Moving from Resentment to Forgiveness

CaptureToday, I choose to shift my focus from resentment toward forgiveness. I recognise that forgiveness is a gift I give to myself. It is an opportunity for me to release the energy that holds me hostage, and distracts me from growth. As I forgive myself, it becomes easier to forgive others.

Each moment is an opportunity for me to release a limiting belief or fear, and to forgive myself for holding me back from experiencing the full potential of that moment in the past.

I know that my experiences are the result of my thoughts. And without a need for blame, I recognise that there are times my thoughts take a less productive turn. And that’s alright, because it’s part of the experience of learning. But I also realise that I am free to choose new thoughts.

forgiveAnd so today, I choose thoughts which free me from the decisions of my past… which bring new possibilities and reinvigorate my journey, rather than distracting me from it.

I let go of resentment I have felt toward those who have let me down. I release the need to punish those who have hurt me. I know they were doing the best they could, and their mediocrity and lack of commitment is their business… their lesson to learn… not mine.

I am limited only by the barriers I create in consciousness. And so I release those barriers now, and recognise my essential nature as Pure Awareness.

Today, I allow ease and compassion to guide my thoughts and energise my actions. I celebrate the limitless potential that exists in the present moment, and choose to mindfully turn my awareness to that moment… to live from that place alone… which is the source of my power and potential.

I forgive myself and others effortlessly, and let go of the old stories that held me captive.

The wisdom of the Buddha points out that holding onto anger is like holding onto hot coals, but hoping that the other person is the one who feels the pain. It’s like drinking poison, and expecting the other person to die from it. And so it’s time for me to let go of these foolish endeavors and resentments.

I’ve allowed another to hold the pen that was writing my story. Today, I choose to write a NEW STORY, in my own hand…

And as that story unfolds the joy and abundance that are my birthright begins to express in every experience… every turn.

Forgiveness comes easy and release gently follows.

Finding Clarity in the Midst of Terror

terrorI won’t pretend to understand why some New Thought and Dharma teachers have gone silent about the concerns that so many are facing right now, especially in the United States.

I’ve personally been dismissed by some of them, when I shared that I too struggle with emotions that are very real, over the prospects of one of the most dangerous sociopaths this world has seen since Adolf Hitler taking office in one of the most powerful roles in the Western World.

Sometimes I think it’s that they don’t know what to say, and are not really willing to allow themselves to go down that road. That’s where New Thought gets a bit mixed up with New Age fluff — where we pretend that we have to think all unicorns and rainbows and everything will be magically OK.

fearThe difficulty I have with that is that magick can be a temporary fix, where the transformative power of the Science of Spiritual Living is permanent and universal in scope.

I also think that sometimes experience (or lack thereof) plays a role, as does a fear of being controversial and unpopular. Those whose White Privilege has never caused them to experience real prejudice or oppression might not have the personal framework with which to truly empathise with the men and women whose civil rights and human rights are at stake.

This doesn’t mean that those teachers are not concerned, nor that they wouldn’t be first to step forward and stand on the front lines with us in solidarity. But when the going gets tough, I don’t honestly believe I can count on them not to turn and run either.

So where do we go from here?

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You’ll Never Set the World on Fire When It’s Soaking Wet

build-fire1When you’re building a camp fire, the first thing you do is to find a safe and suitable spot. You clear away any debris, and usually build a ring of stones or cinder blocks around the are to create your first pit.

Then you begin to gather the wood you’ll need to start and sustain that fire.

You search for “seasoned” wood. That is to say that you look for wood that is not too green… not wet… and suitable for a good long burn.

Somehow we don’t always approach our spirituality with that same diligence. We attend a few lectures or classes. We might be part of a denomination’s services for six or eight months. And then we set out to set the world on fire… in one mud-puddle after another.

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Thirty-Three Years Later… It Is Well

zweb-contactIt’s curious, really… In November of last year, I passed the 32 year mark of having been told that I was infected with what would later become known as AIDS. This morning, as I looked at the medical reports from the Emergency Room on Monday night, I realised that 26 years ago today, my partner Ronn was rushed to the hospital with what they originally suspected to be aspergillis (a fungal infection of the lungs), with the same symptoms I now have.

I’ve lived more than half my life — over 32 years — with full-blown AIDS, and have dealt with the emotional distress of profound grief for exactly half my life. On May 10th, 1983, I was savagely raped and beaten by four Haitian immigrants, in South Florida, where I’d gone to escape eight years of sexual abuse at the hands of four Roman Catholic clergy (including an archbishop). So I’ve lived for a little over 35 years as a sexual abuse survivor.

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Anger – Let It Go

angerThe Buddha is said to have taught, “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

Anger is part of the experience of life. It’s a benign emotion, which only becomes harmful when we act irrationally upon it.

Practitioners of Zenkondo follow the advice of my beloved Root Guru, Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, who taught us to calmly explain to the person who angered us how that makes us feel, and why.

She would tell us that when you explain your anger, instead of expressing it, we open the door to compassionate solutions, understanding and a deepening of the love that we are, instead of arguments and the battleground of the ego.

Anger left unresolved is as harmful or more harmful than inappropriately expressed anger. For the Enlightened One again reminds us that we are not punished for our anger, but by our anger.

Through the practice of mindfulness we can begin to realise that this journey is not so much about what we gain, but about all that we lose… Anger, Depression, Insecurity, Attachment, Fear, Anxiety and Hatred.

So how do I deal with anger when it arises? Like this…

Not only do I mean that I “let it go”, but when it’s something deep-seated, I find that taking a ten minute walk and listening to music is the simplest, healthiest and most effective way to diffuse the hostility and attachment, leaving me in a frame of mind, where I can think through solutions, and see the other person’s perspective more clearly.

Be well. Breathe. And know that you are loved.

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A New Year begins…

black_buddhaAs a new year begins, I am reminded of something the Enlightened One once taught his students,

“An enemy can hurt an enemy, and one who hates another can harm him; but one’s own mind, if wrongly directed and undisciplined, can do far greater harm than either of these.”

Are you willing to discipline your mind in 2015?

There is a prescription in the Tao, which says, “Kneel down, open your heart and hands. Give. Only emptied hands can then receive.”

If we take the time to still ourselves, and enter the fullness of the present moment, where our hearts, minds and hands can open and offer the world whatever we can to alleviate suffering, we free ourselves of those attachments, which may be preventing us from receiving the abundance that is our birthright.

We’ve all made mistakes in the past. Some of us have run away from our spiritual practices, when we didn’t like how uncomfortable it became to be held accountable. Others turned their back on community, when we couldn’t have our way. Some didn’t want to give up the extravagance of our materialistic world, or the abuse we were putting our bodies and minds through, and so we pushed our spiritual practice out of the picture.

None of that matters right now.

We are given a new opportunity in this present moment to step back onto the path. We have the beauty of this moment to make new choices, and to forgive ourselves and others, so that those things we cling to… which cause our hands to be so tightly clenched… can be released, and our open palms can receive the good that has been waiting for us all along.

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And that is why, each year, on January 1st, and again at the start of the Lunar Year (Chinese New Year), we open the doors to our contemplative community and welcome back anyone who has previously gotten off-track, taken a break, or walked away.

No need for explanations. No need for apologies or drama. You are and always have been welcome here.

This year is especially poignant, because the Contemplative Order of Compassion will begin a new chapter in its organic unfolding and evolution, and for this reason, we want to welcome home anyone who is ready to help redefine what it means to be a post-denominational, post-religious, contemplative community, dedicated to sustainable living, the six dimensions of wellness and cultivating the disciplined mind.

Jai Ma!

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Awareness of the Path and its ultimate purpose

kashiboardwalk

When we speak of awareness of the Path, we sometimes become distracted, and imagine that the Path is all that matters.

This mindset can get us in trouble. We might believe that wisdom, compassion, virtue and service are the foundation of our Dharma practice, and that is as it should be. But we must also realise that these four pillars, when erected upon the bedrock of concentration, are merely the means of getting to what the Guru ultimately desired for his students.

Awakening.

I pray your Path will always be well-lit, by the heart of the Guru. I pray that you are blessed with joy and abundance, and that you will always generously share from that joy and abundance, as you make your way from the Dharma to Enlightenment.

It is my hope that this Path of Zenkondo — the Primordial Way of Compassion — will continue to inspire you to serve with a full heart… to love… and to remain deeply rooted in the moment.

Namasté, Beloved!

Consider All Phenomena as Dreams

brain-connectivity-130802One of the teachings in the Tibetan practice of Seven-Pointed Mind Training tells us to consider all phenomena as dreams. This enables us to better understand that our perceptions are not always accurate, and helps to break the habituation of being reactionary, based on false-perceptions.

It’s about learning to recognise that at any given moment, our idea of reality is being interpreted through the cloudy, muddled lens of our dualistic perceptions, our fears, and chaotic data, stored on the hard-drive of our subconscious minds.

Think for a moment about someone you dislike a great deal. In your mind, you’ve probably created an idea that this person will be permanently bad, or distasteful, or even evil. Am I right?

As a result, your every interaction with that person is coloured by that perception. But your perception is no different that if you perceived that interaction while you were sleeping.

You see, while we sleep, the dream seems quite real… but the moment we awaken from the dream, we realise that it wasn’t so. These appearances, which make up our everyday experience, are simply our mind’s manifestations of confusion.

Dreams sometimes appear to be totally realistic, and have the ability to cause our pulse to race, our bodies to sweat and shake… even though they are not anything more than our thoughts.

In the same way, as practitioners of Zenkondo, we can train our minds to recognise that those experiences that play out in our ‘waking dreams’ are simply the result of our thoughts… illusions deeply rooted in our subconscious minds.

Viewing each phenomenon as existing by itself, completely independent of its surroundings, causes, conditions, and our mental labeling of it, is the same as regarding dreams as real. By learning to see every experience as a dream – whether good or bad – we organically lose our attachment to them. We relax into the moment, and allow Pure Awareness to arise within us.

Perception changes everything…

Umberto Eco[The following is an excerpt from an article originally appearing in The Barefoot Millionaire Journal. You can read the original article here.]

There are times, when all it takes is one simple, yet profound statement that changes everything in our experience. The recognition that our faulty perception is responsible for so much of the suffering in our lives and in the lives of those around us, can be a sobering wake-up call.

What if we learned that the world, as we perceive it, really is nothing more than a harmless enigma, and that by opening our hearts and minds to see that, we can free ourselves of the self-imposed limitations and terrifying, painful or negative perceptions that we’ve accepted as “reality”?

As we begin a new week, let’s strive to do so with the simple recognition that all phenomena are inherently empty… simple holographic projections… and that our experience will always represent nothing more than the current state of our subconscious minds. By releasing the chaotic data… letting go of the clutter, the fears, and the attempts to interpret that data as though, as Umberto Eco puts it, “it had an underlying truth,” we free ourselves to experience the world as it always could have been.

Vibrant. Whole. Abundant. And ever-changing.