Are You Going the Right Direction

Is it challenging for you to answer the question, “are you going the right direction?”

For me, part of the difficult is in defining the word, ‘right’. Somehow, I feel an assumption exists based either on what I want to experience or what others expectations are of my choice of direction.

It’s fairly easy if we’re talking about physical direction. If you’re old school like I am, you can get out your map and plot a course to arrive at your destination. Those with GPS only need to enter the addresses and let the machine take over the guidance. If they get off course somewhere along the way, it’s okay, they’ll be told a recalculation is in process and then a new set of turns to take.

What makes some of this interesting is that you never know if your planned route is the best. There could be an accident, road construction, or an unexpected traffic jam, any of which could pose problems for you.

But the ‘right’ direction applies to so much more than where you are going physically. It could be your intellectual pursuits, emotional stability, or spiritual direction.

How can you know when you’re on the right track?

Perhaps one of the answers lies in whether you’re achieving your goals and objectives, but what if you haven’t identified them yet? What then?

Setting down what you hope to achieve isn’t always easy. There may be some benchmarks the world offers, but they may not suit you personally.

Often, we think we must accomplish a standard set of goals to feel successful. Goals that bring us more credentials, money, prestige, awards, or notoriety. But are these the only achievements worth directing our efforts toward?

How can you tell what your most beneficial direction would be? Is it an intellectual, emotional, or spiritual decision?

Some part of me wonders whether if, ‘what actually happens in our life’, IS the answer to that question.

I probably need to explain this statement a bit.

What I’m trying to say is that our lives have a way of moving forward, and that each open space we experience eventually fills up and what fills the space, IS the answer/decision/direction. This certainly seems to suggest that we’re not particularly conscious during the process and that it just sort of happens.

An entirely different way to approach this is to take charge.

My nature is that of a goal setter and planner for most experiences in my life. This is an effective way to map a direction, but it isn’t for everyone. There are those who treasure the ‘stop and smell the roses’ approach, which offers wonderful opportunities to engage directly with life.

And there are those that place a premium on flexibility which allows one to pursue whatever objective or goal they choose without stressing about how or when it will be achieved. This also provides some space to discover that it’s more about the journey, than it is about the destination.

I wonder too, which direction will be the most worthwhile for me, the one my head plans or the one my heart seeks?

Over the course of my life there’s been a transition from prioritizing what my thinking mind wants to what my heart feels. It’s a huge shift and I heartily endorse it, while realizing it isn’t for everyone or for every occasion. The reason I’ve chosen it is because my sense of inner satisfaction is so deep when I trust my feelings to guide my way and choose my direction for me.

The Trouble with Choosing Sides

Imagine you are standing amongst a group of kids. You’re facing two other kids who are looking at you with a careful, critical eye. You can see little wheels spinning in their heads while they make their choices. Basically, they are thinking one of two things.

Who will help me win the game we’re about to play (“I want them on my team”) or who will lose it for us (“I absolutely don’t want them on my team”)?

I was a part of this scene dozens of times during my childhood, both as the one making the choices and as the one hoping not to be chosen last.

There is a tremendous emotional imprint made during these sessions which can last a lifetime. It can also affect your self-esteem level, which carries forward to many other situations.

I realize that choosing sides seems to be a part of life and perhaps I would be wise just to accept it.

But I can’t. There is too much at stake.

Every way you look there are expectations for you to make a decision on who to support. Which sports team, political party, religion, talking head, family member, TV show, you name it. You are expected to agree with a certain number of important figures in your life, family members, teachers, business leaders, all to show your allegiance.

But what if you disagree with the crowd? Or, as some others will see it, worst yet, have no opinion at all?

There could be some trouble in that for you, couldn’t there?

Earlier in my life I didn’t have many opinions and I only reluctantly chose sides. Well, except for football, because of course I knew who the best team was. Or did I?

Being forced to choose a side is a tricky thing. Suppose you have no real opinion, or you don’t truly know all of the facts, or you don’t care which side seems to be ‘more right’? In many situations you are expected to choose a side…the ‘right side’ of course. Staying neutral can be dangerous and can place you outside of your group, family, or nation.

Okay, so why would anyone hesitate?

Well, the first reason is that once you choose a side, it makes it very difficult to understand those on the other side. It’s as if your brain goes on strike. It says, “I’ve come to a conclusion and I’m sticking with it and now I don’t have to think any more…case closed”!

You want to talk about dangerous, there it is.

A second reason is that you might feel as though you are missing something. How could there be all these other people who have decided another way is better? What do they know that you don’t? Are there some facts you are unaware of? Maybe it would be valuable to talk with them and find out.

And here’s another thing that happens when you choose a side. Huge rifts are created, and greed and envy polarize positions making it impossible to see beyond them. Wars and territorial issues surface. Borders and fences of all sorts are erected. And emotional attachments harden hearts.

So, what if we didn’t choose sides? Would society collapse? Would there be chaos?

What if we searched for some common ground? What if we were willing to listen so that we could truly know the fuller story? What if we were willing to compromise for the sake of unity? What if winning and losing became unimportant, but everyone gaining peace and harmony took center stage?

And there is more at stake because having to take sides has an emotional impact on each one of us. Being forced to comply with arbitrary positions corrupts us, makes us smaller and weaker as people and blankets our free will which is one of our greatest gifts.

Well, perhaps I am choosing a side after all, one where we aim toward peace and understanding and harmony. I can live with that one.

Changing Your Outfit

The other day I was thinking about what drags me down and feels burdensome to me. I have a wonderful life, but at times, I feel an inner oppression that I can’t always shake.

The more I consider this, the greater my desire is to be free of it. It forms a kind of circle, taking me round and round, but not creating any resolution.

I knew I needed a different approach.

After sitting back, it occurred to me that my ego plays a huge role in shaping this drama. I believe I came here to this earth to lead a spectacular life, to be creative, open, loving and giving. But, what happens on occasion, is that my ego produces fear instead, which overshadows everything. My ego believes in the idea that I am separate from all that surrounds me and tries very hard to maintain this sense of distinction, despite the confusion and unhappiness it creates in me.

The spiritual part of me knows the truth, that I am a part of the whole, the one, the holy. It knows that any sense of separation is merely an illusion. My spirit is the part of me that must recognize, that the fear my ego creates, is there to guide me toward the truth.

I wanted some insight from Lia, so I asked, what I shifts I could make to release this part of the illusion and bring clarity into my life.

As always, she was more than willing to help me, as I know she would be for you. And, since she knows me so well, she chose to offer an example, a concept that would stick with me, rather than just providing words.

Lia shared this idea, “Imagine waking up in the morning and seeing a full closet of clothes to choose from. You are in charge of which outfit to wear. You– no one else. You are the one who decides whether to wear the same exact outfit every day or to choose something new.”

I saw immediate promise in this idea, recognizing she wasn’t talking about clothes, but rather my attitudes toward my life.

And yet, my first response was, “but I feel like I wake up, already in the same clothes as the day before.” By this I meant that none of my ideas seem to change but rather stay with me from day to day.

Her response was insightful and amusing to me. “I see that. So, change your clothes BEFORE you go to bed, so that you wake up in the ones you desire.”

Clothing wrinkles and creases aside, I heard her intent. She was talking about setting the stage and creating my attitude ‘aims’. She was suggesting that I choose exactly what would feel most comfortable for me to wear. In other words, to choose which attitudes I most want to adopt in my life.

This concept greatly appealed to me, especially the part about choosing them before going to bed at night. This way, I could set clear intentions about which attitudes I felt would best serve me, then I could ‘sleep on them’ and allow them to sink in and take root.

Lia reminded me that the best way to release anything unwanted, is to claim something you do want. Then she told me to look at myself in the mirror the next morning and see that the outfit I chose is truly what suits me and will lead me into the life I claim.

PS

Stay tuned for the next post, where I will share some of the ‘clothes’ I chose and see if you might want to wear some of them as well.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Free Will

Imagine you are sitting at a desk. You are in a comfortable chair with your feet firmly placed on the floor. Your posture is upright and your mind is sharp. You look down and see a piece of paper laying across the top of the desk. Surprisingly, it stretches out endlessly in to the left and to the right. A pen rests on the paper and you pick it up.

A voice calls out to you with a question. It is a soothing voice, one you think you ought to recognize. You decide to let go of trying to know who it is and center in on the question itself.

The voice says, “This is the continuum of ‘free will’ and you stand at the middle point. The left end represents your belief that you do not have any free will and that all things are already decided for you. The right end signifies that you believe you have absolute free will to decide whatever you want to experience in life, with no barriers or requirements. Consider carefully, because whatever you choose will determine the course of your life. On what part of the paper do you choose to make your mark?”

This is no simple decision.

Many of us are taught through our religious training that (god), regardless of the tradition, has a ‘will’ for us. Ordinarily, this ‘will’ is either unknown to us or must be told to us by others, who are said to possess greater understanding. They become the interpreters of (god’s) will.

I wonder, how is it that they know something we don’t? How have they come by this knowledge and how can they tell all others what is right and true for them?

I wanted to know more about this, so I asked (god) (Lia) this morning, and this is what she said.

“You may choose to experience life as unhappiness, discontentment and unfulfillment by choosing fear (rather than love) as the basis for your decisions. Aligning with what others tell you is my will is one way to do this. What is happening here is that you are allowing others to control your decisions out of fear that I will be displeased with you and reject you. You are accepting that they know the truth but that you don’t. Your trust is placed in them, rather than in me and in yourself. Whenever you concede to others, you lose all of your power and sacrifice your free will, which is your greatest and most beautiful gift.”

She went on to say, “This may surprise you, but I have no will for you to behave in any particular or specific manner. That does not mean that I do not know what you choose. I do. I also know that if it is your desire to live a happy, contented, joy filled life, exercising your free will is the pathway. You are made completely and entirely of love, so you are your most happy, contented, joy filled self when you are acting (choosing) in accordance with your very nature. There is an alignment of love in this. Just because I know this to be true, I do not have a will for you to be this way. That is your choice.”

And finally, she said, “You are in this world to create and experience whatever you desire. Free will gives you the choice to align with fear or with love. This is up to you.”

Accepting this as the truth for me, I feel free to choose any option and embrace any opportunity, knowing that the ones that most serve me are those made from love, because they align with my very nature.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Life as a Public Service Announcement

Recently a thought just popped into my head, seemingly out of nowhere. I’m trying really hard to pay attention to anything that shows up in my life like this. I’ve come to the conclusion that thoughts and feelings don’t come from ‘nowhere’, but rather from some inner guidance, meant to reveal truths that would be helpful to me. I trust them now. All of them, even the ones I don’t understand right away.

What came to me was that each of our lives is like our own public service announcement.

I wasn’t sure where the idea for PSA’s came from so I looked it up on Wikipedia. I realize it is not the ultimate authority, but it did provide me some useful information.

According to the article, PSA’s began both in the UK and the US during World War Two. They were created to provide the public with health and safety information, but were also used for other purposes. One of these was the campaign to inspire US citizens to invest in US Savings Bonds, to assist with funding the war effort. Later, they were primarily used as “fillers”, when the broadcast industry didn’t have enough paid advertising to fill their schedules.

What’s the connection?

Good question.

How about this- are each of our lives our own version of a public service announcement? And, how vested are we in trying to influence others, hoping that they will agree with us and adopt our beliefs? What makes what we’ve been told or what we say, ‘correct’?

These ideas led me down an interesting path. At first, I didn’t think they applied to me much. But, the more I considered the questions, the more I see that they do.

And I wonder, am I trying to influence others to believe what I believe? I don’t want to. I would prefer that everyone make up their own minds and listen to their own hearts.

I recognize that from birth we are all influenced by those around us. Our parents and siblings, our grandparents, other relatives and friends. And that’s before we even get to school. Then there are teachers, religious leaders, authorities, the legal system and culture at large. We absorb our ethics and our expectations from those who are important in our lives. I’m not suggesting that there is anything ‘wrong’ with this, just that we’re often influenced without consciously realizing it.

It feels to me that there could be an enormous benefit for each of us in acting from a conscious point of view. Looking with an open mind at our own words and seeing if they are truly what we wish to put out into the world.

I’ve often caught myself repeating things I’ve heard others say, only to realize they aren’t what I actually believe. I sit back and see that I have been influenced. How easy it is to forward that along to others in my life.

It can happen so subtly. The other day I was singing along with a song on the radio. The beat was strong and the tune was popular for a long time. It dawned on me, once I centered on the words, that the message was terrible. It was reveling in one person’s sorrow. I had to stop singing. It wasn’t a part of my truth.

I had to ask myself, how often does this happen to me, that I repeat the influences that surround me, often while disconnected from their meaning? A lot, I bet.

And, I wondered, what about me, am I living my life as some form of public service announcement? Do I have all sorts of vested interest in influencing others to see things from my point of view?

Maybe it’s inescapable, I’m not sure. But, I do know that I am trying to speak what feels true to me, without the need for anyone else to agree or accept my beliefs. This actually applies to all of my Posts, so I hope you always choose your own path.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Feelings

I may have mentioned this before. I know it’s in my most recent book, talking with (god). I keep a daily Feelings Journal, which gives me the chance to actually spend time feeling, instead of always focusing on thinking. Of course, I can’t help that some part of me is thinking while I do this. That seems inevitable. But, offering myself the chance to express how I really feel is priceless.

I discover so many wonderful insights when I open to what my heart is experiencing. Over the years, I’ve learned to open as wide as I can and to say whatever feels like it needs to be said.

Recently, I was sensing despair surrounding me, especially as it related to the political turmoil in our nation. Bravely, I chose to allow everything that upsets me to rise to the surface. In doing so, this observation came into view, “we fall off the rails and slip into our own darkness when we judge our lives by the darkness of others”.

I think this explains a lot and I can see how it applies to my life. Perhaps it may apply to yours also.

Others darkness affects me. It spreads out, enveloping everything in its path. Have you felt this?

It can affect my whole world, altering it and fading it, sometimes turning it into formless shadows.

One of the beautiful things about acknowledging my feelings is that I get to reclaim the colors in my world. I get to recognize that I am in charge of my own light and my own darkness. By allowing each of my feelings to be seen in the light, rather than staying deep inside of me, I can choose what is to become of them.

Sometimes only one or two feelings pop up, but other times there is a multitude. The last time this happened I allowed each feeling to have it’s own voice. It was very loud at first, but it subsided and a wise voice spoke saying, “don’t try to start with everything, start with one thing.”

One thing, one feeling.

Yes, I could manage that. There is certainly wisdom in allowing the rest to wait their turn. And if they become unruly, I can always put them in ‘time-out’, after all, I am the one in charge.

So, where to start when there can be so many?

It’s up to you of course, but I’ll share my approach and you can decide if it feels right to you. I hope that’s the way it always works when you come here. You have your own magnificent life to live, so I hope you always feel free to choose your own way, no matter what you find here.

Sometimes I choose the feeling that speaks the loudest to me. I figure that if I do this, I’ll be able to hear the feelings with quieter voices better. Sometimes I have an inner knowing that the feeling with the quietest voice is the key to everything, so I start there. The selection process is mostly intuitive.

It probably doesn’t matter where you start, but it does matter that you start.

For me, the ideal starting point is by talking with (god). You know, if you’ve read my book, that (god) comes to me as father (Abba), mother (Na’a), brother (Yeshiwa) and sister (Lia or love In Action). I spend the most time with Lia these days. I can lay out all of my feelings in any way and in any order and they are all heard. Doing this gives me enormous peace. And talking with Lia and hearing her response fills me and brightens every color in my world

For you, there may be a different starting point. The beautiful thing is it’s up to each of us to choose our own path.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

SPECIAL NOTE:

I case you want to know more about creating or expanding your relationship with (god) you may want to consider reading talking with (god), which you can learn more about on the Books page of this website.

Try Outs

As I grew up there seemed to be quite a few different opportunities to ‘tryout’ for things. Whether it was for a sports team, a musical group, a play or something else I might have been interested in.

One theme seemed pretty common to them all. They each created some uncertainty inside of me. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t know if I’d be any good at what I was trying out for. I wasn’t sure I’d get picked and what it would mean to me if I didn’t.

I might be terrible and embarrass myself. I couldn’t know for sure if I’d be welcomed and, I didn’t know in advance, if I’d stay with it or perhaps find, it wasn’t for me. Would I be allowed to quit, if I didn’t like it?

You may have experienced some of these same thoughts.

The fact is we’re always trying new things, sometimes because we want to and other times because we have to. If we’re sick, we have to try new medications. If our car dies, we have to find a new one. If we lose our job or give it up, we have to search for another. The list of new things we have to try or tryout for is considerable.

Interestingly, I rarely assumed that all would go well, that I would like what I tried out for or that I would be good, perhaps even great at it, or that it would bring me joy.

I wonder about that now. How much time did I spend thinking about the potential downsides? I believe the answer is, quite a bit.

And, I think I brought that attitude with me for much of my life. It sat on my shoulder during the college admission process and job interviews and some major life decisions.

I place no blame here. I realize we all absorb ideas and attitudes from our cultures. It’s pretty much a given.

Then one day something changed. I began to ask myself what was really true. Instead of allowing my standard responses to continue to guide me, I challenged everything. I became something of a rebel.

I shifted.

I opened to new possibilities. I started asking myself, what if I absolutely love this new thing? What if I change my idea of ‘success’, making it more about enjoyment than accomplishment? What if I learned to treasure the adventure and release my attitude that it has to lead to something tangible?

I began to embrace the idea that this life is mine. I get to decide what it means and what direction it takes. I get to choose which attitude to accept.

I found that I could let go of my tendency to believe I had to prove myself to others and recognize it is more important what I think and believe about myself. I am the one leading this life. I am the one with hopes and dreams.

I am not trying out for this life. I am this life.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Forgiveness

I’ve spoken with a lot of people over my sixty-eight years. One of the most common themes I’ve heard is the sense folks have of being out of balance. Things are going along nicely and then, poof, something happens to change them.

Often, as the stories unfold, a disagreement has occurred. Sometimes it’s small or seemingly insignificant. But, at times, the issue creates a major flare up. And when a resolution to the issue doesn’t happen quickly, everything can unravel.

When each side feels that their opinion is worth more and that they should not have to give in, a distance occurs. Closing this gap and restoring harmony requires a degree of openness, a willingness to listen and a belief that common ground can be found.

Forgiveness can become the key, allowing each person to release the thought that there is only one right path. Hearts can be opened to see other directions so that new possibilities can become visible.

I want to offer two consecutive posts about forgiveness because I feel it is so important.

Many years ago, a friend of mine was having an extraordinarily difficult time forgiving an important person in their life. They asked me if I had any suggestions. My response to them came by way of a story. And, this story became the first chapter in my Little Buddha book series.

A man, Sam, asks Claire, a young six-year-old girl he’s met on the beach if she can help him understand how to forgive others. She’s shown her wisdom to him, enough so that he feels he can risk asking her this.

This is her response to him.

 “Imagine (pointing to the pail beside her) that my bucket is you. It’s everything you think and feel and experience during your life. Imagine that everything that is within you- YOU chose to put there. Nothing got in without your choosing. Nothing. Whether conscious or not, every thought, feeling, idea, reaction and prejudice. Every cruel word, every kind gesture, every act of faith, every indifference, everything. Imagine that each of these things takes up space, just like the grains of sand in my bucket. Once it’s full it’s very hard to find any space for anything, no matter how valuable or important. There are ways you can empty part of your bucket if you choose. One way is forgiveness. But first you have to imagine one more thing. Can you imagine that everyone else here is just like you? They’ve lived their lives filling their buckets and sometimes they don’t have any space left either. They’re doing the best they can with what weighs them down. In their hearts, they too wish to be free and to have open space to experience more of the beautiful things in life. But they too don’t know how. They probably sense it, dream about it and desperately want it just like you do. This is very important to know. To forgive anyone anything, requires YOU make a conscious choice. No one else can do it for you.” She eyed (Sam) carefully, “now bring to mind something which begs forgiveness. Feel the space it holds within you. The weight of it, the size, color and dimension. Imagine knowing it needn’t exist and that you can fill its space with something beautiful. Now, close your eyes. Welcome it in. Let it rest in front of you. Believe that it has served its full purpose for you, but does so no longer. Look inside your heart and allow love and compassion to open within. Breathe easily. Smile for a moment. Know that no matter what, this decision is up to you and no one else. Picture your love and compassion surrounding you and the focus of your forgiveness. Now, allow it to fade and fade and fade until it disappears. Breathe and feel the space inside you open. Feel the sunshine enter you and the air move around you. Listen for the sound of your own being. Sense the room created inside of you, now open for that which does serve you. For beauty. For wholeness.”

More to come.

Information about Little Buddha Book One, Two and Three is available by clicking on BOOKS and scrolling down.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.