Who Needs Secret Knowledge?

Making things simple can take a long time. We have pored over books, attended metaphysical services, classes, and workshops, met with advanced leaders only to discover that we are one with spirit and that spirit is here right now. The only special knowledge we need for that realization is the simple awareness that it’s true.

Be still and know that I am God. Or, be still and know you are one with the presence, and that presence is here now, always, and you cannot help but be one with the presence. There. No more books, no more services. No more classes, no more workshops.

Perhaps not quite so fast. In our daily lives, we can fall into the great forgetfulness. But lucky us, we can wake ourselves up again and again. A friend asked me, “How do you wake up? What’s the process?” We can use whatever brings up to awareness: meditation, prayer, chanting, stopping what we’re doing and paying attention to our surroundings, taking a walk, altering the pace of our breathing.

We experience peace in the wakefulness. I don’t know if our walking-around life gets better as we move to more wakefulness. I like to think it does, but that doesn’t really matter.

We can be of more use to others if we’re more conscious of the presence. In awareness, we can be of more use to ourselves in the world. Thankfully, drama dissipates – both the drama stirred up by our own little selves, and the drama of the world around us.

As we awaken, the world around us calms down. That makes it easier to be still and know that only the presence is real and I am one with the presence.

Is Faith Required for Peace?

What do you need to believe in order to experience peace? Does faith take you there? Many use faith to find peace. They experience peace through faith. Have faith in God, and God will take away your troubles and calm your mind.

For many faith becomes a blanket of divine substance and calming protection.

Yet faith in things unseen is not required for peace. Peace is at hand, in all of us at all times. In your true essence, you are peace. When you let go of the world, peace is what remains.

You do not need a belief system to find peace.

We can experience peace in meditation. In the breathing. In the exhale and the pause before the inhale. Peace becomes a presence.

For a long time, I thought that presence was something outside myself. Something I was reaching. Or something that was reaching me. Spirit. God. The divine consciousness.

No. The presence is not something outside yourself that comes to visit, then goes away.

You are the presence. The presence is your true existence. Your essence. Connected to everything.

We don’t have to struggle to connect. We are connected. We don’t have to work to find peace. We are peace. All that is required is awareness. Not religion. Not a set of beliefs. Not faith.

Over time, the connectedness becomes easy to experience outside of meditation. For it is you in your essence, as close as anything you can experience. Intimate. Essential. Here now. In every breath.

You cannot get this peace wrong, for it is you, and it is always with you. The peace is you. Your troubles are not real. Your thoughts are not real. And yet, you don’t need to let go of your troubles or your thoughts to experience your essential peace. For it is you, here, now, and it cannot be otherwise.

Peace of Mind Is Not Peace

Most people believe calming the mind is the path to peace. Per the quotation by Mahatma Gandhi in my last post: “There is no ‘way to peace,’ there is only peace.” And peace is not in the mind.

Peace is all around us. Peace is our natural state. The mind is naturally busy with all of its worldly worries, excitements, and plans. Deeper inside each one of us is true peace, the eternal peace that goes on regardless of the comings and goings of the world.

In time we can begin to see that peace really isn’t inside us. It’s all around us, everywhere. It only seems deep inside because at times it can be so hard to find. In the past, I have gone years with no awareness of the natural peace within and without.

We can work on calming the mind and not find peace. We can have a very busy mind and still experience peace. The mind has nothing to do with peace. It doesn’t matter if we feel good, bad, or indifferent. We are in peace at all times. If we just realize it.

This is what Jesus meant when he said “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” and “The kingdom of heaven is within you.”

That’s peace, and it is always with you. It has nothing to do with your mind. Many of those in spirituality work to calm the mind in order to feel peace more fully. For many, working with meditation and breathing helps.

But the mind doesn’t have to be calm in order for you to experience peace. Peace is simply not of the mind. Calming the mind does not necessarily bring peace, and a noisy mind does not necessarily disturb peace. The mind is temporary, while peace is eternal.

What Is Peace?

Definitions vary, but generally, peace of mind, serenity, and calmness are descriptions of a disposition free from the effects of stress or conflict. Many believe that inner peace is a state of consciousness or enlightenment that may be cultivated by various forms of training, such as prayer and meditation. Similarly, the state may be achieved through calming movement such as Tai Chi or yoga.

Buddhists believe that peace will be attained when all suffering ends. The idea is that suffering stems from cravings, aversions, or delusions. Leave these behind and you will experience peace.

Some call peace the absence of war or violence. Yet intuitively we know that peace more than the absence of something. Peace is a substance of its own.

Some believe peace comes through total involvement. Involvement distracts from the self. If you can let go of the self, you’ll experience peace. Yet you can’t find peace by simply distracting yourself from life. Virginia Woolf said, “You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”

The novelist Milan Kundera noted that “Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace.”
Gautama Buddha put is most simply – and probably most correctly: “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
As for seeking peace, Mahatma Gandhi said, “There is no ‘way to peace,’ there is only peace.”

I believe all of creation is peace. When we see creation as something other than peace, we experience something other than peace. If we let go of that misperception, we create space. Peace will fill that space unless we fill that space with something else.

Consciousness meditation

Relax now. Slow down your breathing and let the tension go.

As you slow down your breathing, your consciousness

shifts, just so slightly, and you will become aware of your body,

aware of this room and aware of your surroundings.

Focus on your breath going out.

The breath coming in will take care of itself.

As you breathe, your consciousness will shift just so slightly.

That’s all it takes. Just a small change in how you

experience being here, how you see and feel

your surroundings, just this moment, just now.

 

We are new here today, but we have always been here.

We are new here today, and we will always be here,

In this moment, now, breathing in and letting the air

all the way out. There is peace in this breathing.

Let it wash through your body. You are here now;

let yourself be at peace. Let all your concerns

go with each breath. There will be plenty of time

to address your concerns later. For now, let them go.

 

There is nothing more important than to be here now,

with your breath moving in and out of your body.

You are consciousness made manifest in your body.

Your body is consciousness. Your presence is consciousness.

Your entire being, your entire life, is consciousness.

Change one thing, and your consciousness changes.

Slow down your breathing, relax in your presence here,

and your consciousness rises. Be aware, and everything changes.

 

You are one with the consciousness that makes up this world.

The very fabric of this world is the very fabric of you.

You are part of all this surrounds you. You are not alone.

You are more vast than you could ever imagine. Right here,

right now, you go on forever. Your small self is an illusion.

You are part of everything around you and you go on forever.

 

You are more than your thoughts let you believe.

Right here. Right now. In this present moment.

You have always been here, and you go on forever.

We All Shine On

“Why in the world are we here? Surely not to live in pain and fear.” These are lyrics from John Lennon’s song, “Instant Karma.”

Lennon used intuitive powers to reach this metaphysical point. He knew about pain and fear and knew those emotions couldn’t possibly be the point of life. In the chorus of the song he repeats, “We all shine on.”

When you strip away the pain and the fear, we do all shine on.

In Ana Karenina, Leo Tolstoy said, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” He was right. Our pain and fear differentiates us. We’ve all heard someone say, “You don’t understand what I’ve been through.” They’re talking about their pain and fear. We never hear anyone say, “You just don’t understand how happy I am.”

We identify with our pain and our fear. We are not as quick to identify with our happiness or peace. We tend to see those as temporal.

When you strip away all our ego identification, our roles, our childhood pain, our adult trails, the addictions and compulsions, the obsessions and betrayals, when you take all of that away, there is something that remains that’s powerful, something that remains that we share alike. We all shine on.

It’s the presence. In the presence we are one. Our truest self lies beyond the particulars of our lives, beyond our likes and dislikes, beyond our promises and failures, beyond the short-lived triumphs, beyond illness, beyond our pain and fear. While our truest self may sometimes seem far beyond our reach, it’s actually right here. It’s here in the now.

When we strip away those things that are not our truest self, the pain and fear, we release our suffering.

What’s left when we let go of our pain and fear? The here and now, the happiness and peace, the love and acceptance.

To be here now is to demonstrate the awareness that is the same in all of us. All that’s left when we take away the pain and the fear is love and acceptance. In that we’re all the same, in that we all shine on.

Spirit Looking Through My Eyes

As time passes it becomes clear that I am seeing the world as spirit. The “me” looking out through my eyes has changed.

For many years, I invested myself in a world that didn’t seem like spirit at all. I tried to fit into the world, to make my way, to find love and love others, to be a good partner, a caring dad, to learn the workings of the world and help where I could. Those intentions were fine. I cherished them.

But the insecurity of falling short over and over was unbearable. And we cannot help but fall short.

The insecurity brought dread and self-loathing. I tried to sooth those painful feelings with alcohol. It worked for a while, but alcohol only works for a while. Then it quits working. After that, it produces its own dread and self-loathing.

I tried to wrestle peace out of the darkness of a world without spirit. A fool’s errand. There is no peace in darkness. I fell further and further behind in my goal of being a decent person.

Thank heavens a crash came. The crash was inevitable. It was my health. And surprisingly, it came with an overwhelming feeling of relief and a final, “OK, I give up.”

Surrender was all I had left, but I had no idea that surrender was a door, the only door. My surrender was followed quickly by healing. It was surrender and healing, over and over, day after day.

Once I was back on my feet – a bit wobbly – it was clear I had become a different creature. Something else was looking out through my eyes. And the world I saw had become a spiritual place. Now I know that it had been spiritual all along. My eyes were finally seeing the truth.

A friend observed that my spiritual awakening was not intentional. Indeed it was not. It came through a life-threatening health crisis. Nor can I credit myself for my recovery. Recovery came through medical science and sustained sobriety. I can’t even credit myself for the sobriety. When I awoke into this new world, all desire for mind-altering substances was gone.

So I can’t say follow my path. Please don’t. But I can say, the world is a spiritual place to the eyes that look out through me to the world. It’s a spiritual place for you as well.

Why Do We Seek a Spiritual Awakening?

Sometimes we actively pursue a spiritual awakening, sometimes we find ourselves drawn to spirituality without a clear idea of seeking something specific. Any number of things in our lives can prompt us toward spirituality.

Difficulties most often bring us to the spiritual. Dealing with addiction, abuse, family estrangement, financial stress. We begin to see that something in our lives has to change. In some cases, spirituality seems to hover in our lives, and we reach a point where it is finally time to reach out and connect to it.

In the song, “Suzanne,” Leonard Cohen sings, “Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water, and he spent a long time watching from his lonely wooden tower, and when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him, he said all me shall be sailors then until the sea shall free them.”

The most common answer given from those who seek spirituality is the desire for peace. People want an end to discomfort, pain, distress, anxiety, or depression.

Fear in its many forms may be the critical prompt to spirituality. In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis wrote that “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness.”

Elizabeth Kubler Ross said, “There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt.

So we seek love. And we find that the love we crave cannot be found in a relationship. We can bring love to a relationship, but we can’t get the real love we need from a relationship. We get the love we really need from a deep place within, and that’s where our spirituality resides.