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forgiving enemy
Jul 28

How To Forgive Your Enemy

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heal that has crushed it.

Mark Twain

We have all read that we should love our neighbor, that is, whoever we encounter. All the great spiritual traditions agree on this. However, we see in Christianity, Buddhism and Jainism an even higher principle at work. We are to love people who appear to be our enemies. We are to bless them, do good to them and pray for them, even when they seem out to do us in.

Nothing seems more counterintuitive. No matter what our admiration for Jesus, Siddhartha and Mahavira may be, this seems a very risky strategy. Even if we want to try this, how can we muster the grace to actually forgive our enemy?​

What It Means to Truly Forgive Your Enemy

You are related to every human being who walks upon the face of the world merely by the fact that you chose to be born on this planet. Every person, past, present or future, is contained within your consciousness. You are “your brother’s keeper,” whether you like it or not.

The word for “forgive” in Greek means to loosen up, let go, allow to freely flow again. It means to restore your relationship with the perceived offender as it was before he or she ever offended you. It is not to temporarily forgive, only hoping he gets clobbered, or her karma punishes her. Forgive means to consistently wish only the very best for someone, no matter what they say or do.

enemy

An enemy is someone whom you see as opposing you, interfering with your agenda, actually wishing you ill. In reality, he or she could merely be your opponent in a game, or a business relationship. You are already in relationship with everyone in your life. Whether you choose to see him as friend or foe is entirely up to you.

Forgiveness Is Always a Conscious Choice

You don’t have to forgive anyone. You are a free agent. You can love or hate anyone you choose. It is up to you how you perceive and respond to others. However, the consequences are yours. By hating someone, you lock yourself into a low energy state and limit what you can do in life.

Both religious and humanistic mentors alike advise us to forgive whenever and wherever possible. Hatred is a very twisted form of love that saps all your energy. It impacts you subconsciously and contaminates all your relationships, even with the very people closest to you.​

Hatred is a very twisted form of love that saps all your energy.

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You can live another way. You can realize your life is more than your ego and finite agenda. Instead of trying to play God, you can BE GOD by loving people unconditionally. Your forgiveness can be unilateral and all encompassing. You have dropped out of the blame game FOREVER.

Your “Enemy” Is Not Really Your Enemy

A human being is your “enemy” by consideration alone. You have set them up in a role that is against your immediate interests. You have decided that they will hurt you, injure you or even kill you. You feel the need to protect yourself, even counterattack. If you don’t stand up for your rights, they will walk all over you.

enemy revenge

In reality, the majority of homicides in the U.S. are within families, not acts of terror or drive by shootings, as counterintuitive as this may be. Husband and wife kill each other. Parents kill children, and children kill parents. Substance abuse, financial strain and child molestation all have their hand.

This is not to discount the danger of groups like the Taliban and ISIS, as well as civil war, revolutions and organized military action around the world. What causes all this? People suffer, persecutors, as well as villains. “Bad” people hurt “good” people because of a fundamental imbalance.​

They suffer physical or emotional pain, and want to even things out by forcing others to share that same experience.

We Are All Rascals at Heart

Alan Watts used to laughingly point out to his Jewish audiences that, according to the Bible, we are all born with a wayward spirit, a “yetzer hara.” We all are endowed with a spirit of perversity and are riddled with inconsistencies that make us truly human. We all have an impulse to get ours before anyone else beats us to the punch.

While we all can be selfish, some of us have a much more polished act than others. Our “enemies” are those people in our life who are more crude or overt about their interests. We have a tendency to project onto others those inclinations that we repress. You can see that you are as much of a scamp to some of your enemies as they are to you.

As Gandhi put it, “We are all such sinners that it is up to God who goes to heaven and who goes to hell.” When we grow into such humility, we learn compassion, and stop judging. When we realize that we are as accountable as anyone else for this global mess, we discover the power to forgive and truly change the world.​

You Set Up the Play Way Back When

When you take responsibility for your life, for your own actions and others’ responses to you, you begin to have a sense of mastery. By being willing to come into your daily experience from the point of view that you continuously create it, you begin to see why things are set up the way that they are.

Can you have a hero without a villain? Can you have resolution without conflict? Can you have up without down? Can you have light without darkness? Can you have love without hate? Can you have friends without enemies?

You begin to see how life is a magnificent spectacle with overwhelming dimensions. You quickly forget how God is in everyone and everything that you see. God is our only true and ultimate Self. However, playing on this vast game board initially requires you identify with your own particular nametag, body and mind.​

forgiveness within

It is all about waking up from appearances to realize who you are… that you are even your worst enemy!​

Deep Listening Works Miracles

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Nobel-prize-winning Zen monk who did the utmost to end the interminable War in Vietnam, uses deep listening to heal people’s wounds. This process requires an open heart and mind, the willingness to shut up and listen to whatever your enemy has to say.

Communication absolutely works. In situations of conflict, opposing sides almost never see or hear each other. People are in their head about all the images they associate with their enemy. War as an institution requires systematic dehumanization of the other side. When you open up and realize that the man on the other side of the trenches is a human being just like you, everything changes.

We are all children with grown-up acts. Most of us never come to realize this until it is too late. Love is the motivation at the core of our being. We will do very strange things when we are separated from it. When we recognize and appreciate others, when we hear them out, enemies can break down into friends literally overnight.​

Higher Power Will Do Whatever It Takes to Help You

Many of us blame God for not hearing our prayers, as if He took a permanent vacation playing golf in the Swiss Alps! You will never have a problem with forgiveness. As evangelists proclaim, “Nothing so bears the interest of the Son of God as forgiveness.” Christ with His life and death drove that point home like no other human being.

With His “Sermon on the Mount,” He challenged His students to live out a whole new order of possibility.​

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you,

do good to them that hate you,

and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

Jesus Christ in the “Sermon on the Mount”

When you go beyond “business as usual,” when you decide to go all out to be the “light of the world,” forgiveness for your enemy becomes a priority.

You can then channel the presence of God through whatever form resonates most with you: meditation, prayer, a silent walk or a process of reconciliation. When you invoke the very Presence of God, He always comes, in whatever form you are ready to receive. Forgiveness is always for the asking. No need to ever put anyone out of your heart.​

Forgiveness is a continuous process of letting go.

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You CAN Forgive Your Enemy… Starting Right Now!

You are inherently divine, at the core of your being, beneath your phony social mask and petty shadow self. As Dr. Deepak Chopra put it, God is hard-wired into our nervous system. Many people have forgiven the worst possible enemies: men who raped them and killed their husband, women whom a man maimed for life, a mother who threw her newborn girl in a garbage can.

All you need to do is get going. Forgive little by little, day by day. Take your shit list, the one you cherish “for your eyes only.” Call out the person at the top of that list and simply say, “I forgive you. God bless you. You are an infinitely precious child of the Most High.” Not only will he begin to change, you will be utterly transformed, and the whole wide world along with you. Then you will realize our greater destiny, regardless of how perilous our planet looks at this hour, God will bring the world back together again in eternal love… no matter what it takes!​

conscious breathing anxiety
Jul 19

Calm Down with Conscious Breathing

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

Did you have a bad day at the office? Did your boss yell at you, or a client threaten to leave or maybe you were close to blowing a really big deal? In any case, you are now all stressed out. You’ve been staring at your desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone screens for hours on end to the point where everything is a blur.

While you would like to meditate or do yoga, you have to calm down first. Sure, you can take a walk around the block, but then what?

Have you considered conscious breathing?​

What Is Conscious Breathing?

We begin and end our lives with a breath, whether conscious or not. Like our heartbeats, our system keeps breathing until our time has come. We take millions of breaths throughout our years, but very few are deliberate and conscious. We rarely give our entire attention to the simple process of breathing.

We have been gifted with the ability to override our autonomic nervous system in the case of our lungs, but not our heart. Just by throwing our attention on our breathing, we can slow it down with deeper and deeper breaths. When we are upset, our heart pounds and we have shallow breathing. At any time, we can override this process by slowing down our breaths down.​

conscious breathing benefits

Most of us breathe through the upper lungs, fast and shallow. With yogic training, we learn to start with our stomach, go up the rib cage and into the upper part of our chest. When we exhale, we can push all the air out of our system, even squeezing the abdominal muscles. This results in a very deep in-breath.

What Conscious Breathing Can Do For Your Well-Being

Going back to our days in the jungle, we developed a fight-or-flight response to any sign of immanent danger, such as a tiger crouching behind a bush. We had but an instant to make a life-or-death decision. So our sympathetic nervous system took over. It shot cortisol and adrenaline into our blood, instantly revving up our metabolism. Our heart pounded, our breathing was shallow and we were prepared to sprint to the nearest tree.

By conscious breathing, we can reverse the entire cycle, reducing our heart rate, lowering our blood pressure and relaxing our muscles. As we breathe deep, we slow down our thought process, drastically reducing the monkey chatter. Our cells become oxygenated, boosting our immune system. Our emotional turbulence begins to subside, and we recover a sense of peace.

Conscious breathing can give us a greater sense of presence. We feel more relaxed and energized at the same time, as if we had just awoken from a night of deep and profoundly satisfying sleep. This type of breathing is the perfect antidote to insomnia. It also is an indispensable component of any spiritual practice.​

Pranayama: The Vedic Foundation for Conscious Breathing

In ancient times, the breath was considered sacred, the counterpart of the blood in our bodies. Our physical life was in our blood, and our spiritual life was in our breath. In Hebrew, the word for breath, Ruah, also means wind and spirit. In the Garden of Eden, God breathes into the clay figurine until Adam becomes a conscious being.

The Vedic word is pranayama, or breath control, the fourth limb in the Eightfold Path of Yoga, as essential as meditation. Prana in India is the counterpart of Chi in China and Ki in Japan. In Hawaii, it is known as Mana. It is associated with sacred energy. It is closely linked to Kundalini Yoga, which is about raising the goddess from the base of the spine up to the crown of the head. As the “serpent” rises up the spine, all our chakras become activated until we united with God just above our head.​

Conscious breathing has a profoundly cleansing effect. In one of the Gospel accounts of the resurrected Christ, He actually breathes on His apostles. This would prove, not only that He rose from the dead, but also that He was imparting His sacred presence and power to them. In our more enlightened moments, we realize that every beat of our heart and every conscious breath is a gift of God.​

Take a Conscious Breathing Break

Most days, we will encounter a situation that is highly stressful, perhaps a lot of distracting environmental noise or pollutants. We may find ourselves chasing digital device after digital device, moving from one screen to another, the pace can be frantic. We may simply be under a deadline to get an important project for a client out by end of day. We completely forget to breathe.

In any situation, you can always pause for five minutes and take three or more deep, full breaths. There is nothing we can do to change our physiology faster. When we consciously breathe, it immediately slows down our mental chatter. Since we couldn’t breathe when we learned to talk, by deliberately breathing it blocks our thought flow. Our heart rate drops, our blood pressure falls and our muscles begin to relax.​

conscious breathing techniques

If we are in an emotionally draining situation, such as an argument with a coworker, customer, boss or spouse, we can stop defending ourselves and start to take several full breaths. We will suddenly find ourselves more present to others. Whenever you stress out, simply take a conscious breathing break.

Stop. Take several deep breaths. You will suddenly find yourself more present to others.

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Three Types of Conscious Breathing

There are a number of breathing patterns, taken from yoga, martial arts, athletics and calisthenics. It is very important in performance situations to notice when and how to breathe, so that you can get into a cadence. Several different breathing techniques suggest themselves.

1.  The Yogic Full Breath:

When you are doing yoga, standing, sitting or even lying down, and you really want to take in the air and oxygenate your cells, the yogic breath hits the spot. You begin with your stomach and expand your diaphragm to fill up your stomach, and then proceed to your rib cage. From your rib cage you breathe into your upper chest, hold for a moment, and then exhale. You exhale first your upper chest, then your rib cage, then your diaphragm, squeezing your abdominal muscles to let every bit of air out. This cycle results in extraordinarily deep breaths. You can do several at a time, but don’t overdo it. You want to avoid getting light-headed and dizzy.

2.  Alternate Nostril Breathing:​

When seated, either while doing yoga, or proceeding into meditation or prayer, alternate nostril breathing can lead rapidly to a profound sense of peace, even bliss. You close a nostril; let’s say your right, and breath in your left nostril to the count of four. You then close the left nostril and hold your breath to the count of seven. You then open the right nostril, and exhale to the count of eight.

Repeat this sequence four to eight times, morning and evening. Over a few days, it will have a cumulative effect, immediately putting you into a serene state.​

3.  Energetic Breathing:

Kundalini yoga features what is known as the bellows breath, or “breath of fire.” This is a powerful technique to rapidly raise your energy. It is not recommended for people subject to panic attack, or other disorders. Typically seated, you proceed to contract and relax your stomach in rapid sequence so that it operates much like a bellows. Initially, do this for a very short while, and then work up to a greater length of time. Listen to your body and never force yourself.

How I Begin Meditation with Conscious Breathing

For over a decade, I have done prayerful meditation once or twice a day as a spiritual practice. I read sacred and devotional literature from around the world in a contemplative mood. I then close my eyes and do alternate nostril breathing four times, left and right.

I find that my mind dramatically slows down, and I enter into a blissful space. I consciously call on God with my own mantra, and immediately experience His presence. Since I was raised in a Western Faith, His name falls within the Abrahamic tradition. However, the manner in which I meditate and pray might be considered definitely Hindu.

learn conscious breathing

During this process, I immediately experience the Divine Presence. I talk to God simply, much like a little child. My focus is on blessing people and nations. I believe God already knows what we need, but I find that blessing others immediately touches them in inexplicable ways. I am certain that many people have been healed, no matter what distance might separate us.​

I also have increasingly felt a flush of divine love that goes beyond explanation. This love seems unconditional and infinite. It comes out of the deepest part of me, and spontaneously flows towards others. I feel a close correlation with the meditation, breath and prayer. This technique has had a stunning cumulative effect that truly amazes me.​

Study Conscious Breathing from Mind / Body Masters

Dr. Deepak Chopra is the true pioneer of mind / body medicine, who has done more than almost anyone else to promote meditation, as well as ayurvedic healing. Deepak was personally selected by Maharishi as a possible successor in the Transcendental Meditation movement and was very close to him for several years. Deepak learned many techniques of the master, which he now imparts to others.

Dr. Chopra is joined by Amanda Ringnalda, who has worked with him for nearly 20 years and is certified both as a Primordial Sound Meditation Instructor, as well as an Ayurvedic Healer. Together, they combine to teach a very affordable online class, “Breathwork for Well-Being,” drawing upon video, articles and other resources.​

Conscious breathing cannot easily be mastered by words. Sharing the presence of accomplished masters under their careful guidance developed out of decades of practice is a rare privilege. You might want to take a close look at their offering.

Wherever your destiny lies, you will find conscious breathing an incomparable friend, a simple and easy way to find peace.​

Jesus visits India
Jul 14

Did Jesus Go To India? Why It Really Matters

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:

them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice;

and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Jesus in the Gospel of John

In 2009, Dr. Deepak Chopra published The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore. He identified The First Jesus as the Historical Jesus, The Second Jesus as the Christ of the Church and The Third Jesus as the Master of Enlightenment.

Deepak’s insights were on spot, in that the deepest meaning of salvation is enlightenment, waking up to the true nature of things, that all there is, IS God, and that God IS Love. Through God’s Love, we can know God, and become a son or daughter of God.

Deepak realized that we could devise a narrative of Jesus going to India that is totally congruent with the New Testament accounts. He published Jesus: A Story of Enlightenment in tandem with The Third Jesus. Could it be that the Gospel most people believe today is essentially true, sufficient for salvation, and yet still incomplete?​

Can the Gospel Still Be True?

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist who took the Bible literally and would readily cite chapter and verse. Convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was the unique Son of God, I gave little thought that He might have travelled in His early years. As a child, I came across a Mormon missionary who quoted the passage where Christ maintains that he has “other sheep.”

As I studied other religions, particularly Hinduism and Buddhism, and befriended people from India, my perspective expanded. I came across the Hindu concept of an Avatar, or direct descent of God, as well as a Bodhisattva, or Buddha of Compassion. These beings deeply resonated with my own experience of Christ, and I began to wonder.

Can you take the Gospel accounts at face value and recognize the possibility that Jesus travelled to India? Without question. Most of Jesus’s youth is not portrayed in the Gospels, which were written 40 years after the Crucifixion. These narratives were not intended as biographies. The Gospel as a whole is a profoundly transformational message to all humanity, and can only be understood in that light. If one is honest in reviewing the narrative, it is clear that here Jesus is a stranger in a strange land, even when He walks about His own birthplace, knowing both the customs and the rituals. His own consciousness is beyond the scope of anyone He meets.​

Swami Yogananda Bet His Life On This Premise

As a college student, I heard of Yogananda when I was learning hatha yoga at the University of California at Berkeley. At the time, there was a massive influx of swamis, yogis and lamas into the U.S. Yogananda’s masterpiece, The Autobiography of a Yogi was an all-time best seller that inspired millions to look to the East and actually moved thousands of Americans to travel to India in search of enlightenment, one of who was the co-founder of Apple, Inc. This was the only book Steve Jobs actually downloaded onto his iPad.

Yogananda was sent by his master, Yukteswar Giri, to impart his vision of the harmony of Hinduism and Christianity, specifically, the Bhagavad Gita and the Gospels. Yogananda regularly prayed and had a profound devotional relationship with Christ. In every service of Self-Realization Fellowship, Yogananda would read and explain both the Bible and the Gita.

Bhagavad Gita

It is amazing to think that Yogananda in his time was the equivalent of a rock star in the U.S., much like Maharishi. Unlike Maharishi, Yogananda gave most of his years to America, literally hanging out with Hollywood stars and prominent writers, such as Aldous Huxley. Not only did he inspire hundreds of thousands of Americans to bend their legs like pretzels, he also pulled together an American monastic community with as much commitment as any Catholic order.​

Birth of the Great Vehicle

Buddha virtually invented enlightenment as an institution. Before Him, many rishis in India had attained enlightenment, but only a few could receive the necessary guidance and instruction. You had to be the son of a Brahmin. No one else qualified. As a crown prince, Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) changed all that. Anyone could become a Buddhist who agreed to be called a “Bhikkhu” or beggar, have his hair shaved and follow Him.

Buddhism became institutionalized under the Emperor Ashoka, who abandoned his military quests, took Buddhist vows and became a vegetarian. A couple hundred years before Christ, Ashoka sent missionaries throughout Asia, as well as into the Mediterranean. The Greeks had earlier invaded India, and thus all the lands touched by the Greeks were ripe for the Dharma, or teaching.

Around the birth of Christ, Buddhism underwent a profound shift, away from the idea of individual enlightenment, to enlightenment of large groups of people through the Mahayana or “Great Vehicle” tradition. The ideal became a Bodhisattva, one who, about to receive enlightenment, goes back to the community and brings everyone with him before he steps into Nirvana.​

Judaism Goes Universal

Israel, more than any other force, gave humanity the concept of One God, Creator of the Universe. It began in fact as a tribal religion that pertained only to the direct descendants of its founding father, Abraham. Initially, the Lord was seen as a jealous God demanding strict obedience, much like a Middle Eastern emperor, such as Hammurabi in Babylon or Pharaoh in Egypt.

In the time of the prophets, when both the nations of Israel and Judah fell to the Babylonians and their temple was ravished, a larger vision of God emerged. God was not just the first among many gods, but the Only True God. Israel was not exclusively favored by the Supreme Being, but by anyone who worshipped Him. Jewish people were to be “the Light among the Gentiles (Nations).”

Preceding Christ, Rabbis emerged, such as Hillel, who focused on ethics, and who de-emphasized meaningless ritual. Brotherly love was commended towards all who might reciprocate. Other people could convert to Judaism. As Jesus put it, “Love God with all your all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”  By then, the Sermon on the Mount was within reach.​

The Three Wise Men

If you take the scriptures at face value, you are confronted with the possibility that people all over the world were awaiting the birth of Christ. Many were consciously looking for him as the Messiah, who would liberate us all. Of all the characters in the Christmas nativity plays, the Three Wise Men are often the most cherished. They came from the East as astrologers following the Star of Bethlehem, now thought to be the convergence of three planets around 5 B.C.E.

Star of Bethlehem

Why do they take a prominent place in the Gospels, triggering as they did the Murder of the Innocents in Bethlehem? Those Three Wise Men inspired King Herod to insane jealousy. Mary and Joseph, warned by a dream, fled to Egypt, which was under Greek influence, and which almost certainly had Buddhist missionaries.

Could it be that the Three Wise Men intended to apprentice Jesus of Nazareth in the mysteries of the East, which at that time was a mix of both Buddhism and Hinduism? Could Jesus have gone to receive training from these great masters, having been recognized in infancy as an Avatar or Bodhisattva?​

The Silent Years

After Jesus’s birth and flight to Egypt, celebrated the world over by Christmas, we read little about Jesus until His Bar Mitzvah, most likely at 13 years of age. Jesus goes with His parents to the temple in Jerusalem, where He dialogues with the priests and rabbis in a way that stuns them. Jesus gets so wrapped up that He spends several days in the temple. His parents leave Jerusalem earlier, thinking Jesus has gone on with the group, only to discover He was left behind. They reprimand Christ, and Jesus responds in a puzzled manner, “Didn’t you know I must be about my Father’s business?”

The Gospel tells us that Mary took this event to heart, and Jesus then submitted to His parents, “growing in wisdom and in stature.” We don’t hear about him again for 18 years or so, around the wedding at Cana and His Baptism in the River Jordan. What happened during these years? Did Christ go on to continue to be a good carpenter and master His craft? This is the standard account. But how, then, did Jesus become the Christ?​

Jesus faith

Another possibility, with substantial evidence all over Pakistan, Tibet and India, is that He was summoned by the wise men, and with His parents permission, accompanied their envoys to India. It is noteworthy that Jewish people and possibly some of the “ten lost tribes of Israel” were already in India. Given that Christ was on King Herod’s wanted list, it might make sense for Him to seek refuge in a foreign land to protect His life.

Baptism in the River Jordan

The true launch of Jesus’s ministry as a rabbi and prophet was when His first cousin, “John the Baptist”, baptized him in the River Jordan. The Baptizer was revered as a great apocalyptic prophet who warned of impending judgment. He anticipated the Messiah emerging who would bring lasting peace and justice to the world. In the river, “The heavens were opened,” and a Voice announced Jesus as His “beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased.”

Early theologians speculated that this was the moment that Jesus became the Christ, that the baptismal waters were an anointing of His role as the Lord of Love. It becomes increasingly apparent as the narrative continues that Christ is building a kingdom “not of this world.” The Kingdom of Heaven is above all, a state of mind, or a transformation in consciousness.

The Gospel of John reveals Jesus as the “Logos” of God, the ultimate message from God to humanity, as the supreme embodiment of divine Love. This Gospel account maintains that Jesus has the ability to awaken the divinity of anyone who simply realizes Who He is. This is the most popular form of yoga, Bhakti Yoga, or the yoga of devotion to God and loving service to people. As we worship God in a form that speaks to us, we become a son or daughter of God.​

The Sermon on the Mount

The crowning accomplishment of Jesus’s public teaching starts out with the profoundly ironic beatitudes: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Jesus goes on to depict a higher way of being than humanity had ever seen. These are the principles of His Kingdom, a state of being nothing less than divine.

Jesus pushes the envelope by introducing a vision of a global society infused with unconditional love, which shines like the sun upon “the just and the unjust” alike. He takes it to an extreme: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Only the Bodhisattva tradition would even touch on this kind of love. The Bodhisattva vow goes, “Though the flames of hell are infinite, I vow to extinguish every one of them.”

Could it be that Christ’s consciousness was infused as much with the Wisdom of the East as the Judaic prophetic tradition? In any event, Jesus is demonstrating Himself to be an Avatar or Bodhisattva, a spiritual genius of a different order than the world has ever seen. You might even think of Him here as the Second Buddha, enlightenment through the heart, not the head. The Mahayana tradition was awaiting Him. Why couldn’t the second wave of enlightenment come from Jewish people?​

The Passion and Resurrection

The greatest theologians have long pondered why Christ, the Perfect Man, had to die on the cross. The most common interpretation is that He died for our sins so that we should not experience eternal spiritual death. Jesus rose from the dead to demonstrate that it has no power over those who have received the gift of eternal life.

Jesus love

If you closely study the accounts, it is clear that Jesus consciously chose to die, that He pushed the priests and Pharisees to the brink. While it is clear from His night in the Garden of Gethsemane that a part of Him would do anything not to go to the cross, He surrendered to the Higher Will to fulfill His destiny.​

An alternative Orthodox perspective sees Jesus going to the cross as the ultimate demonstration of love. He had to demonstrate once and for all what it was like to love your enemies. Confronting the mocking Pharisees, He raised His head and asked, “Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do.”

You can combine these views with the perspective that Jesus, as Avatar of Avatars, deliberately took upon Himself the collective karma of all humanity, and released us from any and all bondage. If like me, you believe in miracles (I have seen enough of the miraculous to be convinced), then the resurrection account is not to be dismissed. Incidentally, great spiritual masters the world over have done truly astonishing things. Just study comparative religion, starting with Baba Ram Dass’s The Miracle of Love.​

Forty Days: Avatar, Buddha and Messiah

After Christ’s resurrection, He is recorded to have appeared to His apostles and disciples over a period of 40 days before His ascension into Heaven. Jesus could materialize and dematerialize right before his disciples’ eyes. He would break bread with them, eat broiled fish, invite them to touch Him and even breathe on Him. They earnestly gazed upon the nail prints in His hands and feet, as well as the spear mark in his side.

If you accept modern masters, such as India’s Sai Baba, the idea that one can appear at more than one place at a time, or jump continents just through thought alone is not impossible. Such a feat doesn’t defy quantum mechanics. Teleportation need not be limited to Star Trek. If Jesus was resurrected, and He was a supreme yogi, why couldn’t he go meet His “other sheep” in distant lands? He need not hang out solely in Palestine.

In the account where Jesus ascends into the skies, we need not be stumped by a Newtonian view of the Universe, where it would take him millions of years to even reach the center of the galaxy. He could very well have gone into a whole other dimension. Contemporary string theory admits of 11 dimensions. Also, the theory of parallel universes or multiple worlds is held by any number of responsible physicists, not simply wacked-out comic book fans.​

The Greatest Miracle

In truth, we don’t know for sure that Jesus went to India to attain ultimate enlightenment. As an Avatar, He was awoken from birth. We know beyond any reasonable historical doubt that He lived and died in Palestine in the first century. He is regarded as the Greatest Man Who Ever Lived. With sufficient faith, the evidence for His resurrection is compelling.

If Jesus actually did go to India, it would explain a lot---all those silent years, the strange resonance with the teachings of Krishna and Buddha. It would make it increasingly clear that Jesus is not just for Christians, but for all the world. All the avatars, bodhisattvas and Messiahs belong, not to an exclusive set of people, but to all humanity forever.

If Christianity is to live up to its potential as suggested in the Sermon on the Mount, it must go universal, both with regard to salvation, as well as to our divinity. Christ didn’t die for us because we were miserable, filthy worms. He died for us because we were infinitely precious in His sight. He died to wake us up to our own divinity.

As we partake of the Love of Christ, we begin to realize what it is all about. This love is invincible. The apostles used it to transform the Roman Empire. With it, Gandhi brought down the British Empire. We, in our day, can share it on a planetary scale. Then we can say that we have found God. For God IS love.​

living in the present moment
Jul 07

Falling in Love with The Present Moment

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

Existence was born when we fell in love with emptiness.

A candle was made to turn into flameIn one moment of destruction that leaves no shadow.

With a single note, the nightingale makes me notice the rose,

Falling into that place where everything is music.

Deepak Chopra, “Everything Is Music”

We almost never fall in love with what is actually there, with the way that it is, with the present moment. Yet, why not?

Most of us want nothing more than to fall in love, not with the way that it is, but with our dream, the way we wish it was. We fall in love with the man or woman who gives us a second glance, but who is very far from grasp. We want to restore the magic of childhood, when every tree was a Christmas tree, and every household light a Christmas star.​

What Would Buddha Teach If He Were with Us Today?

If we think of one who mastered joy, peace and bliss, we must think of the ancient crown prince who left his kingdom in search of deeper fulfillment than court life could ever provide him. “Buddha” means “the one who woke up,” from the illusion of separation to the supreme presence that brings it all together.

Buddha determined that the problem in his generation was a habitual clinging to ever changing conditions, leading to constant frustration. We never seem to quite get what we want, and when we do get it, we instantly fear that we will lose it. To find enlightenment, simply give up every single attachment. If tides are forever shifting, the best you can do is to surf the waves.​

We never seem to quite get what we want, and when we do get it, we instantly fear that we will lose it.

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Today, most of us get caught up with smart phones, social networks and media that keep our mind continuously agitated. We maintain an inner dialogue on a 24 x 7 basis, always on. The pace of global society today is orders of magnitude faster than that of Buddha’s agrarian society.

ignoring present moment

What Time Is It? - What Is Time?

The next time someone asks you, “What time is it?” turn to them and remind them, “NOW!” The time is always the present moment. The hands on our watch that keep moving around simply demonstrate perpetual change. We are always in the flow.

Yet when we probe the deeper question, “What is time?”, none of us has an easy answer. We think we know it, but can define neither past nor future. We have perceptions, memories and dreams in the present moment, combined with verbal chatter.

What if time is just the perpetual pulse of the present moment, the eternal flow of our consciousness. We assume the world is entirely “out there.” But is it? The world is an extension of ourselves, and it is entirely possible that what is within contains what is without. If we leave words out, we truly enter the present only to meet eternity.​

Thinking: The Universal Addiction

As homo sapiens sapiens, we take great pride in our intelligence, most easily identified with our language, spoken or written. Behind language is our thought process, and behind the thought process is a collection of symbols that we learned growing up. We all come to take the symbols for what they represent, the menu for the meal. We regret more losing the $20 bill we give the grocer than we rejoice in gaining the actual nourishing food.

We feel that it is the normal human condition to think constantly. We maintain a Voice Over under every circumstance, continually judging and evaluating every single thing that occurs. We constantly compare and contrast, usually to make wrong what is right in front of us. When others speak to us, most often we edit what they say before their words reach our eardrums.​

thinking removes us from present moment

We can eventually accept, after a major operation or loss of a loved one, that we are not our bodies. However, we are utterly convinced that we are our minds. If we have a soul, then certainly that soul must be our mind. What else could it be? Is there another part of us that we don’t own up to?

Pre-Rational

In our early childhood, especially the ages of three or four, we are totally awake and alive. We soaking up new experiences in every possible moment, learning most of what we know as adults. Our perceptions and intuitions are keen. When we speak, we do so candidly, not worrying about hurting anyone’s feelings.

Early in the history of humanity, we lived as hunters and gatherers, as well as doing horticulture in small plots of land. Like Native Americans, we could move effortlessly without snapping a twig. We were in harmony with the flow of creation. Words and conversation were a new invention, and kept very basic and simple. What you said, you meant. Nothing else occurred to us.

In the pre-rational period, we are deeply in touch with the mystical. Life itself seems magical. We take nothing for granted. When we cry, we cry all out, and then suddenly stop. When we laugh, we laugh all out, and then suddenly stop. We live in the moment. Our language is clear and crisp. We are not our words, and our words don’t own us.​

Rational

As we grow into adolescence, we enter a very awkward period when our brainpower grows, and our cognitive functions grow stronger. We are more comfortable with abstract thought, and our vocabulary rapidly expands. We are still in touch with what it feels like to be a child, but we are aspiring for something more. At this point, we are neither children nor adults.

As humanity moved into the great river valleys of Egypt, India and China, a more complex agricultural civilization emerged with specialization of labor. People enjoyed more stable supplies of food and water. Coins and currency began to replace bartering, and large cities emerged under a king, or emperor. Written language evolved, and the great religions became codified.

In the late rational period, we saw the emergence of printing, the scientific method, steam engines and the industrial revolution. Increasingly, our lives were dominated by machinery, which outperformed slaves, so that the standard of living for ever larger groups of people steadily progressed. In the process, much of humanity lost touch with its spiritual foundations. Universities replaced cathedrals, and thought became increasingly secular. The sacred was sidelines, and with it, magic and miracles.​

Trans-Rational

As we matured in midlife, we began to question the establishment and probe the meaning of life. We may have picked up yoga and meditation. We came to distrust intellectuality, as life doesn’t often come out the same way as books say it should. We may be a baby boomer, or cultural creative, who looks at reality in a different light. We may even come to question our very thought process, itself.

As humanity moved into the post-industrial period, and computers began replacing television, people enjoyed a more mobile life. A high percentage of the population is now educated. Because of digital devices and the proliferation of media in every form, people are much better informed, and actively seek options.

In the trans-rational period, humanity is gradually growing beyond thought, where it no longer regards thought as its highest achievement. Digital technology can do much of that faster and cheaper. We have intuition, awareness and consciousness. We are beginning to appreciate our brains as being magnificent instruments, not our masters. We increasingly sense our divinity, and are coming to a whole new appreciation of Who and What we call “God.”

Heaven Ever in the Present Moment

If we can stop our stream of thinking for more than a second or two, we will discover a type of enchantment that we long forgot after we left our playpen and wandered out of the forest. Heaven is more than another word for the sky. It is a state of being. Everything is as it is, and everything is as it should be. It’s all perfect!

state of being present

Rarely are we in physical danger, where our heart is pounding, and a cougar is about to jump out of the foliage and devour us. Most of our dis-ease and apprehension is self-created. Thoughts crowd our heads, and we continually drink caffeine to keep them flowing. We are terrified to just be still. To simply be.

When you are totally present, relaxed without a thought in your head for a whole hour, you feel born again, years melt away. The trip to Paris, the vacation in Bali, who needs them. Right where you live, the local park, is just perfect, lacking nothing. Home is heaven, and heaven is now.

Hell Anywhere Else But Now

When you insist on life on exactly your terms, regardless of the consequences, you will find yourself digging a hole. Master healers always work with what they have got. They start where they are. When you refuse to be where you are, when your mind goes racing towards any other possibility, you will find yourself in hell.

The difference between hell and heaven is razor thin. It lies in your choosing conditions to be just the way they are, and working with them to create what you want. When you fall in love with the present moment, you find yourself free. Nelson Mandela learned to love his prison cell. In the end, the entire world was his.

If you choose to play victim, you will come to the point of realizing that no satisfaction is possible. You can then begin to own your world and discover your destiny.

How to Stop Thinking

If we think of the contemporary person most like Buddha, we must consider Eckhart Tolle, a former German scholar. Eckhart went to the University of London and the University of Cambridge only to find himself utterly miserable. His thoughts ran at an insane tempo. He couldn’t do a thing to stop them. At some point, he decided to take his life in his own hands.

Suddenly, Eckhart’s whole system crashed! He woke up realizing the thoughts that were spinning him like a top were not at all him. He had those self-destructive thoughts, but he wasn’t those thoughts. The silent witness that had observed his crazy musings stood forth and mounted the throne of his life. Suddenly, there was perfect stillness. Eckhart was born again, a brand new person.

Eckhart then, at 29 years of age, devoted his entire life to sharing the insights that came out of that experience to others just like him, who can’t control their thoughts. Eckhart has a way of mocking our insanity in such a way that we can effortless recognize it for what it is. Countless people have awoken just by reading his book, The Power of Now, which sold six million copies. Now, Eckhart will train you via video in a most affordable course. Why not take a look in this present moment?

live in the moment

All There Is IS the Present Moment!

Like Deepak Chopra, you can fall in love with emptiness, that emptiness which contains everything. You can gaze at the candle, smell the rose and dance to the music. It is all so simple. Stop your wild thoughts …NOW… and NOW… and NOW!

Being God
Jul 05

If You Were God, What Would You Do Differently?

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

A wonderful pastime on a beach, on a lazy Sunday or when relishing a holiday is to simply imagine that you were God. You could BE anything, DO anything and HAVE anything. Your every wish is at your command. You can make things right and forever end human folly and stupidity.

Only, what do you really want? If you ask people on the street, they will burst out laughing, as it is hard to take this question seriously. At first, you might dream of endless partying and orgies, infinite wealth at your disposal, goofing off without any repercussions.

After a while, you would realize that cheap thrills don’t quite cut it. You want something more significant. If humanity is challenged, if the ecosystem seems stressed beyond repair, you want to be the Savior, the One to fix it forever.

But then you begin to think. Can you have up without down? Light without darkness? Good without evil?​

Who is God Anyway?

Big Daddy or Mamma on the throne?! For most of us growing up, God was the Big Boss in the sky, a benevolent despot who might punish you for the slightest infraction; however, He was not above kissing and making up. God is commonly called Higher Power or the Supreme Being. As the theologians put it, God is omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (everywhere) and omniscient (all-knowing).

This conception derives from the Ancient Middle East, in particular, the great river civilizations of Babylon and Egypt. The Emperor was the equivalent of God, and wielded absolute authority over his subjects. Often, he (usually a male, but sometimes a female) would erect a huge statue and command his subjects to worship under the penalty of death.​

Due to the success of the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), this view was spread around the world, shaping the modern view, which immediately followed it. In truth, the traditional image is idolatrous. Yet it makes sense that the Creator would include both the personal and the impersonal. How can mere mortals worship that which they can’t see, hear, touch, taste or smell?​

who is God

Do You Really Want this Almighty Job?

While you might initially find the offer to be God, even if only for a day, irresistible, you will immediately begin to realize what you are taking on. Let’s just play with the popular conception of God, not necessarily the God Who is actually there.

First thing, you are besieged by prayer requests of your faithful, who call you by radically different names. Many of these requests contradict other requests, and you must decide which to honor, and which to graciously decline. Then you realize that they can come at you with frightening speed. You might get a million requests an hour, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. This will make the job of Santa and his elves look like a breeze!

Second, you will soon realize that the prayers you answer are rarely reciprocated. In other words, your creatures don’t feel it is their duty to thank you for creating them in the first place. If you grant their request, this is only what you are supposed to do. Rather than thank you, they will give you yet another request, ad infinitum.​

What Are Your Options?

While in theory, you have infinite possibilities; you must deal with practical constraints. Physicists have determined dozens of essential factors in creating a universe. They must all line up perfectly in order to have intelligent life. For examples, all the hydrogen atoms had to be a certain way, or they would all collapse into a huge crunch, or blow apart before the material world could be created. This is called the anthropic principle.

You could override human will by using force, but you might find that you are violating your own laws that you used to set up the game. You can certainly do things to scare the daylights out of humanity, but you will not necessarily command their respect, and you will most certainly fail to inspire their love.

You could push the button and end it all. But then, what have you accomplished? Why did you create the universe in the first place? (We see this scenario in the story of Noah and the Flood. However, it is significant that, even in this horrific account, God chose to save a remnant and replenish the Earth.)​

Infinitely Good or Infinitely Powerful?

If you want to assume the role of the Man or Woman on the Golden Throne, you are going to have to choose between being a good guy, but weak, or a bad guy, but tough-assed. How else do we explain the World Wars, the Jewish Holocaust and Global Warming? From a strictly human standpoint, no God worth His salt would have allowed humanity to go so amuck as to create nuclear weapons.

If you opt for power, you will contravene human will, making any remaining subjects puppets that worship you out of terror, but despise you behind your back. Even if you insist on doing all the right things, such as securing world peace, an egalitarian monetary system and a healthy planet, you have castrated the very humanity you were training to be divine.

divine love vs powerful evil

If you opt for goodness, you will be admired by the liberals, but sneered at by the conservatives for not being man enough to make a real difference. You become a perpetual appeaser that lets villains get away with murder. Who is going to stand up for the widow and the oppressed?

Play God or Be God?

We all fall into the temptation of playing God, rather than being God. To play God means to prove that you are God by dominating other people, insisting on the last word, always coming in first place, regardless of how it impacts others. To be God is to recognize that everyone you meet is also God, no matter how difficult they happen to be. The only proper response is to honor and love them.

If you elect to PLAY God on the Golden Throne, you might find it fun for a while. However, it will soon become rather hollow. No one will like you, let alone love you. You will increasingly find yourself all alone. Just think of the presidents, executives and entertainers who opted to play God. They might get away with murder, but they will never be truly happy.

If you elect to BE God, you won’t be enamored with your throne. You will walk down the steps, shake hands and hug the people in your life. You will recognize them as also divine, and invite them to share the throne with you. You will consider it an honor to serve them. If you were lord of anything, it would be the Lord of Love.​

Total or Distributed Accountability?

The biggest penalty of assuming divine prerogatives is that you are responsible for it all. You can’t honestly point to any of your creatures and say, “You did it! It’s all your fault!” This is a truly childish conception of God. If you look at 9 / 11, you recognize that you caused it. We are all accountable, but no one is to blame.

If you want to assume something less than 100% responsibility, you will soon find that you are no longer a leader, as you have no willing followers. The mark of a truly great leader is that she assumes the mistakes of her followers. It was really her fault in not ensuring that they were up to the task.

You will empower yourself in direct proportion to giving up blame. The supremely inspiring leaders of humanity, Buddha, Christ and Muhammad, for example, were willing to assume responsibility for it all. Buddha probed all his incarnations, Christ discovered the way of universal love and Muhammad discovered the power of absolute surrender.​

Automatons or Free Agents?

If you are going to create a universe, and then create humanity as intelligent beings with the potential to fully appreciate God, you have got to give them free will. This is the breakthrough insight of the Christian narrative. While our Source has infinite power, He will not override our volition, because this would eliminate forever the possibility of love.

God-IS-Love

We may succeed in creating robots more intelligent than us, but it is doubtful that we will ever create them with a greater love. It may be realized that love more fully defines our humanity than our intelligence. If this is true, as the Apostle John proclaimed, that God IS Love, then love is more powerful than force every single time.

God IS Love... then... love is more powerful than reckless force every single time.

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Could it be that our Source was more than willing to take the gamble that His creation would despise Him? Only in this way, could God and creature love one another. If you accept the conventional understanding that the distance between God and us is that between a colony of ants and a city of people, you will realize what a remarkable choice this was.​

Progress or Perfection?

As you grow older, you begin to realize that reward and punishment are never it. We are all learning. Each of us is doing the best he or she can under the circumstances… no matter how crazy the choices may be. The idea of the Last Judgment only makes sense in terms of a life review.

Could it be that we are in a school of divinity? Our planet and our life were set up as the perfect vehicle to awaken us to the divine.

Could it be that we were all God, but deliberately chose to forget, to get lost in a myriad of possibilities to that we could find our way back home? Could it be that hide and go seek, on and off, are the very pulse of creation?

Could it be that it is all perfect just the way that it is? It is perfect that you play God or return to being God. The more familiar you get with power and love, the more you will choose love. The power of love is beyond reckoning. No human folly can withstand unconditional love. Every human heart has a set point where it will surrender to a greater love.​

Our Only True and Ultimate Self

If you have the courage and tenacity to play this little game of “If you were God” to its logical conclusion, shocking insights may arise that could truly transform you. We are all moving to much greater God than the One we met with as a child.

As we explore the universe, we are increasingly aware that nothing is as it appears to be, and that nothing is really “out there.” It is all “in here,” in the innermost part of our being.

Who and what we call “God” is our only true Self. When we fully realize that there is only God, we can then make every “hell” a “heaven.”​

living soul
Jun 30

Do I Have a Soul?

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground,

and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;

and man became a living soul.

Moses in the Book of Genesis

In Ridley Scott’s cult classic, Blade Runner, set in 2019, we meet an L.A. cop, Captain Decker (Harrison Ford), sent to hunt down renegade replicants, or androids, up to no good, being highly resentful that their creator had timed them to die.

Captain Decker meets Rachael (Sean Young), the most advanced replicant. Decker can’t figure out if she, as the creator’s assistant, is a real human being with a soul, or simply his masterpiece. In the end, Decker falls in love with Rachel, and takes her with him. To Decker, it really doesn’t matter whether she is human or not. He simply can’t tell the difference.​

What Is the Soul?

When you speak of the soul, everyone knows what you are talking about, but hardly anyone can clearly explain it. Soul is clearly what makes us human. Soul is the very core of our being. Soul is the essence of our individuality over and against our body.

souls meaning

The soul is defined with various ancient words. In Hebrew, it is nefesh, or the breath of life. In Greek, it is psyche, or mind. In Sanskrit, it is the jivatman, our essence as an individual that migrates from life to life. It speaks of our heart as much as our mind, being closer to the heart.

Genesis depicts the soul as the breath of the Creator that makes the clay figurine, Adam, come alive. Adam is no longer dust; he is “a living soul.” Although this narrative is clearly metaphorical, it speaks to our divine nature, what differentiates us from other animals. We are human, if not also divine.​

Is the Soul and the Spirit the Same Thing?

In the Bible, spirit is represented with different words in the original. Ruah” (breath or wind) in Hebrew and “Pneuma” (air) in Greek. In Sanskrit, God, from an impersonal standpoint, is “Brahman” (Infinite expansion). In Buddhism, it is often thought that humanity has no soul, as all phenomena are continually changing and are ultimately illusion.

In the Letter to the Hebrews, the apostle, most likely Saint Paul, distinguishes between soul and spirit, knowable only through revelation. In this context, the soul is the foundation of our human nature, while spirit is our divine nature.​

The soul may be everlasting, but not eternal. There was a time when your soul was not, but it may never end. Your spirit, however, is eternal. It always was, it always will be, because it is the very nature of God.

Your soul is the very heart of your individuality, what makes you “YOU” as “Mark” or “Audrey” or “Phil.” It suggests your presence. If you are in love with her, you feel her independent of her physical appearance. Your spirit, however, is one with the Source of the Universe, in which the galaxies spin.

soul vs spirit

Why Even Ask the Question?

Several hundred years ago, before the modern age, you would seem very strange to the people in your life if you asked a question like this. It was obvious to most cultures, societies and civilizations in the world that we have a soul. The only intelligent question was, “What happens to our soul after we die?” Here again, most societies accepted that our souls actually went somewhere. They survived the body.

With the emergence of the scientific method, the philosophy of rational empiricism emerged out of the immense success of science in making predictions and advancing technology. For experimental purposes, if you can’t publically sense something and actually measure it, it is unreal. It just doesn’t exist.

In the modern age, the soul got increasingly associated with the brain, as opposed to the heart. It became popular to suppose that our mind was entirely due to the intermittent firings of our neurons, much like a cortical thunderstorm. The moment you pull the plug and stop the action, the mind is gone, along with your soul.

Clearly, this assumption didn’t sit well with most people. Thanks to the father of modern philosophy, Renee Descartes, they took refuge in dualism, that the soul resides entirely in a different realm. The body is the body, and the soul is the soul.

As Descartes famously put it, “I think. Therefore, I am.”

The Challenge From Neuroscience

In the past decade, research on the brain and the human nervous system has escalated. We have already decoded the human genome. Whereas earlier we were in the kindergarten stage, we may be confident that we are now in the elementary stage of understanding brain functioning. The global IT infrastructure required to support this research is now many times greater than it was even a decade ago.

The more we know about the brain, the more tempting it is to try and explain away the soul as simply neurological processes. However, the brain is vastly complex, with billions of neurons in intelligent patterns. If you look at all the possible combination of patterns in any single brain, you will have more than the number of stars in the known universe.​

Scientists have started to attempt on a crude level to reverse engineer the brain with varying degrees of success, as many of our neurological processes are analogical, rather than digital, meaning they are not simply on / off states. In addition, the brain does massively parallel processing way beyond what our current computers can do. Currently, software developers are in the early stages of writing and perfecting code for parallel processing.​

The Challenge from Artificial Intelligence

A.I. research is finally bearing fruit after decades of exasperating setbacks. Back in the 1950’s, mimicking the brain seemed much easier, as our understanding of both the brain and computer technology was so basic. Early on, there were two directions in developing computing. The first was to look at the computer as an ultimate replacement for the brain. The second was to look at the computer as an instrument to augment human intelligence.

Today, A.I. is being commercialized and introduced in every field and industry. We are about to see personal robots, drones, self-driving cars and flying automobiles on an everyday basis. Google has been using deep learning in its apps for years. Systems are now capable of simple self-learning. For example, you can instruct a system to identify pictures of cats from thousands of photos without any labels.

We aren’t yet at the stage where a system can fool people into believing it is a person, but we now see IBM Watson routinely beat, not only world-class chess players, but Jeopardy participants, a game requiring cultural sophistication. One system has even designed a crude, but intelligible, one-act screenplay!​

artificial soul

Can My Soul Be Downloaded into a Machine?

When Timothy Leary, the acid guru, was about to pass away, he gave instructions to freeze his brain immediately after he was gone in the hopes that a future generation could thaw it, and plant it into a human body. If we can transplant hearts, why not brains?

Transhumanists go beyond this. Since many neurological operations can be coded, one might suppose that human consciousness is an “epiphenomenon” of the brain. We are conscious only in so far as we are programmed, and have an electronic current flowing through us. Should this be the case, then all of the code could be put together and stored in a large rack-mounted platform.

The problem with this line of thinking is that we are, from a biological standpoint, organisms, not machines. We are most definitely not simply an assemblage of parts. Rather, every system of the body grew out of a single fertilized egg. Can we really equate life with machinery?​

Will Computers Ever Be Smarter Than Me?

Right now, computing platforms can do many operations much faster than human beings. They can do more operations and do them faster on some, but not all aspects of thinking. The issue seems to be whether computers can beat human beings in generalized intelligence. There are at least a dozen different kinds: verbal, abstract reasoning, spatial logic, kinesthetic, aesthetic, spiritual, emotional and moral.

It would seem to be a long time before computers master all the different types of human intelligence and can be totally mistaken for human beings. However, it is very clear, as with Apple’s Macintosh, that manufacturers and developers can humanize and personalize systems in certain ways, SIRI being a crude beginning.

Even more to the point, it is dubious how successful systems will be in replicating human beings’ actual feelings and emotions. To date, most of the focus on A.I. and neuroscience has been around rationality and perception. Intuition and emotion seems to be largely overlooked. Given the role of the human heart (which is highly intelligent from a neurological standpoint), it might be more appropriate than the brain in these areas.​

Why Both Neuroscience and A.I. Completely Miss the Point

Scientific research into neuroscience and A.I. has yet to deal with what it calls “the hard problem.” How do we explain human subjectivity? When I see a gorgeous sunset upon closing my eyes, where is that sunset? Surgeons can’t really isolate any particular group of cells where it is happening. Our imagination seems to reside in a wholly different dimension.

Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. Menas Kafatos recently published a marvelous book, “You Are the Universe,” popularizing what they call “qualitas,” the experience of quality in what is superficially considered a quantitative world. They suggest that the brain might be a tuning mechanism for experience, which resides “nonlocally,” meaning it can’t be reduced to any specific locality.

We can’t isolate any experience as happening “out there,” as it is only through our internal sensations and thoughts that we can construct the concept of an external body and world. Quantum physics has eradicated the notion that you can have a world without someone to observe it.​

Will My Soul Ever Die?

Throughout history, most cultures have seen the soul going on well after the body has dissolved. Death is seen as the separation of the soul from the body. The body is temporal, but the soul is everlasting. One thinks of reincarnation on the one hand, and becoming one with it all and merging with God on the other.

soul after death

Near death experiences are vividly narrated, with a strong suggestion of the survival of our individuality, and the overwhelming experience of love and well-being in the afterlife. It would seem that we have another body every bit as real as our current human body. The testimony of Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who flatlined his brain for seven days, seems most impressive in this respect.

The New Testament narrative of resurrection points to a glorified body that has a relationship to the former body, but it is not subject to the same laws. It can eat fish, and yet walk through walls. It can be touched, but is capable of levitating into the sky. Could this be a transformed soul body? In Hinduism, ever subtler dimensions of ourselves each have their own discrete body, culminating in the “Anandamayakosha,” or bliss body.​

Who Am I… Really?

While it is often considered blasphemy to claim that you are God, this may be our greatest truth. If there is only God, which is not a ridiculous proposition after a thorough study of quantum physics, then each of us is God hiding out as you and me. It may be that we live in a divine love story, where the individuality of each one of us is infinitely precious to our Source.

In the wink of an eye, God can bring us all back in a glorified body. If an advanced computer system can launch an entire universe in 3D virtual reality, could God do any less?

If you are interested in exploring the infinite nature of your soul and how it impacts your experience of the world daily… we recommend you do it with Deepak Chopra, a world-renowned thought leader in this space. Click here for more details.​

pulling the plug life support
Jun 02

Moral Dilemma: Should I Pull The Plug?

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me.

Psalm 23

At some point in your life, you may face a messy predicament that you will be morally obliged to resolve, despite your overwhelming desire to escape it. You will be placed in the position of deciding, not your own, but another’s, fate, one whom you truly love.

Let’s say your father is critically ill, and has fallen into a coma with less than one-percent chance of recovery. You never liked discussing this type of thing with him, so you don’t have a good reading on his express wishes. The daily hospital bills are devouring his estate and about to eat you alive. He told you a few months back that he had a good life and loved you very much.

The attending nurse and physician consult with you on what should be done, since you are next of kin. They ask you if he signed a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate agreement). To the best of your knowledge, he did not. They suggest your father could go on that way for months. When do you choose to remove life support?

Academically, this is one thing. Clinically, it is quite another. Are your ready to pull the plug on the very man who conceived you, who throughout his entire life did everything he could to make you happy?​

What Is a Moral Dilemma?

A moral dilemma is any predicament where you are presented with two distasteful alternatives, neither of which is acceptable to you. You may be obliged to choose between the lesser of two evils. Typically, you are pressed for time and must reach a decision that has great consequences for yourself and others.

moral dilemma definition

You look into all the rulebooks, but nothing is written in black and white. You are awash in shades of gray. You wrack your brain to see if there is anyone to whom you can pass the buck, but no one shows up. You genuinely want to do the right thing, but you don’t have a clue.

You keep negotiating for more time. You reach out to friends and family for guidance, but your priorities are not their priorities. You just don’t have enough information to reach a rational decision. In the end, you must simply choose. You do what you do, and you don’t do what you don’t do.​

Pulling the Plug: The Legal Options

When people face death and are in great pain, or they have definitely expressed a will to die, the federal government has little to say. State governments take varying positions.

Pulling the plug applies to cases where people are being kept on life support, without which they would almost certainly die in short order.​

“Do Not Resuscitate” applies to people who are close to death. Hospitals will often implant tubes in the nose and mouth and artificially keep them from dying, regardless of the discomfort.​

everyday moral dilemmas

Assisted death applies in the few states that legalize this. A patient, after careful consultation, has advised his physician that he would like to die. With his consent, the medical doctor offers poison pills that will quickly bring about the patient’s demise. It is all up to the patient to take the pills and swallow them. If they do, the attending staff will do everything in their power to make the transition as painless as possible.

Lethal injections are outlawed in no uncertain terms. They apply only to states with capital punishment. It is considered a relatively painless way to die, as opposed to a firing squad, hanging, a gas chamber or an electric chair. However, medical use of lethal injections is under vigorous debate. This would be where the medical doctor directly seizes the initiative in bringing about the death of a patient.​

The Ethical Side of a Moral Dilemma

For generations, physicians took the Hippocratic oath before entering their practice, which promises never to use medicine to bring harm to another. To bring about death to a patient goes against every single impulse of a good doctor. He is thoroughly trained to do everything humanly possible to keep his patient alive. If the patient dies on him, he typically considers it a moral and professional failure.

Western religion comes down emphatically against causing death to another human being. The Ten Commandments enjoin, “Thou shalt not kill.” The Sermon on the Mount directs us to “Do unto others that which you would like done unto you.” This is rarely applied to plants and animals; it is interpreted to mean, Do not murder.”

The Western philosophic and religious traditions oppose suicide, supposing that human beings don’t have the right to take the very life that was given to them. The commitment is to mitigate pain whenever possible, but to let nature take her course. As Werner Erhard once put it regarding suicide: “You don’t have permission.”

Reaching Out to Others

Having friends and relatives, along with myself, undergoing such moral dilemmas, it absolutely works to gather the thoughts and opinions of those we can count upon, whether or not we agree.

pulling the plug discussions

When a loved one is nearing his or her demise, it may be appropriate to take your friend out for a few drinks and let him get it all off his chest. One is typically under a great deal of pressure and highly distracted, needing context and comfort in order to move forward.

Very often chaplains and clergy, who are trained to advise and console people in these kinds of situations, are invaluable. I can tell you from personal experience that not all of them are moralistic. Most often, they are very good listeners, helping you sort out your own feelings, making positive suggestions, and give you constructive suggestions.​

Saying Goodbye to My Sister

Recently, my elder sister, under disability for decades and living in a group home, began to decline in health, becoming progressively thinner, even though she ate well. On top of this, she became demented, losing her memory to the point of finding it difficult to speak, because she lacked the words. She even deteriorated to the point where she could no longer recognize me.

Her caretaker, who had become like a mother, suggested we take her to hospice care. While I was reluctant at first, the hospice facility had it totally together. When signing the required documentation, I had to decide whether or not to resuscitate my sister in the face of terminal illness. My sister was taken to a long-term care facility essentially to die.

We immediately prepared for the worst, and began planning her memorial service and funeral. Ironically, my sister got better for a while and actually held out for nine months. Her caretaker, who knew my sister far better than I ever did, visited her weekly. When my sister rapidly declined, the facility was frantic to have me intubate her. Her caretaker and I held to our original decision to allow her a natural transition.​

Dr. Eben Alexander: Resurrection from a Coma

A prominent, secular neurosurgeon on the East Coast lived a successful middle-class lifestyle with wife and kids. Dr. Alexander went to Jerusalem and inadvertently contracted a strange virus there. He was OK for a while, but then suddenly declined into a deep coma.

Dr. Alexander’s family and friends were shocked. Since he was widely loved and still only in his midyears, they kept a continuous vigil in his hospital room for an entire week. He was practically brain-dead. If he ever recovered, he would remain a vegetable all his life. On the seventh day, Dr. Alexander’s son cried out to him, as the family was considering withdrawing life support. Dr. Alexander flinched. That was enough.

Dr. Alexander eventually recovered his memory and all his mental faculties. His daughter encouraged him to write down his Near Death Experience, which became the bestseller, Proof of Heaven.

Dr. Alexander had visited another world, which seemed even more real than this, with gorgeous forests and waterfalls. He heard rapturous music, more exquisite than anything he had ever imagined. He even met his young, long-lost sister who had passed away much earlier without his knowledge. His lovely sister acted as a guide throughout the journey.

Dr. Alexander has devoted the rest of his life to let the whole world know that there is life after death, it is truly glorious, all is forgiven and Whom and What we call “God” is Absolute Love.

The Spiritual Side of a Moral Dilemma

Several years back, I, myself, went into the hospital for an operation. My stay was extended for a couple of weeks. I had the very strange experience of being surrounded by love, even before the procedure. Afterward, I had the good fortune to be transported to a first-class intensive care unit, and to experience love from everyone who attended me. My true friends were also totally there for me, so I never felt abandoned.

During that memorable visit, I encountered a type of love that I consider absolute, which resonates with Dr. Alexander’s experience. While I was not in a coma, that love continued for hours and days. God was never more present to me, and inwardly spoke to me on an almost continuous basis.

I got very clear that the divine love and presence are not dependent in any way upon circumstances.​

The divine love and presence are not dependent in any way upon circumstances.

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If we look at life as a school for divinity, we begin to realize that all the dilemmas we encounter are means for us to grow in wisdom and compassion. As Dr. Deepak Chopra puts it, we are gods and goddesses in embryo. We are being brought into the image of the Avatar, the Bodhisattva and the Messiah.

Finding Peace with the Universe

You may go through any number of moral dilemmas in your lifetime. Don’t worry. They are there to help you grow.

All that is required of you is a willingness to do the right thing, and openness to guidance.

Every one of us is at all times doing what we genuinely think is the best thing to do under the circumstances. Our Source simply doesn’t keep points. All is forgiven.

You will find that when you open up and channel your Creator, you need no longer trouble yourself. You will start to listen and to trust the Inner Voice. You will always go with your gut. Like a pilot cutting through the storm and arriving at the Eye of the Hurricane, you will experience an indescribable peace that no one and nothing can ever take away from you.​

true joy
Apr 28

How to Find Unconditional Joy

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.

We cannot cure the world of sorrows,

But we can choose to live joyfully.

Joseph Campbell

In April 2015, two extraordinary spiritual and political world leaders met in Dharamsala, home of the Nation of Tibet in Exile, led by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who, along with Nelson Mandela, led South Africa out of decades of bitter apartheid, flew all the way to Dharamsala in Northern India to honor his close friend on the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday.

Most of both men’s lives were spent fighting oppression and alienation. The Dalai Lama had lost his country when the Chinese invaded it, destroying thousands of monasteries and killing over a million people.

Bishop Tutu struggled under a virulent form of racism that subjected the majority population of Black people to permanent status as marginalized, third-class citizens in their own country.

Both men forgave their enemies to a truly remarkable degree. While Nelson Mandela won freedom for Black people throughout South Africa, the Dalai Lama failed, despite decades of effort, to free Tibet. Despite all this, the Dalai Lama has successfully recreated his nation outside Tibet, becoming a global citizen and making Tibetan Buddhism a household word. No one alive today is more popular or holds greater influence.

Spending a week together, both leaders exhibited a playfulness and exuberant joy rarely seen anytime, anywhere. They constantly teased each other, literally dancing around in their advanced years. They shared their secret to the world in YouTube videos, as well as in The Book of Joy, by Douglas Abrams.​

What the Dalai Lama and Bishop Tutu Want to Share with the World

Both luminaries have constantly emphasized that true joy does not depend upon circumstances, but is, rather, a deliberate choice.

Joy is our natural condition. Life is a precious gift. People are more good than evil. There is no one out there beyond the need for, and the power of, forgiveness.

experiencing joy

Your well-being is not totally dependent upon what is out there. It is achievable through inner growth and discipline. Joy is always in the moment. It is always waiting there for us as we learn to let go. While Desmund Tutu believes in God and the Dalai Lama practices kindness as a religion, they both share Mahatma Gandhi’s view that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

Humor is redemptive. No situation, how grim, even climate change, is above wit and laughter. Bishop Tutu believes that God is giving us a practical education in divinity by forcing us to spread our wings and fly. Making it too easy for all of us would have been a severe disservice to humanity.

Beyond Happiness: Cultivating Inner Bliss

Most of us continually seek happiness, and cannot but hope that things work out according to our own agenda, that we get our way all the time, that we control our destiny with a snap of the fingers. When we undergo a series of setbacks and reversals, we begin to doubt ourselves, and our dreams.

The word “happiness” implies happenstance, favorable circumstances. If we only get a break, then it will be all right. Happiness is usually measurable in terms of dollars and cents. Power, fame, wealth and romance sum it all up for most of us. Some of us even cherish the feeling that money is god, the next best thing to happiness, itself.

Inner bliss is on the level of our very being. Life, itself, even in the midst of pain and suffering, is an incomparable celebration. We are ultimately privileged to be here and hold a vital role in this time-bound stage. This is the final mark of a saint. As Saint Peter put it, “Joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

unconditional joy

What Is Unconditional Joy?

Unconditional joy is the mark of profound transformation and enlightenment. It floods every cell of our body. As Jesus Christ put it in the Gospel of John, “Out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” As Saint Paul put it, “Love, joy and peace are the fruit of the Spirit,” of divine consciousness. When you partake of that consciousness, you cannot NOT feel boundless joy.

Today, we are beginning to realize that no spiritual tradition has a monopoly on it. The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu are from very different paths, but they are far more alike than different. There is no one and nothing to stop their love, joy and peace.

When you stop putting conditions around what it takes to be happy, when you decide that life, itself, is enough, you become deeply inspiring and truly free. You stop seeking temporary happiness, because you have direct access to something infinitely more fulfilling.

Finding Unconditional Joy as a Deliberate Choice

Every moment, we have a choice to enjoy our experience, whatever is brought before us. As we gently guide our monkey mind through hours of practice to be fully in the Eternal Now Moment, we discover endless vistas of pure delight. I have experienced bliss in Southern France waiting at the edge of a highway to hitch a ride while smog was filling my lungs.

We can consistently choose to interpret our experience in the best light possible.

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Sales people who are optimistic enjoy their job more, sell more and find themselves luckier than those who are pessimistic. The glass is ALWAYS half full IF we choose to see it that way.

evaluating happiness

I have a Christian Science friend who is deeply grateful for the least attention and sees every moment as a fresh opportunity to live in the spirit. Abundance is found in God, and God is never very far away from her. She keeps on choosing to live it and share it, to live it and share it, to live it and share it.

Finding Unconditional Joy Through Detachment

Buddha taught us that life inherently involves suffering. We not only get what we don’t want, but we stop getting what we do want. As a consequence, we habitually cling to that which is forever passing.

The moment we let go, that which we seek has a way of coming back to us.

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The Noble Eightfold Path is an elaborate discipline to develop what Jiddu Krishnamurti called choiceless awareness. This is good. That, too, is good. It’s all good. We need simply plunge into the heart of life and totally experience it, rather than merely conceptualize about it.

It is very natural for most of us to be profoundly attached, to frantically insist that things turn out a certain way. This is OK. We simply need to observe our attitudes and behavior. The closer we observe, the more they will begin to peel away.

Finding Unconditional Joy Through Forgiveness

Jesus Christ ultimately had a supremely simple message. To realize God, forgive everyone. If someone offends you 20 times in a given day, forgive him the 21st time. There is no limit to God’s forgiveness, because His is Infinite. Since we are all His children, we can do no less.

Most of us have taken this as a solemn injunction, rather than seeing it as the most powerful spiritual practice that has ever been devised. If you can forgive, bless and pray for someone totally committed to doing you in, what power does he or she have over you?

Even more to the point, if you truly love someone, you will fast lose the appetite to gain the upper hand. You will take more joy in their triumph and success than in your own. Who can long resist such love and forgiveness? The fact that this very faith conquered the Roman Empire is no accident.​

celebrating every moment

Finding Unconditional Joy in Our Contemporary Planetary Society

We might be tempted to say that this is all well and good for those who lived in past societies, but today’s global civilization is too cut-throat. There are just too many of us. We have chosen a suicidal direction in human affairs. We have abandoned our Mother Earth, and there is no turning back… Why even try?

Yet, we all know better. When we see and hear people making a difference in the world, even billionaires, such as Sir Richard Branson, we find our hearts leaping to their invitation to join them in making a difference.

You can make a difference in the world today by practicing the eternal truths that were forged thousands of years ago. Mahatma Gandhi encountered two exceptional thinkers, Henry David Thoreau and Count Tolstoy, along with the Sermon on the Mount. Nobody in history before Gandhi was able to apply this successfully from the bottom of society on a national scale. The fallout of his brilliant experiment was the British Empire.

Nothing is impossible.

Seven Steps Towards a Joy No One and Nothing Can Ever Take Away

  • Close your eyes and BE HERE NOW. Just BE.
  • Breathe deeply and take a walk. Notice the inescapable beauty in the world around you.
  • Be thankful that you are here today and have a fresh opportunity to make a difference.
  • Find a way to laugh at yourself. Realize that, yes you can be stupid, but always you are beautiful in God’s eyes.
  • Forgive whoever at the moment happens to be at the bottom of your “shit list.” You can start by simply wishing them a blessing.
  • Bless at least one person you meet, even if she hands you a bill.
  • Remind someone that you meet that he or she is divine. “You can’t fool me. You are a child of God. I am so happy that you are here!”
traumatic experience
Apr 26

PTSD: How to Deal with Traumatizing Events

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

Back in October 17, 1989, I was working in San Francisco at a construction company located on the 21st floor of a downtown high-rise. Just after 5:00 PM, the Loma Prieta earthquake hit, and shocking me with its suddenness and impact. The skyscraper began to sway, the lights went off, and then all the telephones.

For many years, I had wondered when the Big One would come. Perhaps this was it. I was fortunate to get a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, passing the Marina where an apartment building caught fire. Only when I got home and played the TV did I grasp the full scope of what had happened. For example, my stereo had slid across the carpet several feet. Outside, the San Francisco Bay Bridge had undergone considerable damage.

Although this earthquake wasn’t the end of the world, I developed a strange reaction over the next several days and months. I kept watching movies on earthquakes, hoarding emergency supplies and obsessing over the news. I kept expecting more earthquakes to come. I got smart and decided it was no longer safe to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. I would now take the Ferry.​

It took me nearly half-a-year to get over it. While this wasn’t a full-scale trauma, it was a memorable foretaste.​

PTSD: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Definition

Due to growing uncertainty throughout our world, capped by religious wars and terrorism, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has become a fact of life, no longer limited to Vietnam, Gulf War or Afghan vets. With climate change increasing hurricanes, floods and fires, anything can happen at any time. If the situation is drastic and dangerous, it can provoke severe psychological reactions.

PTSD entails sustained stress well over and beyond the initial traumatizing event, which can be as intense as attempted murder, torture or child abuse, or can be more along the lines of a sudden loss of job or career, a marital disruption or flunking a final exam.​

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The stress manifests as nightmares, unwanted flashbacks, obtrusive memories or exaggerated emotional reactions to anything that reminds you of the initial event. For example, when someone broke into my car and stole my laptop in a well-lit spot in a prominent private university, I felt violated. I called security, and drove home almost crying. Later, I took out home insurance. Does it mean I am now paranoid or traumatized?

Symptoms of PTSD

Symptoms of severe trauma can result in panic attacks around anything that reminds you of the painful event, such as someone who resembles a rapist, riding in a plane after a crash or facing heavy winds after suffering a major hurricane or tsunami. This can involve a pounding heart, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness and even chills.

traumatized symptoms

Traumatized individuals can develop severe avoidance behavior, withdrawing from public interaction and becoming homebound. You go out only when accompanied by others. Your basic trust in humanity has been shaken to the core, and it may take a great deal of time for it to ever come back.

PTSD can also lead to suicidal thoughts amidst deep depression, especially in rape victims. These thoughts are compounded if you don’t feel free to discuss them with anyone. For relief, people may reflexively turn to alcohol or drugs to deaden the pain. You might feel betrayed by the world, and even God, following acts of terrorism.​

Shock Trauma

It is important not to confuse PTSD with shock, which is a dangerous medical condition after an accident resulting in a fall of blood pressure and loss of blood, marked by cold skin, irregular breathing, rapid pulse and dilated pupils. First-Aid is demanded. Unattended, shock can rapidly lead to death.

If one survives the initial shock, however, perhaps through being taken to a nearby hospital, trauma can develop over the incident that caused it, which might be warfare, inner city violence, flood or fire. As the physical danger is removed, the persistent dreams and memories can make the stress continue months, even years.

One need only think of the holocaust survivors who came close to the ultimate degradation. If they escaped, they were haunted for the rest of their lives as to why they were spared, while their family and friends died in the most degrading circumstances imaginable.

Rape Trauma Syndrome

Rape victims often suffer from a brutalizing stigma, that they did something to be raped, or that the incident wasn’t really rape if they were on a date. Here we see a violation of trust on one of the deepest possible levels, with the possible exception of child abuse.

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This can severely set back a woman’s ability to ever open up again to another man, even if she loves him or wants to demonstrate affection. Women have to heal from the initial trauma and beginning to narrow their association of the rapists with other men. Even the slightest resemblance can trigger a powerful reaction.

Exceptional women have been known to forgive and forget in these circumstances, but only through the aid of a powerful spiritual force within them. There is good reason for etiquette with women, and a basic code of honor, empathy and tenderness. Women carry humanity forward. Without them, we would all perish in a single generation.​

Vicarious Trauma

Less well-known is vicarious trauma, where family, friends, colleagues and healthcare professionals can experience distressing feelings entailing upset, overwhelm, shock and grief over the condition of their loved ones. Professionals include doctors and nurses, law enforcement officers, therapists and counselors, even religious leaders.

emotional trauma

No one is exempt from feeling overwhelmed over the severity of another’s misfortunes. It is interesting that, in the Gospel account, Jesus Christ, Himself, wept over the death of his dear friend, Lazarus.

Vicarious trauma can show up in therapists having difficulty discussing their own feelings, losing sleep over clients or actually dreaming about their clients’ traumatic experiences. This can further manifest in overwork, exhaustion, withdrawal and isolation from colleagues, apathy or even profound existential doubts about the validity of their own worldview.

Psychiatry has the highest suicide rate of any profession, and this can closely relate to overload, feelings of burnout, getting to the point where you can’t take it any more, but are unable to admit this to your colleagues. These problems are finally being recognized and programs are emerging to address them.

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Healing Trauma with Therapy

Several different approaches to PTSD have been developed in therapy, including anxiety management, cognitive therapy and exposure therapy.

Anxiety management entails learning to relax, start breathing consciously, replace negative thinking with positive self-talk, be more assertive and stop the flow of distressing thoughts.

In cognitive therapy, trauma victims are guided to a more rational approach with their past experience. For example, soldiers may blame themselves as to why their buddy was shot and killed, and not them. You are encouraged to identify your upsetting thoughts and assess the rational evidence for and against them.

It becomes easier and easier to accept that what happened, happened, that it is time to move on.

In exposure therapy, you are supported in confronting actual situations, people, objects, memories or emotions that evoke intense aversion and fear. You may retell the traumatic memories in a safe environment. If you stay with the situation, and repeat this process enough times, your intense fear may go away, much like learning to handle a live snake.

Healing Trauma with Medication

In the face of severe trauma, it may be desirable to seek additional assistance beyond therapeutic intervention. Medication may be prescribed by an MD over several months, even as long as a year Each medication may have unwanted side-effects, which sometimes decrease with usage.

treating traumatized adults

Common serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant medications include Zoloft, Paxil and Prozac.

Mood stabilizers include Depakote (divalproex). These are typically recommended for being with combined bipolar disorder and PTSD.​

Anti-anxiety medications are typically prescribed for shorter periods of time, such as Valium, Xanax and Klonopin.​

Medication is most typically used to counter depression, especially when it leans towards suicide.​

What must be avoided is thinking that the chemicals, all by themselves, can do it. They should be considered only temporary adjuncts to therapy to see yourself through an extremely stressful period.

Importance of Reaching Out: Powerful Online Help

Most important of all in dealing with PTSD is to reach out to others, family, friends and concerned professionals, either health or spiritual in orientation. Support groups and peer counseling have made a powerful difference to patients and clients in clinical settings.

What has opened up for us in the Internet era is powerful online support, where you can educate yourself on trauma and phobias and actually receive expert assistance from highly experienced professionals, skillful in dealing with real-life problems. You can maintain your own privacy and confidence, while discovering new options and relevant resources.

Steve King offers a helpful course on PTSD for both clinicians and clients that explores the condition in great depth with both video and audio, as well as substantial resources. His is a good-natured, no-nonsense style that developed out of helping thousands of people through very challenging conditions. You may want to take a closer look at his offering to see how it fits your current needs.

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vivid dreamer
Apr 19

How To Have Vivid Dreams, What Causes Them and What Do They Mean?

By Conscious Owl | Inner Peace

Back in 2001, the brilliant avant-garde film director, Richard Linklater, explored our dreaming life in a novel way using colorized film in Waking Life. His film opens in a dream state that looks strangely like real life, only very cartoonish.

Each vivid, fully engaging scene drifts into yet another scene where you are forced to conclude that you are still witnessing a dream. You keep waiting to wake up. But in this film, that never happens.​

The characters do everything they normally do in actual life, even though things are a bit incongruous, such as clouds merging into fully recognizable shapes. In this dreamscape, you have a feeling of openness, of infinite possibility. At the end, you find yourself slowly lifted up into the sky, reminded that this is all a dream.​

Is it possible this could be true?​

What Are Vivid Dreams?

Vivid dreams are any dream where the clarity, contrast and definition approach real life, where it is difficult to tell that you aren’t already in a waking state. You can experience erotic bliss, enlightenment or a revelation. You can do things you couldn’t imagine in real life, such as fly without a glider, balloon or airplane.

Vivid dreams can be lucid, where you are in the dream, aware that you are dreaming, with conscious choice.​

vivid dream meaning

You can remember, concentrate and focus, as well as observe yourself, others and your environment. You even remember your waking life. Yet, when you actually do awaken into the “real world,” the dream world disappears.

Early in my life, I had a hard time remembering my dreams, which I thought were mostly black and white. In the years since, I became conscious of color and could feel powerful emotions. I was able to dream a certain sequence, get up and go to the bathroom, and then return to bed, close my eyes, and perfectly resume where I left off. I even found that I could read books I had never even picked up with great precision and accuracy.​

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Why Are Vivid Dreams So Important?

We can hardly overestimate the power of dreams to impact our life. Most of humanity’s spiritual traditions derive from dreams, and they provide a powerful clue to the nature of the afterlife. Particularly vivid dreams can be cherished for years and impact your entire view of life. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual revelations.

In my case, I dreamt that I saw the great director, Stephen Spielberg, shooting a set where the triumphant Christ has just returned to hand out roses to everyone, their bodies arising with the flip of his fingertip. This dream held great meaning for me, even though I wasn’t sure exactly how it had come about.

We spend one-third of our lives sleeping, the equivalent of 30 years for an adult, and six years in a dream state.

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Imagine if you could consciously play without limitations for six straight years. You could work out every problem and master every skill, including athletics, public speaking and playing a musical instrument. The amazing thing is that thousands of us around the world are starting to systematically come to life in our dreams.

How to Have Vivid Dreams On Demand

In the 40 years since Stephen LaBerge of Stanford University did his Ph.D. in lucid dreaming, and the Dalai Lama began to have a major impact on popular culture around the world, lucid dreaming has become a hot topic with countless books, videos and classes on the subject. A great amount of experimentation has been done, and a treasure trove of tricks and techniques have been gathered.

Vivid dreams start with a journal that you keep by your bed, and an intention to remember your dreams. You begin to record them as soon as you wake up, even if in the middle of the night, and then go back to sleep. Gradually, over time, you begin to remember more dreams, and some start to become vivid.​

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You pay attention to your sleep cycle, which goes from shallow to deep sleep, and then back again to shallow sleep. Our vivid dreams generally occur in light sleep with REM (rapid eye movements). You can set your alarm as much as two hours early. For yogis, the hours between 3:00 AM and 5:00 AM are often the best times for advanced realization, and even revelations.

What May My Vivid Dreams Be Telling Me?

The subconscious mind works with images to talk to your conscious mind, directing you toward things to which you need to give attention. For example, moving from the top floor to the bottom floor of a house can refer to different parts of you needing to hear one another, such as your head hearing your heart.

Your dreams may be advising you to slow down from a frenetic pace, or take a new direction in your life. Should you marry a certain person or take a graduate course or apply for a new job? Without a meditation practice, we are often too busy to effectively listen to ourselves. Dreams, even nightmares, will eventually erupt to force us to listen.

weird dream meanings

Oftentimes, our dreams will accurately predict the future. One needs only think of the famed Jeannie Dixon who begged President Kennedy not to go to Dallas the day he was assassinated. Our dreams may also encourage us, giving us spiritual inspiration in the face of major obstacles in our life, such as an unexpected trip to the hospital.

What to Do When Your Dreams Are Weird

The practice of lucid dreaming is most helpful in learning to deal with nightmares. In a lucid dream course, you can learn in a waking state to give yourself subconscious signals to remind yourself that you are in a sleeping state. For example, if you can put your hands through walls, as we can do in VR devices, you are most definitely within a dream.

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You can start a meditation practice to complement your dream life, and thus better cope with nightmares. Dreams often come to us as dynamic expressions of unresolved aspects of our lives. When we resolve the issue, the nightmares go away.

Sometimes the weird dreams are spiritual messages from beyond inviting you to engage with your Higher Self. This can be one of the greatest opportunities of your life.

For example, the patriarch Jacob, father of ancient Israel, fell asleep on a rock in a wilderness and dreamt of a ladder going right up to heaven, with angels ascending and descending. When Jacob woke up, he anointed the rock with oil and called it a sacred place. This was a turning point in his life where he finally got reconciled with his brother and began to prosper exponentially.

Vivid Dreams as a Way to Ultimate Awakening

Gurus speak of the “Three Worlds,” sleeping, dreaming and waking, and then speak of a fourth world, Turiya, or the Fourth State. In each state, you awaken from another dream. From the waking state, you awaken to your true Self, Being / Consciousness / Bliss. This life is thus seen as a series of intermittent dreams.

reading vivid dreams

The Tibetan monks embraced lucid dreaming as a form of yoga. The better they got at living their dreams, the better prepared they were to enter Bardo, or the realm between one life and the next. They disciplined themselves to prepare for the ultimate awakening within The Clear Light, merging with Whom and What we call “God.”

The more conscious we become through meditation and lucid dreams, the more comfortable we are with the promise of eternal life. Every form of death or separation is but an interval between one expression of our divinity and the next. Why just meditate? Why not also lucid dream?​

How to Get Started Dreaming More Consciously

Andrew Holecek is a true pioneer in lucid dreaming, having studied several years with the Dalai Lama, and deeply immersed himself in Tibet’s most advanced practices. Andrew integrates the latest cutting-edge research into neuroscience with ancient yogic techniques in a fresh, contemporary approach.

Andrew offers an online course, Dream Sculpting: Mastering the Art of Lucid Dreams, where he starts you, along with dozens of other students, from the beginning, building a foundation, and then introducing both daytime and night-time techniques of dream induction, along with the most advanced tips and tricks.​

Andrew guarantees that every student will make progress within 30 days, or you get your money back, no questions asked. In addition, you are introduced to a whole community in which to share experiences. Andrew makes this all available via video and audio sessions, along with reference material and practical, progressive exercises.​

Ready To Master Your Lucid Dreams?

I will bet that you have always wanted to treat yourself to something special like this. Perhaps you dreamt of being an astronaut as a child. Why not be a psychonaut, and explore the inner dimension of your Self?

mastering lucid dreams

Once you find yourself at home in this world, you will realize that you are infinitely richer than you ever imagined you could be.