Tag Archive | Thought

Why?

StarsWhat is it about humans that makes us unique? Although we are very much like a more ‘intelligent’ version of our ape cousins, we also have an awareness that there is something about humans that is distinct, beyond just having bigger brains. Scientists and anthropologists have grappled with this question. Each time we think we have the answer it proves false. We used to think it was our ability to make and use tools, but then it was discovered that apes make and use tools. We thought it might be our capacity for language, but it was discovered that apes can learn language easily, showing their brains are wired for language as well. Finally, scientists found something humans do that apes do not, and it was rather surprising: Humans ask why. In an experiment conducted at the Cognitive Evolution Group Research Center, apes were given a simple task – they had to set two L shaped blocks upright, standing them on the long end, and they would get a treat. After learning this task, the scientists then gave them a trick block which was weighted on one end so that it would always fall over. The apes would then enter the experiment room, try to set the block upright in anticipation of a treat, and the block would fall over. They would try again, and again and again until they eventually gave up. When human children were given the same experiment, they would set up the weighted block and it would fall over. After a couple more tries, the children would begin to examine the block, turning it over, observing it, shaking it, hitting it, doing various things to it to try and understand why it was falling over. They were looking for evidence of the unseen force which caused the block to fall. They were trying to find the why behind it. This is something the apes do not do, it is a human trait.

This desire to understand why has driven humans to discover many things about the world and the universe, looking for the unseen force behind what we see has driven both religion and science to try and explain our existence. It has driven us to discover the science of physics, to understand gravity, to find everything from quarks to other galaxies. It is also what makes us search for some reason behind our very existence. The animal does not question its own existence, it simply is. This is a beautiful state of being and one which allows the animal to be in present moment, and we have a lot to learn from them in this way. In spite of the fact that the animal’s life may be one survival struggle after another, the animal does not question why, they simply experience what they experience in the moment – good, bad or ugly. We, on the other hand, need to know why. Why are we here? Is there some deeper reason, some unseen force which drives my existence? From this line of questioning we discover the soul, and from the soul we re-discover our connection to all things. We are a kind of consciousness which questions itself, it questions why it is conscious in the first place. What is my purpose? Is there a reason for my existence or is it just random and meaningless? Why are things this way, and not some other way?

If you find yourself on a spiritual quest, it is usually driven by these types of questions. These questions are powerful catalysts for growth. In many cases the journey of the wondering soul begins with questions that come from a place of deep pain – questions such as “Why is there suffering? Why is there death?” These were the questions which drove the Buddha, among others. This type of question comes from the child within, the joyful and playful spirit which simply wants to Be, who has been suddenly confronted with a paradox it cannot sort out and cannot ignore. This paradox is the dissonance between what the person feels and ‘knows’ from some deep intuitive place inside themselves – that the universe is a good place – and the apparent evidence before them which seems to show the opposite. Confronted with this paradox, it is human nature to ask – why?

Sometimes as the ego gradually matures it will leave the childlike innocence behind in favor of a more dour view of the world; a view where life, meaninglessness and suffering are part and parcel to one another. From this point of view, nothing has meaning. Since the pain one experiences seems to have no meaning, then by extension nothing else does either. With no meaning, all appears random, nothing seems to connect and there appears to be no God. In other words, there appears to be no ‘why’ behind one’s existence. Because thinking creates reality, things keep showing up in one’s life which further confirm this ‘truth’ that it is all meaningless and disconnected. This is the dark night of the soul, the place where connection to the whole is lost. But, as the Persian mystic and poet Rumi so eloquently says: “Many have died searching for You as You hide behind the scenes, but this pain is not for those who come as Lovers.” The lover is the one who is not in resistance, and seeks beauty. Beauty opens the heart chakra which allows unconditional love to return, and from there you return to the joy of being. The answers to the why questions then become less important than the truth of love and connection. It is true many become lost in the dark night on the journey of life, but the key is maintaining the child-like innocence, the connection to unconditional love and joy of being that we all come into the world with. The pain is not for those who come as lovers. As we resolve this paradox, as we follow beauty through the jungle of ‘why?’, the way will become clear.

Blessings on your journey,
Rhea Jamil

Forgiveness Exercizes

MeditationForgiveness looks reality in the face. Part of the resistance that many have to forgiveness is the idea that it is like pulling the wool over your eyes, that it means having to pretend that everything is OK. That is not forgiveness, that is denial. Burying your true feelings does not help you move on. Part of forgiveness is acknowledging your hurt, your anger, your pain. Acknowledge those feelings and allow them to pass through you, but don’t hold on to them either. Those feelings are like a forest fire, they move through and burn as long as there is fuel to feed them. But once the fuel is gone, so goes the fire, then new life comes up from the ashes and the forest is renewed. The purpose of the fire is to create the way for renewal, so you must allow it to move through you, but as long as you keep feeding the flames, as long as you keep giving fuel to the anger and hurt, it will continue to burn, and you rob yourself of the possibility of renewal. How do you stop feeding the fire? Forgiveness.

In many cases it may take some time to get to a place of forgiveness, and if you are not ready to forgive right now that is also OK, don’t beat yourself up about it, just allow it to be. You don’t have to forgive today if you’re not ready, but if you want to begin the path toward forgiveness I offer a series of simple exercizes to get you there.  Begin by practicing regular meditation if you are not doing so already. Meditation will help you tap into the still place within, which is where you find your essential self, the self which is aligned with unconditional love. Unconditional love and forgiveness are of the same energy.  The series of videos below provides some guidance on basic meditation and discusses how meditation can improve relationships, reduce stress and help you find inner peace.  

The second step is to begin sending unconditional love to random people, for no reason. You can do this while in meditation or while you’re out and about. Send it to people you pass on the street, send it to the clerk at the supermarket. Send this love from your highest self to theirs, remember that they are not just the personality that you are interacting with, they are an eternal soul like you, and you are connected; send love to that eternal soul which is connected to yours. No need to tell them, just send it from the heart, and feel the warmth and beauty of that energy, notice how you instantly feel better, and perhaps the other person responds to you differently as well.  You will see that by sending this love to others, you become the beneficiary of that energy. You will feel lighter and more present. 

When you have this down, the third step is to send unconditional love to the person who cut you off in traffic, or the person who gave you a dirty look at work. After doing this enough you will begin to see how easy it is to make the choice to simply send love and to forgive, without conditions. You will see how this releases you from the knee-jerk negative reactions that we typcially fall victim to in these situations, and instead allows you to remain in the ‘flow’ of your day without being thrown off-track by negativity.

Finally, when you are ready, sit in meditation and begin sending this same energy to any person or people who deeply wronged you in the past, send it to the people you most need to forgive in order to move on, and this may include yourself. Just choose to do it, without thinking about it. Thinking about it will draw you back into the story, and as discussed in my previous post letting go of the story is a crucial part of forgiveness. [If you find that thoughts about the story keep coming up as you do this, try the exercises I recommend in ‘Thought Seeds’ to rid yourself of those thoughts and continue sending the unconditional love and forgiveness.] After a time you will begin to feel a release, you will begin to feel as if there is space around the hurt, around the story, that it no longer seems to affect you the way it used to. Finish the meditation be surrounding yourself with a bubble of pure gold light. Intend that this bubble will be a barrier that will only allow love and high energies to come through, and will keep out any negativity. You may only need to do this once or you may need to do it a number of times until you feel released from the story, until you feel the fire subside and new growth beginning.

Humanity is in deep need of forgiveness. Forgiveness is how we heal the world and stop the cycles of suffering. When you hear crazy and horrible things on the evening news, such as the events this week in Boston, remember that forgiveness is your highest calling, it is the energy which will heal the world.  Allow yourself to feel the pain and anger, but also be brave enough to forgive, and wise enough to know that forgiveness is the only way to finally be free.

I also recommend the book “Radical Forgiveness” by Collin Tipping, for those who want to explore forgiveness more deeply. Tipping offers some wonderful and profound exercises in forgiveness and offers new perspective on the negative things which happen in our lives.

Namaste,
Rhea Jamil

Keys to Forgiveness

rainbowForgiveness is letting go of the story you have become attached to. Most of us are attached to our stories, even the negative ones. We think we need those stories to define who we are and to justify our actions and our thinking. We cling to the negative story because it allows us to feel like we have a reason and a meaning for what we have become. The story may have caused you to become someone who is angry, or hurt, or afraid. You might also feel like the story has given you strength and character as well, but know that those positive traits will always stay with you, even when you let the story go – you have those traits because you’ve always had them and perhaps the story allowed you to discover that – but letting go of the story through forgiveness and unconditional love will allow you to be truly free of the anger, hurt or fear that has been created as a result of the story. It is not even about letting someone else off the hook for what they’ve done, it is about letting yourself off the hook from needing to be satisfied with some resolution to something which can never be resolved. Not long ago I read an article about a woman who had forgiven the man who killed her daughter. To explain why she would forgive such a thing she said “[He] owed us a debt he could never repay. And releasing him from that debt would release us from expecting that anything in this world could satisfy us.”1

Forgiveness is releasing yourself from the poison of hate and anger, releasing yourself from being defined by your story, and freeing yourself from the power which the story or person has had in your life. In this way forgiveness is more about you and what you need to be whole, and less about the other person or people who you are forgiving. People who create suffering are suffering deeply themselves, and they tend to perpetuate cycles of suffering through their unconscious actions which are driven from this dark place of suffering. Your choice is to continue to be part of that cycle or to end it. The only way to end it is through forgiveness.

Forgiveness and unconditional love are essentially the same thing, they are the same energy and vibration. Unconditional love is what allows forgiveness to flow, and likewise forgiveness allows unconditional love. It all stems from the recognition that you and the other person are one, and that anything they have done to you has been done in darkness, in unconsciousness and unawareness of the oneness between you. Your soul is made of the stuff of unconditional love. It is what you are. When you tap into this remembering of who you actually are, it becomes easy to forgive, it becomes as natural to you as breathing, because you are simply being exactly what you are. Then forgiveness is as simple as making a choice, just as you choose chocolate or vanilla ice cream. This is not to down-play the significance of this choice, but to show that when you are in your essential self, it is that easy. You choose to forgive – you don’t try to forgive, you don’t work at it – you just choose it. The choice of forgiveness is a release. It is a recognition that you and the person who has wronged you are connected, but that the story you have created with that person is not in alignment with your essential self or your growth and must be left behind in order to move forward on your path. You are not allowing the negative energies which were created between you and the mirror of you in the other person to rule your life and influence your thinking. In my next post I will offer some specific exercises to open the doorway to this kind of forgiveness.

Love and Light,
Rhea Jamil

1 New York Times Magazine, Jan 6, 2013 “Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/magazine/can-forgiveness-play-a-role-in-criminal-justice.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Self Love as True Empowerment

Joe Dispenza discusses how releasing suppressed energies within you is key to self love and joy. Energy wants to move, movement and transformation is the natural state of energy and thus of all things. When emotions (which are a kind of energy) such as anger, fear, or guilt are supressed within the mind/body, then those trapped energies will manifest what we call disease. When they are allowed to move into the light of your consciousness and be cleansed by the power of your awareness and your forgiveness, than they can be transformed into love, joy and gratitude and naturally contribute to self-love and self-acceptance. This then contributes to an overall state of well being and peace. Those energies can no longer poison you or the things that you create, but instead become part of your strength, character and love.

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”
– Jesus Christ, Gnostic Gospel of Thomas

Truth is Within You

Most people tend to look for the truth in the outer world, and they get frustrated with their search.  Most of us are looking for confirmation outside of us of what we already know in our hearts.  This is the reason why most good spiritual teachers when asked questions about the ‘truth’ will point you back to yourself, they will tell you to look within, as Teal Scott does here.  They will also often give you some guidance as to what to look for, and the guidance may helpful, but at the end of the day, you have to find it yourself.  The guidance should not be mistaken for the truth itself.  There is a saying that all religions are like fingers pointing to the moon, not the moon itself. 

You may expose yourself to many differing points of view, but it is your internal examination which leads you to align with it or not align with it.  No one else can do that work for you.  Anyone who says they have all the answers is, in addition to being full of Ego, just trying to get you to fall in line.  No one can possibly have all the answers, they can only have their answers.  They can only share their truth.  If their truth happens to work for you (it resonates with you), than contemplate it within.  If it does not work for you (you do not resonate with it), just set it aside and move on.   

Love and Light,

Rhea Jamil

What is Ego?

noisy-neighborsEgo is identification with form. Form includes not just the body and physical forms, but also thought forms and mind constructs. This extends to your ‘story’ which is a thought form about your past which you may take to be who you are. Who you actually are is formless. Who you actually are is the observer behind the thought form. Think for a minute about the fact that you can observe your thoughts. If you are your thoughts, how would you be able to step outside of them and observe them? The one who is doing that observation is you. The thoughts are not you. Elizabeth Gilbert in her book “eat, pray, love” mentions at one point that after she underwent her spiritual transformation, she began to think of her thoughts as ‘noisy neighbors.’ These neighbors are not you. They are forms which are temporary, they come into form and out of form and they only linger when you allow them to. When you can get to a point where you are able to observe your thought forms, rather than be caught up in the endless stream of the babble inside your head, that is where you begin to let go of Ego and find your true self and your true source of power.

Going Through “Withdraw”

Enlightenment2On the one hand, changing your thinking is pretty easy.  You just make a choice.  When you encounter a stressful situation, you choose to think “it’s all going to work out” instead of “#@$% why does this always happen to me!!” It is a simple choice, however as you begin to observe your thoughts and change your thinking, you might find that you are met with some internal resistance.  There will be part of you that rebels against “it’s all going to work out” and desperately wants to go to the “@#$%!” place.  You might even feel it physically.  You might feel panicky, or ill, or just not right when you attempt to shift your thinking like this.  This is because you are, in a certain way, addicted to your current way of thinking.  The reason it takes time and effort to change thinking is because your neurons have specific relationships with one another and with certain brain chemicals.  If your knee jerk reaction to stress is anger (“$#@&*”), or self-pity (“poor me”), or self-depreciation (“stupid me”), it is because your body and your brain have become accustomed to, or addicted to, the neuropeptides which are associated with those emotions.  Overcoming that addiction is like overcoming any addiction.  On the surface it seems easy, you just choose something different.  You choose to stop drinking.  However as any recovered addict will tell you, it is also not that easy.  Now, I do not want you to go away believing this is hard, because it is easy once you recognize what you are dealing with.  Just like a drug addict will recognize the withdraw symptoms, and will stay the course in spite of them if they are determined, so you can recognize the symptoms of your own withdraw from patterned thinking and choose to stay the course in spite of them (and they are not nearly as bad as drug withdraw.  If people can give up a drug addiction, you can certainly change your thinking.  If you’ve given up an addition you may even have an advantage here, since this is immeasurably easier).  Recognize the resistance for what it is, a withdraw, and just tell yourself “this is the withdraw, and I’m OK with that.”  Then keep thinking your new thought.  Eventually, the new thinking patterns will become your norm.  When this happens, you will begin to see things shifting all around you.  You will begin to experience synchronistic events, even miracles.  You will begin to realize that you do indeed have a real power within you.  You are no longer at the mercy of patterned, unconscious thought.  You instead are consciously choosing how to think and how to respond to any given situation instead of being at the mercy of your own unconscious wiring.  You will be free from thought addiction, and it is well worth the discomfort of your temporary withdraw.

To illustrate this a bit further, here is an entertaining clip from the movie “What the Bleep Do We Know?” about the nature of addiction to thought and emotion.

Namaste

Rhea Jamil

Thought Seeds

SeedsThoughts are a lot like seeds. You produce countless thoughts every day, just like a tree produces countless seeds. When the seeds of the tree get disbursed, a few of them will land on fertile ground, sprout and grow. However, most of them will not. Most will scatter to places where they will not be able to sprout, or an animal will eat them before they have a chance, and they never become trees. Our thoughts are much the same. The majority of your thoughts don’t go anywhere, they simply come, then go. They don’t do much harm, nor do they create much. Some of our thoughts will sprout initially, but then wither and die before becoming anything more. Then some of your thoughts will take root in fertile soil and grow into a tree. It may be a small birch tree or a giant sequoia. An example of a thought which became a great sequoia is the Wright brothers’ thought that flight was possible. That thought started as a seed in their minds, was fertilized and fed by belief, was given the sunlight of action and persistence, and became the reality of modern aviation. Any book that was ever written, any work of art, any movie, any company, any invention, any scientific theory, any building or monument, began as a seed in someone’s mind. Look around you right now. What do you see? Especially if you are indoors or in a big city, you are seeing the results of someone’s idea, someone’s seed which was tended, sprouted and grew into whatever it is you are looking at. It all began as a thought, nothing more, nothing less. Likewise, failures begin as a seed in someone’s mind as well. What happens to most of us is that we do not pay attention to the seeds that we tend vs. the seeds we cast away. Some of us give much more fertilizer of belief to seeds of doubt, of insecurity, of ill health etc., than to the seeds which would bring us wealth, health and happiness. Somehow, we just don’t believe those good seeds will sprout, so we cast them away. You have a great idea for a business, but cast it out with the thought “oh, but I could never make that work.” We plant and nurture the seed that says “I can’t” instead of the one that says “I can,” without fully realizing that the choice is ours. We make the choice of which thoughts to nurture and which not to.

Try this visualization exercise: as you begin the practice of watching your thoughts, when you notice a negative one, turn it into a seed in your mind, then thank it for what it has taught you but tell it very clearly that it will not be planted, and cast it away. You can even blow it up in your mind. I like to blow mine up like a pretty firework and watch the sparkly trails fizzle out. The reason for thanking the seed is to release your resistance to it. Resistance to a persistent thought will only cause that thought to come back again and again. When you thank it, it helps you let go of it. That thought is not there to torment you, it is there to teach you. Thank it for that, then cast it away or blow it up. Also, you can put the seed in a rose and blow up the rose. Roses seem to have a unique power when used in visualization exercises, we will explore more rose visualizations in later posts. If you have trouble with the idea of blowing it up because it seems violent, remember that what you are doing is simply transmuting the energy of that thought. You are not destroying anything, for destruction is impossible since energy cannot be destroyed and thoughts are just a form of energy. What you are doing is taking the energy of that thought and allowing it to be recycled back into the greater good. Once you’ve blown it up, it no longer holds that form which was harmful to you, it has the opportunity to be recreated, reabsorbed into the whole and be reformed as something else. Once you’ve done this, then find the thought seed you want to plant, tell it you believe in it, put it in the soil, give it water and sunlight and watch it grow. If you’ve already planted the seed in previous visualization, you can water the sapling or tree it is becoming. Watch it become bigger and bigger in each visualization. Send it love, remind it that you believe in it.

This practice takes time and patience. You may have a lot to clear out. Often, you may not even be sure what you need to clear out, you just have a bad feeling which tells you that your thoughts are not in line with your best interest and with source, since feelings are your best feedback mechanism to let you know when your thoughts or energy is not in line with what you want. In that case, you don’t have to even know what the thought or energies are exactly, you don’t have to name them, just set the intention to rid yourself of the thought, energies and associated feelings that you don’t want and don’t need, then perform the seed and/or rose blowing visualization. Part of what is so wonderful about this is that you are working with the higher intelligence, you are working with the field of consciousness which connects to everything in the universe. This field already knows what you want, need and don’t want and need. You don’t have to be specific, you just have to set your intention toward getting rid of what you don’t want and brining in what you do, even if you are not sure what that is at first.   It will become less muddled with time.  If you feel stressed, edgy, just not right – then start blowing seeds, start blowing roses. You will feel your energy start to lighten.

Namaste

Rhea Jamil

Taming the Ego

woman-horse-mystical   What is this Ego which creates the illusion of separateness?  Ego is multi-faceted, which makes it tricky to define. Eckart Tolle defines the Ego simply as an identification with the mind. I agree, but also I think this is just one aspect of the Ego. The identification with thought and with the mind is indeed the root of suffering. The mind always exists in the past, and can only predict future events based on past experiences. Identification with the mind keeps you stuck in loops, in cycles of self-destruction, in circular thinking. Releasing your identification with the mind is key in the process of enlightenment. The essential self (also referred to as the ‘higher self’), is the part of you that sees life from the highest perspective, is connected to the unified whole essence of creation, can see the biggest picture and knows without needing the mind.  This is what one should be identified with, not the mind. The mind should just be a tool, for the role of the mind should be exclusively to receive information from this essential self. Instead most of us have put the mind in the driver’s seat and thus we repeat the past over and over because that is all the mind can do. The essential self only exists in the now moment, not in the past or future. What you call your ‘intuition’ is a direct link to this essential self. When you have had moments of just ‘knowing’ something, without interference from the logical mind, at that moment you are connecting with your essential self and bypassing the logical mind. The key is to do this more often than not, to be connected to that knowing which is beyond the realm of mind and does not need the past to make decisions in the now. Everything we associate with clairvoyance stems from being in this state, and all humans are capable of it.
     Thus, ego is in one sense this identification with the mind. This is why the quickest way to enlightenment is to stop thinking. When you stop thought, your pure, essential self can be expressed. Most of us think that we are our thoughts. We subscribe to the philosophy “I think, therefore I am.” This is not the case. Thought is what gets in the way of who you are. Thought is what creates the illusion in the first place. Thought creates the idea of “you” which is separate from “me” and separate from the rest of the universe. When you get outside of thought, you are the universe. Thus, Tolle is not wrong, however there is another aspect to Ego which should also be acknowledged. Ego is also that which allows you to perceive yourself as a separate being. Without ego, we would be one unified wholeness, as we were in the beginning. For some, that is the goal. But there is a way in which the wholeness also longs for separateness, since it is only in being separate that we can share in love. It is only in separateness that we can experience the divine lover / beloved relationship. This is Ego’s gift. This is the aspect of Ego which can be maintained even when identification with mind is gone and connection with the essential self is achieved. As long as you are in a human body, you can never fully let go of this aspect of the Ego, except perhaps in moments, but this does not mean that enlightenment cannot be obtained, it is just the opposite. You can be fully aware of your essential self and how it is connected to the unified whole, and yet maintain a separate identity which allows you to continue to be human and to share in love. This is a beautiful state of being. As my Sufi teacher Alim Thompson once explained to me, the goal is not to get rid of the Ego, the goal is to tame the ego. I began to think of the ego as a horse. It can be a bucking bronco, completely in control of you and tossing you around in life. This is the scenario of being totally identified with the mind and unaware of your essential self. The goal is to take the bucking bronco and turn it into a well trained thoroughbred, one which willingly follows your direction out of love and respect for you. Riding such a thoroughbred through life will be exhilarating and fun.
-Rhea Jamil

Here is a video from Bashar lays out the role of the essential, or higher, self more clearly than anything else I’ve come across: