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positive thinking techniques
Feb 15

Beyond Positive Thinking: Presencing the Divine

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

If you abide in me,
and my words abide in you,
ask whatever you wish,
and it will be done for you.

-Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John

You may appreciate the power of positive thinking from such classics as Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. It may have served you in business, in attracting a mate or in losing weight. Positive Thinking was developed to counterbalance the mass of negative thinking that characterizes the world at large. Garbage in—Garbage out. Why leave your thoughts to chance?

Why not choose your thoughts?

If you look deeply even into Napoleon Hill’s philosophy, you will find that it is really all about developing the faith that can move mountains. You think positive through repetition in short affirmative phrases, most often spoken out loud. You attempt to visualize a desirable result and feel the emotional high from its fulfillment, far in advance of the reality.

When your life takes a spin, with death in the family, a sharp reversal in your career, bankruptcy or a life-threatening disease, you will find that positive thinking in and of itself is not sufficient. You need something deeper, much more powerful. How about opening up to God, Himself, to our very Source?

When you have direct access to the Presence of the Divine, you can confront any situation and utterly transform it.

positive thinking benefits

When Positive Thinking Is Not Enough

If you have ever told yourself, “I am a millionaire.” and then expected the money to magically appear, much as in The Secret, you were most likely in for a rude disappointment. Rarely does money come so fast, so easily.

With a little reflection, you realize that you are deliberately conditioning your mind to habitually think positive. While it is wonderful to think big, to imagine great achievements, your shadow self can quickly suck the very life out of you. In addition, the world tends not to favor Pollyanna’s, or extremely optimistic people.

You ultimately have to work on your identity. Tony Robbins introduced his concept of global change, a transformation of yourself on all levels. You think positive, because YOU ARE POSITIVE. To accomplish this, a small price is required. You must give up everything you have ever identified yourself.

To think or be POSITIVE – you need to tweak your identity. You must give up everything you have ever identified yourself.

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From Consciousness to Community

When we look at the great spiritual traditions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, even enlightened humanism, you find that they were established by an enlightened person of the ancient world. In Buddhism, it was Siddhartha, in Christianity, it was Jesus of Nazareth and in Islam, Muhammad.

Each of these visionaries introduced a whole new consciousness, a divine consciousness. They transmitted that consciousness to others and formed communities, whether an ashram, a sangha, a synagogue, a congregation or the ummah of Islam. These communities preserved the original inspiration and proceeded to promulgate that consciousness throughout the world.

What is most revealing is Christ’s assurance that “where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” No church buildings, no clergy, no printed Bibles. The first Christians met in synagogues, and then in homes, pooling all their property together in a primitive socialism. Remember, it takes only two people to form a community. The Master Mind, the Sacred Presence, forms a third person. 

From Community to Communion

If you take any tradition, and read deeply into its sacred scripture, and you partner with adherents of the living faith, you will begin to commune with them, and with its Source. It is possible to spiritually access any of the founders, Krishna, Buddha, Christ, Muhammad, by simply invoking their name, by calling on them.

Let’s say you read the Gospel of John, meet with Christians who are truly living their faith (I think of the profound grace and compassion of Pope Francis) and consciously invoke the Presence of Christ, whether or not at mass, you will begin to be anointed with His Presence. All you need is an open heart, an open mind and open hands.

As you practice for days, weeks, months and years, you will find that you are subconsciously in continuous communion with divinity. In my case, I invoke the Presence of Christ as the Lord of Love, the direct incarnation of God. More and more, I begin to see Him in others, and His God, in others. I begin to accept His revelation that God is LOVE, absolute love.

From Communion to Union

Communion, like meditation, contemplation and centering prayer, can be wordless. You sense the Sacred Presence such that you begin to unite with It. You walk hand in hand with Christ (Krishna, Buddha, Socrates, Muhammad). You intuit God as your friend or lover.

Because you are so much aligned with our Creator (most likely through an Avatar, Bodhisattva or Messiah), you begin to realize your divine nature as a son or daughter of God. Therefore, you can bless people, and they will be blessed. You can send healing energy, and they will be restored. You can bring peace to people on the other side of the globe, and they will relax. You just say to God internally, bless so and so, heal so and so, reconcile so and so with so and so, and it all begins to happen.

You find that you begin to want to truly get in step with God, to please Him. You recognize your own divinity and you realize that all your power comes from Him. Most of all, you realize that GOD loves you totally, without reservation. Whatever you ask of God, becomes in increasingly in harmony with what God wants. You fall in love with God, and, conversely God falls in love with you.

From Union to Identity

As you move from union to identity, you see a shift from God as precious but separate towards God as your only true and ultimate Self. You think of who you called yourself as no more than a piece on the game board. In fact, you develop a sense of humor about your persona. That’s not really me at all!

As you move into identity, you discover what Kabir did when asked to preach to a crowd of people. “To whom shall I preach. I see God everywhere.” More than being a lover of God, you find that the Christ, the Avatar, the Bodhisattva has taken birth within you. When you look upon the face of the Messiah, you will find that He is more YOU than you. At the end, LOVE is already within you… it’s up to you if you choose to live it.

positive thinking advantages

In identity, you can not only move mountains, you can change the world, even transform the Universe. You begin to realize that the galaxies spin within your Absolute being.

You begin to see how it is all perfect, just the way it is, and you can have it any other way, as well.

Waking Up to a Miraculous Life

You have now gone far beyond positive thinking. You have gone from your head into your heart, and from your heart into pure being. You are waking up to divine love, which is the most powerful force in the entire Universe. That love is yours. You can access it at any moment.

Then you can decide whether you really want that million dollars, or if you would rather bless every sentient being, and like Siddhartha, see the highest possibility for him or her in this incarnation.

Why settle for positive thinking when you can access what originally inspired it? When you continually invoke divinity, when you commune with God, when you unite with God, you actually become God. Believe it or not, the Orthodox tradition has a word for it, divinization. Realize your birthright as a son or daughter of God, and then co-create a whole new world.

metaphors
Jan 25

Life is All a Metaphor!

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

Nature is a temple in which living pillars
Sometimes give voice to confused words;
Man passes there through forests of symbols
Which look at him with understanding eyes.

- Charles Baudelaire

While attending the Science and Nonduality Conference some time ago, I happened to meet one of the leading theologians of the 21st Century, Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscan Priest who founded the Center for Contemplation and Action.

Father Rohr gave a stunning exposition of Christianity’s single most arcane doctrine, that of the Trinity. He simply explained it as a divine dance: Three distinct aspects of God interplay, pulling us in as the audience. Father Rohr pointed to a Russian painting depicting the Three Divine Persons seated at the table, the fourth chair empty, waiting for you and me to sit down and commune with Them.

Father Rohr turned to me and hinted, “It’s all a metaphor.” All the most sophisticated philosophical and theological concepts are but symbols for that which escapes human expression. As Joseph Campbell put it, “The best things can’t be said; the second best are apt to be misunderstood. All the rest is what we talk about.”

What Is a Metaphor?

A metaphor is a figure of speech where something concrete is used to characterize that which is abstract. A simile makes the comparison explicit. For example, in the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ declared, “I am the Bread of Life,” and “I am the Water of Life.” He could have put it, “I am like living bread. I am like living water.” But that would have totally spoiled the dramatic effect.

A metaphor uses heightened language to drive us to a whole new understanding. When Christ proclaimed, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,” He was speaking as an Incarnation, not simply as Jesus of Nazareth.

It is harder to realize that even the Mass is a metaphor. “Unless you eat My flesh and drink My blood, you have no life in you.” Jesus was saying in an unforgettable way, “If you want to follow Me, you must BECOME ME.” That this point was not fully understood by His generation or any subsequent generation is made clear by the way, even today, religious people shrink from the realization that they are inherently divine.

metaphor examples

Harmonize Every Tradition by Seeing Through Its Symbols

Over the course of a lifetime, Joseph Campbell systematically studied every mythology and cosmology he could get his hands on. One lesson emerged above all others. You must make a clear distinction between the local culture, the tribal, and the universal. To confuse the two is to undermine its potential to reveal the divine.

He quoted Adolph Bastian in referring to a symbol being “transparent to the Transcendent.” Any image of the Transcendent Mystery can become a stumbling block when we fail to see it as a symbol. When we are conscious of an image as being but a symbol. It becomes transparent to the Transcendent.

When we think of God as a Father seated on a throne throwing thunderbolts down on us, we ruin an image that leads to the realization that we “live and move and have our being” in Him. God, seen as a Father, is majestic. While we are in awe, we need not fear Him. This applies to every tradition. For example, the Buddha provoked people to awaken. This was not to awaken from physical sleep. It was to awaken from a spiritual stupor and come to terms with Ultimate Truth.

Probe Our Senses Through Science

We grew up in an age that prizes science and technology above all else. The philosophical mantle is Rational Empiricism. Only that which can be measured, repeated, documented and publically verifiable is deemed scientific. Taken to an extreme, only that which the senses register can be real. The most precious things in life, such as Love, Truth and Beauty are simply irrelevant.

Science and technology have made our lives immeasurably better on the physical plane. For that, we must all be thankful. However, they can’t really touch eternity and infinity. They are confined to time and space.

metaphor meaning

Einstein realized that the physicist’s best friend was not his rational intellect, but his imagination. His own imagination led to the breakthrough of the Theory of Relativity.

When we discover the limits of the scientific method, when we let go of the presumption that reality can then be defined once and for all by words and numbers, we are no longer its slave. The scientific method becomes our faithful servant. Only mysticism can pierce that barrier. We must move from reason to intuition, the sixth sense.

Say the Impossible Through Poetry

Poetry is the language of feeling and intuition. We sense our world, not only with our eyes, ears and hands, but with our heart. We get a feeling that something is about to occur without anyone having to tell us. We simply see with our inner eyes and ears.

Poems use metaphor heavily to convey evanescent moods that hint at something transcendent. To borrow from one of my own poems:

  "When you brake my breath, I wonder what thunder surrounds the centuries."

Here, “braking” breath is not literal. However, when you totally fall for someone, it leaves you breathless. The inner encounter with your true love might as well be “thunder” that resonates through the centuries.

deep metaphors

Poetry comes closest, along with music and art, in using language to overcome language. The greatest theology and philosophy will always fall short. The greatest truths are expressed in poetry, such as “The Lord is my shepherd,” which is frequently recited on death beds. Nothing quite captures our willingness to throw all ultimate concern onto our Source.

Feel the Truth Through Love

When we want to merge with the Truth, we will find nothing even comes close to the direct experience of divine love. It is one of those experiences that defies explanation. Romantic and sexual love lead us very close to the divine. The world is a friendly place, and you can see beauty in everything.

Divine love is impartial to friend or foe. You become a channel for a love to flow through you that you know is not really yours. You don’t merely feel love, you become that love. We see it in Mahayana Buddhism where the monks declare, “Though the flames of hell be infinite, I vow to extinguish every one of them.” We see it in the cross of Christianity where the Master forgave the very people mocking Him.

Love reveals the very essence of God in a way that any human can understand. This is why the way of devotion is always more popular than the way of intellect. In truth, you can’t really have jyana yoga without bhakti yoga. You feel a profound sense of gratitude for the guru. You can never really repay the one who opened you up to enlightenment. All you can do in return is do whatever you can to enlighten others.

We do walk through a forest of symbols, every single day. When we recognize it, this can be liberating. Symbols are a wonderful, irreplaceable tool. We might reduce life to a dream or a story. In truth, it is very much like both. But life is still LIFE. We could say life is a dance, a play or even a movie. It is most definitely like all three of these. YET LIFE IS LIFE.

Life is Not a Problem to Be Solved, but a Reality to Be Experienced.

- Soren Kierkegaard

well-being definition
Jan 11

Hawaii Is a State of Well-Being

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

During the holidays, a couple of close friends invited me to join them in one of the most beautiful of the outer islands, Maui. I had the privilege of my own cottage at an affordable price in the lush, rainy side below Mount Haleakala. Not too hot, not to cold. A full range of trees and vegetation from palms to pine cones.

After being crowned with a garland lei, and hibiscus blossoms decorating the furniture, I was struck by just how breathtakingly gorgeous it all was. My friends were highly creative artists and musicians, deeply spiritual offering healthy, but tasty food.

We were over two thousand miles from a major land mass, yet still within the United States. People maintain a high quality of life without being extraordinarily affluent. The stars began to pop out and the quiet sounds of the rainforest emerged with chickens, geckos and animals of every kind.

It felt like I had died and gone to heaven. The well-being of Polynesian culture pulsed through me. I finally realized what we all want most is a profound sense of well-being from the inside out.

What is Well-Being?

Well-being is far more than just being happy. Happiness is based entirely upon circumstances. If things go well, you are happy; the more complications, the less happy you become. It is more akin to bliss; it comes from within and overflows to the outer world.

Well-being is more than mind / body. It is the full integration of the body, mind and spirit. It begins with your own divinity. As you begin to experience God within, you start to see God in everyone and everything. Rather than a denial of life, it is the ultimate affirmation of life. It is to be fully alive in every sense of the word.

Think of the original idea of the Christian tradition: love toward your enemies, unspeakable joy and a peace that transcends comprehension. Think of the Hindu equivalent: Being, Consciousness and Bliss. “Aloha!,” Hawaii’s universal greeting, means the merging of breaths, with the spirit of God, and with your fellow humans.

Well-Being Is Far More Than Wellness

We think that we are well when we leave the doctor’s office with nothing “serious.” Wellness typically means you don’t need to fix anything. You may not jump out of bed eager for the next day, but you can at least get by. It’s great to be well, but there is nothing life-changing about it.

Well-being takes wellness to a whole other level. You are the Creator within your own creation. Life is a precious gift. It is your privilege to love all the people you meet with the same love that the Creator had in creating you. To give is to receive, to share is to realize your full potential.

We are here to awaken, create, play and celebrate. Sure there is survival. That is in place to ensure the dance stays entertaining. However, you can focus on being fully alive through it all. You are clued into the ultimate secret: There is only THE ONE. THE ONE is absolute love. ITS ALL PERFECT… just as it is. As the Greeks put it, “The true, the good, the beautiful.”

How Hawaii Turned Well-Being into an Industry

When you think of Hawaii as America’s 50th state, what you immediately think of is a lovely hula dancer swaying with the Trade Winds, or the surfer taking on the Pipeline. Hawaii offers the world what it always wanted, but never thought to ask: Ultimate well-being in this very moment.

The welcoming spirit permeates the islands from the moment you walk off the plane. If you take Hawaiian Airlines, you don’t even have to wait. You enjoy it from the very moment of departure. You are always welcome, very special and unconditionally loved. You only need hang loose.

Beauty is everywhere, on the trees, on the sidewalks, even in the food. Beauty is wealth. You don’t need a ton of cash to make it. Just the time to celebrate. Whether the Polynesian Cultural Center, or the next luau where you eat with your fingers. Every day is a special occasion.

well being in Hawaii

Well-Being Is Not Just for Tourists

Well-being doesn’t seem strange or out of place in Hawaii. It is the norm. All of the islands place a premium on it. Quality of life is nothing without well-being. Everything begins and ends with well-being. This is what makes the islands, with their lilting names like Waikiki, the very definition of paradise.

We don’t usually give ourselves permission to focus on well-being when we return home. Pressing obligations quickly besiege us. We have the responsibilities of job, family and finances thrust upon us. Perhaps we can simply remember as we fall to sleep how out-of-this-world it all was.

We should pause for a second and question our monkey mind. Hawaii is a living possibility. As you focus upon it, you draw it to you. What do you value? What are your priorities? What are your choices? At every moment, you can take a step closer. Do you really need to prove yourself, or do you need to start living?

Why Leave Hawaii? Create It Everywhere!

No one I have spoken to wants to leave Hawaii and go back home. It is usually a downer that people quickly choose to forget. How can you really expect that the people where you live could act and feel like Hawaiians? You can always book a flight back Oahu, Maui, Kauai or the Big Island next year.

create well being

Why not choose to embrace Hawaii? Hang out with people who place a high value on the state of well-being. More than just buying coconuts, macadamia nuts and pineapple juice, you can open up spiritually to that universal love that these islands embody.

The YOU that inspired you to fly out with your family, is the same YOU that can empower all your efforts to recreate it. You might start with something as simple as blessing and greeting everyone you meet. This well-being could very well save our Planet. Nothing better serves the interests of its Creator!

5MeO DMT experience
Dec 21

5MeO DMT Psychedelic: A Way to Experience God

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

You may have heard of entheogens, a new word coined out of psychedelics to give it a spiritual twist. Psychedelics have been used for recreation, medicine and psychotherapy. Their use by the Native American Church in peyote ceremonies, as well as the Church of Santo Daime with their use of ayahuasca, has awakened people to their profound potential for visionary experiences.

For the most part, these chemicals are eaten, swallowed as a pill or drunk as a potion. The most powerful of them was thought to be LSD, which could be taken in tab form, and later, N,N-DMT, which catalyzes intense visions of other worlds. For example, Terrence McKenna, who did more to popularize entheogens than anyone since Timothy Leary, saw machine elves. DMT lasts only 15 to 20 minutes, and then quickly fades out. However, it is a lot more intense than LSD with even more flashbacks.

A new entheogen has emerged, a cousin of DMT called “5MeO” DMT. This chemical was discovered and ingested only in the last decade or two. As attested by the psychonauts who have experimented with it, 5MeO is easily 10 times more powerful that N,N-DMT, which is 10 times more powerful than any other psychedelic.

5MeO is smoked, much like marijuana. Unlike marijuana, it doesn’t take a half-hour. When atheists smoke 5MeO, they almost immediately cry, “OH, MY GOD!”. This came out of the mouths of people who studiously avoided the use of that word, associating it with the old man in the sky. Yet only the word, “God,” could begin to describe the overwhelming nature of their realization. From atheist to true believe in seconds.

5MeO DMT effects

What is 5MeO?

5MeO DMT is the most potent chemical ever discovered for delivering the direct experience of God. It is a tryptamine that acts as a neurotransmitter to the brain. It is most commonly derived from the venom of a toad found in the Sonoran Desert, buffo alverius. It can also be found in various plants. Eventually, it was synthesized until it became illegal.

Unlike its visionary cousin, it is known for its delivery of Self-Realization, where you experience oneness with all that is. God is seen as all-encompassing. He contains all things, and without Him, nothing exists. Rather than a whimsical deity in the clouds, God is experienced as Infinite Energy. All is well in this Presence. Everything is, indeed, perfect just as it is.

While the experience is little more than 10 or 15 minutes, it is so intense that it seems like eternity. It blows any preconception you may have about reality to the stars. God is more real than anything you have seen or imagined. “God” is the only word in the English language to hint at the magnitude of this power. Just imagine an astronaut who was a founding member of the Flat Earth Society witnessing the curvature of the earth in outer space.

How Does 5MeO DMT Work?

5MeO is actually endogenous to the human nervous system. We manufacture comparable compounds within us, but not in such intense quantities as administered in this holy smoke, whether toad venom or synthetic.

Aldous Huxley, who popularized mescaline and other substances as part of his own spiritual search back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, realized our brain is a massive filter that screens out most of the information coming in from the cosmos, lest it overwhelm us. Psychedelics temporarily removes the filter so we experience this massive input directly without mediation.

The profound realization that all this is God, encompassing everything and everyone while being a singular unitary being, comes from within us spontaneously as the filters are removed.

5MeO DMT dosage

What makes 5MeO So Special?

Many entheogens open people up to the possibility of God, more in their head than in their heart. 5MeO instantly delivers a heart realization of God, not simply as an idea, but as the very context of all of our experience. In other words, 5MeO temporarily takes us far beyond all known boundaries. That awareness is self-evident, not requiring any proof whatsoever.

I can appreciate the concept that we are all God, but something of a different order is the head-on experience that there is ONLY GOD. As Werner Erhard once put it, “If you experience it, it is the truth. The same thing believed is a lie.” Through 5MeO, God becomes real as a living experience.

A single encounter with 5MeO is enough to send you on a philosophical quest that can last a lifetime. Integrating the experience requires not just a few hours or days, but months and years. Most of us who say that there is a God don’t really live like that. Imagine being continuously aware of God. The encounter with 5MeO can stay with you for days and weeks, accompanied by spontaneous flashbacks. You can’t possibly escape its witness to the Presence of God.

For in Him we live and move and have our being.

~Saint Paul in Acts 17:28

What Is the Upside and Downside of 5MeO?

Like any other entheogen, 5MeO has both an upside and downside. It can consistently deliver the most powerful experience of God faster and easier than any other medium. You finally apprehend the greatest insights of the mystics. Not as an idea, but as an overwhelming experience.

If you take your ego with you in the encounter, if you refuse to surrender your small self, you will meet the equivalent of a hurricane. Numerous people have suffered PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, for weeks and months. You can sleep or rest with flashbacks disrupting you. You can, in certain occasions, experience a living hell.

Most of us are not sufficiently in touch with ourselves to predetermine our response. Therefore, 5MeO should be considered only with extreme caution or under very special conditions. To complicate matters, in the United States it is currently designated as a Schedule 1 substance, which means it is totally illegal. Why would you risk a psychotic break, along with a jail sentence?

Why We Need a New Profession: Transformative Agent

The solution is increasingly apparent. From Timothy Leary onward, spokespeople for psychedelics have recommended they be controlled substances, not banned as illegal. When you want a medical prescription, you go see an M.D. However, the nature of entheogens is such that they go beyond the competence of a Western physician.

Such a powerful chemical as 5MeO DMT requires the insights of both a therapist and a priest, as it opens wide both psychological and spiritual frontiers. You have to go beyond Freudian, Jungian and Humanistic psychology to Transpersonal psychology, hinted at by the pioneering researcher Abraham Maslow.

5MeO is far too promising to simply be banned. Banning invites a virulent black market. The Drug War backfired, because it ignored the positive potential of psychedelics and completely failed to distinguish them from truly dangerous compounds, such as heroine.

We need legislation legalizing and controlling these compounds. An infrastructure needs to be established to provide a safety net. Breathing the smoke should be backed by world-class mentors or transformative agents. To legislate this requires political action, such as the initiative in California that legalized marijuana. To successfully do that requires public education in the entire field of psychedelics.

You may end up for or against entheogens. The one thing you can no longer afford to be is ignorant. You might want to read, Tryptamine Palace by James Oroc, or Being Human by Martin W. Ball. You also should check out MAPS.org in Santa Cruz, California. This is an organization of concerned physicians, researchers, therapists and spiritual leaders promoting the right to use these substances for the purpose of enlightenment.


Share your story or thoughts below!

universal faith definition
Dec 14

Is a Universal Faith Possible?

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try
No hell below us, above us, only skies
Imagine all the people living for today,
Imagine there's no countries, it isn't hard to do

-John Lennon, “Imagine”

Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) was not a Buddhist, Jesus of Nazareth not a Christian, Muhammad not a Muslim. Yet all three founded world religions while thinking of themselves primarily as reformers. Hinduism was influenced by Buddhism, and Buddhism exported Hinduism worldwide. Christianity includes Judaism, and Jewish people have been irreversibly impacted by Christianity. Islam was strongly influenced by Judaism and Christianity, which were, in turn, permanently altered by Islam.

No faith can be fully appreciated until it interacts with other faiths and starts to blend with them. Very often, people grow up with a specific religion and never even question it until they go off to college. Many people then lose their faith, only to revive it in another form after a vital encounter with another tradition.

Is there one faith that might act as a superset of all other faiths, including humanism? The Hindus referral to Santana Dharma, and modern mystics speak of the Perennial Philosophy. Is there an inner core common to all faiths that might inspire universal consciousness?

All Faith Traditions Are Converging Through Globalization

Globalization has accelerated since the 1980’s, having begun by European and American imperialism and colonialism. After the decline of the Cold War, China, Russia and India all entered the free market. Immigration increased throughout the world.

All faiths are in the process of coming together in a universal consciousness. In many U.S. cities, you will find cathedrals, synagogues, mosques, temples, ashrams and shrines.

universal religion examples

Many Americans now actively explore Eastern traditions. Hindus have grown to 1% of the U.S. population. As a consequence, India has become increasingly pro-America and adapted Western conventions.

It used to be a simple choice of Protestant, Catholic or Jew. Now it includes Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Baha’i, Taoist, Humanist, Mystic or “Spiritual, But Not religious.” Today’s college students have a bewildering number of options. If they stay with the faith of their childhood, they will most certainly adopt a broader perspective.

No One Faith Is Complete without All the Rest

Every faith tradition is sufficient for transformation, variously called awakening, realization or being born again. For example, in the Sufi tradition of Islam, you can go all the way through to the very highest realizations of Hinduism and Buddhism. However, no one tradition, including Christianity and Islam, is truly complete, as other traditions reveal subtle nuances of the Supreme Identity and Transcendent Mystery we call “God.”

For example, I was raised a devout Christian and endeavored to evangelize my peers. After going through college, I deepened my respect for other traditions and began to study them. After working with South Asians for several years, I began to feel that Hinduism was superior to every other tradition. Yet ironically, it led my back to a whole new appreciation of Christ.

After immersing myself for decades in Eastern traditions, I am now convinced that the Western traditions need the Eastern, and vice versa. Ironically, I was first led to the East while studying at Cal Berkeley. I was most influenced there by Jewish students and faculty. Baba Ram Dass was an early example, who, while remaining ethnically a Jew, is truly a Hindu.

Mysticism Is the Origin and Destiny of Every Faith

All great traditions show evidence of being initiated by mystics: Moses with the burning bush, Buddha with enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree, Christ baptized in the River Jordan, Mohammad hearing the voice of Gabriel and Guru Nanak in the river with the realization there is neither Hindu nor Muslim.

Mysticism is the direct experience of God beyond rational thought. Many people who ingest the most powerful entheogens, such as 5MeO DMT, find that the only word that comes close to what they encounter is “God.” They encounter the transcendent in a deeply personal way that obliterates all doubt.

A new generation places a premium on spirituality over religion. Spirituality focuses on the practice of religious tenants with an eye to transformation. It is what the Eastern Orthodox churches has referred to as divinization, literally becoming divine. Today, nothing else will do.

A Truly Universal Faith Is Urgently Needed

Faith is simultaneously the most unifying and divisive force ever known. Economics, politics and society can only go so far. Faith touches the unmanifest, that which lies just beyond the senses. It is far more than a belief system. It is an integral way of being that touches every aspect of our lives. It is only within that context that we can realize that we truly are all brothers and sisters.

While every tradition is expanding to touch and include others, each tradition has a long way to go. We can see this in Pope Francis I’s thrust on deep ecumenism outside the Christian faith. It is no longer simply a dialogue with Protestant and Orthodox Christians, but of Jewish people, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists… even humanists.

With the environmental crisis pressing upon us from all directions, along with religious terrorism the new norm and the global economy increasingly fragile, we need a higher court of appeal. Fortunately, mysticism is no longer limited to a few hundred or thousand people, but involves hundreds of thousands, even millions of people.

universalism philosophy

A Universal Faith Contains Every Other Faith

Imagine that every single religion and philosophy offers a unique piece of the puzzle. What is the full face of God? Only until we contrast the various traditions does the nature of God come into sharp focus. The East stresses wisdom teaching and insight, while the West everyday experience interpreted through revelation.

Judaism contributes a sense of destiny, Hinduism a sense of the divine presence everywhere, Buddhism a deep appreciation of the central role of transformation, Christianity a recognition of the ultimate power of divine love and Islam absolute unity.

Every great tradition is already growing into all the others. What will such a superstructure look like? With the United Religious Initiative and the World Parliament of Religion, people are insisting upon a greater and greater God. No more a vengeful deity on a golden throne throwing down thunderbolts.

A Universal Faith Gives Direct Access to Divine Love

Most importantly, a universal faith will allow anyone at any time to tap into infinite, absolute love that overcomes all obstacles. It takes a transformed consciousness to live the Sermon on the Mount, to actually love your enemy. Only with full maturation do Christians, and even Buddhists, approach that level.

For most of us, it is a matter of presencing God, of simply invoking His or Her Presence. Over time, this is surprisingly effective. Neale Donald Walsch taught us all to have our own “conversation with God.” He maintains that God is always speaking to us in many different ways, through synchronicity, dreams, other people, words and ideas. We simply need to start listening.

Divine Love will triumph in the end, as there really is no other alternative. If God is Love, then Love is God. We all know what love is. We are just foggy on how to access it and freely share it. When the pain of clinging to unworkable lifeways becomes unbearable, we will all let go and let God. As the Qur’an puts it, God is closer to us than our jugular vein. We simply need shift our gaze from outward to inward. We will then find our only true and ultimate Self IS God.

Burning Man festival
Nov 23

How Transformational Festivals Like Burning Man Are Waking Us All Up

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

“This is not just an event; it's a spiritual journey”

-A participant in the Burning Man temple

You may be wondering why there is so much buzz around the Burning Man Festival in Black Rock, Nevada, a former lakebed that is hot, dry and windy. While most of the year the area is desolate, it comes to life the last week of August when people from all over the world convene with RV’s, trucks and buses to camp out for a week.

This is even more puzzling when you realize that several of the founders of Google, including Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Marissa Mayer have promoted it around Silicon Valley. It is now possible to see billionaires hang out, dispensing sushi to the hungry participants.

What inspired the young at heart to brave the elements in such a remote region for days on end and fight 50 miles-per-hour winds, raising a menacing dust storm?

How Festivals Transform their Participants

Urban culture around the world, unlike that of tribes and villages, has few public festivals, typically relying on private parties and public holidays. More and more, we are distanced from one another, as we spend more time watching a screen than engaging with real life.

Transformational festivals emerge out of nowhere and grow from year to year. They mimic psychedelic experience with extensive visionary art and installations. They feature a pavilion with nonstop fast beats, trance music that can rapidly bring you in state, amplified by a light show. Anyone and everyone can dance by resonating to the rhythm.

They bring people outdoors in beautiful areas and encourage the participants to loosen up on their inhibitions. It is natural to socialize, as people drop their pretenses in such a radical setting. It is like losing your mind while NOT losing your mind. You make friends in seconds or minutes, not the typical days, weeks and months.

From Flower Children to Raves to Burning Man

If we go back to San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury in 1967 during the Summer of Love, we see a steady progression to today. The Flower Children were inspired by an abundance of marijuana and LSD before the full apparatus of the government came down on psychedelics with a vengeance.

Art, music, lights and dancing unite Haight Ashbury, with its Acid Rock concerts at the Fillmore, with the rave scene of the early 1990’s, powered by rapidly developing technology, highlighting smart drugs, ambient music and first-generation VR displays.

In 1986, the first Burning Man was staged on Baker Beach in San Francisco with just a few people. Every year it grew until the city threw them out, and they found refuge in the austere desert. Artists from all over the world now display their virtuoso masterpieces, and then burn them at the end in compliance with the Leave No Trace policy.

burning man art

Beyond Burning Man: Transformational Festivals Go Global

Since Burning Man has been produced for over 30 years, it has spawned a generation of imitations across the U.S. and around the world. Lists of American festivals, especially on the West Coast, are readily available on Festival Fire website. You can also find eye-catching lists for Europe, as well as Asia.

These festivals are global, in that people come from all over the world to participate. Burning Man sells out online within the first 15 minutes! Radical inclusion is part of the ethos, as well as the gift economy. No crass commercialization allowed. Many of the participants are producers, and collaboration is the rule.

Since the requirements to initiate a festival are modest, it comes down to finding an attractive local venue and working with government officials to keep it safe and sane. People find beautiful parks all over the world. Japan, for instance, is over 60% forest. Increasingly, lighting equipment, sound systems and computer technology is available in any country.

Transformational Festivals Come at the Perfect Time

Governments throughout the world have recently swung to the right, in response to escalating terrorism, such as ISIS, widespread refugees, such as those from Syria, and increasingly erratic weather patterns, including floods, wildfires, hurricanes and earthquakes. While calls for “law and order” grow, nothing can quench the human spirit. It is difficult to outlaw parties, even fairs.

The New Paradigm of the Quantum Revolution, and the emergence from the East of inner science to balance the external focus of academic science, provides ample reason to entertain other possibilities. With digital graphics and 3D printing, it is now possible to make your dreams “real,” and try them out. The festivals offer a TAZ, or Temporary Autonomous Zone, where participants can risk being themselves, or any other persona they wish.

The complexity and stress of contemporary life in our post-industrial society makes seeking refuge in the divine truly compelling. As more and more people discover the God within, they are emboldened to take action to forge a new global society that puts deep ecology and sustainability at the top of the list.

burning man lineup

Transformational Festivals Introduce Collective Awakening

Transformational festivals offer the possibility of a whole new way of collective being. Traditional religion forms the foundation of most people’s spirituality. Yet it is the rare person who gets more than a glimpse of the mystical dimension. Most religions have failed to establish collective enlightenment with any real scale. Buddha was an exception.

New technologies are emerging to give people direct access to the experience of enlightenment, if only for a moment. James Cameron’s Avatar provided moviegoers an extraordinarily immersive 3D experience. Virtual and Augmented reality are becoming increasingly available. Goggle’s Cardboard interface lets you experience V.R. off a smart phone.

While not sanctioned, new psychedelics, such as 5MeO DMT, can give people a direct experience of “God” in 10 to 20 minutes. These psychedelics have been known to turn veteran atheists into believers overnight! Most of the people who went to meet Ram Dass’s guru, Neem Karoli Baba in Northern India, were inspired by extensive use of what is now called “entheogens.”

How to Create Your Own Transformational Festival

You may live far from the West Coast of America, let alone the Playa of the Burning Man Festival. You may not be able to take weeks off to travel to distant places. Chances are great that there is a park in your city or region where authorities might be flexible. You start small, and let it grow. No need to build a bonfire or flaunt mostly illegal substances.

I frequent the Science and Nonduality Conference in San Jose, California, produced by a professional videographer, Maurizio Benazzo, and his wife, Zaya, with exquisite taste and an acute aesthetic sensibility. Year ago, he had actually documented the world’s largest fesitival, the Maha Kumb Mela in India, with 70 million people coming and going over a month’s time!

At the Science and Nonduality Conference, the art, installations, music, keynote speakers, panelists and salons turn your mind upside down and inside out. They foster a community around Advaita Vedanta, or Nonduality, distinguished by some of the greatest contemporary philosophers, scientists and gurus, including the likes of Dr. Deepak Chopra.

If you are dissatisfied with a monotonous routine, you may want to consider a transformational festival soon. Chances are, the world, itself, will be much better for your having gone!

wabi sabi definition
Oct 19

Wabi Sabi: The Perfection of Imperfection

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

Temple bells die out.
The fragrant blossoms remain.
A perfect evening!

-Basho

Today, everyone associates Japan with perfection, as in the Toyota Lexus, SONY laptops and Kurosawa movies. But it wasn’t always so. At one time, “Made in Japan” was a source, not of pride, but of derision. After WW II, the islands were in ruin with two major cities nuked.

In one generation, Japan rose to the top. It became an inspiration for Steve Jobs to beat the Japanese at their own game. Steve apprenticed for years under an American Zen master and maintained a meditation practice throughout his entire adult life. He was the only one to pull it off. Starting in the late 1990’s, Steve Jobs built Apple into the greatest company the world has ever known.

Japan invented perfection as a viable standard. It has irreversibly transformed our outer world and speaks profoundly to our inner world. What best embodies that perfection? Wabi sabi.

What Is Wabi Sabi?

Wabi sabi is a Japanese expression that connotes quiet isolation, poignant beauty, a contemplative celebration of the transitory nature of life. In the Zen tradition, all is ephemeral, like a fading rose all the more precious because it lasts only a few days, only a few hours.

Wabi sabi emerged with the tea house tradition in Japan, which offers, not dazzling, ornate china, but simple peasant pottery, called Raku. The ashes of burnt wood create an exquisite glaze that runs unevenly down the sides of a crude cup. It produces an intimate, homely mood in synch with the season.

Wabi Sabi opens up perfection as a living experience. When you can stop time and enter into the eternal NOW moment, everything is as it is, and you allow everything to be. Your life begins flowing. You discover stunning beauty in the most unlikely of places, such as a cluster of violets growing out of a granite cliff.

Is Art Life, or Life Art?

Japan, like France, is a culture and civilization wholly devoted to aesthetics and beauty. Art, music and poetry are never a waste of time. They are perfect vehicles for meditative practice. I have a longtime friend who went through their school system. He was required to take art and music all the way from Kindergarten through 12th Grade.

Japan is an enchanting cluster of islands that is 80% mountainous. Only 20% of the land is arable; yet the nation is 80% self-supporting. One out of three days is rainy, with two months saturated in mist. To flourish there, you must be extraordinarily industrious. Yet the Zen tradition, heavily influenced by Taoism and Shintoism, stresses perfect harmony with nature.

Life is art, and art is the ultimate expression of life. Just like form is emptiness and emptiness form. Creation is to be honored, yet enhanced. The trees and shrubs in a Zen garden are carefully groomed. The ideal always is to maintain a low carbon footprint. Sen no Rikyu, the supreme master of wabi sabi, would clean a temple and grounds until they were impeccable. Then he would stop and shake some leaves off a cherry tree to give the setting character.

wabi sabi life

Improving on Perfection

Perfection is not simply some abstract ideal or a silly concept. Perfection is the completion of that which is. It is easy to perfect the imperial palace. It is a far greater challenge to perfect a broken down hut in a remote forest with an aging couple eking out a living.

Wabi sabi takes a minute view of things, looking at them from all angles, ever seeing new possibilities. It may choose to depict a scene in black and white, as opposed to 32 million colors. It looks at fiber and grain, at infinite, irregular patterns. It takes special delight in all the transitory moments, the sound of a distinct bell and a delicious fragrance from invisible petals falling at dusk.

You finally begin to realize that the only place to look to find perfection is in the imperfect.

If you look close enough, you will find that every element of your life that you now consider imperfect is actually perfect. It may not seem to fit, but it actually belongs there. Altogether, the composition is irreplaceably beautiful. You can’t have up without down, light without shadow.

wabi sabi beauty

True Beauty Overlooked

A talent scout doesn’t go in search of the stars, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lawrence or Anne Hathaway. He goes to the suburbs and remote towns to discover new talent, the future Lady Gaga or Jennifer Lawrence or Anne Hathaway. He looks for star quality, that indefinable something that can launch an actress into the stratosphere.

So also, Japan has a long tradition of working with browns and greys, accented with black, red and gold. Its look and feel is unmistakable. No one can even approach it. For centuries, Japan was overshadowed by China and Korea, now Europe and America. Yet every time Japan goes within herself, she finds her sun goddess, Amaterasu.

No matter where you live, you will find little patches of beauty, even on city streets after pouring rain. A rainbow, even a double rainbow, can appear anywhere. Beauty is a major part of what makes life wonderful, and this is not entirely dependent upon your bank account. If you merely have eyes to see and ears to hear, you can relish beauty every day of your life.

wabi sabi art

Suchness, The Path to Perfection

Zen Buddhism has a word for all this, tathata, or suchness. As Werner Erhard once put it, “Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are and are not the way they are not.” Just allow something TO BE. It is never harder than that.

A good way to start is to allow that which you refuse to acknowledge to simply be. Many American bitterly oppose President Trump’s initiatives, and begrudge him any credit whatsoever. Yet, the simple fact is that he IS for now the American President. The question is not simply, “How can we get rid of him?” The question is, “How can we work with him at this time to make positive change?”

Not just politics, but many elements of your life might seem totally out of your control. It could be spiraling debt. You can curse it, or bless it. When you systematically bless everyone and everything in your life you will effect a transformation that has far reaching effects. Eventually, you will arrive at the place where you see that it was all necessary, that it is all perfect, just the way that it is.

Perfectly Human, Perfectly YOU

The greatest challenge of all is to see that you are perfect, no matter how human you seem to be. Somehow, you got it into your head that being human was the opposite of being divine. The truth is closer to your being divine to the extent that you are truly human. The world is waiting for you to be 100% YOU.

If you could just forgive yourself, you would discover that you can forgive everyone, even Donald Trump! If you are like me, you are too tall or too short, too fat or too thin, too stupid or too smart. You are not your own ideal, that’s for sure. You may be a stunningly gorgeous woman, yet you refuse that honor until you starve yourself to death trying to be a Twiggy. It is truly funny when you think about it!

Japan as a nation, like Apple as a company, has blessed the world with the direct experience of perfection. Perfection is an experience, if it is anything. It always lies in the moment.

Every day you encounter perfection, but almost never recognize it.

The next time you can, take a deep breath and go find a Japanese tea garden. When you lift up a Raku cup and smell the Jasmine tea, realize that you have stolen a moment in heaven and made it your own right here on earth!

sustainable happiness definition
Aug 03

How to Develop Sustainable Happiness

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

Have you ever met someone who was smart, beautiful, rich…and happy? I’ll bet you have. I will also bet that you wish that they weren’t so happy. Why should some of us have everything? Life is so unfair! Of course, in your heart of hearts, you know that THE ONLY REASON they are happy is because they are smart, beautiful and rich.

Or could it be that they take happiness seriously, and make it a priority?

What Is Sustainable Happiness?

In recent decades, a group of psychologists moved over from perpetually analyzing sick people to learning from healthy people. They moved from classic therapy to learning theory. With major advances in neuroscience and emerging computer technologies, such as A.I., we now have a much better handle on how to induce rapid change.

This new discipline, positive psychology, laid the foundation for the practice of sustainable happiness. Dr. Aymee Coget of San Francisco is the leading spokesperson. Dr. Coget has pioneered a learning process of sustainable happiness which can work for anyone under any circumstances. She is totally committed to all of us being happy all the time.

Studies have shown that winning the Lottery, even with a $100 million stake, ensures happiness for only a finite amount of time, say six to eight months. Let’s say you simply bought a new, high-end Tesla. You might be happy for three to six weeks. If you bought a designer sweater, it might work for three to four days. A super-chocolate, crunchy ice cream cone might work for three to four hours.

Choose Sustainable Happiness

Sustainable happiness begins with the realization that this is a fundamental life skill that is everyone’s birthright. Even the Declaration of Independence justified the American Revolution as a means for each individual to pursue their own happiness. It entails a learning process that shows you how to be happy in any situation, much like the Buddha taught his disciples to disengage from all their attachments.

While sustainable happiness is generated from within, it is also behavioral in nature. You can do something every day to make yourself happy. It can take three to six months; however, even the clinically depressed can break the self-destructive pattern. This is all the more significant, since 48 million Americans are diagnosed with depression and teenage suicide is at an all-time high.

When you make inner happiness a priority, you lay the foundation for being far more effective, whatever your role. You live in the present moment, accept whatever happens and smile at the future. Your commitment to your inner growth, and your ability to make a contribution is unshakeable.

sustainable happiness meaning

Model Truly Happy People

Genuine happiness is contagious. People catch it from one another. It is possible to identify truly happy people, and model them. You can read about Sir Richard Branson and see his videos on YouTube. It becomes clear that Sir Richard’s own fulfillment is more important to him than his billions. You get the sneaky suspicion that his very billions came directly out of his commitment to be truly happy.

I met Dr. Coget recently in San Francisco for lunch, not seeking treatment. We talked about a variety of things. She asked me a few process questions, and we parted. For the rest of the day, and the next several days, I felt high… for no reason! I found myself laughing with my colleagues, who usually don’t laugh all that much.

I have had the privilege of working with my partner in this web magazine for a number of years. She is almost always cheerful, even when distressful things come up in her life. She almost never loses her cool. I feel instantly happy when I see her or hear her voice. Years ago, I made her a high priority in my life. It was well worth the commitment.

Practice Sustainable Happiness

Sustainable happiness is never a one-time event. It is only achieved when you fully realize that you are responsible for your own happiness and negative emotions need not run you. It is something you do every day. It can start with a simple, complete smile reaching up to your twinkling eyes. It can move to laughing at yourself in the mirror. It can even go to jumping up and down shouting, “I’m so happy! I’m so happy! I’m so happy!”

showing happiness

While this may seem undignified and just plain silly, over time it works. To borrow from Tony Robbins’ discipline, NLP, you are creating new associations in your brain. Over time, this becomes the new norm, and you begin to do this spontaneously. All professional actors and sales people know how this works.

Until the lines are your own, they will never work. Practice them enough, and they become your own.

You begin to seek out happy people, and learn from them. You begin to share your happiness with others, which is the whole point. You learn to see the best in everyone and welcome difficult people as a challenge to practice your skills. This doesn’t mean you manipulate them. You just learn to love them as they are through attention, appreciation and affection. Imagine how much better the world might be if President Trump woke up every morning to people like this!

Bring the Internal and External Together

Sustainable happiness starts by going within and recalling all the things you have to be thankful for. It might take the form of a diary, or it might even be a silent meditation. Along with it, you remember happy moments in your life, today, yesterday, even years ago. As you become genuinely grateful, the space around you changes. Miracles appear.

Positive psychology enables you to combine powerful inner processes with effective behavioral techniques. You begin to habituate yourself to see the world in a whole new light. The world is not really “out there.” It is your own personal world, every bit as much as your body. It may not at all seem that way. However, if you are willing to make the leap, you will be delightfully surprised.

As you become happier inside, you will become a little more attractive outside. Beauty in men and women goes beyond their skin to the energy that animates them.

sustainable happiness model

The beauty of Marilyn Monroe is classic. In one short video, you could see Marilyn give a couple hundred different expressions. A stunning spirit leapt out of her that made her a superstar, that made her seem like the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

Snap Back into Sustainable Happiness

If you are human, you can bank on being distracted, upset and occasionally meeting with catastrophe. We all seem tested by our guardian angel and seek a state of grace to simply get through it all. This will happen almost predictably, seemingly throwing out every effort to sustain happiness.

However, as you realize sustainable happiness, you will find that you are able to snap back quickly into your home state of inner fulfillment. You realize part of the fun in life is its perpetual surprises. No surprises. No life. You will learn how to grab pleasure in every possible moment.

One of the founders of positive psychology started out in a Nazi concentration camp. He had the extraordinary gumption to write out, “Today I will be happy!” Not only did he survive the death camp, but he went on to be a powerful inspiration to millions.

Join the Sustainable Happiness Movement

Dr. Aymee Coget invites you to stand up for happiness and join her in the movement. Find other people committed to happiness and support their efforts. You can find out more about her programs on her website. Happiness can go viral if enough people commit their lives to it.

Already, sustainable happiness is shaping into a global movement. What better foundation can you have to make a difference on our fragile planet than your own happiness, and your ability to spread that happiness to everyone you touch!

lonely definition
Jul 20

Lonely? Yes. Alone? No.

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

When you walk through a storm
Keep your chin up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of a storm is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on
Walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone

-Rogers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music

You may feel confident about most things, but there is one particular emotion that consistently makes you feel vulnerable. It emerges around the holidays. When you go to a party, no one knows you, no one recognizes you, no one even seems to care. You can easily come to feel that you are the invisible man or woman. You know the ghost all wrapped up in Band-Aids? When he unravels them, there is nothing there. You even feel like the shade that plunges into a pool without leaving a ripple.

You can feel equally lonely when totally surrounded by people or when totally alone. Loneliness emerges when you cannot connect with others, with yourself or with our Source. If someone you love suddenly appears, the loneliness can vanish for hours, or even days. Yet often it lurks in the background to pull you down when you least expect it. Taken to an extreme, this loneliness could drive you to make an early end of your life.

Loneliness is a false interpretation of your experience. Correct your interpretation, and you change your experience. If you are like most of us, you live by appearances. If people ignore you, it is because they really don’t like you. You’re unlovable. You don’t have what it takes. All the while, people ignore you simply because they are way too distracted by their own problems. They can’t be there for you, because they aren’t even there for themselves.

Loneliness is a false interpretation of your experience.  #loneliness #lonely #feelinglonely

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I Know First Hand What Loneliness Is All About

I grew up in a broken family. Fairly early on, I had to choose between my parents, something no child should ever have to suffer. In choosing one, I had to reject the other. Guilt emerged and lingered for years. I had to force myself out of a shell. It was difficult for me as a teenager to look an attractive young lady in the eyes. Not the athletic type, I was nervous and shy, long before nerds were in and began raking in billions of dollars!

lonely person

For various reasons, I have spent most of my life outside of, rather than inside of, primary relationships. This is even when I had a significant other as a close friend. In this respect, I am not alone. In the U.S., 50% of marriages end in divorce. This often leads to serial monogamy, where you marry one partner after another looking for the right one.

Today, I spend my free time doing very different things from what I do to earn a living. Sometimes I am popular during the week, only to plunge into anonymity over the weekend. Even more to the point, I like to read and enjoy the finer things in life. I tend to be a bit choosy with my friends, and thus spend much of my time all by myself.

Feeling Lonely Has Nothing to Do with Being Alone

Over the years, I’ve found that you don’t always have to be with people who know you well. Stop and think about this: At one time, everyone you now know was once a total stranger, even your parents, family and neighbors. Yet, somehow you became acquainted with a good number of people. Chances are, you now rank them, considering some more important than others.

Yet, is this true? You are inherently related to all seven billion of us on Planet Earth by virtue of your being human. We are the same species, even if we don’t know each other’s language. To function in a complex, global society, you may take most of us for granted. However, this is a choice.

Once you choose differently, and reinterpret your experience, you will have different results.

Most people are decent human beings, whatever their nationality, race, gender or religion. Politicians and journalists like to separate us and fuel distrust. However, firsthand experience can change all that. Who comes to help you when your car breaks down? Watch how people come together after any “Act of God,” such as a minor earthquake. Notice how people open up when an elevator stops halfway between two floors and people are confined for any length of time.

overcoming loneliness together

While Loneliness Is Painful, You Always Have Company

Of course, it is deeply distressing to go to a dance and have no one invite you to join him, or have every lady consistently turn you down. You can feel like a pariah, an outcaste. No matter what you tell yourself, you can hardly avoid temporarily feeling something is deeply wrong with you. You are a freak! You want to cry, but it is not very cool to cry in public. So you put on a silly grin, and run home to bury yourself in shame.

If you ever do a transformational seminar or workshop, such as the Landmark Forum, you will meet dozens of other people where you have to look them in the eyes, shake hands and say something as awkward as it may feel.

You begin to see that not a single participant has it all together. I often review these events and am amused to see that the participants who always go to the microphone to complain learn the most. They perfectly illustrate the principles the trainer wanted us to impart.

Years ago, Werner Erhard, who created both the est training, and the Landmark Forum, put it this way: It’s OK NOT to be OK. At the core of it, most of us feel deep down inside that there is something wrong with us, that we’re basically not OK. You might call it “the sin nature.” This is based upon a mind that relentlessly compares and contrasts, that hardly ever gives us a break. The Truth is, of course, that all such separation is an illusion. These consciously constructed social contexts get you to witness this firsthand. In the process, you are set free.

No Need to Be Outgoing, Just Transparent

You may feel powerless to snap out of loneliness, because you are painfully shy. Did you know that 40% of the American public is shy? I am a social introvert who learned to thoroughly engage people. For a living, I contact total strangers to engage them in strategic partnerships with my clients. This came after years of work, starting with learning to look a pretty young lady in the eyes, even when I was blushing and my voice cracked. I learned to keep on going.

Yet you don’t need to be a star for people to open their hearts to you. You just need to tell the truth to them. “I would really like to talk with you, but I don’t know what to say. I’m the shy type.” You will be stunned at how many people will open their hearts to make you feel comfortable. In all likelihood, they have felt the same way more than once.

If you just connect with your eyes and smile, often you need do nothing else. From there, you simply welcome someone with “Hi, there.” We all feel awkward on first acquaintance. Yet there is something totally charming about this. You soon learn that if you don’t look her in the eye, smile and say “Hi,” you may never see her again. You quickly realize that speaking up is a small price for you to pay.

feeling lonely no more

Love Always Available for the Asking

As you go within, you may discover divine love, a love that is totally unconditional. It is limitless and always on. You access this through a form of God with which you most resonate. It can be any religious tradition. Very often, it takes the form of the Gospel. Unfortunately, the Gospel has been hijacked by institutionalized Christianity. While it was originally meant for the whole world, it got sidelined by the self-appointed guardians of the faith who presumed they could tack on a whole lot of conditions to it.

The fundamental narrative is this. God became human that humanity might become divine. In the process, God experienced everything we experience, including the acute pain of loneliness. God couldn’t stand to see people suffer. So He found a way to make His love available to anyone under any circumstances. All you need do is invoke His presence. Nothing more. As God’s love fills you to overflowing, you find that you, in turn, can love everyone with that very same love.

By invoking the Presence of God in whatever way works for you, you will feel yourself loved to a degree that far surpasses that of any human being, even your mother. You will begin to truly love yourself. As you start loving yourself, you automatically start being your own best friend, and equally wanting everyone around you to succeed.

Reach Out and Touch Someone…Today!

The simplest and best way to connect with other people is to literally touch them. Touch them lightly on a non-private part of their body for just a single instant. You may wind up shaking their hands or even hugging them. They can be total strangers. However, by the time they hug you, you won’t ever see them that way again.

When you open up to people, drop your pretense and become transparent, they begin to do so for you. When you make them feel like the most important person in the whole wide world, they will be inclined to do so for you, as well. As a cab driver once advised me about women, even gorgeous ones, “If you like them, if you truly like them, they will like you.”

Next time you feel lonely, remember that you have a choice. You are interpreting your experience in a limited way. Recognize that you are intimately related to whomever crosses your path. You are their mirror, and they are yours.

Hold your head up high and walk on through the dark. Like the Sound of Music says, you will never, ever walk alone!

God meaning
Jul 13

Is Your Present God A Trap?

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

I am a Muslim, and a Hindu, and a Christian and a Jew…
and so are all of you!

-Mahatma Gandhi

All of us start out our lives with a very childish conception of God. We adopt the religion of our family, friends or community without question. If we are lucky, it will be akin to Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Good Tooth Fairy. If we are unlucky, we will learn about Noah’s Ark, that a furious God chose to drown the vast majority of humanity, along with almost all of the animals.

Early on, we learn that other religions are most definitely wrong, and we, and our own religious community, have the only right view of God. For example, before I was even 12, I learned that all Catholics were going to Hell. As a Protestant, I was uncomfortable about this, but I wasn’t capable at that age of putting up an adequate defense.

If we study the mythology of various religions, God is portrayed all too often as a petty tyrant. His way or the highway. God is basically beneficent if you seek His blessing, but He has a quick temper and can easily throw a thunderbolt that will ruin your whole day. As the great mythologist, Joseph Campbell, quipped, “Picking up sticks on the Sabbath is definitely out!”.

The tragedy for all too many of us is that we dump the Baby Jesus out with the bathwater and reject our childhood faith. Some of us continue with the faith but never take a second look at the nature of God until we grow old and cynical. We maintain deep fears and prejudices that we can never really shake off. For example, in the United States, it is shocking how, according to recent polls, the majority of the public still clings to some notion of Hell, despite an abundance of alternative perspectives.

A few of us, however, dare to change our childhood faiths. For many, it is disconcerting and a deeply painful experience.

religious conversion

The Ultimate Challenge: Flipping Traditions

From Islam to Christianity
Nabeel Qureshi was a young, vibrant Pakistani-American deeply devoted to a minority sect of Islam, the Ahmadi’s. As such, Nabeel mastered every single chapter and verse of the Quran at an early age. Nabeel particularly loved his family and was utterly convinced that they had the only correct version of his faith.

In his best-seller, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel recounts his experience in college with an articulate Christian roommate. They spontaneously develop a deep friendship and start a multiyear debate as to whether the Qur’an or the Gospel is the Truth. Nabeel starts out confident that the Qur’an is an unshakable revelation and that the Bible is full of errors. Deep research into the accounts of the resurrection of Christ shake up his complacency, as he finds they are based on substantial evidence.

After delving into the history and formation of the Qur’an, Nabeel discovers that this sacred document took much longer than he had suspected to come together. Many passages that he intuitively trusted were highly questionable. Nabeel then had a series of mystical dreams that induced him to convert to Christ. As soon as he did, his parents were shocked and profoundly distressed. They acted as if Nabeel had stabbed them in the back. He broke their hearts.

From Judaism to Christianity
Jason Sobel is a Rabbi from New Jersey. He is, however, no ordinary Rabbi. Jason is a Messianic Jew deeply convinced that Jesus of Nazareth is, indeed, Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. This realization took a long time to emerge.

Jason was active in his Conservative synagogue and studied the Torah, convinced that the Jews, and nobody else, were the Chosen People. He studied very hard in school and developed the practice of Buddhist meditation for hours at a time.

During one particular meditation, Jason had a shocking vision of Jesus Christ being exalted on a great throne, much as in the Book of Revelations. Mortified, he began questioning everything. Jason picked up the New Testament for the first time in his life. His dad came into his bedroom, saw the book, and threw it out, threatening to disown him.

Jason’s father felt that he had utterly failed in his efforts to instill deep distrust of the Gentiles, for their long history of persecuting the Jews, culminating in the Holocaust in Germany. Despite all this, Jason held his course. However, in contrast to Nabeel, he actively sought to combine his Judaism and Christianity. You can see the fruit of this work in the book: The Rock, The Road, The Rabbi, an exploration of the Holy Land’s contribution to Christianity.

From Exclusion to Inclusion

If one explores all the Great Religious traditions, we find both Healthy and Unhealthy versions, based on how traditional or contemporary their orientation. Unhealthy versions stem from the ancient tribal days when people had just gone beyond the caves and began to form cities in the great river valleys, such as the Nile, Euphrates and Indus Rivers.

Things were very different then. Each city had its own god, and that was the only one you dared worship. Religion was a collective experience focused on ritual and conforming to socially acceptable practices. All differences were settled by the sword, and salvation was thought of only in literal terms, salvation for this life. The next life was totally out of your hands.

Healthy religions emerged as the traditions became more inclusive, especially Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, which recognized converts from their very beginning. They focused on heaven and hell in the afterlife. While you had to be a member of their faith, you could be of any race, nation or gender. Only recently has the Interfaith Movement emerged with the idea that ALL faiths could reveal the true nature of God.

From Fear-Based to Love-Based

As we see from both the accounts of Nabeel Qureshi and Jason Sobel, their childhood faith only permitted their families conditional love, and that only if their sons adhered to the shared belief system. To disbelieve, or even worse, adopt a new and conflicting faith, was not only heresy, but family betrayal. This, in spite of our U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom.

No matter how much love Nabeel and Jason’s childhood faith professed, the reality is that much of it was fear-based and exclusionary. Heaven and Hell were interpreted literally, and there was only one way out. In their cases, they went from Islam and Judaism to Christianity. However, there are many cases of people going in the opposite direction.

The danger is to go from one exclusionary, fear-based religion to another, either to assert yourself as an adolescent, or marry a partner of a contrasting faith. You end up stuck in the very same dilemma from which you were trying to extricate yourself. The irony is that EVERY Great Tradition has a love-based, higher expression that is deeply inclusive.

Nabeel rejected his Islam. However, had he studied Sufism, he would found a form of his faith profoundly appreciative of Christ. Jason was more fortunate, in that Christianity really grew out of Judaism. He could find many ways they complement each other.

Which Tradition and at What Stage Do You Choose?

In the United States, you can legally change your religion. While this might result in a severe disruption of your social life, it is doable. In a few countries, especially Islamic, you may actually risk death. What people often find is that somehow their childhood faith reappears. They can’t move on until they acknowledge the perfection of their own tradition.

More importantly, you will find that the Stage of any tradition can be far more important than the doctrines of that faith. All Great Traditions at a low level are locked in tribalism, with its fear and hatred of differences. They can share a heart-warming camaraderie. However, none of them has any choice but to either convert the unbeliever or consign him or her to hell.

Today, a hopeful sign is emerging, not only in the Christian Ecumenical Movement and the World Parliament of Religions, but also in how each of the Traditions, due to an ever more heterogeneous urban population, is developing elements of the other. With the World Wide Web and Google, it is increasingly difficult to deny other cultures their voice. A typical U.S. city now has hundreds of different faiths represented from all the world’s Great Traditions.

spiritual path

All Paths Converge at the Top

As you trek up the mountain of Self-Realization, climbing from the base in Religion to the middle ground in Spirituality to the apex in Mysticism, you begin to see the various paths get closer and closer. When you get to the top of your own Mount Everest, you will find everyone a mystic who knows God within, and who sees God in everyone and everything. He or she need no longer try to love. They find that they ARE love.

The irony is that the mystics at the top are a whole lot more like each other than they are like other people in their tradition. A delightful book exploring this topic is The Book of Joy, by both the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Both are Nobel recipients and exceptionally gifted leaders who withstood extensive persecution and triumphed at the end. They have developed a deep friendship that knows no boundaries. The Dalai Lama remains a Buddhist, and Archbishop Tutu remains a Christian. In their case, it doesn’t even matter!

The mystical perspective reveals both the advent and destiny of all religions. Unity, love and perfection lie at the very heart of creation. This is not something you can figure out. The realization of this begins to dawn on you. There is nothing outside of you, not even the billions and billions of galaxies. They all spin within the ultimate context of your own Absolute Being. Here, you are not “you.” There is only God. Always has been. Always will be.

Be a Krishna, Buddha or Christ by Being a Mystic!

Humanity is facing a global crisis primarily because we have entertained far too long gods that alienate us from ourselves, each other, and the precious creation we inhabit. Idolatrous conceptions of God are very costly. However, the way out is straight forward. Stop looking out, and start looking within.

The more mystical, the more like Krishna, Buddha and Christ you become. Have you ever considered that this is exactly why they were born? WE are to be Avatars, Bodhisattva’s and Messiahs. That is the whole point!

As a start, you might join me in my decade-long practice. As a Christian, it is my mission to help Muslims become better Muslims, Jews better Jews and Hindus better Hindus. I lovingly embrace their traditions. Only in this light will they embrace me, and deeply appreciate what I have.

Mahatma Gandhi put it so well in his advice to a profoundly distraught Hindu torn in the civil war in Calcutta after the partition of India and Pakistan:

I know a way out of Hell.
Find a child, a child whose mother and father were killed
and raise him as your own. Only be sure that he is a Muslim
and that you raise him as one.

-Mahatma Gandhi

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