Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Mystery of Religion, Part 1

"Love is perfect because it exists above duality."

This is definitely going to be a multi-part post, because this topic is fairly large and touches on many of the things that I have posted about previously.  In a way, I feel that my approach to the "mystery" that ties together various religions does also tie together many ideas I have put forth in my writings (although based off of and inspired by many spiritual teachers).  That is my draw to writing about spirituality in the first place; it is writing about the ideal.  We can never fully express an ideal, because it is ineffable.  But we can approach it from various angles.  Each approach offers a glimpse of the ideal for a brief moment.  And it is the assimilation of these glimpses that begins to paint a vignette of the ideal that helps solidify our faith.

I cannot help but notice that religions all can be expressed in terms of us being reunited with God or the Ideal.  The ideal is a state of perfection, that I simplify as a state of love.  However, the idea of God is esoteric at best and it is difficult for us to conceptualize this Deity.  We may lack the motivation for performing certain acts now for a future payoff.  All of these things: God, heaven and other spiritual concepts have a vaporous quality to them because it is difficult to imagine them (or how they apply) in the here and now.

With a slight tweak to religion, however, we can experience a paradigm shift where spiritual teachings take on a whole new meaning.  Since we are waves on the ocean of God, we are also a part of God.  I invite you to look at a return to God as a return to your whole Self.  Looked at in this context, things start to make more sense for me.  And this is not to devalue religion at all but simply to offer another view of it.

If pursuing God is also pursuing a whole, complete me, then what do I have to lose?  I am actually investing in myself through pursuing God as I am really pursuing my Self.  This also brings up a paradox, which I do believe is the unseen's main device for spiritual truth.  All of nature is an outward manifestation of our inward reality.  When spiritual teachers say "the kingdom of heaven is inside you", they really do mean that the entire cosmos is also in your Spirit.  Our human bodies are containers for a limitless space that exists within.  The physical world is a model of what lies within us.  So, yes, countless galaxies, solar systems, stars, planets and suns exist within us.  In fact, our soul spans infinite depths.

That is also why I believe that the entire spiritual world also exists within our Spirit.  God and the angels reside within us as well as demons.  However, this is to realize that angels and demons are not the same.  There is no opposite for God and no opposite for love and, therefor, no opposite for angels either.  Any dark force is actually tied to the temporal existence of this world and exists on a different, lower plane than ultimate truth and love, which is the highest plane.  This is also why, if you stay in the present moment and embody love, that we do not have to fear anything.  I have gone into this previously a bit but will touch on my belief that the shadow that exists in individual and collective unconscious is the psychological component of dark forces.

This next idea opens up pandora's box because it is paradoxical in its very nature, but, if we choose to look at things from one plane alone, that is the physical plane, religious ideas can be theorized about in the following manner.  This is also a nice exercise to do when you are reading any religious writing.  Read it from the perspective that God is your Higher Self.  In other words, God is a restored, whole You that lies within the perfection of love.  You see, love does not reside in the intellect where we can say this is wrong or this is right but is seated in the emotions and extends into the spiritual realm.   That is the perfection that we are talking about.  Love is perfect because it exists above duality.  Read anything that talks about dark forces or spirits from the perspective that these lie in your shadow.

If we continue with this idea, angels, then, also reside within you as different parts of your personality, different loving qualities that offer guidance to you.  This theory begins to break down a bit when we get to shared spiritual experiences, where spirits are manifest for many people.  I believe this is because the spirits come through our senses, in other words, manipulate our senses so that we can perceive them even in a group setting.  So, belief is absolutely necessary when talking about the spirit world.  If you do not believe, you block even your perception of such things.  The paradox of this is I do think there is some cross-over where physical reality is changed through a spiritual dimension but that does not change the core of this idea much.

There are many more implications of looking at spiritual matters through this lens, which is the physical manifestation of these realities through humans.  To summarize, there is much value in considering restoring our full humanity as achieving unity with God.  This makes spiritual matters practical.  This is not the only plane on which we can consider truth, but a valuable one and one that is often suppressed because it is considered "heretical" by some religions.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Victors In Life

"We are victors in life when we receive bad news with as much joy as good news and see the blessing in trials. You have risen above this world and cannot be moved."

This is part of the paradox of spirituality.  To many, they look at a statement that we can be happy during sad times and do not understand it.  This is foolishness to many.  This is because there are many hidden truths that undergird this statement.

Since we are spirit, in essence, we do need to fear anything.  We will live eternally without any effort on our part and we cannot lose our lives.  If we consider our earthly existence to be our life, then we have something to fear.  However, our earthly existence is but a shell for our spirit.

A recurrent theme that I am experiencing now is learning to think outside of duality.  Some say this is how supreme consciousness thinks, and that this is the ideal we should all aspire to.

The essence of suffering is attachment to outcome.  Attachment to outcome is being tied to our earthly existence, that is duality.  In its basic form, duality consists of labeling things.  We label this good and that bad.  However, labeling prevents us from experiencing the "subject of our labeling" fully.  We do not see it as a unique experience but want to categorize it with prior experiences, even before we get a chance to experience it!

We are victors in life when we receive bad news with as much joy as good news and see the blessing in trials. You have risen above this world and cannot be moved.  To not be attached to outcome means that we truly our joyous in all things, which is our basic nature anyways.  If we are filled with joy in trying times, how easy is it to be filled with joy in the normal, everyday life?

To have attained such an ideal, is truly living in heaven while you are still on earth.  An undercurrent to this topic, which I will touch on briefly, is the reason why we have trials.  A trial is only "trying" if it touches a part of us that is identified with pain.  The blessing in a trial is the opportunity to heal this pain through forcing us to confront why we are feeling it in the first place.

Once we receive healing for this pain, we then break the cycle of karma that led us to put ourselves in a situation that would stir the pain up.  That is the joy we must have when in a difficult situation.  Feel the associated pain but realize that it is really joy that has been disguised and that you are making progress on your spiritual path.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Four Paths to Love

I have been doing some thinking lately on the different ways that we seek a Power greater than ourselves.  We all have different concepts of what this Power is as well as a different path to get there.  It is my sincere belief that the path really does not matter.  In fact, you cannot run from this Power because even a path that seemingly goes away from it will eventually bring you back to it.  In my post "One Truth", I write that this power really is Love.  I will not go into this here but one of the reasons why a path away from love will eventually come back to it is because of the dualistic nature of our world.  If we seek after happiness that is tied to our temporal existence, it will end in sadness. This is the design that will give you an opportunity to embrace love when we are able to see this duality.

I perceive that there are four paths to Love, which I believe does not have an opposite.  I started writing this article just thinking about three paths but another one occurred to me, which is the last path.  Admittedly, there is a blending of different paths into one another yet I do perceive them to be separate concepts.  Through these paths, this leads us to eventually being united with Love.

The first path is that Love exists as an Unseen force outside ourselves.  We might think that we will be united with this Love in an afterlife, want to prostrate ourselves before this force or worship it.  On this path, there may be a lot of intellectual dogma or ritual yet it is the rising above all of this that one progresses on this path.

The second path is that Love is omnipresent and, in fact, is so ingrained into reality that one may not perceive it at all.  On this path, one may not even believe in a supernatural and focus more on one's own humanness.  This may be the most surprising path of all.  How can one be united with Love if one really does not even believe in it in the first place?  This is a bit difficult to explain but it is my belief that Reality is a manifestation of Love.  A key part of this path is one must work on developing oneself and also knowing themselves completely.  I see this as a path of continual self-development.

The third path is that Love is inside us.  If we journey deep within ourselves, we find the Source we have been looking for all along.  This is a path of letting go and realizing that we are a part of this Love, a wave on the ocean of Love.  On this path, one will meditate and introspect in order to become conscious of this Power.

The fourth path, and one that is so obvious that I overlooked it when originally writing this, is that Love is in other people.  There is a profound paradox here.  Some people lament that their Deity is not in human form and long to have physical contact with her.  All the while, God is in human form in the hearts of all people.  This is why being of service increases the love in your heart as you are progressing along this path.

All four paths are genuine paths and one is not better than the other.  Certain people may gravitate towards one path or some mixture of them and that is their prerogative to pursue their own bliss.  For me, I think the greatest power is in being conscious of all these different ways to Love and then combining them.  Rather than me proclaiming "my path" as the best, I try to stretch myself to incorporate principles from each path.  If we become open to Love and embrace all ideas (that is, we are open to all religious thoughts), then we are open to growth.  Some truths resonate with you and some do not.  Embrace the ones that do and ignore the ones that do not.  However, if we never allow the truth to enter in the first place, then we do not have the opportunity to grow.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Law of Surrender

"Once surrender takes place, this is the beginning point for Love to enter our heart and expand it."

After writing about the Law of Brokenness, I reflected a bit on why I perceived this to be a law as well as what other factors influenced it.  The more I thought about it (and a friend's comments made me introspect more on this), the more I came to the conclusion that there was a deeper law at work, which I will call the Law of Surrender.

Brokenness is a vehicle that brings us to surrender.  But surrender is really where the Power lies.  We can be broken and not surrender to a Higher Power, in which case we have cut ourselves off from this Power transforming us.  Also, we can be unbroken and surrender to a Higher Power and be transformed from the inside out.  The point is that ultimate goal is a shrinking of the ego through a surrendering of it to a Power greater than ourselves.

If someone already is not self-identified with the ego and surrenders the totality of themselves to this Power, then transformation occurs.  What exactly are we surrendering?  We are surrendering the control of our lives.

You see, as I have explored in a previous post called Illusion of Control, we really are not in control of our lives anyways.  If we deeply reflect on this point, we will see that the only practical conclusion is to give this control away.  To whom are we surrendering?  The easiest way to understand this is that we are surrendering to Reality.  We accept life on life's terms, the reality of our situation and how we can operate within the context of reality or the "flow of life."

Once surrender takes place, this is the beginning point for Love to enter our heart and expand it.  This expansion of the heart continues with no end as long as we are on this path.  We find the truth in the concept that one must lose her life in order to find it.