Letting go 06: open to inspiration

My diet started to work when I realised I was eating to escape from negative feelings already in me, and that eating to escape just kicked the can down the road a little. I would end up with more negative feelings plus feeling unwell and being overweight.

I see the same dynamic at play when I cling to manifestations. I cling to manifestations to escape from negative feelings already in me.

The diet analogy

For my diet to work I focused on my body’s signs of genuine hunger, and treated everything else as “fake hunger”.

When I felt the desire to eat but without genuine hunger, I paid attention to the feelings that were motivating me. Just by feeling those feelings my desire to escape into food diminished.

But I also began looking for more healthy sources of enjoyment. I started to ask “what would I like to do?”, rather than just indulging in food.

I began to appreciate how clear and light I felt when I wasn’t escaping into food. Although it was daunting to live without the comfort of extra eating, it was also new and different for me, and this brought me hope of a better way of living and relating to food.

Everything is like this

When I cling to manifestations, that means I focus on manifest reality with an expectation that it make me feel better (escape) followed by disappointment and frustration when it fails.

Just like my old eating habits: eating to escape didn’t bring lasting escape at all. It was a failing strategy, and when I became aware of it I gradually grew unwilling to persevere with the same flawed approach.

If I approached all of reality with the same insight, I would have to see the whole dynamic: chasing manifestations to escape feeling bad, feeling bad anyway because manifestations refused to do what I wanted, feeling disenchanted and cynical until a new escapist idea emerged.

Chasing manifestations

Every mystic, including the Abraham-Hicks teachings, says that we need to find a place of happiness and satisfaction in God, our inner being, rather than chasing conditions and circumstances.

For us that might sound like giving up on our dreams and desires and worldly conditions. But the whole point is that we can’t really use these things to make us happy anyway.

Using food as an escape from feeling bad is no different from using manifestations as an escape. Later, when we’re feeling frustrated and disappointed and sad, that’s the manifestation equivalent of feeling bad about your weight or your eating habits.

But what about genuine hunger?

What is the manifestation equivalent of genuine hunger? I think it is inspiration. When an idea inspires you, you just enjoy that inspired feeling. You don’t need to do anything or make anything happen.

Inspiration arises spontaneously, and it may be prompted by manifestations but it is independent.

The more aligned with God we are, the more we feel inspiration calling us and uplifting us. We also become less and less willing to take uninspired actions.

Open to inspiration

The best we can do therefore is to be open to inspiration in our daily lives, while resisting the urge to use action and manifestation to escape negative feelings.

Learn to recognise the negative feelings that come before our escape attempts. Understand with compassion that we have been running from these feelings, but can now look for a better response.

The better response is to look for inspiration instead, knowing that the more we look for and tune into it, the more we will find.

Letting go 05: What is reality, really?

We think we inhabit a physical world with fixed rules based on observable forces and objects. But when we dig into this solid, enduring reality we find that there is nothing substantial at its core.

Molecules reduce to atoms, atoms reduce to subatomic particles, subatomic particles reduce to…what exactly? Measurable quantities of energy, properties of mass and charge, probability functions?

And if we go in the other direction, turning our attention back onto the observer, what do we find there?

No one has come close to reducing consciousness to something more tangible or physically explicable. The experiential core of your individual reality defies a material explanation.

Many people have encountered and contemplated this intangible reality of ours and there’s a consensus of sorts that however we explain both the subject consciousness and the objects or phenomena known by consciousness, the two cannot be truly separate and distinct in nature.

Non-dualism rules

This used to be my thing, but I got a bit cynical when this “enlightened” perspective didn’t yield any apparent benefits to me.

Back then I didn’t understand that I could feel better just by making how I feel my top priority. I didn’t yet believe that nothing is more important than feeling good. I didn’t know that feeling good is good.

I know so much more now, and it’s funny and satisfying to see old knowledge I’d let gather dust suddenly fall into place as a component of my happier and more aligned perspective.

So what do I have to gain from my unusual perspective of reality? What does it benefit me to see beyond appearances? What can I do better or differently now that I know how things work?

Vibrational reality

The upshot of all this is a different causality. A different kind of cause-and-effect at work in reality.

When we wish things were different, we tend to look at our circumstances and ask “but how can all this simply change?” We imagine physical laws and physical reality governing all things. We regard manifestations as dominant.

But this leaves no place for the miraculous. It leaves no place for revelation. It leaves no place for providence.

In the Abraham-Hicks teachings we are told that there is a vibrational reality waiting for us that is a perfect match to everything we desire – with the caveat that our desires will never stop expanding and evolving.

The only thing missing from that vibrational reality is…us. We are the only component that freely chooses whether or not to allow vibrational change within us. We are the only part of our reality that can resist the pull of our desires and the outpouring of love and blessings that is God’s response.

We resist this pull by focusing on the unwanted and misaligned aspects of everything. This habit of thought keeps us feeling disjointed and out of harmony with what we desire. It turns an effortless journey into an unpleasant struggle.

But the solution is easy. We just have to learn to let go and allow ourselves to be drawn into the new reality that awaits. We just have to let ourselves be part of the tapestry God is weaving on our behalf. We just have to let ourselves be taken care of, and enjoy being passengers on the way.

What could be more valuable than a deep and moving feeling of appreciation and love in your heart? Well maybe you’d like to be rich too. But only because you associate being rich with having feelings of freedom, joy, trust, confidence, appreciation and joy.

The audacious claim in the A-H teachings is that by finding those feelings you will allow that wealth to come to you. It’s not just that: whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be added unto you.

That will require letting go of resistance, including perhaps the resistance in your old view of “how the world works”.

Letting go 04: Metaphysics? It’s the vibe!

I’ve been really unsure about the Abraham-Hicks concept of “vibration”.

They say that we live in a vibrational reality, that the underlying nature of everything is vibration, and we create by our vibration relative to God’s; but I’ve treated all this as just placeholder metaphysics without really engaging with it.

Because I’d have wanted to ask “what is it that vibrates? And how does it vibrate?”

But looking at it now, I know that’s not the point.

The point is that there is a deeper level to reality and creation operates on that level and according to those principles.

Accepting vibration is important because it helps us let go of physical cause-and-effect and shift our perspective to one of detachment and deliberate creation.

Vibration means giving ourselves permission to let go of limiting beliefs about how the world works.

But there’s more

But that’s not all. If we accept that vibration is the essence of everything we experience and think and feel, then vibration is what we are truly working with when we change our thoughts and feelings and manifest reality.

It’s not necessary to translate our thought into words and parse it and thresh it out. It’s not necessary to pay attention to the details of our reality. We can refine the process to a vibrational work.

It’s the vibe

From a vibrational perspective, God/inner being is pure positive energy and constantly expands to become a vibrational match to our desires.

Our physical self is a vibrational match to whatever we are focused on. The discrepancy between this vibration and the pure positive vibration of our inner being is what we call feelings or emotions and it serves us as guidance to our alignment.

Everything we desire, all we really desire is vibrational alignment with God within us. We can accomplish this alignment by following the guidance of our feelings bringing those two points of vibration together in us.

That’s the essence of this work: that is where we allow thoughts to come, where we enjoy the most wonderful satisfaction and appreciation and love, and where matching manifestations must follow.

Letting go 03: problem-minded

Manifestations cannot make us feel bad, only thoughts can. So what thoughts am I thinking that make me feel bad occasionally?

I asked for clarity and the answer I received is that my whole outlook is problem-minded. I look at life as a problem I have to solve, and everything hinges on how well I solve it.

That’s a really familiar theme for me: many important subjects have had this exact same feel of “gotta keep working on it!”

And with this in mind I remember when it began. As a teenager I was simultaneously depressed and looking for something that would give me meaning, happiness, and belonging. My friends and peers all seemed to be enjoying life in ways that didn’t appeal to me.

Then one day I found a mysterious book that claimed “enjoying life” was a distraction and folly; that real meaning and happiness and fulfilment lay in spiritual awakening, and the sooner we set out on that path the better.

Finding spiritual truth, enlightenment, and closeness to God became my private obsession, but I approached it as a problem to be solved, the problem to be solved if life is to have any value or meaning whatsoever.

Life became synonymous with this struggle.

But the only reason you want that…

As with any other desire, I can now agree that the only reason I wanted to solve the problem of life was that I thought I would feel better in solving it.

And as the Abraham-Hicks teachings have shown me, I can feel that good already. Because even “solving the problem of life” is a manifestation, and it’s not manifestations that make us feel good, it’s our thoughts.

In setting up life as a problem to solve, I made “uphill struggle” part of my core experience. I gave momentum to the thought that life has a hidden truth that must be discovered and only the diligent and unrelenting will find it.

I told myself I was virtuous for ignoring and devaluing material possessions and worldly experiences, when really I was severely depressed and probably not strongly inclined to such things by temperament.

Find the feeling place

What do I really want? Ultimately I want to feel good. That’s really important to me. It always has been, but I used to think feeling good had to be earned or justified somehow.

Spiritual enlightenment is just about feeling good, knowing how to feel good, and doing it consistently. People describe different paths and methods and practices but I think those are just each person’s “how I learned to feel good” story.

I don’t have to solve any problems. There are no problems to solve unless I make them. Accepting this, it’s possible for me to simply walk through that door to a good feeling place…no password, no key, no code to decipher to merit entry.

I’ve been banging on that door for twenty something years, but it was always open and always will be for us all.

Seeking solace and fulfilment

When I used to practice detachment I would run into a problem of feeling bored and yearning for something more, yet I couldn’t think of anything in the world to satisfy that desire.

This is perhaps where my melancholic temperament shapes my experience, because melancholics are excited by ideals and ideals are hard to locate in physical reality.

…aren’t they?

Rethinking idealism

There’s no question that I am more excited by things like spiritual teachings and principles than material possessions and experiences.

Yet this dichotomy is informed by my own past belief that reality was dull and miserable. If what I’m longing for is the fulfilment of my exciting ideals, then naturally it’s frustrating and disappointing to believe reality can never rise to meet those ideals.

But the whole point is that manifestations are only a reflection of thought, and feeling guides us as to the alignment of our thoughts with God/inner being.

Hence quashing my ideals because I couldn’t see or even imagine them manifesting in my reality is, in A-H terms, like digging up the seedlings you just planted because they haven’t borne fruit yet.

Don’t go looking outside

My old frustration was guidance telling me my thoughts were off. And boy were they off! I was using my reality as the measure of my ideals, my excitement, my good feelings. I was shutting down my own enthusiasm because I didn’t know what to do with it!

What I can do instead is accept that my manifestation is a reflection of my alignment, and the profoundly good feelings I have right now are telling me I am aligned with God/inner being.

It feels good to know this now. It feels good to know and to see that manifested reality is a perfect match to what I’m feeling right now. It is wonderful to know at last that I don’t have to go searching for something to justify, anchor, or explain this inner peace and satisfaction and ease.

Criminalising cowardice: the ethics of school shootings

My latest article on MercatorNet is about Scot Peterson, the former deputy and School Resource Officer who seemingly failed to respond appropriately during the 2018 Parkland school shooting in Florida.

Peterson was arrested this month and charged with child neglect, facing as much as 97 years in jail if convicted.

It’s an emotional topic, with professional standards, scapegoating, and questions of cowardice and heroism adding to the weight of these unprecedented charges.

The Active-shooter Training demands outright heroism from police officers. It would take great courage to run towards the gunfire instead of away from it, and in line with the training and our ideals for the police force there is an element of self-sacrifice required.

Whether the charges and eventual punishment are warranted in this case, it will play into the narrative that the gun problem in America can be solved through personal acts of heroism and ad hoc responses to threats, without addressing the availability of powerful weapons in the first place.

https://www.mercatornet.com/features/view/criminalising-cowardice-the-ethics-of-school-shootings

 

Letting go day 02: detachment

Detachment is so strongly recommended and praised in most spiritual teachings that I took it to heart and practiced it at a young age.

Looking back, I was often successful. But after finding detachment I would run into inner turmoil and end up feeling depressed and confused.

In hindsight this is because I had some mistaken impressions of how detachment worked, but also because successful detachment brought me into contact with pockets of resistance.

Real detachment

Real detachment means no longer clinging to manifested reality. It goes hand in hand with feeling better from within, and requires us to be stable enough that we can easily find alignment with God/inner being.

It’s simply a light, buoyant sense of being not so focused on immediate experience. It’s the sense of having inner love and ease surround us and uplift us rather than looking for manifestations to make us feel better (they can’t).

When you stop looking for manifestations to make you feel better, you’re then letting go, allowing reality to follow its own changes while you remain comfortable and secure in your alignment with God.

It’s not a cold and aloof detachment, more like being a kid again. Kids don’t “get” the serious side of life that we fixate on as adults. They don’t share our morbid thoughts or grim outlook until we force it on them.

They take things lightly, because their own inner guidance is still mostly intact. That’s what we can aspire to in letting go: an easy, comfortable detachment from somber thoughts and clinging to reality.

And as a good omen, while writing this a bird crapped on my shoe…I see the humour in it, so long as I stop fretting about having to hurry home and clean it off!

Manifestations just aren’t that important

Manifestations are not as important as we think they are.

When we look to manifestations to make us happy, we begin clinging to conditions and circumstances, trying to get things just the way we want them.

We think manifestations have the power to make us feel good, but how we feel is determined by how well our thoughts align with God’s perspective within us.

Clinging and craving are universally recognised as obstacles to happiness, and most spiritual teachings encourage us to let go of manifest reality and find the true source of happiness within us.

That doesn’t mean manifestations will disappear or that reality is bad. And those same spiritual teachings promise us miraculous changes in our reality when we do find God.

Sometimes we let these promises confuse us, and we end up chasing spiritual growth because we hope for a change in our manifestations. That’s putting the cart before the horse, and simply won’t work.

It’s almost a paradox, but the promise is that manifestations will change to reflect the love and joy flowing through us. In other words: when we no longer desperately need them to.

Have you ever noticed that things you desire remain out of reach when you’re yearning for them, but when you forget about them and find peace they often turn up when you least expect them?

And by contrast, sometimes in our desperate yearning we manage to get what we want, but it doesn’t bring satisfaction or joy because we are still shaped by the sense of need.

Visualise

For me at this time the best answer is to view manifestations as akin to a music visualiser that generates animated images correlating with aspects of the music such as frequency and loudness.

When we watch a visualisation of music we know that it is just following the music. We appreciate how it complements the music but we never think it should change or be a certain way other than how the music is playing right now.

If we could have the same attitude to our manifestations, knowing that our whole reality is just reflecting the alignment and misalignment within us, we would stop clinging to the manifestations around us and focus instead on the love, joy, freedom, and happiness that flows inside us when we align our thoughts with God.

And that very perspective: letting go of manifestations and focusing on God; is one major component of the alignment we seek.

Letting go of ‘impossible’

Some situations in life seem beyond our ability to fix or repair or bring to fruition.

They feel impossible because they are impossible, at least for us.

That’s why letting go is so important. Even the effort to find an answer is a form of resistance. Wanting to know how it can possibly work out is reiterating how impossible it seems again and again.

Might as well say “I don’t believe”.

But we don’t need to understand how manifestations come about. And if we are troubled by this lack of understanding, then we are resisting the flow of ease, joy, and freedom within us.

The antidote to an “impossible” situation may be trust and faith, or it may be clarity in the form of realising that we don’t need answers, we just need to allow.

These situations are just manifestations. And manifestations are just the product of our thoughts, filtering the grace and blessings God pours out to us constantly and without end.

And in between thoughts and manifestations, our feelings tell us immediately how much we are allowing or resisting God’s blessings.

So being troubled about a subject and struggling to find answers is a sign of resistance, and that resistance is reflected in the manifestations that follow!

Let go. Let go of the oars. No amount of effort will make the things you desire come quicker or be more likely. Because it’s not a matter of speed or proximity or probability. Those desires are already granted in an unending stream; it’s just our resistance that keeps the manifestation at bay.

Letting go day 01

A series on “letting go” seemed wrong a couple of weeks ago, but now I feel the need for it.

Clarity is good, but I don’t just want clarity. I also want ease and trust and letting go.

In the martial art I learn, it’s just not possible to focus on every aspect each time we train. As much as I wanted there to be a single correct way of training, there are many different aspects that need to be kept up turn by turn if you want to progress.

It reminds me of a story from the Zhuangzi:

‘I have heard my master say that they who skilfully nourish their life are like shepherds, who whip up the sheep that they see lagging behind.’

‘What did he mean?’ asked the duke.

The reply was, ‘In Lû there was a Shan Pâo, who lived among the rocks, and drank only water. He would not share with the people in their toils and the benefits springing from them; and though he was now in his seventieth year, he had still the complexion of a child. Unfortunately he encountered a hungry tiger, which killed and ate him.

There was also a Kang Î, who hung up a screen at his lofty door, and to whom all the people hurried (to pay their respects). In his fortieth year, he fell ill of a fever and died.

(Of these two men), Pâo nourished his inner man, and a tiger ate his outer; while Î nourished his outer man, and disease attacked his inner. Both of them neglected whipping up their lagging sheep.’

I’m hoping this series will remind me each day to let go and trust, and enjoy the ease that comes from it. I’m hoping it will take me deeper and deeper into letting go and allowing my life to unfold without resistance.