The Art of Coming to Life

Many of you have visited museums, or art collections of some variety. Some of you prefer to stand further back, to take in the full scale of the artistry. You prefer to study the work in its completeness, as the details merely represent smaller parts of the larger whole in which you are ultimately interested in seeing. Others of you may be more inclined to stands closely to the work, to study its detail, to trace the brushstrokes. You want to feel the method and the thought to understand the completed work. From this perspective, your vision has clear limitations, yet you find you can study the minutiae. At this depth, you can learn the work more intimately. As you step back, you take in more of the imagery, more of the hue, more of the shading, and thus, learn how the brushstrokes flow into a larger, more elegant work. A step further back, another step still, and the work comes into focus. But, you know this work better. You know it intimately.

Right now, we are one inch from the canvas.

While some reformists, educators and counselors seek to accelerate the learning process by speeding up, we are going to accelerate the learning process by slowing down. Take your time. Intelligence and enlightenment have a way of showing themselves to you according to their own schedule, so rushing the process is worthless. If we go too fast, we will miss the point as we pass it. If we slow down, we can grab its reins when it passes us by.

As we move through these postings, lessons, and articles, move at a comfortable pace. Read and reread statements until they become clear to you. Think about them. Let them linger awhile in your thoughts. Then, when you have the opportunity, put these methods, thoughts and ideas into practice.

There are many subjects we could address first. However, at this point, I find it best to use the broadest strokes. So, what subject divides and unites more of us than any other? What subject to we all have in common, if only held in common by our totally differentiated beliefs on the subject? What is the one subject on which anyone, and everyone, has an opinion? God.

Initially, I welcomed all of you, Atheist or the Devout, to this forum. This greeting still applies. Whether or not you believe in God, as defined by popular opinion, really is of secondary importance. However, what must be understood is that we all, Atheists and Nihilist included, have our own God. Before you scoff, allow me a moment to explain. Before we delve into this topic, I want ALL of you to strip away any predetermined meaning from the word “God,” and pretend as though this is the first time you have ever heard the word. I will show you why we all have a “God,” by varying definitions, and we are all perfectly correct and perfectly incorrect about whatever our definition is of God. Let’s begin by a brief examination of our atheist friends.

Atheists, like most other belief systems, are partially correct and partially incorrect. The Atheists viewpoint primarily serves as a rebuttal to the positions held and the deities defined by Jeudaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and virtually every other major religion. Why is this? The Atheist mind shares much in common with the Seeker’s mind. Why should this come as a surprise? The Atheist rejects the idea of God, true enough. But, is the Atheist truly rejecting God, or rejecting God as defined by others? Atheists are typically disillusioned with modern religion, as they see the “Gods” represented and the followers of such Gods as being often sinful, hateful, judgmental, and often hypocritical. Most Atheists would agree with the words of Mahatma Gandhi, who said “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Atheists are very typically highly intelligent, and love to debate with devout religious followers of any faith. In fact, many atheists know more about the religions “practised” by many of those with whom they debate. I find this very interesting, however. If one is so disillusioned with religion, why then do Atheists make the point to educate themselves on the subject? One could say that Atheists like to arm themselves for spiritual discussions, which could be true on one level. However, doesn’t the passion held within a seeker’s heart lead him to seek? Why then, are the Atheists seeking like they do? There must be passion in their heart, on some level. Innately, they know that they are RIGHT in saying that no one has correctly defined God. God is beyond definition, if he/she exists. Yet, they don’t believe in God because they haven’t felt the hand of the supernatural in their own lives. “Where is the evidence?” says the Atheist’s mind. Well, the Athiest mind that rejects others’ definitions of God is also seeking proof of that same God’s existence. They want God to exist, but they don’t want to believe in God because they don’t want to be like those believers. Who could blame them? Yet, in doing so, they walk out of one box and into another.

My first point for the Atheists, and non-Atheists, is this; Stop Defining God. The only way one can find God is to cease seeking definition of God. Atheists don’t see the works of God because they are deeply seeking the same God that they have been taught to hate by other Dogmas. This is the God they know. But, Atheism itself is, or can be used as, a Dogma. Atheism itself comes with its own set of rules, what one can do and say, and what one can not do or say. But, Atheists are so close. If they could only give up defining whether or not they BELIEVE in God, God would have the chance to define his/herself to them. What would Atheists say if they found out that God did exist, with certainty, and that God was just Love in its purest form? Better yet, what would CHRISTIANS say? (oh, the drama!) Would it not be possible at that moment that many Atheists would have lived more Godly lives than Christians? Are there not many deeply loving Atheists? Are there not many deeply hateful Christians? Yes, there are both. I have met them. You have met them. So, is the loving Atheists, who rejects God, really rejecting God if all God is is unlimited, fully passionate, creative Love in its purest form? Furthermore, if an Atheist lives in this manner, and God is truly unbridled Love, does it matter if the Atheist publicly professes any support for a Dogmatic “God”? I say, no, it does not. To love life and to practice love is to love God, whether or not anyone is aware.

So, therein lies my first challenge. To the Christian, the Atheists, the Seeker, or anyone else reading; Stop defining yourself and stop defining God. If you do not believe in God, this should make even more sense for you at this point. By human nature, we are so limited in our perceptions that we could not possibly be correct in defining God. If he does indeed exists, he is outside of definition. If God is God, he must be limitless, without bounds, complete Love, complete knowledge, complete existence, of which our minds can not fathom. Those of you who are devout, it’s fine to continue practicing as a Christian, Buddhists, or otherwise. However, stop being mind-intentified with the paintings that depict God as an elderly grand-father throwing lightning bolts at whoever disobeys him. God doesn’t do this. Humans do this. Stop humanizing God. You may finally see God, for the first time. The walls separating you in hatred and judgement from the rest of your brothers will begin to crumble. Your relationship with God and humanity will not die, it will come to life.

When You Understand God

The primary roadblock separating believers (of any religion) and non-believers is often perception. Doubts or lack of belief in God typically stem not from a lack of belief in the God, but rather a lack of belief in the God others have described. The mind of the skeptic is highly adept at picking apart stories of a Dogmatic God because they simply don’t make sense. The skeptic is much closer to the Truth, in this regard, than the highly devoted religious follow. This is why often non-believers who experience God at a later point, whether through a near-death-experience or some other cause, often have the easiest time moving quickly along the spiritual path. They moved beyond Dogma before they ever discovered God, instead of first believing and wading through multiple misinterpretations and misunderstanding of who God truly is. The easiest way for a non-believer to eventually realize the existence of God is to first abandon all strongly held thought patterns about who or what God may or may not be as prescribed by any sort of Dogma. Nothing can describe God, and often organized religion confuses and disillusions seekers early in their pursuit. Instead of defining God, seek God for yourself and learn to feel the truth.

Some of the non-believers with the greatest potential to reach others are those with a scientific mind. Science is simply the study of what is symbolized in the Bible as the “Tree of Knowledge.” Imagine this massive tree, if you will. Imagine the multiple limbs, leaves, the detail in the trunk, and the roots running deep into the ground. Now, picture one area of science as being one limb of this massive tree. Those who are adept at a scientific field have stepped out on the farthest reaches of this particular limb. However, knowing all and knowing God is not found in the limbs, leaves or trunk. God is the root. God gave birth to the wonderful science that surrounds us. We breathe science, touch it, visualize it and experience it not because it is the antithesis of God, but rather it is God’s greatest gift to us. Our experience on this planet, the ability to experience 3rd dimensional reality and our ability to study science is the physical proof that we were given free will and a playground on which to experience it. Science is the blessing by which we can better understand this life.

The separation of Science and God (not religion) is one destined to end. It must. Science is moving further and further into the study of consciousness, and the deeper they venture, they will find the only way to solve some of the greatest mysteries in our universe is in admitting that there is a greater consciousness and energy that we cannot comprehend. They will have to call it God. I likely believe we will look back and say that the study of Black Matter was the tipping point where even Science said “We can’t explain this. There must be a God.” God is consciousness. God is the first consciousness from which our consciousness was derived, along with our creative ability and ability of abstraction. It is that very abstract nature that has kept us from understanding God, but a time is coming when we will all celebrate the acknowledgement that the Truth has been within us, and we’ve been successful in bringing it out.

Elements of Collective Social Change

The majority of social tension comes from the top and flows down throughout society. The leaders set the trends and the mindset, and condition the followers to mirror them. It stands to reason then that nearly every opinion, thought-form, belief and idea held by most citizens is conditioned and, in fact, not theirs. So, if you were once one of those people, or perhaps still are, find any question and ask yourself, truly yourself, what you believe. What do you really believe of war? I don’t want to know what your national pitchman wants you to think. I want to know, when you look through the lens of your own consciousness, what do you believe? What saddens you? What makes you hopeful? What makes you feel alive?

An important element in initializing social change is that we first recognize that we are, by designed, pushed into opposing corner from one another and given weapons to attack each other. Conflict is simply created by those who stand to benefit from it. From a common sense standpoint, am I more easily able to control a large group of people if they are united, or if I can segregate them and use them against each other? This is the nature of religious denomination, political parties, and other affiliations that appeal to the collective ego. The ego seeks approval, and finds it, when it blends in a crowd of like-minded individuals. This is one way in which is becomes satisfied and feeds itself. It further feeds and satisfies itself, once it has identified a collective presence through which it can exercise its power, by identifying other collective egos that oppose to its own beliefs. This gives the ego a chance to emphasis the otherness of others, therefore make itself right and others wrong. This can lead to anger, disagreements, crime, violence, murder, and warfare. Those who control the world do so because they are acutely aware of this knowledge, and use it to pit you against your fellow humans. How do you stop this? How do you seize back your own power? By refusing to burn bridges between yourself, or your collective self, and others.

Collective egos may manifest themselves in many ways. These include religious groups and extremists, political organizations, workers unions, collegiate affiliations and professional sports fans. Identifying the part of you that seeks the collective ego is the first step in removing madness from your life and others around you. While many may not see the similarity between religious extremists and professional sports fans, consider the recent activities in the United States. On opening day in 2011, a professional baseball fan was savagely beaten in the parking lot following a game where he simply wore a replica jersey of the visiting team, who he travelled to support. The man who was beaten, Bryan Stow, is likely to suffer long-term brain damage and remains in a coma from which he may never recover. However, this is not the first time such an event has occured. It happens quite often, especially in professional soccer where the collective egos can be quite powerful, that fans will resort to attacking opposing fans for little or no reason. What level of insanity resides at even the most basic level of the collective ego? Furthermore, have you expressed this yourself? How often have you expressed or even felt anger because you disagreed with someone of a different political or religious affiliation than you? Have you gone over the line of insanity because your college lost an important game, or your political party lost an election? It happens far too often in society that we build walls between groups of people based on eventually meaningless opinions and thought-forms. We judge on affiliation rather than the core of a person’s being. This is sickness and delusion at its most dangerous and darkest level.

Why do people do this? How can a seemingly innocent sports game or political rally turn deadly? The ego seeks to associate with the collective so that it can further identify itself. It creates a delusional state of purpose for the ego. Once we recognize this, truly see it for what it is, it becomes difficult to associate with any collective because our sense of self no longer relies on any sort of labeling outside ourselves. Awareness is the light that erases darkness. Awareness helps us to see it in ourselves and see it in others. We must first be aware that this exists on all forms of society, then be acute in our identification of it around us. Only by tearing apart these types of borders can we begin to ascend beyond the level of collective insanity that robs culture of it’s function and purpose.

Dealing With Conflict

Perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of spiritual growth is understanding how to react to conflict. Conflict can come from many sources, but most often I am speaking in terms of either personal relationships or inner turmoil over some outside influence and a decision to be made as a result. How must you react, in either situation, for both your own best interest and the best interest of others? The best react is often no reaction.

While this may sound as a passive approach, it is actually the most aggressive approach one can take to find the end of the struggle more quickly. In the case of personal relationship conflict, we must understand that we are mostly energy. The affects of our mind and our vibration on our environment are far great than the affect of our physical bodies. We share energy constantly. In fact, often times if we are within several dozen feet of another person, we can be said to be included in the boundaries of that person’s energy field. When I speak of a person’s energy field, I am referring to a shell of radiating energy that emits from each person. This energy is present at all times, and is the reason we can often feel that someone we know well is in a poor mood or is going through strife. Because of this energy field, we must be constantly aware that we are both giving energy signals that can be picked up by others and also receiving energy being sent by others. Understanding this is key to understanding what to do next. So, let’s consider an example. You come home and your significant other is at home. Something seems odd about his/her mood. Your significant other may even show hostility towards you, of which you may or may not be the cause. Commonly, we react angrily in these situations because our natural egoic reaction is to feel offended and take a defensive position. This almost always creates a situation where you now have two competing egos, each wanting to be heard by the other, and neither particularly caring to listen. Often when this happens, and the argument has subsided, you may not even remember what the cause of the fight was. Otherwise, you may remember it and now view it as trivial. At this point, the ego has exhausted itself in the fight, and present awareness has taken over instead. Think of this as similar to “buyer’s remorse,” where the ego creates a rush of adrenaline that causes one to make an ill-advised purchase, only to regret that decision once the ego is satisfied and once again relaxed. Well, in this example, you have purchased an argument with your loved one. You might say your apologies to one another and move on, only to repeat this process again.

How do you combat against this? If you notice tension in your significant other, do not be affected by the negative energy. Your goal at this point should be to mirror no aspect of the energy your partner is exhibiting. The ego is like a large fish that simply needs live bait before it bites. Don’t feed your partner’s ego. Instead, remain calm, even if your partner seems to be trying to lure you into a conflict. Go into another room. Find an interesting book to read. Whatever you do, emit positive vibrations yourself, and keep a watchful eye on your partner. After some time, the ego may disappear, and your partner may suddenly seem as though he/she is happy again. The ego waits to feed until a later time. This also allows your partner to feel as though they can come to you with problems, without fear of judgement or controversy. This type of understanding of the shared energy of the ego can create wonderful depth in a relationship.

You can react similarly if you feel strife within yourself. What if you are the one who is experiencing negative emotion, and you seek not to drag your partner into it with you? You must listen to yourself. Stay silent and trace your breaths for 60 seconds as you inhale and exhale. Think about the good in your life. Feel your pulse relax. Be aware of the negative thoughts, but don’t attach judgement to them. After a few moments of this, you may feel a calm come over you, or you may even forget why you were upset initially. It is in these moments that we realize we are susceptible to outside stress, but that doesn’t make stressors bad. Stressors are only bad if we react to them in a way that gives them, along with the ego, the upper-hand in determining our own well-being. From this position of power, we can more readily make decisions that properly deal with stressors without becoming emotionally involved or overly attached to the situation.

Listening

The most important quality one can have is to be an excellent listener. Most people think they are listening when they are, in truth, merely giving attention with their eyes while thinking of what they want to say next. How can humanity consciously evolve without the ability to listen? Furthermore, what is listening? Do we even know where to begin?

To listen is to be present. It is necessary to listen not only to people and their problems, but even more important to stories of celebration, of love, to the sounds that surround us in nature, to the wind, and to ourselves. But, how to we listen to ourselves? If we cannot listen to ourselves, we cannot listen at all. Listening to ourselves requires having the calmness to feel subtleties in our emotion, our vibration and our thoughts that otherwise would go unnoticed. Begin with perhaps 60 seconds each day, perhaps when you wake up, and just observe your breaths. Be a passive observer as thoughts begin to move within your mind. Do not attach yourself to these thoughts or judge them. Notice the sounds around you, but do not respond to them. You have all day to respond, to react, make the first 60 seconds about observing. Observe your thoughts, but do not judge them. Thoughts are never good nor bad, it’s only our attachments to them and the way we act upon them that make them so. If we watch them passively, if we truly listen to them, we become the awareness that is aware that thinking, feeling, and breathing happen. We move outside of form. We owe ourselves the treasure of spending at least 60 seconds observing what our body is trying to say to us. All meditation is a prolonged period of listening to ones self and observing what approaches our perception as one listens beyond normal capability. Listening is the mother that gives birth to meditation.

Once we have learned the basics of how to listen to ourselves, which we find happens quickly once attention is given to it, only then are we capable of listening to anyone else. Only by listening are we capable of true friendship or love. Recently, I sat outside a small Tapas restaurant with my wife, observing the conversation four gentlemen were having behind me. After some time, my wife and I became included in the conversation with these gentlemen, all of whom I would guess were between 55 and 65 years of age. Over three hours our topics changed vastly from sports, to economics, to spirituality, to politics and so on. During each discussion, I noticed one man said little, only observing with a slight smile on his face and acknowledging all sides of the conversation. I will call him Glenn. The few comments Glenn made were remarkably simple, yet profound and insightful. Two of the remaining three men peppered in occassional commentary while interspersing with their own side commentary with one another. However, one man dominated the conversation. Lou, as I will call him, was an intelligent college professor who was obviously highly educated and well read. However, Lou’s obvious intelligence was overshadowed by his inability to listen to anyone, including his three friends. No matter the topic, Lou had a wealth of intelligent quotations, comments and parables. However, I had the feeling that despite Lou’s intellect and factual knowledge, his words lacked meaning. Lou’s three hours of constant quoting and commenting moved me less than the 30 words Glenn spoke all night.

Why was this the case? I had the feeling Glenn listened. He waited to speak until he could intelligently speak with purpose, instead of merely speaking to be heard. Lou’s wise words fell on deaf ears, while I will never forget some of the words Glenn spoke that night. As Lou spoke, I found him restating comments multiple times, speaking over people, and stifling the conversation in the process.

So, what can be gained in hearing this? Wise men can sound foolish when they cannot listen, yet insist on speaking. A fool who listens is no fool at all. When we open ourselves up to the light of listening, we open ourselves up for the true sharing of intellect, opinion, energy and love. When we listen to someone, with all of our being, we can respond in the most appropriate way to better the situation. In this way, we can make listening a meditation, and make that meditation a friendship. Be present in your next conversation, even if it only lasts a few moments. If you make this a practice, you will begin to stand out above others for your ability to empathize and assist others. You may even be able to help a friend or two along the way.