True Freedom or Relative Freedom?

In America, we value freedom.  It is our highest ideal, and the founding principle of our Constitution, the basis of law for our country. Soldiers fight and die for freedom with their bodies, while civilians and lawmakers fight for freedom with their words.  Yet, with all of this emphasis and desire for freedom, do we actually know what it really is?

What we usually consider ‘freedom’ is not true freedom.  It is a limited type of freedom, a relative freedom.  It is limited because if you try and push your freedoms as far as they will go, you will soon find that there will be a limit to what you can do and say.  Some of these limits are formalized and written, while others are more social and unspoken.

Our freedom is relative because it only exists depending on certain circumstances and in certain situations.  For example, the freedom that someone may have at one point in time can easily be taken away at another time.  Wartime is a great example of this.  During times of war, many limitations are put on an individuals’ freedom. Also, throughout American history the rights of certain groups and sometimes of everyone have been limited or taken away altogether.   The Alien and Sedition acts, the internment of Japanese Americans, African-American slavery etc. Clearly, the relative freedoms we enjoy are not true freedom.

So what then, is true freedom them?  True freedom is not conditional, not relative, and is not limited.  It does not depend upon a particular form of government or living in a certain country.  It cannot be given by anyone, and therefore cannot be taken away by anyone.  True freedom is the freedom of liberation.  Liberation from our limited body, and from our conditioned mind which is contaminated with ignorance and delusions.

True freedom is an experience beyond this physical world. It is an experience of the absence of limitations. It is like pure spaciousness; an inner experience of peace. Since it does not depend on controlling external things, it can never be taken away. It does not need to be fought for, because no amount of fighting or killing will ever bring it about. All that is needed is the wish to be truly free, and the wisdom to recognize what true freedom really is. Once you have this wisdom, you will no longer seek relative freedom, and true freedom will be yours.

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Heroes and Heroines

There are many heroes and heroines in our culture. One in particular that comes in mind is Superman. Superman is a true hero. He gives up his own well being, safety, and self concern for the sake of others. He has compassion, even for the ‘enemy’ that he must fight. Yet at the same time his is still human-he has doubts at times and sometimes is confused as he tries to find his way on his path. But he never gives up, and eventually he is able to find his way and discover who he is and why he is here. And like a true hero or heroine, one of Superman’s greatest gifts is to inspire others to become like him. Other heroes and heroines are the same-Wonder Woman, Katniss Everdeen, Luke Skywalker, etc.

All of us, from all walks of life, can become true heroes. Some may be firefighters, police officers, soldiers, or doctors. Others may be teachers, parents, friends, spouses, gardeners, healers, bank tellers, or a cashier at the convenience store. But no matter what we do externally, we can all let go of our obsessive self concern and instead dedicate our lives to the service of others. Whenever we let go of ourself and are there for someone else, releasing our self concern for the benefit of others, then at that time we are a hero or heroine.

We will not always be perfect. At some moments we will be a hero, and at others we may be very deluded. We will often times make mistakes. We may have certain negative parts of ourselves that seem to keep holding us back. But we definitely can overcome our inner demons, no matter how big they are and no matter how long it may take. No matter what mistakes we have made in the past, it is still not too late to be a hero in the present. We all have the potential to be someone who is completely free of self concern, entirely unfettered by confusion and darkness. We can all go on the internal journey of facing and overcoming our inner demons.
When we sincerely embark on this path, then we are taking the hero’s journey.

Imagine what our world would be like if we all chose to go on the hero’s journey, and change our ordinary way of living into the life of a hero or heroine?

Program Your Mind

Program Your Mind

Here’s the bad news: As a human, you are a programmable computer. Here’s the good news: As a human, you are a programmable computer. Let me explain.

First a quick review of computers. Computers are basically machines with hardware and software. The hardware is everything physical, such as electric circuits, the electricity flowing through the circuits, microchips, etc. The software is the non-physical component, including the programs and software you use for work, games, etc. The hardware is pretty much fixed, but you can alter the software by changing the commands (code) which run the program.

Now for the humans, (minds and bodies specifically). We are basically the same, but our hardware is biological (brain and nerve cells), with the exception of electricity flowing in our nervous system. What is our software, or programming? The mind! In other words, our thoughts, beliefs, feelings, perceptions etc. And just like we can change the code in a software program and get a different experience when using the software, we can also change the programming of our mind and have a different experience in life.

This can be bad news because if you have bad programming (negative thoughts and beliefs), then you will be having bad experiences. Also, if your thoughts and beliefs have come from others who are trying to control you, then your experiences will be dictated by them.

However, this can also be great good news when you fully realize that simply by changing your programming for the better (positive thoughts and beliefs in your mind), your experience in life will be enjoyable.

So here’s the nitty-gritty. How do we actually go about reprogramming our mind? If we understand the process of how the mind creates experiences, then we can change a part of that process in order to alter our experiences.

Here’s how the process works:

1.) The mind creates a thought
2.) The thought is believed to be true
3.) The corresponding feeling is experienced

Pretty simple, right?

Here’s an example:
You’re going to a party, and when you walk in the door all of a sudden you feel nervous. What happened here? It seems as though the nervous feeling arose out of nowhere. But actually the three-step process mentioned above was happening, although very quickly. If you slowed down your mind at the moment you walked in the door, you would see something like this:

1.) A thought such as, “Oh no, look at all those people!” This is basically the same as thinking, “These people are scary, I might get hurt somehow if I talk with them.”
2.) You believe this thought to be true. These people REALLY ARE scary, and you REALLY might get hurt by talking to them.
3.) Your mind creates a fearful feeling based on this belief, and you have a fearful, nervous experience.

Once you understand this process and see it happening in your own experience, then you can change it by altering either step one or step two. You could alter step one by changing your thought (instead of, “Oh no, look at all of those people!” you can think, “Awesome, look at all of these cool friendly people I get to hang out with!”). Or you could alter step two by recognizing that your negative thought is simply a thought, and choose not to believe it.

For some people this reprogramming can work very well once they’ve clearly seen how the mind is literally creating their experiences by this three-step process. However, many people often have trouble with altering their negative thoughts and/or beliefs, often because they are very ingrained or they are believed very strongly. If this is the case with you, don’t worry. There is a method that is very powerful for uprooting even the most deeply entrenched negative thought patterns and beliefs. The method is called Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT for short. It is an aspect of the new developing field called Energy Psychology.

In a nutshell, EFT applies the technique of fully expressing your subconscious negative thoughts and feelings in conjunction with tapping various energy points on your body (mostly the head and torso area). This powerful combination of psychological and energetic methods allows you to quickly and easily release the negative programming from your subconscious mind. As a result, you are freed from negative thoughts and beliefs, which in turn frees you from negative feelings and experiences.

It’s really just that simple. Acknowledge your negative thought and belief pattern, allow it to be felt while at the same time tapping the energy points on your body, and experience the joy and freedom of having it released from your system. In other words, you become the programmer of your own mind! I’ve used EFT for many different aspects of my life, and I can tell you that it definitely works.

What I’ve explained is the basic process, but to really use EFT effectively you either need to get a good book on the subject or work with a practitioner who is trained in the technique. A quick Google search can help you with either one, but here are some recommendations:

The Promise of Energy Psychology: Revolutionary Tools for Dramatic Personal Change, by David Feinstein, Donna Eden, and Gary Craig

Improve Your Eyesight with EFT by Carol Look

The Tapping Solution by Nick Ortner

Tapping Into Wellness by Kathilyn Solomon

Happy programming!

©2016 by Awakening Wisdom Light

Photo CCO public domain

Compassion is a Powerful Protector

Everyone has heard of compassion. We know that it’s a good thing, and that we should try and have it whenever we can. We have images of people from the past who have had compassion, such as Jesus and Buddha. We also know about compassionate people from more modern times, such as Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Therasa, Martin Luther King Jr., and others. If we’re lucky, then we may have had the chance to meet or be in the presence of someone with great compassion.

We’re usually aware of how compassion benefits and protects other people, because this is it’s main function. But are we aware of how compassion can also be beneficial to the person who has it?

One of the best things about compassion is that it protects you. How can compassion do this? One way is that it protects you from your own and others’ negative energy. Every state of consciousness also has an energy that it produces. When you’re in a negative state of consciousness such as anger or depression, you can also feel the associated energy. The energy of anger is very fast and destructive, and it moves to cause harm. As the energy of anger moves, it takes control of your body and rushes out to harm, either verbally or physically. Sadness or depression also has its own associated energy. It is more slow, lethargic, and debilitating. It is generally moving inward, eventually causing a state of emotional immobility, where it feels difficult to be motivated to do anything.

However, the energy of compassion is much different. This energy is very alive. It can also be moving outward like anger, but the energy of compassion moves to bring peace and happiness. And unlike anger, depression, or any other negative energy, the energy of compassion is always peaceful for the person who has it. In fact, if compassion goes very deep, it can be experienced as a very pleasurable type of bliss, maybe even better than sex. Who could say no to that?

And as if this were not enough, the energy of compassion has other ways to protect you as well. Have you ever noticed how when a person walks into a room, you can feel their energy? When an angry person walks in, you can feel that. And when a very peaceful, happy person walks in, you can feel that as well. You can also notice the interaction of energies between two or more people. The person with angry energy often attracts other people with angry energy, even if unconsciously. These two people then often need to fight either verbally or physically, because their energies are the same and are attracted to each other.

But what happens when a person carrying around a lot of anger comes into contact with a very compassionate peaceful person? Their anger becomes subdued, and they can even become transformed if the other person has a strong enough compassionate energy. Either way, the person with compassion is protected from the person with anger. Being in the state of compassion is like having your own personal bodyguard!

Compassion has other benefits as well, including:
-it empowers you to create positive change
-it gives you great confidence
-it dispels fear
-it transforms your own negative energy
-it’s good for your health (due to its relaxing effect on the body and mind)
-it helps you to be in a positive, peaceful state when you die
And last, but not least…
It feels GREAT!

So how can you have this great mind of compassion? It’s very simple. All you have to do is simply notice that other people are suffering, and wish for them to be free of that suffering. You can imagine them being completely free from their current state of suffering, and how wonderful that would be. If you do this, you will start to feel the peaceful and transforming effects of compassion.

Enjoy!

©2016 by Awakening Wisdom Light

Photo©2008 by Hartwig HKD

CC BY-ND 2.0

Is thinking Really Necessary?

Thinking is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. It’s the one thing that is everywhere, yet nobody seems to truly notice or talk about it. In fact, it is so pervasive and all-consuming, we don’t even realize that it’s happening. We just feel like it’s part of our reality. We are usually thinking nonstop, even when we don’t need to be. But ask yourself:
Is thinking really necessary in order to take a drink of water? To walk across the room? To put away the groceries? Or can it happen completely naturally and spontaneously, without the need for any thoughts? Do you actually need to think, “OK arm, move to that class. Good. Now lift the glass to my mouth. Good. Now drink the water, swallow.” Of course not. But what’s usually happening while we do something simple like drink water is we’re thinking of something (usually a lot of somethings) that have absolutely nothing to do with drinking water!

Try doing an experiment: Do something simple like reaching for a glass of water and taking a drink. See whether or not it is possible to do it without needing to use thinking. Go ahead. Reach for the glass of water, take a sip, and put it down. What did you notice? You may have found that it’s entirely possible to do something like taking a drink of water without thinking a single thought! Your arm just moves to the water, puts the glass to your mouth, drinks it, and puts it back on the table. It just happens, you don’t need to think about it to do it.

And this is the same for many other actions as well. Putting away groceries, taking a shower, making dinner. Instead of thinking, you can simply perform the actions while noticing what you see, hear, feel, etc. In other words, you just focus on your senses, leaving your mind and thinking completely out of the picture.

If you do this, life changes into a miracle, because you suddenly become aware of all these things that you didn’t even know were happening! The sound of the bags wrestling as you put away the groceries, the sound of your footsteps as you walk to the living room, all of the thousands of colors and textures of the various objects you see in your room, various sensations in your body, etc. A deep sense of peace and quiet starts to become apparent, no matter what you’re doing.

It also becomes like watching a movie, where the self you thought that you were is just a character, and everything that is happening is just scenes from a movie. You’re just a present awareness witnessing it all happen.

If you encounter any fear when doing this practice, it’s only because you’ve been used to living in your thoughts, and now you’re starting to live somewhere else, in your senses. It’s the same as if you were moving to a new place you’ve never been to before, and you were apprehensive because you were so used to your old home and way of life. But soon enough, you get used to it and your new home becomes normal. It’s the same with letting go of your thoughts. Just give yourself some time, and let it be gradual.

So is thinking really necessary at all? Just for a few things. Math, talking, deciding what to eat for dinner, etc. But as soon as you’re done using your thoughts for the purpose that they are actually needed, you can simply put down your mind, just like putting down a tool when you’re done using it. Because that’s what the mind is – a tool to be used by you. But if you’re thinking the other 98% of the time when it’s not necessary, then you become the tool.

Don’t be a tool, be free.

©2016 by Awakening Wisdom Light

Photo©2014 by ChristoMichelpher

CC BY 2.0

Love and Attachment

 

Differentiating between love and attachment can often be difficult. They are usually very mixed together, so pulling out the attachment from the love is a skill that needs to be practiced. Here is a comparison of the two, to help get some clarity.

Love is feeling like you already have what you need, attachment is wanting because you don’t have enough

Love is a feeling of peace and happiness, attachment is a feeling of being disturbed and agitated

Love is feeling happy right now, attachment is looking forward to something that will make you happy in the future

Love is a feeling of energetic connection between you and other people, attachment is a feeling of lack of a meaningful connection and wanting to have the connection

Love is a feeling of fullness and that you don’t need anymore, attachment is a feeling of emptiness and that you do need more

Love is focused on others, attachment is focused on yourself

You can have love for anyone and everyone, you can have attachment only for certain people

Love protects you, attachment harms you

Love makes you feel safe, attachment makes you feel afraid

Love last forever and leads to connection, attachment is short-lived and leads to loneliness and isolation

However…

Love and attachment do have something in common – any person can have either one, no matter what religion, culture, beliefs, etc. We have a choice…

So choose love!

©2016 by Awakening Wisdom Light

Photo©2010 by Boris SV

CC BY-ND 2.0

Consciousness is Beautiful

Beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder, which is true. People find beauty in music, nature, a person, fashion, an idea, and many other things. But there is always one commonality among people, even if they are experiencing different objects as beautiful. They are all having an enjoyable experience. One may find beauty in the sound of a waterfall and the clear blue waters of the sea, while another absolutely loves the designs of human made structures like houses and buildings. Someone may enjoy the simplicity of taking a walk in the woods, while another can’t get enough of the technical intricacies of a semiconductor. But either way, each person who perceives beauty is also experiencing enjoyment.

But what is it that actually makes the experience of beauty enjoyable? Why do we love gorgeous sunsets, tropical beaches, attractive people, beautiful music and poetry, and all the rest? Whenever you see something beautiful, there is something magical happening. Many people are likely to miss it, but if you pay attention you will see. Whenever you have an experience of beauty, you are actually getting a sneak peak at consciousness.

This is because beauty is not something tangible, something with form. Beauty is formless, just like consciousness. Beauty itself IS consciousness. When you recognize the beauty of something, you are actually recognizing consciousness-both in yourself and in the object. Usually we misperceive the beauty as belonging to the object (beautiful mountain, attractive person, lovely music, etc.), but actually the beauty belongs to the consciousness itself.

In fact it is one of the most wonderful aspects of consciousness. It’s one of the reasons why if you have the good fortune to meet a spiritually realized person, you notice that they are happy all of the time. Since they have had such a deep realization of consciousness, they experience beauty no matter where they are or what is happening. Imagine what it would be like to experience continuous joy, as if every moment were like listening to a beautiful piece of music or taking a walk in the most gorgeous places on earth. Imagine if every time you saw someone, no matter who they were, you perceived them as being incredibly beautiful and attractive. What an amazing life!

Try an experiment to get a taste of what this can be like. Throughout the day be on the look out for anything that appears beautiful to you. When you do, take the time to stop, be quiet, and notice the beauty. Try and be aware of the beauty itself. Not so much the form that seems beautiful, but the actual experience of beauty that is happening along with the form. If you do this, you’ll notice that your mind starts to become quiet, calm, and peaceful. Gradually the beautiful object will not seem as important as before, because you will experience the inner beauty of your own consciousness. In other words, you come to rest in the beauty itself.

This is the way consciousness is beckoning to you, trying to draw you in. It is using beauty to try and call you back to your true home. Will you answer the call?