The Happiness Threshold

I was taking the dishes out of the dishwasher yesterday, and putting them away in our cupboards when I suddenly stopped. Before that moment befell me I had been performing this chore while in my mind I was thinking about what I wanted to do next, which was to go into my office and continue writing my book. Writing my book was fun, while doing dishes was merely a chore that I had to get out of the way. Then liminality happened.

The Lesson of the Goat

In a movie I once saw many years ago, there was a scene where a man was running across a bridge that was collapsing. Every time the man took a step, the stone beneath his feet would give way, so he had to quickly step onto the next stone, which also would fall away. And so he ran across the bridge, getting just enough weight on the stone to allow him to reach for the next, before the solid object dissolved under his foot. I was mesmerized by how lightly he ran, and suddenly felt that I was being given an important lesson. The stone bridge was the world, that begins to dissolve as soon as it’s created, so there is no sense in putting too much weight or importance on any given experience, for it will surely pass. The man in the movie represented my essential being, intuitively guiding my every step, reminding me to experience and release each moment in time. Don’t hang on to the last minute and don’t put the weight of expectation onto the next, for only consciousness is stable in my otherwise unstable existence.

Living A Life Beyond Belief

One of the greatest myths ever spread throughout the world concerns the influence of beliefs in our lives. The myth is that beliefs affect our destiny and determine what happens to us, and that our beliefs and thoughts create our life direction. People even suggest that our beliefs actually create our reality, so if we want to change our lives we have to change our beliefs. This usually means substituting negative, pessimistic beliefs for positive, optimistic ones. In fact, beliefs are merely a replacement for knowing. When we forgot who we really are and submitted ourselves to the directions of the human mind, beliefs were born. As such they are limited in their nature and limiting in their effects on us. Even the most empowering belief is still a weak replacement for knowing who we are and what our purpose is. For many years in my work as a counsellor and group leader, I would encourage people to confront their beliefs about themselves and the world and to face the experience that created those beliefs. I suggested that most or all of our beliefs come from our childhood, and that our negative beliefs emerged from painful experiences that we did not resolve at the time. I made a few mistakes when I delivered this model and I would like to correct one of them now.

Resolving Dilemmas

Dilemmas are commonplace experiences in people’s lives, and are generally dealt with in a similar manner by all of us. We look at the situation as a problem to be solved and consider the two primary options available to us. (Note: sometimes there seem to be more than just two options from which to choose, but the dynamics and effective response apply regardless.) Typically each of the options hold satisfactory possibilities but unsatisfactory side effects as well. The artist who wants to quit a job that offers great pay, but little in the way of creative opportunities is faced with an obvious dilemma: keep your financially secure job but feel emotionally dissatisfied, or follow your emotionally rewarding creative impulses but risk financial instability. The person who wants to leave an emotionally barren partnership for a more “loving” relationship, must decide whether  it’s worth it to leave a happy, harmonious family situation. Any dilemma with an emotional component — which most dilemmas include — is always difficult to resolve, and people can find themselves stuck in them for years! The stuckness is usually caused by the individual’s fear of making the “wrong choice”, one which will diminish, or even ruin” their enjoyment of the road they chose to travel.

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The Importance of a Compass

It started out as an exciting idea: Peter and I would take a bus into the interior and get off in a national park. From there we would follow an old fur traders trail back down to the coast.  I had come across a hand-drawn map with the trail marked, and did some reading about the path, feeling confident that I would be able to find it in the park and traverse its length to the university grounds where the trail ended.  The path we would follow was about 100 miles long, and we gave ourselves a week to complete the trek. Peter and I were in our twenties,  both fit and healthy, and itching to get out of the city, to walk through a wilderness that few people got the chance to see. It was perfect –  what could go wrong?

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Judgment

If I see life, the world, myself, and others without judgment, there is no good or bad, and everything seems and feels more peaceful in and around me. Judgment not only reinforces the blindness of belief, but also reinforces my rejection of what is. Rejection is suffering. If I am rejecting something, I will suffer. If I judge what I am rejecting, I will strengthen my attachment to suffering. I have never known a way to ‘let go’ of judgment, but have noticed judgement spontaneously falling away, when I notice my rejection and turn toward acceptance.

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Acceptance — The Road Less Travelled

Life becomes a much simpler journey when you realize that there are only two directions to take at any given moment, a fact that is often more apparent when you are confronted by a problem or crisis. One direction is rejection and the other is acceptance. People who appear to be involved in unconscious living tend to consistently opt for rejection, while those who seem to be waking up or growing up emotionally lean toward acceptance.

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Devil or Angel

There is an interesting story in Buddhism about “The Dweller on the Threshold.” In spite of the various ways it was described, I was given the impression that this Dweller is one vicious and ugly critter whose job it is to test the sincerity of the spiritual seeker.

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What is Awakening? Part 2

In my experience, waking up seems to begin with awareness of a “presence” in your life. Your physical world does not change, but the way you see it does. You might look at an object with your eyes, and register its solid appearance, but you are aware of the presence behind or beyond that appearance. Or perhaps you will be entertaining a belief in your mind and suddenly be aware of the presence beyond that belief, rendering the belief to be insubstantial, even meaningless. As the belief dissolves, awareness of the presence grows and you begin to realize that the presence is the awareness itself, and the awareness is You! Whereas before it would seem to you that you were looking out at the world from within your body, in the awakening stage, the body – and the very world itself – are now experienced as being inside the awareness; inside You. At this point a wonderful little awareness game takes place.

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Awakening

It must have been on a television program that I first witnessed someone being placed into a hypnotic trance. I don’t remember why the man was being hypnotized, whether it was simply an act or whether I was watching a documentary. What I do recall was the subject being guided to close his eyes and relax as deeply as possible. He was then asked a number of questions, to which he replied in a drowsy voice. Once the hypnotist was finished with his inquiries, he spoke the following words to the subject: “Now I am going to count to three and as I do so you will begin to awaken from your trance. When I reach the number three you will open your eyes feeling relaxed and refreshed.” At the number three, the subject opened his eyes, blinked a little, and then smiled.

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Chicken Poop for the Soul

A few years back I was leading a workshop in Malaysia, and sharing a story with the group about a farmer who had a bald spot on his head. Every day while he toiled in the chicken coop the perspiration made his scalp itch, so he would stop to scratch and rub his scalp. One day he looked in his mirror and noticed that his hair was growing back. He came to the conclusion that this was due to the fact that when he scratched his head he was inadvertently rubbing in chicken poop, which must have some miraculous hair-restoration properties.

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The Wasp of Knowledge

 When it comes to teaching lessons, life doesn’t seem interested in my schedule. I was twenty-one years old and coming home from my job as an office clerk. As soon as I walked through the doorway of the house I was sharing with two friends, I saw the wasp circling the ceiling light in the living room. And the wasp saw me.

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Abundance — Busting the Myth

For a long time in my life I had wrestled with the idea of “abundance.” Maybe it was because of the mixed messages that I gave myself about the meaning of the word. I was a member of what at the time was called “The New Age Community,” which seemed to be a large number of people involved in an attempt at integrating psychology, spirituality, mythology, natural healing, esoterica, the laws of manifestation and, for some reason, crystals.

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Monkeying Around in the Moment

As I get older, perhaps a little bit of wisdom trickles into me and I can perceive life from a different perspective. When I was younger, I would try to look into the future, searching for signs and messages to prepare me for what awaited me in the New Year. If I saw what I thought was a sign, I would assign specific meanings to the challenges that the omen predicted, in order to help me see a greater purpose unfolding in my life. I even decided that the first movie I saw in the New Year would represent the greatest experience that I would be given, and the second movie I saw would represent the greatest challenge I would face. Then I examined the astrological influences, and read the prophecies of other teachers and masters. All of these things I did simply to prepare myself and my workshop participants for what would come in the future.

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Believe It or Not

Some people need something to believe in. Others need to know.  Imagine that there are two women arguing about African bushmen. One says that she read about the bushmen and the fact that they don’t hunt when it’s raining, while the other woman argues that her husband visited a tribe who in fact went hunting, rain or shine. The first woman thinks that the husband did not visit the particular tribe to which she was referring, whereas the second woman insists that hunting practices are the same throughout all the tribes of bush people.