Israel Folau: seeing the good

In my latest article at MercatorNet I apply my focus on providence to look for the positive aspects in the case of Israel Folau, a rugby player whose recent sacking for quoting a “homophobic” Bible verse has worried conservatives, Christians, and free-speech advocates in Australia and beyond:

Predicting possible negative outcomes is a learned skill. In fields like journalism and ethics it’s an occupational hazard. We can learn to do the opposite instead, looking for the good in every situation, the good our faith tells us God will inevitably bring out of evil.

What happened to Folau is not exactly something his friends and family would cheer for, but it’s also not an outright evil or pure misfortune.

https://www.mercatornet.com/above/view/the-sacking-of-israel-folau-can-you-see-the-good-in-it/22488

Letting go: tension

I want to use my daily writing discipline to focus on letting go. But is that a contradiction?

Years ago I told my Chinese philosophy teacher that meditation tended to make me more tense.

“Relax harder, dammit!” he laughed.

I’d love to find better ways to let go of the tension I’m used to holding; and I’ve been noticing lately that the tension really is intentional.

Like most long-standing yet unwanted conditions, the thoughts creating tension in me have a lot of momentum to them, from a time when I very intently sought control over my physical body.

An intentional state

That’s the other way tension is intentional: it’s a state of stretching or reaching for something. Longstanding physical tension isn’t arbitrary, it’s informed by an effort that uses the body in a taxing way.

Expecting criticism and attack from others, I intentionally tried to control my gaze, my facial expression and my observable physical reactions.

I had this ideal of always looking implacable and unperturbed.

But the only way to maintain such tight control is to prime those muscles with tension, inhibiting spontaneous and natural responses.

Have you ever tried not to laugh or smile at an inappropriate time? You can do it if you clamp down on your expression, clench your jaw and look away as if concentrating elsewhere.

Or what about trying to hold back anger? Again, clench your jaw, stare straight ahead, set your face like stone and seem impassive.

But the worst is being ridiculed, criticised or mistreated on account of your natural expression. “Wipe that stupid grin off your face”, “watch out, the wind might change”, “what are you looking at?” “Don’t just stand there looking like an idiot” These kinds of comments teach you that you are judged for your expression and body language, fairly or unfairly, and imply that there is something to be gained from monitoring and controlling it.

Letting it go

Self monitoring and control are a recipe for chronic tension not only in your face and head but likely your neck and elsewhere as your body’s natural balance is inhibited.

But as we have seen, such tension is a consequence of anxious, fearful, and negative thoughts about how we are seen and perceived by others.

The antidote to such thoughts are simply thoughts that feel better.

As children we took harsh comments at face value, but as adults we know that people who offer unsolicited criticism like that are typically full of s***.

Looking back, the people who criticised me the most turned out to be the least pleasant people to be around, and their rampant negativity and even harsher self-talk is now obvious.

As an adult I’ve seen so many different faces, some anxious and uptight, many profoundly oblivious and relaxed. There are no rules to how we should look and carry ourselves and be. No one goes around, taking people aside to warn them against being too ugly, too stupid-looking, too arrogant looking, too anything.

If you can retell the story around physical tension in whatever form you inflict it, you will be able to let it go.

Our aim should be to soothe those thoughts in a direction of security, trust, and letting go.

Ultimately, people have all kinds of faces, expressions, and body language. But we know from our own observation that what is inside each of us will shine through. For us that includes tension and resistance and fear at the moment. But it doesn’t have to, and it won’t forever. As we soothe and soften our negative thoughts, we will inevitably find the ease and relief we desire.

Love yourself

One of the hardest experiences as a child is to realise there’s no love, help, or comfort coming, and that you must somehow get by without it.

We build resilient methods of getting by, but the stronger they are, the longer we will endure without relief.

As adults we have the opportunity to learn how to love, soothe, and comfort ourselves. We can learn to reignite the flames that were extinguished long ago. And then we can finally put down the massive burden of having to live life on empty.

Learning to love yourself heals wounds where survival strategies just numb the pain.

And loving yourself can be so much easier when you know it’s not just you, but also a loving God, inner being, universe, or whatever word helps you find it.

Loving yourself feels good. Loving yourself restores you. Loving yourself answers the questions you been turning over ad infinitum on your own.

Loving yourself lets God in.

And then there is no difference between loving yourself and being loved by God. The love is God’s, but it is up to you to allow it, accept it, let it in where it might upset decades of careful strategies and contingency plans.

There’s an obvious connection between loving ourselves and trusting God. We need to believe it’s safe to let our guard down; we need to trust that God will never hurt us; we need to trust that love is everything we are wanting before we can truly allow it in.

We need to know that our fears and doubts do not come from God. We need to trust that as we finally let love in, everything will be transformed.

In the Abraham-Hicks teachings loving ourselves is not emphasised, because for most of us there’s just too much resistance. Instead we’re advised to just feel better, less bad, in every possible way, and trust that everything is working out.

But there will come a time when you can feel good not just about the things in your life but about your own self too. So don’t hurry or rush. There’s no time limit. It’s counter-intuitive, but by feeling good about anything you’re already letting more love in than if you stare grimly at the subject of “self love” and try to conquer it right now.

Glasses, and a smile

I briefly glimpsed someone who

Reminded me of you when we first met:

Riding along,

A passenger in someone else’s car, staring straight ahead,

Glasses, and a smile.

And I knew then, why I loved you

And how I forgot that too,

Trying too hard to be “perfect” for you

As if your loveliness now rested on me.

But your light, your brightness and your ease never needed anyone to just be.

A gift can’t be earned or it’s not longer a gift.

So let me stop thinking that I’m helping you

And just enjoy each frequent glimpse of your smile, your delight, and the love it means to me.

Feel good all day 15

Today I’ve been learning to trust, and the first lesson is that I can’t trust while grasping for inner certitude.

I’ve often wondered about the line “the son of man has nowhere to lay his head” but right now I think it relates to trust.

For years I sought to understand, but my understanding was about remaining in control. If you know the rules you can avoid mistakes!

But now the rule is to trust without knowing exactly what is going to happen, yet knowing that it will all be for my happiness.

I’d heard before the proverb: “trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding”, but back then I still needed to understand how to do that.

Not any more. I don’t even know if I’m doing it right, so I have to trust even there. The whole thing feels very wobbly right now, so I have to trust that I’m on the right track.

That’s the best I can put it for now: how do I know I’m on the right track? Because I have to trust that I am!

Hafiz: School of Truth

O fool, do something, so you won’t just stand there looking dumb.
If you are not traveling and on the road, how can you call yourself a guide?

In the School of Truth, one sits at the feet of the Master of Love.
So listen, son, so that one day you may be an old father, too!

All this eating and sleeping has made you ignorant and fat;
By denying yourself food and sleep, you may still have a chance.

Know this: If God should shine His lovelight on your heart,
I promise you’ll shine brighter than a dozen suns.

And I say: wash the tarnished copper of your life from your hands;
To be Love’s alchemist, you should be working with gold.

Don’t sit there thinking; go out and immerse yourself in God’s sea.
Having only one hair wet with water will not put knowledge in that head.

For those who see only God, their vision
Is pure, and not a doubt remains.

Even if our world is turned upside down and blown over by the wind,
If you are doubtless, you won’t lose a thing.

O Hafiz, if it is union with the Beloved that you seek,
Be the dust at the Wise One’s door, and speak!

Hafiz

Feel good all day 14

Allowing, eh?

So how do I allow?

Part of me wants to hit this with everything I’ve got, but we know by now that when we strive or push or try it’s because we think we have somewhere to be, something that needs to change, something we must fix.

It’s tempting to seize control, but it’s also dismal and small to then feel responsible for everything that’s going on.

You create your reality, but two-thirds of the process don’t require any effort and the final third is only effort in the most minimal sense.

It’s kinda tiring and sad to think that you’d have to build your reality thought by thought and brick by brick. But it doesn’t work that way. The real work is being done by the divine being of which you are just an extension, a thread, a single point of view.

That’s why mysticism is full of surrender: surrender to God, surrender of the individual self, surrender of the illusion of separation.

But the individual perspective is still part of the plan, we still have a role to play, and we can still allow it to be a whole lot easier.

My efforts to be as happy as I can and feel good all day have definitely paid off. But they were also efforts I embarked on when I thought effort and focus was my greatest strength.

I wanted to take control of my experience and I’m very good at focusing intensely on a given subject until I feel completely on top of it. Yet the fruit of this intense effort includes realising that there’s a better way; that needing to be on top of things limits the scope of what can happen in your life.

Allowing is the better way. Making space for surprises and miraculous occurrences is the better way. Leaving openings for God to do the work is infinitely better than insisting I oversee the action step by step from my own limited perspective.

Allowing is the antidote to thinking I’ve gotta do it all by myself. The expectation of a DIY job resists the benefits and cooperation of divine help.

Allowing is, therefore, the expectation that it’s all being done for me, by someone whose power and efforts entirely eclipse my own. Isn’t that far more exciting?

What is allowing?

Last night I had the inspiration to start a series focusing on allowing.

My sense was that I’ve been very successful with my focus on feeling good all day and my previous Happiness Challenge, but these still encourage me to be very active and intense.

Abraham-Hicks sometimes refer to their teaching as the Art of Allowing. But what is allowing? And can I actively focus on allowing without it becoming too much about effort and doing?

Step three: allow

In the Abraham teachings we create our reality via a three step process.

Step one, we ask for something. This happens automatically as we form new desires in response to our present reality.

Step two, Source, God, our inner being becomes a match to that desire. This also happens without us doing anything.

Step three, we receive what we have asked for, by coming into alignment with step two. In other words we now believe we have received it. In Abraham terms our thoughts are a vibrational match to our desire and our inner being, as evidenced by how we now feel about it.

Just feel good…?

Just by feeling good we put ourselves in the vicinity of our desires. But that’s what I’ve been doing, so how does allowing enter the picture?

It’s subtle, but there’s a difference between feeling good with the hope of being a match for your desires, and feeling good so as to allow them to come about.

Does the difference matter? Maybe not to everyone, but some of us are used to being intense and in control, and we can turn even “feeling good” into an intense effort to control our experience.

Allowing let’s us off the hook. It encourages us to take things lightly and easily. And it puts the emphasis back on the spiritual side of this reality, knowing that we are not here to push and strive and make things happen.

It also opens us to surprises, to ease, to answers coming out of every mysterious corner of our experience.

And it primes us to be more flexible, to go with the flow, and not be so dead-set on how we think things should unfold.

Inner citadel of the Self

Imagine yourself as a city, concentric rings radiating out from your core being.

Each ring is made up of thoughts, patterns of behaviour, and plans accrued through different stages of life.

Like Palmanova pictured above, they are very much layers of defence.

Renovation – make all things new

As we work at focusing on good-feeling thoughts, these rings or layers of defence are slowly dismantled and transformed.

The darkness and tension of wartime-footing is gradually overcome as we look for beautiful, wonderful things in our reality, confident that the more we embrace the good, the more good will come.

Persevere – don’t lose heart!

Remember that your core self right in the centre still has a lot of defences in place. The regime and fortifications against a world once thought to be hostile take time to release and undo.

That’s why it can sometimes be frustrating and disappointing to find negative thoughts appearing in the midst of new-found relief.

But don’t lose heart! These layers of defence do come to an end, and we dismantle them not by confronting and attacking but by finding relief and proving them unnecessary.

The inner citadel

As we get closer to the core we begin to see how these layers of defence came to be in the first place.

Right at the centre, with a young child’s natural sense of worth and appreciation, we first encountered unwanted aspects of reality and struggled to make sense of them.

We were “helped” to focus on the unwanted aspects as truth and unchangeable reality. Something had to give, and so we wavered in our sense of worth and expectation of good things.

That self-doubt turned our expectation of good into an expectation of…more of whatever was already happening. More unwanted, more doubt, more disappointment, more giving way to harsh realities.

The need for defences was born of no longer expecting good things, no longer thinking we deserve or are worthy of happiness.

That’s why learning to feel good is the answer. If we can learn to feel good despite unwanted circumstances then we rewrite that original conflict between our self-worth and “harsh realities”.

Our innate worth and goodness is not touched or tainted by unwanted circumstances. As we learn how our focus creates our reality, we learn that it is safe and sound to once again expect happiness and good things to come to us, because the promise of our own innate worth is self-evident, and we actively choose to no longer doubt it.

Hafiz: I know the way you can get

I know the way you can get
When you have not had a drink of Love:

Your face hardens,
Your sweet muscles cramp.
Children become concerned
About a strange look that appears in your eyes
Which even begins to worry your own mirror
And nose.

Squirrels and birds sense your sadness
And call an important conference in a tall tree.
They decide which secret code to chant
To help your mind and soul.

Even angels fear that brand of madness
That arrays itself against the world
And throws sharp stones and spears into
The innocent
And into one’s self.

O I know the way you can get
If you have not been drinking Love:

You might rip apart
Every sentence your friends and teachers say,
Looking for hidden clauses.

You might weigh every word on a scale
Like a dead fish.

You might pull out a ruler to measure
From every angle in your darkness
The beautiful dimensions of a heart you once
Trusted.

I know the way you can get
If you have not had a drink from Love’s
Hands.

That is why all the Great Ones speak of
The vital need
To keep remembering God,
So you will come to know and see Him
As being so Playful
And Wanting,
Just Wanting to help.

That is why Hafiz says:
Bring your cup near me.
For all I care about
Is quenching your thirst for freedom!

All a Sane man can ever care about
Is giving Love!

Hafiz