to think in either-or terms. The Warrior is relatively simple in their thought patterns; seeking simply to win whatever confronts them, including the dragons that live inside the mind and their underlying fear of weakness.

Their challenge is to bring meaning to what they do, perhaps choosing their battles wisely, which they do using courage and the warrior’s discipline.

Goal Win
Fear Weakness
Dragon/Problem Stay/confront it
Response to Task Fight only for what really matters
Gift/ Virtue Courage, discipline, determination, skill
Pitfalls Fear of impotence leading to ruthlessness, arrogance
Addictive Quality Stoicism
Addiction Achievement/success
Shadow Side The villain, who uses Warrior skills for personal gain without thought of morality, ethics, or the good of the whole group. It is also active in our lives any time we feel compelled to compromise our principles in order to compete, win, or get our own way. (For example, the shadow Warrior is rampant in the business world today.) It is also seen in a tendency to be continually embattled, so that one perceives virtually everything that happens as a slight, a threat, or a challenge to be confronted.
As the Warrior discovers his/her competence and power, the Caregiver emerges, moved by compassion, generosity, and selflessness to help others.

Caregiver

The inner Caregiver offers aid to those in need. Caregivers first seek to help others, which they do with compassion and generosity.
Goal Help others
Fear Selfishness
Dragon/Problem Take care of it or those it harms
Response to Task Give without maiming self or others
Gift/ Virtue Compassion, generosity, nurturance, community
Pitfalls Martyrdom, enabling others, codependence, guilt-tripping
Addictive Quality Rescuing
Addiction Codependence
Shadow Side Confirms itself in all manipulative or devouring behaviors, in which the individual uses caretaking to control or smother others. It is also found in codependence, a compulsive need to take care of or rescue others.
When fulfillment is not achieved with Caretaking, our journey takes us into the unknown exploration of the Seeker.

Seeker

The Seeker leaves the known to discover and explore the unknown. This inner rugged individual braves loneliness and isolation to seek out new paths. Often oppositional, this iconoclastic archetype helps us discover our uniqueness, our perspectives, and our callings. Seekers are looking for something that will improve their life in some way, but in doing so may not realize that they have much already inside themselves. They embrace learning and are ambitious in their quest and often avoid the encumbrance of support from others. Needing to ‘do it themselves’, they keep moving until they find their goal and their true self.

Goal Search for better life
Fear Conformity
Dragon/Problem Flee from it
Response to Task Be true to deeper self
Gift/ Virtue Autonomy, ambition, identity, expanded possibilities
Pitfalls Inability to commit, chronic disappointment, alienation, and loneliness
Addictive Quality Self-centeredness
Addiction Independence/perfection
Shadow Side: The Perfectionist, always striving to measure up to an impossible goal or to find the “right” solution. We see this in people whose main life activity is self-improvement, one self-improvement course to another, yet never feeling ready to commit to accomplishing anything.
When fulfillment is not achieved through self understanding, our journey begins to look Outward, to the relationship of the Lover.

Lover

The Lover archetype governs all kinds of love—from parental love, to friendship, to spiritual love—but we know it best in romance. Although it can bring all sorts of heartache and drama, it helps us experience pleasure, achieve intimacy, make commitments, and follow our bliss. The Lover seeks the bliss of true love – of the divine couple. They often show the passion that they seek in a relationship in their energy and commitment to gaining the reciprocal love of another.

Goal Bliss
Fear Loss of love
Dragon/Problem Love it
Response to Task Follow your bliss
Gift/ Virtue Passion, commitment, enthusiasm, sensual pleasure
Pitfalls Objectifying others, romance/sex addictions, out of control sexuality
Addictive Quality Intimacy problems
Addiction Relationships/sex
Shadow Side Includes the sirens (luring others from their quests), seducers (using love for conquest), sex or relationship addicts (feeling addicted to love), and anyone who is unable to say no when passion descends, or is totally destroyed when a lover leaves.
When disillusionment is realized by the Lover, our journey takes us into the chaotic lands of the Destroyer.

Destroyer

The Destroyer embodies repressed rage about structures that no longer serve life even when these structures still are supported by society or by our conscious choices. Although this archetype can be ruthless, it weeds the garden in ways that allow for new growth. The Destroyer is a paradoxical character whose destructiveness reflects the death drive and an inner fear of annihilation. Their quest is to change, to let go of whatever force drives them and return to balance, finding the life drive that will sustain them.

Goal Metamorphosis
Fear Annihilation
Dragon/Problem Allow dragon to slay it
Response to Task Let go
Gift/ Virtue Humility, metamorphosis, revolution, capacity to let go
Pitfalls Doing harm to self/others, out of control anger, terrorist tactics
Addictive Quality Self-destructiveness
Addiction Suicide/self-destructive habits
Shadow Side Includes all self-destructive behaviors—addictions, compulsions, or activities that undermine intimacy, career success, or self-esteem—and all behaviors—such as emotional or physical abuse, murder, rape—that have destructive effects on others.
Once we have learned the lesson of letting go from the destroyer, we reach outward even more, seeking meaning through a New identity

Creator

The Creator archetype fosters all imaginative endeavors, from the highest art to the smallest innovation in lifestyle or work. Adverse to stasis, it can cause us to overload our lives with constant new projects; yet, properly channeled, it helps us express ourselves in beautiful ways. Creators, fearing that all is an illusion, seek to prove reality outside of their minds. A critical part of their quest is in finding and accepting themselves, discovering their true identity in relation to the external world.
Goal Identity
Fear Inauthenticity
Dragon/Problem Claims it as part of the self
Response to Task Self-creation, self-acceptance
Gift/ Virtue Creativity, vision, individuality, aesthetics, imagination, skill, vocation
Pitfalls Self-indulgence, poverty, creating messes, prima-donna behaviors
Addictive Quality Obsessiveness
Addiction Work/creativity
Shadow Side Shows itself to be obsessive, creating so that so many possibilities are being imagined that none can be acted upon fully. We can fill our emptiness with yet another inessential project, challenge, or new thing to do. One variety of this is workaholism, in which we can always think of just one more thing to do. Creators, fearing that all is an illusion, seek to prove reality outside of their minds. A critical part of their quest is in finding and accepting themselves, discovering their true identity in relation to the external world.
Once we have discovered our uniqueness amongst others, we are ready to face life as it is and seek to make the best of our circumstances.

Ruler

The Ruler archetype inspires us to take responsibility for our own lives, in our fields of endeavor, and in the society at large. The Ruler’s quest is to create order and structure and hence an effective society in which the subjects of the Ruler can live productive and relatively happy lives.
Goal Order
Fear Chaos
Dragon/Problem Find its constructive uses
Response to Task Take full responsibility for your life
Gift/ Virtue Responsibility, control, sovereignty, system savvy
Pitfalls Rigidity, controlling behaviors, attitude of entitlement, elitism
Addictive Quality High control needs
Addiction Control/codependence
Shadow Side The ogre tyrant, insisting on his or her own way and banishing creative elements of the kingdom (or the psyche) to gain control at any price. This is the King or Queen who indulges in self-righteous rages and yells, “Off with his head.” Often people act this way when they are in positions of authority (like parenting) but do not yet know how to handle the attendant responsibility. This also includes people who are motivated by a strong sense to control.
When we learn that Ruling does not bring fulfillment, we are ready to enter the wonders of the Magician.

Magician

The Magician archetype searches out the fundamental laws of science and/or metaphysics to understand how to transform situations, influence people, and make visions into realities. Perhaps their ultimate goal is to transform themselves, achieving a higher plane of existence.
Goal Transformation
Fear Evil sorcery
Dragon/Problem Transform it
Response to Task Align self with cosmos
Gift/ Virtue Personal power, transformative, catalytic, healing power
Pitfalls Manipulation of others, disconnection with reality, cultist guru-like
Addictive Quality Dishonesty (image/illusion)
Addiction Power/hallucinogenic drugs, marijuana
Shadow Side The evil sorcerer, transforming better into lesser options. We engage in such evil sorcery anytime we belittle another, or ourselves or lessen options and possibilities, resulting in diminished self-esteem. The shadow Magician is also the part of us capable of making others and ourselves ill through negative thoughts and actions.
Satiated by our experience of power, we seek to combine our life’s experiences into an understandable state of wisdom.

Sage

The Sage archetype seeks the truths that will set us free by helping us become wise, to see the world and ourselves objectively, and to course-correct based on objective analyses of the results of our actions and choices. The Sage is a seeker after truth and enlightenment

Goal Truth
Fear Deception
Dragon/Problem Transcend it
Response to Task Attain enlightenment
Gift/ Virtue Wisdom, nonattachment, knowledge, skepticism
Pitfalls Being overly critical, pomposity, impracticality, lacking of feeling/empathy
Addictive Quality Judgmentalism
Addiction Being right/tranquilizers
Shadow Side The unfeeling judge—cold, rational, heartless, dogmatic, often pompous—evaluating us or others and saying we (or they) are not good enough or are not doing it right.

Fool/Jester

The goal of the Fool/Jester is perhaps the wisest goal of all, which is just to enjoy life as it is, with all its paradoxes and dilemmas. What causes most dread in the Fool/Jester is a lack of stimulation and being ‘not alive’. They must seek to ‘be’, perhaps as the Sage, but may not understand this.

Goal Enjoyment
Fear Non-aliveness
Dragon/Problem Play tricks on it
Response to Task Trust in the process
Gift/ Virtue Freedom, humor, life lived in the moment, exuberant joy
Pitfalls Debauchery, irresponsibility, sloth, cruel jokes, con, artistry.
Addictive Quality Inebriation
Addiction Excitement/cocaine/alcohol
Shadow Side A glutton, sloth, or lecher wholly defined by the lusts and urges of the body without any sense of dignity or self-control.

Article sources:  awakening-the-hero-within-hero-archetype-test; Awakening The Heroes Within Book;

Byron Katie and “The Work”

Byron Katie Loving What Is Book CoverThe following is an excerpt from Byron Katie’s book,  Loving What Is.

“Byron Katie’s Work is a great blessing for our planet. The root cause of suffering is identification with our thoughts, the ‘stories’ that are continuously running through our minds. Byron Katie’s Work acts like a razor-sharp sword that cuts through that illusion and enables you to know for yourself the timeless essence of your being. Joy, peace, and love emanate from it as your natural state. In Loving What Is, you have the key. Now use it.” — Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now


 

Meeting Your Thoughts with Understanding

A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but the attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.

Most people think that they are what their thoughts tell them they are. One day I noticed that I wasn’t breathing—I was being breathed. Then I also noticed, to my amazement, that I wasn’t thinking—that I was actually being thought and that thinking isn’t personal.

Do you wake up in the morning and say to yourself, “I think I won’t think today”? It’s too late: You’re already thinking! Thoughts just appear. They come out of nothing and go back to nothing, like clouds moving across the empty sky. They come to pass, not to stay. There is no harm in them until we attach to them as if they were true.

No one has ever been able to control his thinking, although people may tell the story of how they have. I don’t let go of my thoughts—I meet them with understanding. Then they let go of me.

Thoughts are like the breeze or the leaves on the trees or the raindrops falling. They appear like that, and through inquiry we can make friends with them. Would you argue with a rain­drop? Raindrops aren’t personal, and neither are thoughts. Once a painful concept is met with understanding, the next time it appears you may find it interesting. What used to be the nightmare is now just interesting. The next time it appears, you may find it funny. The next time, you may not even notice it. This is the power of loving what is.

Becoming Aware of Your Stories

I often use the word story to talk about thoughts, or sequences of thoughts, that we convince ourselves are real. A story may be about the past, the present, or the future; it may be about what things should be, what they could be, or why they are. Stories appear in our minds hundreds of times a day—when someone gets up without a word and walks out of the room, when someone doesn’t smile or doesn’t return a phone call, or when a stranger does smile; before you open an important letter, or after you feel an unfamiliar sensation in your chest; when your boss invites you to come to his office, or when your partner talks to you in a certain tone of voice. Stories are the untested, uninvestigated theories that tell us what all these things mean. We don’t even realize that they’re just theories.

Once, as I walked into the ladies’ room at a restaurant near my home, a woman came out of the single stall. We smiled at each other, and, as I closed the door, she began to sing and wash her hands. “What a lovely voice!” I thought. Then, as I heard her leave, I noticed that the toilet seat was dripping wet. “How could anyone be so rude?” I thought. “And how did she manage to pee all over the seat? Was she standing on it?” Then it came to me that she was a man—a transvestite, singing falsetto in the women’s restroom. It crossed my mind to go after her (him) and let him know what a mess he’d made. As I cleaned the toilet seat, I thought about everything I’d say to him. Then I flushed the toilet. The water shot up out of the bowl and flooded the seat. And I just stood there laughing.

In this case, the natural course of events was kind enough to expose my story before it went any further. Usually it doesn’t; before I found inquiry, I had no way to stop this kind of think­ing. Small stories bred bigger ones; bigger stories bred major theories about life, how terrible it was, and how the world was a dangerous place. I ended up feeling too frightened and depressed to leave my bedroom.

When you’re operating on uninvestigated theories of what’s going on and you aren’t even aware of it, you’re in what I call “the dream.” Often the dream becomes troubling; sometimes it even turns into a nightmare.

At times like these, you may want to test the truth of your theories by doing The Work on them. The Work always leaves you with less of your uncomfortable story. Who would you be without it? How much of your world is made up of unexamined stories? You’ll never know until you inquire.

Looking for the Thought Behind the Suffering

I have never experienced a stressful feeling that wasn’t caused by attaching to an untrue thought. Behind every uncomfort­able feeling, there’s a thought that isn’t true for us. “The wind shouldn’t be blowing.” “My husband should agree with me.”

We have a thought that argues with reality, then we have a stressful feeling, and then we act on that feeling, creating more stress for ourselves. Rather than understand the original cause —a thought—we try to change our stressful feelings by looking outside ourselves. We try to change someone else, or we reach for sex, food, alcohol, drugs, or money in order to find tempo­rary comfort and the illusion of control.

It is easy to be swept away by some overwhelming feeling, so it’s helpful to remember that any stressful feeling is like a com­passionate alarm clock that says, “You’re caught in the dream.” Depression, pain, and fear are gifts that say, “Sweetheart, take a look at what you’re thinking right now. You’re living in a story that isn’t true for you.” Caught in the dream, we try to alter and manipulate the stressful feeling by reaching outside ourselves. We’re usually aware of the feeling before the thought. That’s why I say the feeling is an alarm clock that lets you know there’s a thought that you may want to do The Work.

Investigating an untrue thought will always lead you back to who you really are. It hurts to believe you’re other than who you are, to live any story other than happiness.

If you put your hand into a fire, does anyone have to tell you to move it? Do you have to decide? No: When your hand starts to burn, it moves. You don’t have to direct it; the hand moves itself. In the same way, once you understand, through inquiry, that an untrue thought causes suffering, you move away from it. Before the thought, you weren’t suffering; with the thought, you’re suffering; when you recognize that the thought isn’t true, again there is no suffering. That is how The Work func­tions. “How do I react when I think that thought?” Hand in the fire. “Who would I be without it?” Out of the flames. We look at the thought, we feel our hand in the fire, and we naturally move back to the original position; we don’t have to be told. And the next time the thought arises, the mind automatically moves from the fire. The Work invites us into the awareness of internal cause and effect. Once we recognize this, all our suffer­ing begins to unravel on its own.

InquiryThe 4 Questions

I use the word inquiry as synonymous with The Work. To inquire or to investigate is to put a thought or a story up against the four questions and turnaround. Inquiry is a way to end confusion and to experience internal peace, even in a world of apparent chaos. Above all else, inquiry is about realizing that all the answers we ever need are always available inside us.

Inquiry is more than a technique: It brings to life, from deep within us, an innate aspect of our being. When practiced for a while, inquiry takes on its own life within you. It appears whenever thoughts appear, as their balance and mate.

This internal partnership leaves you free to live as a kind, fluid, fear­less, amused listener, a student of yourself, and a friend who can be trusted not to resent, criticize, or hold a grudge. Eventually, realization is experienced automatically, as a way of life. Peace and joy naturally, inevitably, and irreversibly make their way into every corner of your mind, into every relation­ship and experience. The process is so subtle that you may not even have any conscious awareness of it. You may only know that you used to hurt and now you don’t.

Edited for emphasis. Article source:

http://www.inner-growth.info/power_of_now_tolle/byron_katie_loving_what_is.htm

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Recognizing the Sacred in Our World – Part Four

A great read from off the web …. Please take the time.

SPIRITUAL WISDOM: Recognizing the Sacred in Our World by Christopher Chase

“To love another person is to see the face of God.”  ~Victor Hugo

Every religion, at its core, is based on the idea that our world is a sacred and mystical place, and that each of us is on a spiritual journey, that all life is sacred, and that our entire Universe is a mystical creation.

Below is some of the wisdom common to most of the world’s mystical schools and spiritual traditions. Mystical teachings are at the core of all the great religions. They provide an alternative to hate and fear, to our illusions of separateness, reminding us instead of the beauty, interdependence and sacredness of all life.

21 Core Ideas of the World’s Spiritual Traditions – 18 – 21

  1. THE CONTINUOUS NATURE OF CREATIVITY~ The Universe is a creative event, always changing and in progress. Chaos comes out of order, and order out of chaos. Nothing every stays the same because everything keeps growing and developing further. Violence and death are a part of this endless creative dance, the Unbroken Chain of Being. This is the way Spirit expresses itself in our Universe. The world was not created in seven days, it is continuously being recreated every day, and as children of God we have the opportunity to celebrate and participate in that creative process.

“An epiphany enables you to sense creation not as something completed, but as constantly becoming, evolving, ascending. This transports you from a place where there is nothing new to a place where there is nothing old, where everything renews itself, where heaven and earth rejoice as at the moment of creation.”   ~Abraham Isaac Kook, Jewish MysticBeingPresent

  1. THE PRESENT MOMENT IS SACRED AND ETERNAL~ While most of our human experiences are focused on limited tasks, the past or the future, on problems or expectations, the present moment is where Spirit dances and touches our lives. This is why the Sabbath is considered holy, and so much emphasis is placed in most traditions on seeking God in our present lives and surroundings. The past and future do not exist, actually. We live only in the present moment, the Universal “Now.” In the continuous NOW, we perceive the ever-changing physical expressions of Eternity, the movement, evolution and unfolding of the Sacred in our world.

“As a child, I understood how to give. I have forgotten that grace since I became civilized. I lived the natural life, whereas I now live the artificial. Any pretty pebble was valuable to me then, every growing tree an object of reverence.”  ~Ohiyesa , American IndianTree

  1. THE PREVALENCE OF BEAUTY~  Our Universe is fundamentally an extremely well organized and harmonious place, especially when creative forces are in balance with one another. When one looks at the world from the perspective of the Divine Soul one is overwhelmed by the intense beauty of everyone and all things. Our greatest musicians, artists and poets have captured something of this dynamic harmony that surrounds us at all moments, the spiritual and mystical beauty present in cloud patterns, in children’s smiling faces, flowers, animals, friends and what we commonly call “reality.”

The beauty which the knower knows and the lover appreciates, the mystic worships. His God is Reality. To every question that arises in the heart of the mystic, he finds the answer in the life before him.”     ~Hazarat Inayat Khan, Sufi mystic

dewDrop“See simplicity in the complicated, seek greatness in small things. In the Universe, the difficult things are done as if they were easy.”    ~Lao Tsu

  1. SPIRITUAL REALIZATION AND PEACE ARE IMMINENT~ If the great masters and teachers of humanity are right, that life is a spiritual journey being undertaken by spiritual beings, then peace and harmony on our planet is our unavoidable destiny. We can fight and fear all we like, but sooner or later humans are all going to wake up to remember who we really are at our core, all of us. Our destination is unavoidable because of who we really are. Eventually, a world of peace will be created by each of us, one at a time, in a wave of love and caring that will encircle the entire planet. It happens in our lives as soon as we release ourselves from anger and fear, and cultivate love in our world. It is in fact, already happening.

“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only oneI hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as One.”    ~John Lennon

 

Amen