Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Our True Nature

Recently I watched a documentary on the oneness of mankind. Dozens of people from many different faiths (or absence of), walks of life, colors and viewpoints, came together to share their views on some of life's deepest questions...What is the meaning of life? What does God look like? What do you wish for the world? While listening to various responses I was struck with a startling realization. It was all about my true nature....our true nature.

You see, I realized that I have spent much of my life in denial. Denial of who I truly am. What my nature is. Then it occurred to me that man is the only animal that does this. It is quite remarkable. Think of any other living thing...a deer, a dog, a butterfly, a fish or a snake... Any living thing. Does a deer try to be something it is not? Does a dolphin say to itself "Gosh, I wish I could be more like a shark!" The answer is clearly "NO."

Animals simply be. Other living things do not deny what they are. They are perfect in their acceptance of their true nature. They don't even question it.

So why do we, with all our intellect and spiritual growth, wisdom and enlightenment do this? Is it fear? Is it blindness caused by what we were told as children? Is it striving for something that we perceive to be a better existence?

In my limited thinking I have come to the realization that I believed I was doing the right thing. Seeking growth, knowledge...having goals and aspirations. Now don't get me wrong. I do not believe broadening the mind or aspiring to achieve is denying my true nature. What I do believe is that somewhere along life's journey we get caught up in what we THINK these goals SHOULD be. We get confused by the very aspirations we thought were great and worthy of all our efforts.

The result of all of this is often anxiety, confusion, a sense of failure or a cloudy view of our actual self...our true nature. To define our true nature one need only look at what we are not. We are not what we do, that is, we are not our jobs. We are not our goals. We are not our fears. We are not our pain or our joy or our suffering. We are not what we possess and we certainly are not defined by our actions or even what we believe or have faith in.

My true nature is simply the basic understanding that I am one with all life. I possess truth, love, Spirit and all answers and always have. I have told myself and have been told my entire life that I am not perfect. I am not whole. I am not "there yet." I must kick, fight, climb and suffer, if need be, to achieve these things.

The truth is I am perfect. I am whole. Being unified with God, the Divine or Eternal Mind is not something I acquire or learn. I have always had Divine nature. I have always had love as my core. If I can find ways to still my mind and be present I will have clarity and understanding of the Ultimate Mind that I am one with. I can rest in the vast, infinite space that possesses all knowledge, peace and truth. My Spirit is the Spirit of the Divine. We are One. Father Richard Keating, the leading figure in Christian contemplative thinking, states that if one truly comes to an understanding of a Higher Power or God or Other (with a capital O) he will realize that the Other does not exist alone. The Other exists in unison with each and every one of us. The Other, God, is my Eternal Living Existence. All I need do is learn to take the blinders off. Believe and accept the fact that I already have Buddha Nature. We all have Heaven within us.

Is it easy to take the blinders off? To come to this understanding and convince the ego or our self that we are not limited, that our nature is infinite and in perfect oneness with the Divine? Well...yes. Meditate. Pause. Find the Still Point. Allow yourself to rest in the breath, the clarity of thought. Do not struggle or work the mind. Simply be. You will find that you have always possessed the answers...the true nature of the Spirit of the Universe.

We can learn so much from animals. A fish isn't confused by the current that carries it along a stream. It naturally accepts the flow of the precious life force it is part of. They are one. No one taught the fish how to swim or told them there is a better way to get around in the water.

We all share Nirvana.

I bow to the Divine in all of you.

Friday, January 7, 2011

When someone is dying how can I help?

Recently a dear friend of mine, a strong, beautiful woman, deeply spiritual and giving, contacted many of her friends and told us that her "Granny" was in her last moments on earth. She was dying. My friend was going back and forth to the hospital. She, like many people who experiencing the death of a loved one, explained to us how wonderful Granny was...How funny, how strong. She then asked if we would keep her Granny in our thoughts, our prayers, our meditations.

So that leads me to a very important question...a point if you will. How often have you wondered just what you can do to relieve the suffering of someone who is dying or ease the pain of the loved ones and family members left behind? I would guess most, if not, all of you. In the Western world the movement is to get as far away from dying as possible. Because of that we are at a loss when someone dies and we desperately try to help, to ease, to love those involved. Traditional help comes in the form of some sort of prayer. Or you might just be there for the people, attend the funeral, bring food to the house, donate to an organization that focuses on the cause of death be it heart disease, cancer...AIDS.

Well here is another thing you can do. Mind you, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO THIS AT ALL! This is something that I found in meditation that works for me. You may apply this and if it helps then my heart is moved. This can be done by believers, atheists, agnostics and just plain people of peace. The biggest point is that you are truly doing something active.

Set aside a half hour or an hour of your time...if you can only manage 15 or 20 minutes that is fine. Close your eyes and simply breathe at first. Just breathe and clear your mind. Focus your attention on the sounds around you or the inhalation and exhalation of your breath...or soothing music. Anything that will settle your mind just for a few minutes. Then picture the person who is dying, suffering or has died. Genuinely think of who they are. If you don't know them, be it someone who a friend has asked you to pray for or keep them in your thoughts, or someone you heard about, just think of who they are or the situation they are, or were, in. Bring to mind all the happiness and joy they experienced all through their lives. Even a person with the most wretched existence has had some sort of happiness at one time or another. Know that they were loved that they felt wonder and awe. Know that they have love in their hearts even if it was clouded over by emotional pain. They accomplished things and they failed. They laughed and cried. Now think of their suffering and how they are dying or how they died. The situation surrounding them. Know that they are not the only ones who have died and suffered that way. Knowing that the person who is dying or died is climbing the same mountain eases the mind and puts the person in good company. If they are really in pain and suffering or suffered much before death, think on that. Feel their pain...empathize.

Now know beyond a shadow of doubt that you have tremendous love in your heart. Think about the joy you have and have had in your life. Think of what you are grateful for. Do this just a little bit. You don't have to do this for hours. Know that there is a Light in you, Energy...the Divine...your breath...whatever. Know that all of your accomplishments, your happiness, joy, peace, love fellowship...all of that is one big ball of light in you. Now picture the person that has died or is dying. Give them that ball. See that light flow all over them. Shower all your goodness and light and picture it completely cover them. Let them absorb it. Say this out loud or in your mind:

"May they be peaceful and happy
May they be filled with joy and love
May there be an end to all their suffering"

Say it over and over in your mind. Picture the words as they go through your mind. Know that your Spirit is washing over them...even if they are dead. After you have said this a number of times know and truly feel in your heart that you did something active, alive, concrete. You acted out of love. That is the greatest gift you can give.

Pause for a few minutes again. Settle your mind and breathe. You don't have to think of anything. Rest.

You can do this for the family members, friends or the whole group of people affected by the individual's death or pain. Above all else realize that your empathy joins you. Everyone has felt joy and love about this person and you ALL feel pain. That pain also connects you with what is real. It connects you to their hearts. You can do this once or as many times as you want.

I hope this helps. Oh, if want to really experience change do this for someone who is suffering or died that you don't like. Maybe someone you have a resentment towards...any enemy. They might not change but you will!

I wish you happiness. May you experience ease of well being.