Lesson 20: The Error of Escape

May 2017

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I can't be that different from anybody else in that even at an early age I often thought about the after-life. My upbringing in the Episcopal church placed me in the middle of the extremes and without thinking for myself, assumed that what I was taught was true. There is a Heaven and there is a Hell but unless you really screw up, you're going to Heaven. I was 10 years old.

I can't be that different than anybody else in that when I was young, I tried alternative escapes from my confusion by the use of self- medication. After I had a bad trip from doing hash that was laced with LSD and thinking that a water tower was actually a giant squirrel wanting to eat me, I abandoned that route of discovery. I was 20 years old.

I can't be that different from anybody else in that after I realized that I would not find God in church or self-medication, I considered the alternatives. I studied Buddhism and a host of other approaches and maintained a very disciplined meditation practice for 10 years. I assumed that what I was taught was true and that Nirvana was attainable. After I tripped the light fandango, had some out of body experiences, I saw the irreconcilable discrepancy between being in a state of nirvana and actually walking the earth. I was 40 years old.

In all religions, an escape exists. One day you won't be here. After you die, you'll be there. And "there" is better than "here." Blow yourself up and a crowd of innocent people along with you and there will even the added benefit of 27 virgins waiting for you when you get "there." And as we all know, it doesn't get any better than that. Even the Episcopal church doesn't promise virgins. Why are we taught not to be here? What is wrong with being here? As Stephen Hawking recently argued, it is time to colonize the moon and Mars because according to him, it's not going to be a lot of fun being here before too long. How brilliant.

Savitri, too, made a choice. She made a choice to be here because of her love for Satvayan. She decided that heaven was not "there" but "here." She changed directions. Is it possible that a directional problem exists that lies at the heart of your confusion about what you are doing here? Is is possible that death will not be your reprieve as you have been taught? Is it possible that it is not about you going to heaven but about heaven coming to you? The error of the Church, of self-medication, of escape is that what you seek does not lie outside of you...but inside of you. It is who you are. If you understand this, you can solve some really big issues for yourself Example: The reason that no one and no thing can complete you is because you were never incomplete in the first place. And that's just for starters!

"Abolished is the burdening need of life:
Thought falls from us, we cease from joy and grief;
The ego is dead; we are freed from being and care,
We have done with birth and death and work and fate.
O soul, it is too early to rejoice!"

The meaning of this great, mysterious experience of life cannot be death nor can it be escape to another realm whether that be through death, self-medication or meditation. The grief, the freedom you seek from work and paying your bills, the silent struggle of your fate, the burden you face in your daily pursuit to come with the terms of your existence, the losses...they all contain within them the heaven you seek.

"Thou hast leaped into a glad divine abyss;
But where hast thou thrown Self's mission and Self's power?
On what dead bank on the Eternal's road?
Once was within thee who was self and world.
What hast thou done for his purpose in the stars?
Escape brings not victory and the crown!
Something thous cam'st to do from the Unknown,
But nothing is finished and the world goes on
Because only half God's cosmic work is done.
Only the everlasting No has neared
And stared into thy eyes and killed thy heart:
But where is the Lover's everlasting Yes,
And immortality in the secret heart."

Heaven is not there. It is here. You can only get "there" by being "here." It's a simple error of direction to be corrected. "Half of God's cosmic work" with you is done. It is time for the other half of you to begin.

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Lesson 19: The Comedy of Ignorance

May 2017

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"Our mind is a house haunted by the slain past,
Ideas soon mummified, ghosts of old truths,
God's spontaneities tied with formal strings
And packed into drawers of reason's trim bureau,
A grave of great lost opportunities,
Or an office for misuse of soul and life
And all the waste man makes of heaven's gifts
And all his squanderings of Nature's store,
A stage for the comedy of Ignorance."

It is 2017 and we are still killing one another to resolve our domestic and international disputes. Religion may have been able to save a few souls here and there but it has been unable to spiritualize humanity. In North Carolina, we have one the highest percentages in the United States of children under 18 years of age who are food insecure on a regular basis: almost 1 in 4. The plethora of public figures living lives of contradictions and hypocrisies are no longer secretly hidden but touted as virtues. If you accept that violence need not result in bloodshed for there to have been violence, you see violence everywhere you go. Voter suppression and discrimination are legalized in numerous states. There is no need for me to keep going on with this. You get the point. It appears that it is only out of sorrow and darkness that things change. But what if that is not true? What if there was an easier way other than starring in "The Comedy of Ignorance?"

Let's begin with an act of self-implication. What I would invite you to do is to identify without any judgment whatsoever something that you deeply desire but something for which you have substituted something much lesser. While there are many, just identify one. Implicate yourself. Perhaps it's a passionless marriage, an unfulfilling job, or a mental, physical or emotional addiction you've learned to accept. Now, take 10 steps back from it. Now, take another 10 steps back and be sitting on the first row of the playhouse watching your own comedy of ignorance play out. Watch with amusement how you have it set up in such a way that you always end up with the problem. Notice what you have to pretend is true to make sure you always end up with the lie.

Now, read the following as you watch yourself play the problem out on stage.

"For He who Is grows manifest in the the years
And the slow Godhead shut within the cell
Climbs from the plasm to immortality."

What is growing inside of you as you remain a prisoner to your comedy of ignorance? What is shut off inside, hidden within, denied, but there? What slumbers inside of you waiting to be awakened? If this problem was not part of your life, then what would you have it be? Above and away from the ignorance, if this problem did not exist, then what would exist? Instead of living with the substitution, what would you have it be? If there was one, just one, part of your life that you wanted to see fulfilled, what would it be? And now, translate the unthinkable into a thought! Translate the unimaginable into a possibility!

"A fiery stillness wakes the slumbering cells,
A passion of the flesh becoming spirit,
And marvelously is fulfilled at last
The miracle for which our life was made."

Your "...comedy of ignorance" is but the tool of your own design to cause to awaken inside of you the miracle for which your life was made. Awaken. Be THAT!

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Lesson 18: Where Is Joy?

May 2017

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I am certain that many people see surrender as giving up or giving in and of course, surrender is neither. My personal experience taught me that my ability to surrender was directly proportional to my ability to understand ahead of time the outcome of that surrender. If I did not understand the outcome of surrender, then my actions could not be surrender but only a form of hope, of wishing things to turn out a certain way. But that's not surrender.

Aurobindo stated, "Faith is law recognized." What this means is your internal peace, your certainty, your joy is a very natural outcome of understanding how things work, of understanding the laws of life. In understanding how things work, you see the evolving perfection of not only your life but the lives of others. You see the certainty of the Divine in all things, even the pain. You get to see through the physical and understand the metaphysical. Your life is no longer based on what happens outside of you but what ha a ppens on the inside of you. Understood in these terms, faith is not necessary. Faith is not certainty. Faith is hope but you don't need hope if you're certain! You don't even need faith. Faith is a form of fear in disguise.

Here, show yourself something. All I am asking you to do is to temporarily accept the following statement. You don't have to believe it...just for a moment, pretend it's true. Here it is: You only see two things. You see stuff. And you see stuff moving. That's all. Everything else is what you made up. Now, just watch the stuff sitting still and the stuff moving around and let go of everything else you made up about both. I mean everything. Watch the traffic, the busyness of life, the gnawing and thrashing about, the living and the dying, just watch it. Just watch the victory and defeat, the gain and the loss. But let go of everything you have ever attached to it. As all the stuff you made up begins to empty out, even if it takes years, what starts happening? What begins to fill the emptiness?

"Meeting and turning to the best the worst,
It healed the bitter cruelties of earth,
Transforming all experiences to delight;
Intervening in the sorrowful paths of birth
It rocked the cradle of the cosmic Child
And stilled all weeping with its hand of joy;
It led things evil towards their secret good,
It turned racked falsehood into happy truth;
Its power was to reveal divinity.
Infinite, coeval with the mind of God,
It bore within itself a seed, a flame,
A seed from which the Eternal is new-born,
A flame that cancels death in mortal things.
All grew to all kindred and self and near;
The intimacy of God was everywhere,
No veil was felt, no brute barrier inert,
Distance could not divide, Time could not change
A fire of passion burned in spirit-depths,
A constant touch of sweetness linked all hearts,
The throb of one adoration's single bliss
In a rapt ether of undying love.
An inner happiness abode in all,
A sense of universal harmonies,
A measureless secure eternity
Of truth and beauty and good and joy made one.
Here was the welling core of finite life;
A formless spirit became the soul of form."

Oh, my. Would you prefer to hold onto your stuff or would you be willing to let it go in order to have this? For world and self are one. You can only see "out there" what you see "in here." You can only believe about them what you believe about you. In even a second of surrender, the silence and emptiness will begin to be replaced with a sense of redemption, a breath of eternal love and a certainty of safety and balance.

Where is your joy? Where it has always been.

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Lesson 17: Dare to Surrender

May 2017

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The difficulties that lie before you in your pursuit of daily life can be staggering. The ones that have a lot are trying to make sure that the ones who don't have a lot don't get theirs. The ones that don't have a lot are trying to make sure that the ones who do share theirs with them. It can be so difficult to rise above scarcity mentality. But change you must.

The difficulties that lie before you in your pursuit of waking-up can be staggering. The old mind, habituated and addicted to seeing what does not exist, is a foreigner to truth until that cosmic egg finally cracks and you see the possibility of a new tomorrow. It can be so difficult to climb out of the hole. But climb you must.

The years force you to become what is hidden in you as the truth of you really are grows. The unthinkable becomes thought. The impossible becomes experienced. The dream becomes real. You make progress even if it's slow. The hypnotic state begins to fade.

"The world is turned into a temple ground
And all discloses the unknown Beloved.
In an outburst of heavenly joy and ease
Life yields to the divinity within
And gives the rapture-offering of its all.
And the soul opens to felicity.
A bliss is felt that never can wholly cease,
A sudden mystery of the secret Grace
Flowers goldening our earth of red desire."

The time is coming in this journey when you are going to need your strength and endurance more than ever. Mathematically unbiased but equally distributed according to your unique condition, the difficulties will appear. But there is a major confrontation you must face. You need to increase your skills. Will you use the ancient toolbox you have always used to combat your issues? Will you resort as you historically do to your least sophisticated behaviors and fight your way through? Or are you willing to try something else?

"We see not what small figure of her we hold;
We feel not her inspiring boundlessness,
We share not her immortal liberty.
Thus is it even with the seer and the sage;
For still the human limits the divine:
Out of our thoughts we must leap up to sight,
Breathe her divine supremacy confess,
Dare to surrender to her absolute.
Then the Unmanifest reflects his form
In the still mind as in a living glass;
The timeless Ray descends into our hearts
And we are rapt into eternity."

To dare to move with the great flow...the giant letting go...stumbling...fumbling along the way as the old skin is discarded...and a new way is born. Now, bring a problem to mind and fill in the blank for yourself: "I don't know how ________. I don't know when or if ________. I'm so worried that ________. But I am willing to let go. I am willing to surrender. I am willing to be still and learn that everything is possible. Although I don't know how ________ will work out, I am grateful that it has and give thanks for the resolution to this problem."

I dare you.

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Lesson 16: The Blows of Life

May 2017

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In spite of my academic credentials, I am not nor have I ever been cognitively smart. When I was younger, I constantly failed math. While at NC State and having to pass two math classes, I took the lowest level math they had (Apples and Oranges) and made a C. The second class, Algebra and Trig, was a nightmare. I failed it twice, dropped it once or twice and considered that I would never graduate. Then, a miracle occurred.

Because of my habitual failure, I received a form letter from a professor and as the letter instructed, I set up an appointment with him to discuss my stupidity. Dr. Bob Savage (if my memory is correct) was kind to me and treated me with respect. But he introduced me to a different way of learning math through video tapes where I could pause, rewind and fast forward. Suddenly, I was a genius. Required to take 20 tests, I made 100 on 16 of the tests. My courage grew so greatly, I signed up for a non-required class in physics the following semester. I made a D but it was my D and I did it on my own without the need for video tapes. I was proud of myself and I would graduate on time. I learned that it was not a miracle I needed but the ability to see myself and the world differently. That included math.

Pain is joy's chrysalis. Pain is the womb of bliss waiting to be transformed at any given moment.

"A friend and inmate of our secret self,
It hid behind our minds and fell asleep
And slowly wakes beneath the blows of life;
The mighty daemon lies unshaped within,
To evoke, to give it form is Nature's task."

As with all setbacks and failures, a light stands to fall on your unfulfilled longings. Beneath the struggle, the slow, tedious blossoming of growth, below the hurt, behind the fear and above the pain is your next of kin: who you really are. And the blows of life can awaken in earthquake fashion the realization that you are something far greater than you have ever known yourself to be.

"It left known summits for the unknown peaks:
Impassioned, it sought the lone unrealized Truth,
It longed for the light that knows not death and birth.
Each stage of the soul's remote ascent was built into a constant heaven felt always here
At each pace of the journey marvellous
A new degree of wonder and of bliss,
A new rung formed in Being's mighty stair,
A great wide step trembling with jewelled fire
As if a radiant God had given his soul
That he might feel the tread of pilgrim feet
Mounting in haste to the Eternal's house."

The blows of life are but rungs of your "becoming" ladder. No matter where you are, you are on your way. No matter what has happened in the past, you are on your way. No matter what you think you are or think you're not, you are on your way. No matter what happens tomorrow, you are are on your way...because you are the way...and the way is known.

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