Consistently Aware

  • Journal Entry #17 — Seeing It Otherwise

Just being alive is seriously significant.

Still, we are always complicating things it seems.

As autumn weather delivers change to our doorsteps, I plan to focus on the wisdom of simple observation and connection with the unseen forces of the universe.

  • Without the courage and patience to listen below the surface of things–without the ability to wait trustingly–we are never baptized into the full depth of life.
    ~ Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

The willingness to listen below the surface of things is also seriously significant.

Yet, we tend to complicate “good listening.”

We rush to react.  We rush to interject an opinion, to offer (unsolicited) advice.  Or we rush to say something clever, compelling, or immediately think about agreeing or disagreeing.

Why not just relax, and grow in mindfulness instead?  Then we at least have a chance of becoming consistently aware of the habitual (damaging, dangerous, delusional, argumentative) thoughts the conditioned mind tends to produce.

This week, as I close out the 2013 journal called Seeing It Otherwise here in SunnyRoomStudio, I look forward to stepping back in order to live more deeply.  Stepping back from thoughts that don’t truly serve the universe.  The mind is a wonderful servant (usually), but it should never dictate our perceptions, assumptions, or reactions.  Only by living from our spiritual dimension can we experience the “full depth of life,” as Mark Nepo suggests.  And only from an enlightened perspective will we grow in appreciation for the ultimately invisible nature of the world.  Don’t be fooled, or taken in, by what is only apparent on the surface.  Don’t miss your own life.  ~dh

 Thanks for stopping by — see you next week!

  • My Studio Guest October 4th is author and friend, Shirley Showalter.  She has just published her memoir Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World and her guest post is about the spiritual journey her writing inspired.
  • I hope you will stop by to meet this gifted author and kindred spirit.
  • I also hope you’ve enjoyed Seeing It Otherwise … the 17 journal entries posted this year.  A spiritual journey is never complete, and forever unfolding.  How do you plan to continue your spiritual journey?  How will you fuel and sustain your spiritual practice?  How will you become consistently aware?
  • In October (on the 11th), I hope to launch a 3-month series focused on several authors and poets I’ve come to admire over the years.  I think you’ll enjoy this!  And in early 2014, a new spiritual journey will begin: theme forthcoming.      

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Sheer Willingness

  • Journal Entry #16 — Seeing It Otherwise

Your level of consciousness determines how you view whatever happens within you and beyond.

Wonderful work has been done in this field of study by David R. Hawkins, Eckhart Tolle, and many others.

Dr. Hawkins identified 17 levels of consciousness: everything from shame to enlightenment.  This perspective is useful because it explains why there is endless conflict in the world, and why everyone tends to see things differently.  Depending on your level of consciousness, for instance, the world can seem one way, or quite another.  Various “realities” abound in this context, and thus, we see the gradual evolution of the spiritual dimension within each person.

The tranquility in us, the peace in us, we have to call them. There’s tranquility
and calmness and peace and joy in us, but we have to
call them so that they can manifest themselves
. 
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

But as long as the world continues to create artificial labels and definitions for what can only be known as a sacred dimension beyond time and place…suffering and endless struggle will prevail.  With spiritual depth, there is awareness of the oneness of everything, including one source for all forms of life.  To presume to know more than that is merely a convenience of ego and the inherent limitations of the human mind.

  • It’s truly a matter of finding peace with “not knowing.”  And as a higher level of consciousness is realized, this kind of inner peace is largely automatic.  I’ve realized, for instance, it’s perfectly okay not to have an opinion about what is going on around me or on the world stage.  Remaining peaceful is preferable.  The world, as a mirror reflection of what lies hidden within each person, is certainly beyond our complete understanding when literal interpretations are desired.  An extremely fluid basket of perceptions, assumptions, and reactions doesn’t lend itself to useful comprehension.  In fact, such a dynamic environment is largely beyond prediction or thought.

John Lennon put it like this: If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.

He might be right.  I would just add, if everyone “found peace within” and lived from that perspective 24 hours a day, there would be peace.

  • It comes down to willingness.  Sheer willingness.  When I am willing to dwell in peace and function from a peaceful spiritual center, peace is all around me.  Maybe not on the global stage, but even at that level of organization, I can understand why conflict continues.  Various levels of consciousness produce vastly different needs, desires, priorities, values, beliefs, and so on.  Why wouldn’t there be conflict on a world stage comprised of individuals with various thoughts, emotions, abilities, ideas, and ideals?  So obviously there is a purpose behind the confusion, chaos, and madness.  Perhaps it is to encourage the development of higher levels of consciousness.  ~dh

 

Thanks for stopping by — see you in a couple of weeks!

Seeing It Otherwise is an online spiritual journal for 2013.  Together, we are exploring perceptions, assumptions, and reactions.  It’s a great opportunity to journal or meditate on the ideas and questions presented.  Blog posts serve as brief journal entries every other Friday morning.  Thanks for being here!

Next journal post: September 27th.

  • Comments are welcome when open, but I encourage inner dialogue as well … or more importantly.  Thanks, have a great week!

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Allowing Space

  • Journal Entry #15 — Seeing It Otherwise

It’s funny how our world is so utterly wrapped up in “doing” — in producing and maintaining a ceaseless tide of activity.

Have you ever wondered what actually motivates all of this, besides survival and mere habit?

I, like many, am still learning how (and when) to step away from it all.  How to truly notice how much “stuff” we were merely programmed to do — as children, as youth, as young adults.

It’s always liberating to experience that moment of true awareness — that inner reminder that activity should always be balanced with inactivity.  With something deeper than a preoccupation with the surface dimension of life.

Doing and being.  Yin and yang.  Working and resting.

  •  We are here to find that dimension within ourselves that is deeper than thought. ~Eckhart Tolle (Findhorn Retreat: Stillness Amidst The World)

It’s also funny how often we tend to ask: “So what have you been doing?”

But sometimes we put the question this way: “So how have you been?”

I appreciate the second version of the question.  Somehow, it better communicates an understanding for the whole person — the many dimensions of life that should be important to all of us.

  • It is not enough to be busy.  So are the ants.  The question is: What are we busy about? ~ Henry David Thoreau

I’ve always enjoyed delving into the spiritual dimension, into the unseen and the deeper aspects of existence.  Because by and large surface activity is all about repetition.  And thus, it often lacks substance or creativity.  Of course, if you have found your spiritual dimension, even repetitive tasks can be handled with equanimity and a sense of quiet joy, because you know there is more to life than the activity at hand.

But spiritual contemplation is also something I like to weave into my day.  Clearly, it’s as important as any routine activity.  And probably more important than the many activities (or events) that we are continually “looking forward to.”  For one thing, whenever we are “looking forward” to some time or date in the future, part of our attention is elsewhere.  We’re not fully present in “this moment,” because we’re always so eager to assume that some “future moment” will be far more enjoyable or important.  It’s usually a fallacy, but the mind often insists on dwelling in the make-believe nature of an imagined future.

  • Spiritual contemplation, however, keeps me focused on “this.”  And “this,” no matter what it is, is always enough.  It is always complete.
  • Spiritual contemplation also rewards me with a sense of connection to everything beyond time and place.  It illuminates the dark corners of life.  It continually inspires.
  • Spiritual contemplation isn’t about “thinking” though.  It’s really an experience of something beyond what I’ve been taught or learned.  It doesn’t merely entertain.  (How many hours a day do we “think,” just to entertain our restless minds?)  Spiritual contemplation, for me, is profound union with the life force within; it connects all the dots that our minds continually stew about to no avail.  It rejuvenates.  But  many can’t seem to quiet their minds enough to even sit still for a while, or they choose not to quiet their minds, believing in every silly thought as though it were “reality.”  Or perhaps, on some level, they believe that continual activity is something to be worshiped and pursued without question.

The next time you feel overly drawn to continual surface activity (meaning you have built your entire identity around a list of activities you engage in), ask yourself why.  It’s a great question for meditation, or for spiritual contemplation.  Dig a bit deeper into your daily agenda.  How much of it is truly necessary, life-enhancing, or peaceful?  How much of it flows from societal (or family) expectations you grew up with?

  • Who is living your life anyway?
  • As Tolle reminds us: “We are here to find that dimension within ourselves that is deeper than thought.”  That dimension isn’t about “we did this” and “we went there” … over and over again ad nauseam.  And it’s not about skating on the surface of life and believing that’s all there is.  But it is about stepping away from habitual “doing” … that’s the world of robots, isn’t it?  Spiritual contemplation honors the life force that allows for life to exist in the first place.  It’s also a good way to disengage from old mind patterns; those even you are tired of experiencing (let alone the people you interact with regularly).

If you want to keep it really simple, just try to look within long enough to consider a different way of perceiving one small thing about your life.

What opinions can you let go of?  What beliefs haven’t changed since you were very young?  How many of your assumptions about “doing” are you willing to challenge?  Is your ego prodding you along, primarily?  Doing less can be a wise priority in life.

  • When I allow for space, as much as possible, in each day, I create more opportunities for spiritual contemplation.  Like an open window, or a vast, open landscape, space and stillness allow for something new (something deeper) to emerge.  Something that brings me closer to truth–closer to the mysteries of the universe–and, yes, closer to something that is well beyond mere words. ~dh

Thanks for stopping by — see you in a couple of weeks!

Seeing It Otherwise is an online spiritual journal for 2013.  Together, we are exploring perceptions, assumptions, and reactions.  It’s a great opportunity to journal or meditate on the ideas and questions presented.  Blog posts serve as brief journal entries every other Friday morning.  Thanks for being here!

Next journal post: September 13th.

  • Comments are welcome when open, but I encourage inner dialogue as well … or more importantly.  Thanks, have a great week!

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Beyond Certainty

  • Journal Entry #14 — Seeing It Otherwise

Closely observe your thoughts for a single hour.  Longer, if you can.

Did the word certainty pop up?  Probably not.

  • But in observing your thoughts, how many are actually focused on creating more certainty in your day, your week, your life?

Of course, it’s pointless … seeking certainty.

We are constantly broken apart by experience. To reconcile our humanness means we are ever learning how to accept our suffering and to restore our Wholeness.  ~ from Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, Mark Nepo

Glancing out at our garden, at flowers that are fading, at mums–golden, purple, orange–getting ready to bloom, it’s apparent that the wheel of time never pauses.  And if time never pauses, why do our minds lead us to believe we can create meaningful (or lasting) certainty?

Autumn is already edging its way into our awareness.  Still August, late summer, but each day, we sense the shifting colors and temperatures that are imminent.  That much is certain.  But only because the weather and the seasons are largely beyond our control (with the exception of the ongoing, strongly debated, impact of global warming).

  • When it comes to just about everything else, certainty is often temporary, at best.

Life is temporary.  Always uncertain.  Always in motion.  Always in the process of change.  And, as Mark Nepo points out, “we are constantly broken apart by experience.”

Restoring “wholeness,” however, isn’t a matter of restoring certainty … and that’s where we seem to go astray.

  • Wholeness, to me, is knowing my spiritual dimension is as real, as relevant, as the visible world around me.  And when I can bring the two into alignment, harmony is inevitable.  Internally, externally.  But seeking certainty, trying to create the impossible, in other words, actually makes this kind of alignment that much more difficult to realize.  The need for certainty also causes us to focus on all the wrong things.  It causes us to overlook the present moment in search of a certain kind of future.  And it stands in the way of  true creativity.  The more we can let go of expectations of certainty, the more freedom we feel to explore the depths of our being.  To discover our true spiritual nature, as Buddha put it.  Going beyond the kind of certainty we “think” is important, I can sense the infinite nature of the universe.  ~dh

 Thanks for stopping by — see you in a couple of weeks!

Seeing It Otherwise is an online spiritual journal for 2013.

We are exploring perceptions, assumptions, and reactions.  It’s a great opportunity to journal with us or meditate on the ideas and questions presented.  Blog posts serve as brief journal entries every other Friday morning.

I hope you are enjoying this close-up of life and spirituality.  Thanks for being here!

Next journal post: August 30th.

  • Comments are welcome when open, but I encourage inner dialogue as well … or more importantly.  Thanks, have a great week!

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Real Mountains

  • Journal Entry #13 — Seeing It Otherwise

Incessantly, and often much too quickly, we simply react.

We proclaim that something is “good” or “bad,” and maybe we pass judgment so quickly we don’t even pause to take a deep breath first.

Certainly, there is a time and a place for quick reaction.  Emergencies.  Intuitive nudges.  Creative sparks.  And so on.

  • But all too often automatic reactions create a needless stream of stress.

Likewise, it seems that habitual reactions (or mindless behavior) can prevent us from growing.  They keep us stuck in the past.  And in spiritual terms, when we are on “automatic pilot” … unaware, unconscious, unawakened, closed to change and spiritual exploration … we don’t see what is right in front of us.

“Like those in the valley behind us, most people stand in sight of the spiritual mountains all their lives and never enter them, being content to listen to others who have been there and thus avoid the hardships.” ― Robert M. Pirsig, American writer and philosopher, and author of the philosophical novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values

What spiritual mountains are in your path?

Are you walking around them, away from them, or just closing your eyes?

  • I decided to climb them.

The view isn’t bad; it’s getting better all the time.

Funny, too, because I’ve never thought of myself as much of a mountain climber.  But it’s sort of like discovering the very reason for my existence.

Sometimes, when the climb is steep and my view is clouded, I pause to wonder why most of us spend our lives caught up in “surface activity” … until something points to the compelling (and beautiful) mountains ahead.  The loftiest ones ever seen, or imagined.

In the presence of eternity, the mountains are as transient as the clouds. ~ Robert Green Ingersoll

When we’re children no one seems to explain to us what these captivating mountains are all about; spirituality is perhaps discussed, but maybe only indirectly in terms of a specific religion (which is not the same as spirituality), or maybe in ways so infrequent, so superficial and meaningless, that we simply don’t understand what the adults are talking about.

  • It usually takes significant life experience for us to figure things out — to see what is right in front of us.

Even then, if we are constantly “reacting” to the world, instead of “responding” from a place of true inner awareness, we may be oblivious to the call of the spiritual mountains that are merely trying to get our attention.

  • As I am able to quiet the mind, reactions slow, space arises, and I can let go of the need to judge every moment, every idea — everything that passes before me.  After all, we are all adrift on a planet named Earth; we are all part of a universal story that is forever unfolding.  And maybe the spiritual mountains are the only real mountains to be discovered.  All else, a tempting mirage. ~ dh

Thanks for stopping by — see you in a couple of weeks!

Seeing It Otherwise is an online spiritual journal for 2013.

We are exploring perceptions, assumptions, and reactions.  It’s a great opportunity to journal with us or meditate on the ideas and questions presented.  Blog posts serve as brief journal entries every other Friday morning.

I hope you are enjoying this close-up of life and spirituality.  Thanks for being here!

Next journal post: August 16th.

  • Comments are welcome when open, but I encourage inner dialogue as well … or more importantly.  Thanks, have a great week!

faviconBlog by SunnyRoomStudio: all rights reserved.