Welcome to Round 2! See an explanation for how the Guiding Thoughts change for this round here.
Remember your Self and recognize the Love within you, the Love you are. See this Love as all you are and all there is, the reality of you, the reality of me, and the reality that is the Life of All. Honor this Love and this Life, and offer gratitude for Its Being. What Joy there is in Being!
A lot of times, I think, “I don’t know what Love even is…” I know I am kind, helpful, generous, and caring, but I don’t know that I am loving. That’s really hard to admit. Part of not knowing if I am loving, I think is because I expect love to be something specific, something overwhelming, powerful, and undeniable. This not knowing pushes me to want to know. I want to know the deep abiding love that makes all things right, is the comfort of mind, soul, and body, is Peace and stillness.
As with so many of the concepts on these Journeys, there is as much undoing as there is attaining, even with love. I am clearing away clutter about what I think love is, what it means to be loving, before I can even approach understanding what it means to be love. Is there a difference between Being Love and being a loving person? If kindness and compassion express love, then what is the experience of love itself? There is an experience of Love that surpasses all understanding and expression. There is an experience of love so deep and assuring, so peaceful and accepting: that’s what I am after.
People have written about this kind of love. Saints, gurus, teachers, masters; there are stories about ecstasy, about hours spent being lost in the bliss of love, about love overcoming fear. People sing about it, write about it. It must be something, it must be accessible.
As I was doing the Guiding Thought, I had a moment…it was a moment that was distant in my consciousness…but it was there. I read the first sentence almost like an order, like a commander was saying, “DO THIS.” When ordered in this way, my mind followed. It was distant, but present, this sense of my Self, the Love I am, seeing this Love as reality, within me, within you, within everything.
When I got to the last sentence about honoring this Love, and offering it gratitude, I felt the Love itself become a little more solid, a little more rooted in my mind. I realized it does not matter how small the spark of awareness is, honor and gratitude fan it. Love is enhanced when I feel thankful for the love and the recognition of it.
Love is always with me. I focus my whole Self on being entirely with Love. I tune out distractions and place my entire focus on simply being with the Love that is always with me. This is the return. This is eternal Comfort and Peace: Being with Love, as Love is with me.
In the distractions of modern life, it can be difficult to just be, much less, to just be with Love. I think sometimes about monks or sadhus or anyone who has devoted their life to just being with Love. Sometimes I wish I had that life. How nice it would be to not have to fight against distractions! But then I think…”No… I like my life.” Being a monk is not what I am here to do… >and I pause and think about my life, really feeling the truth of “I like my life”…<
I practice Shiva Nata (link to practices/shiva nata page), the dance of Shiva, which is a sequence of spiral arm movements in different patterns. It’s sort of like rubbing your belly and patting your head, but 100 times more complex. One of the benefits of the practice is to disrupt embedded patterns of the mind, so the mind gets used to unexpected shifts and patterns, and that carries over into daily life.
One of the teachings of Shiva Nata is that if it’s too easy, you’re not growing. If it’s too easy, your mind has become accustomed to a pattern, fallen into a routine, and is no longer growing in new ways. It’s all about always changing it up: Stand on one foot! Breathe in on alternate movements! Find a word to say with each different position (and remember them!)! Hop up and down! Spin in a circle! Make it fun! At the end of a practice session, which only needs to be 5 or 10 minutes, sometimes it feels like my brain has been jumbled (in a good way).
I was reminded of this teaching about “If it’s too easy, you’re not growing” as I was doing today’s Guiding Thought, because I was finding it very difficult to be with Love. I was sitting there, being with Love, and my arm became uncomfortable, so I had to move it…then I had an itch…then my leg cramped…then I had to shift my butt…and all of these little discomforts took me away from justbeing, and I knew it. So I dragged my mind/body back to focus…repeatedly.
Today’s practice was a microcosm. When I am out there in the world, and I have so many other distractions, recognizing a distraction reminds me to reel myself back in, drag my mind/body back to focusing on what is real, what I want, to be with Love always.
I also realized that I like to experience challenges. I mean…sometimes I don’t like it, because challenges can feel really uncomfortable, sometimes threatening, and sometimes really scary. But I like challenges because I can feel myself growing and getting stronger, overcoming them or distractions more and more in daily life. I can only handle the challenges I have today because I successfully took on challenges in the past.
I think sometimes even people on a spiritual path can get complacent about growth. They reach a certain place where life works pretty well, the meditation (or whatever) keeps them in balance, their emotions are in equanimity, they can handle pretty much everything that comes their way…and why not? This feels good. I know I like it when life buzzes along effortlessly. Like I said, how nice it is to not have to fight against distractions.
I realized that distractions keep me focused on what I want, which is…Being my whole self with Love. Distractions keep me vigilant and diligent to always keep my mind focused on Love, on the One Will. Distractions keep me working; they keep me always expanding so I can always handle more.
Today, I am thankful for my distractions and my challenges keeping me focused and reminding me to continue returning to eternal comfort and peace.
Gratitude makes all things new! When I am aware of my Source in Love, I see its activity everywhere. It is the Substance of Life itself! I am in the flow and create and expand with Love, in Life!
How often have I asked, “How do I know?” How often has the skeptic voiced its concerns about this consciousness process?
Today, and perhaps only for today, I feel like I have answers.
First, one way I can know I am in the flow, or on the right path, is I feel relaxed and at peace. My mind is not struggling, my thoughts are not overwhelming me; the circumstances of tension and antagonism driving me forward are still present, but I am calm within them.
This raises the question, “How do I make decisions I can feel at peace about?”
And for this, there is another mini Kant lesson:
Kant formulated what he called the moral imperatives. An imperative is: something one must do (the means) in order to achieve a certain end. A moral imperative is what one must do to achieve moral ends.
Kant says that for morality to be universal, everyone must follow three maxims. They are paraphrased here, but the original is in The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals:
1) Ask yourself, “Can my actions be universalized without contradiction?” Or, if I take a certain action, what would the world be like if everyone acted that way?
2) Any treatment of people should be both as a means and as an end. Or, do not use people as a means to a personal gain. Each person has their own end—respect them for that (if for no other reason). [For Kant, this is the basis of treating everyone with basic human dignity]
3) Every person is both means and end (see #2). When everyone acts in consideration of everyone else’s means and ends (universalized action, see #1), we are acting in accordance with the Kingdom of Ends, which is the harmonious action that respects and dignifies all of humanity.
For me, the very first maxim is shaky. How do I know (there it is again) if my action can be universalized? And how can I even imagine what the world might be like if everyone behaved as I do? Maybe some people don’t like the way I behave…. There’s way too much wiggle room for justifying personal (selfish) actions in the name of “The world would be a better place if everyone acted like this”, even if people did follow the second and third maxims.
These maxims rely on people to be fully reasonable and rational. Kant was, but many people are not and even the ones who are can think and perceive irrationally, especially to justify their own ends.
So, what can I do in the moment to make choices I believe to be the best for all (universalized)? Here’s what I’ve come up with. Unlike Kant, these are not maxims, dictates, or directives (which Kant does address in his writing on duty and free will); these are questions I can ask myself in any moment, any situation, to help me know if my actions or decisions are the best I can do right now, to serve a universal end (which for me is Love).
1) What do I serve?
2) What serves me?
3) Toward what end do I utilize what serves me?
Think about this in your own terms. Come up with your own thoughts. Be critical for yourself of how I’ve put this together—thinking I’m “wrong” may be a stimulus to come up with what is right for you (that whole antagonism thing).
For the first, there are several religious/spiritual ways I frame it:
What do I serve?
“Man cannot serve both God and money”
[Okay, so I know what you are asking yourself: “With all her talk about Unity and Oneness, why this sudden shift to duality?” The beginning of the answer (for there is a lot more to it) is that when the mind is making a decision (like, “What do I serve?”), it is already in a mode of duality. Until all minds are healed into Oneness, humans remain as they are: perceiving, judging, comparing, making decisions. This exercise accepts the mind as it is, and prompts it to be conscious of the direction it takes, when it makes decisions.]
Today’s Guiding Thought says, “I am in the flow and create and expand with Love, in Life.” For today, my choice in answer to this question is: I choose Creation/Life.
What serves me?
The answer to this is whatever comes up, at any moment. What is serving you right now? For me: this pencil. This fire. This notebook. The sun. My breath. These thoughts.
Most of the time, what serves you is very simple; in a sense, everything you experience serves you, every moment…just look around.
How do I utilize what serves me?
This is the “walking your talk” question. If I say in question #1 that I serve Life-Creation, then how I use what serves me must also serve Life-Creation.
All of this then becomes the answer to the question, “How do I know.” Because if I use the things that serve me toward life and creation, I am being internally consistent; I experience Life and Creation with all of the Joy, Peace, and Harmony that comes with it (even in the midst of struggle or antagonism). If I say I serve Life, but then utilize things that serve me in a way that is directed toward destruction, I am internally inconsistent, and will experience conflict, dis-ease.What choices do you make?
What actions do you take?
Where are you already consistent? Where can you become more consistent?
For what ends (outcomes) are you most grateful—ones of creation, or ones of destruction?
Can you make choices that will lead you to greater gratitude?
I seek only to Love in Unity. Love is Pure in Oneness. Let me Love All including myself in Oneness, that I may Know gratitude as the result of Being Whole in Love.
Immanuel Kant talks a lot about the “is” and “ought” – who people are, and who they ought to be, the Present moment and the future Ideal. It’s kind of the Kantian version of being and becoming.
In his essay on Universal History, he talks about this in the context of History. History has a Purpose, which propels humankind forward. For Kant, Nature is this Ultimate Purpose, the Immortal Expanse, all that humankind is moving toward. He says “man” must first choose to become the master of his own “universe”, the master of his own life before he can serve Nature’s Ultimate Purpose.
Even so, nature is always in charge. Regardless of human struggle, regardless of friends or foes, competition, gain, or survival everyone is simply in Nature’s plan.
Yet, the relationship between humans and Nature is dialectic: Nature is only fulfilled through Human striving, and human striving is fulfilled by Nature. Both are changed by each other. Fulfillment occurs only through each other.
The stimulus for this striving is antagonism. Through antagonism people become motivated to make things better. This becomes the tension between the “is” and the “ought” – the way things are, and the way people want them to be. This tension is both within man (between “animal instinct” and reason) and outside of man, in the imperfect institutions, economic, and social systems he creates.
People can’t escape the “is”, the antagonism, or the propulsion of Nature; humankind is just moving forward through the influence of these unseen forces.
So what can humans do? Can they control anything? Or are we all just caught up, uncontrollably in this movement?
Why did I go into a mini Kant lesson? It really describes how I’ve been feeling.
There’s something pulling me forward through tension, antagonism, and strife. I feel the pull, I can even imagine the “ought” – I can see there is something better, right up there, just around that corner…I’m headed to it, I know I am; yet here I am, caught in the is that is the tension moving me forward. I know there’s a purpose. Whatever this is, I know there’s a purpose.
Is there anything I can do? Or am I just caught up, uncontrollably in the movement?
According to Kant, I can become the master of my own little universe, and then my little universe can serve the purpose of Nature.
That’s according to Kant. I…need to think about this “solution” in my own terms.
For me, Love is the purpose. Love is what propels humankind forward. Love has an Ultimate end: itself. The tension/antagonism arises when I/people resist Love and its purpose, or choose something that is Not-Love or its purpose.
With this, I’ve been thinking a lot about purity and clarity. I feel like they are necessary for my current growth, for making my way through the antagonism and tension. Purity to me represents the purpose (the Ultimate end, the “ought”, Universal History, Nature, Love). Clarity is how well I see that purpose, how well I see through the antagonism, in order to move toward the purpose; there are always blind spots. I can only ever make the best decision I am able to, with the information I have.
But my intention, even within the strife of antagonism, can guide me.
I want only what is pure; pure love, wholly love.
When my intention now is the same as the purpose, I find greater clarity. It’s like two magnets are lining up, a magnet for the “is” and a magnet for the “ought”. They pull toward each other, in cooperation with purpose, because what the “is” wants, and what the “ought” wants are the same. It’s not that antagonism or strife go away, it’s more that the path through it becomes cleared.
Life is beautiful. There is nothing other than Life. Life is within me; Life pours out from me. Everything everywhere is Life. Life is Being. I am Life. All that I am, I offer in praise and thanks to all of Life.
This Journey has been amazing so far.
Because I am focused on gratitude, attuned to it, I have been looking for ways to be grateful, even—or especially—in situations that are unpleasant or stressful. I can honestly say this is a new outlook for me! It has helped me find gratitude. More than just saying a cliché like, “every cloud has a silver lining”, I have been actively seeking out the silver lining, things to be grateful for.
If I weren’t on this Journey, I would not be recognizing the very small thoughts/feelings and behaviors for which I am grateful amidst daily life and stressful situations. For example, I had a meeting today that was pretty rough. In the middle of it, I remembered to think about Highest Divine Love and to bring Light into the situation. As I did, I thought spontaneously, “YAY! I remembered! I am so thankful for that!”
So much of the time, gratitude is about things and people, “I am thankful for my job…” “I am thankful for my home…” “I am thankful for my family…” In the moment I describe above, my gratitude expanded into a new dimension of itself: I am thankful for my attitude; I am thankful for whatever it was that prompted me to remember and to think Love and Light; I am thankful for the Love and Light that entered the situation; I am thankful for composure; I am thankful for integrity; I am thankful for keeping my mind on Truth and Love, that it can now think those things all on its own; I am thankful for whatever I have done that got me to this point of remembering amidst swirling chaos and severe misperceptions.
Before that moment, before the moment of being thankful for remembering, my internal dialogue would have questioned this way, “What did I do to get here?” “What actions/thoughts lead me into this situation, experiencing this?” “What karma am I working out here, now?” “Am I creating new Karma?”
Instead of this, the internal dialogue was—for just a moment—more like, “I’m here! Here I am! Experiencing! Being! And I am doing it the best way I know how… and with Love and Light!”
And I was thankful for that! Because in that there is acceptance of and surrender to what is.
I’ve been working on surrender for a while…and there it was! Out of the blue! In one of the most stressful meetings I’ve ever had.
I’m not sure if this had anything to do with my momentary shift into gratitude, but I had been having passing thoughts all day, prior to this meeting, about Jesus. Here are some of the thoughts, in brief:
1) Jesus was completely innocent. All of the charges brought against him were bogus and trumped-up. Yet, he didn’t defend himself against the charges. He just said, basically, “Whatever you say.”
2) Jesus was so terribly abused when they took him…more terribly abused than I have ever been physically or emotionally. How did he endure?
3) Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” “Forgive other people when they sin against you.” “…whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” How was he able to do that? …he did it…however it was done… he set the example.
I don’t have any interpretation for these thoughts. I don’t know what they mean in the context of my day. I just know they were there in the background. And, I’m thankful for that, thankful for Jesus, for his example…thankful that I am here, learning through His examples, as I face my own challenges of mind and spirit, trying to be brave and do what’s right.
When I look within and see the radiance of Love, I remember my wholeness. I am wholly loving and wholly lovable. In the purity of Love lies peace, which I share with all in gratitude.
We all share the radiance of love. Love does not discriminate; in love, all are equal. The love within me is the same love within you. The radiance is within us all.
When I see/remember the love within me, I am able then to recognize the love within you. But that’s not all…when I see the love within you, the love within me becomes stronger! We are only whole together!
Where does it start? Where does it end? Does our mutual recognition of Love just reinforce itself within each other infinitely, like two mirrors facing each other showing infinite reflections?
My wholeness resides in love, recognition, and sharing. Love depends on me for my recognition and sharing. At the same time, I depend on you for your recognition and sharing; my wholeness is incomplete without your wholeness, which you cultivate through sharing.
Hopefully without sounding too utilitarian, it is in my best interest to cultivate my own awareness and recognition of the love within myself, so that I am able to recognize it within you and to share it with you, then we can get that mirror-thing going.
That’s why the sentence, “I am wholly loving and wholly lovable” is so important for increasing my own awareness and acceptance of myself as love.
In this regard, love is like a fractal. Fractals are mathematical equations, which, when drawn compose a figure made up of smaller “parts” that are identical to the original. (see http://fractalfoundation.org/resources/what-are-fractals/). The whole and the parts are the same. The love within me “grows” as a fractal, producing “parts” identical to it. This also happens within you and at the same time, the love within you is also identical to the love within me, and we are both “parts” of a larger construct, which is not complete without all of us being wholly the love we are.
When I am aware of my Self of Love, I see the world through new eyes. Love is the Source of all I see, all I experience; it is the very activity of Life itself. I place my faith in the principle of Love and receive with gratitude all my experiences.
Love and its activity are the only things that are trustworthy.
Experience is so shaky—it’s relative, it fluctuates; people seem unreliable and inconsistent. What do I trust? Who can I rely on? How can I maintain a state of gratitude when there is so much inconsistency?
Most of our perception is created through a divided mind. Our outlooks reflect this division. When the mind is confused, going over and over possibilities, past experiences, and potential futures, these thoughts become the source of experience. They overshadow the Love within, because more attention is put on these thoughts, rather than on thoughts of Love.
Awareness of the Self of Love shifts that attention and replaces those various, varying thoughts of possibilities with thoughts that inherently unify both the mind and body’s experiences.
Love is the only Source. It is the energy and vibration of each person, each soul, every being, every manifestation. Only thought separates people from knowing this Source through activities and interactions.
Thought induces perception. As we think, so we perceive. As we perceive, so we experience. Thus, when awareness shifts to the Self of Love, perception and experience follow Love’s inherent unity. We literally see the world through new eyes, new perception. Experience changes, as all activity coheres in our new perception.
Why does the law of attraction “work”? Because the more thoughts are generated specifically toward one outcome, they begin to overshadow the myriad miscellaneous thoughts.
How does manifestation “work”? It works because more thoughts are generated toward experiencing (receiving) one specific thing, concentrating thoughts toward one end, giving those thoughts dominance over the multitude of miscellaneous, varying thoughts.
These ways of focused thinking create mini-unifications in the mind, so the perceptions look for –and find—something specific.
Love does not need this specificity. Love itself is the ultimate unifier, the ultimate healer.
Thoughts of Love bring Oneness and healing to every experience; Love brings the most loving things into manifestation for all. Thoughts of Love do not exclude anything, as thoughts of attracting or manifesting do. This is why/how when ye seek first the Kingdom of Heaven (Love) all things are added unto you.
Why place faith in anything other than Love, when through Love every experience becomes one of Love?