Thoughts, feelings, and manifestations

It seems like a long time but it was only a few months ago that I decided to focus on being happy all the time, using the same logic that I discovered in my approach to weight-loss.

That was my “Happiness Challenge” and after a month I moved onto another theme and then another.

Accepting that there’s no final answer, I can appreciate that so many answers have come my way.

Trust, let go, accept, allow, focus, appreciate, feel good, feel less bad, imagine, meditate, rinse and repeat.

I used to think this meant I was going in circles. But it’s natural for things to evolve in stages.

With that in mind I’m inspired today to allow more clarity about my place in this reality and how it all works.

Taking stock

When we think a thought, our emotions tell us how close that thought is to the perspective of our inner being, God.

For example, God loves us. That’s why self-critical thoughts feel bad, because they are not aligned with God’s thoughts about us.

God loves all of us, that’s why you feel bad when you’re critical of others too.

We can take stock of our lives by looking at how we feel, and the manifestations that follow.

If your thoughts are aligned you will feel good and you will notice good-feeling manifestations. If your thoughts are misaligned you will feel bad and notice bad-feeling manifestations.

Creating a new reality

I’m noticing that I don’t have the home I would like for my family.

That’s a manifestation. And while it seems like the manifestation is what causes me to feel bad, that’s not how it works.

How it works is that my thoughts create both my bad feeling and a corresponding manifestation.

There are lots of aspects to homes that complicate this subject, so let’s keep it general and say “I want the perfect home”.

If I focus on the general idea of “my perfect home” I feel good. If I can stop myself focusing on any thoughts that don’t feel good on this subject, just keep it general, then I will continue to feel good, and soon enough I will receive another thought that feels good too.

Keep it clear

This is the only dynamic I need to focus on. My perfect home is a thought that feels good. Keep it general unless more good feeling thoughts become specific.

My perfect home. That feels really good.

There’s no effort needed. Just enjoy how good this thought feels, and the clarity of knowing that this is how creation works.

My perfect home.

Practice enjoying this thought, because it feels so much better than misaligned thoughts. Appreciate the clarity you have in this process, and trust that everything is already unfolding perfectly.

Love is not earned

Children lack insight into the minds and motives of adults, so as children we tend to take other people’s behaviour at face value.

I could never understand why things were often bleak and unpleasant at home. It didn’t make sense to me; but over time I concluded that I must have done something wrong, or failed to do something right and thereby earned these unhappy interactions.

Those thoughts stayed with me for a long time. In my interactions with new people I would be mindful of their possible expectations and my own “performance” according to those mysterious criteria.

I worried about making mistakes or doing something wrong in other people’s eyes. I would often second-guess people’s words and my own actions, trying to predict possible offences and conflict.

All that anxiety and effort stemmed from the false childhood premise that I was being treated according to my worth or desert, and these were lacking. I brought these thoughts to new interactions and looked for evidence to confirm them.

A new premise

With the benefit of knowing how I create my reality with my thoughts and focus, I can look back and see that things were not as bleak as I make out. If I hadn’t taken to heart the bad moods and cruel comments, there was plenty of room to manoeuvre.

If I had applied the Abraham-Hicks principles I would have had a much happier childhood.

It’s okay that I didn’t. My unhappiness has given me a correspondingly magnificent desire for joy, freedom, and expansion.

But looking back is helpful in this moment because I don’t want to keep those old thought patterns going anymore.

My new premise is that instead of getting the treatment I deserve, I get the reality I allow. God wants me to be happy, His love and blessings have never stopped flowing into me. It’s up to me to enjoy the flow instead of resisting it, to look to where the blessings are instead of where they aren’t.

There is no stream of bad things raining down on me because of some fault or error of mine. There are only good things that I allow, or resist.

Life is as good as I allow it to be; I am as happy as I allow myself to feel. Searching for my own faults and trying to avoid making mistakes was itself just the product of a misunderstanding.

There is no degree of personal perfection required to turn your life around. There is no correction of faults or errors required before people start treating you right. We do not earn God’s love and blessings, they are freely given.

We just have to accept them.

In the receptive mode

God wants us to be happy.

“All things work for the good of those who love God”.

God is always shining love and light and blessings upon us. He is always turning circumstances and conditions to our advantage. He is constantly bringing us satisfying and fulfilling experiences.

All we need do is appreciate, allow, and receive these benefits. There are no preconditions or requirements unless we call “receiving” a requirement or “appreciating” a precondition.

Allowing, trusting, accepting, these attitudes let us see the good things coming to us and feel the alignment with God’s love and joy within us.

It’s easy; it only seems difficult or elusive because we have practiced looking for difficulties and treating happiness as hard to find.

As we practice feeling better we begin to appreciate this lightness and ease. We appreciate and enjoy the feelings of relief that well up inside as we let go of any struggle or effort.

Allowing life to be easy is all it takes for life to actually be easy. Allowing good things to come is all it takes for good things to actually come.

It is only our resistance that disallows, and resistance lies in thoughts like “life is hard” instead of “life is easy”.

Seeing the best in others

The greatest help we can be to others is to not join them in their misaligned thoughts.

Sometimes we find ourselves thinking that other people need our help. They need to be rescued, assisted, and it is our job – our responsibility – to make them feel better.

But this has to be false.

We create our own reality, and our emotions are a direct response to the thoughts we are focused upon.

When other people feel bad, it is because they too are focused on misaligned thoughts.

If we are noticing other people feeling bad, it is not up to us to make them feel better. In fact, if we are noticing that they feel bad it most likely means that we too are focusing on misaligned thoughts.

If you love someone and you believe God is with them, and you know they have their own journey and their own inner guidance and their own inner being constantly showering them with love and appreciation, then what exactly is the problem?

Rescuing people

Some of us grow up with patterns of thought where we feel accountable and responsible for the happiness of others.

The flip side is that we are always on the look-out for other people’s displeasure and unhappiness, with the disempowering premise that they can’t feel better without outside help.

It’s an unhealthy need to be needed and fear of being hated or blamed. But it doesn’t have to persist in us because it is only some thoughts with a bit of momentum.

No one needs rescuing

No one needs rescuing, no one can be rescued.

Everyone has access to the same relationship with God, and none of us is the special conduit of grace for anyone else.

We need to look past the appearance of their neediness and struggle, and recognise that this is really a matter of our own perception and our own thoughts about them.

If you feel bad about someone else’s struggle you are the one feeling bad. And trying to feel better by “helping” them is really an attempt to make yourself feel better by changing your circumstances.

They don’t need your help. You need your own help to focus on thoughts that feel good. Maybe thoughts about them and how capable and wise they are. But it’s still your thoughts that control how you feel and the reality you create.

Other people are as wise as you. Other people are as close to God as you. Other people have their own emotional guidance and experience as much as you. Other people’s happiness depends not on you but on God and their own thoughts.

So let them all off the hook. Other people are not your responsibility. You are not accountable for them or to them.

Everything is going as well for them as it is for you. They are as much on their path as you are on yours. Things are going very well for them, and you’d see it (and so would they) if you just stop focusing on thoughts that don’t feel good.

Remembering ease

I have this recurring suspicion that the answer to all of my questions in life will turn out to be “just stop trying”.

That’s partly because I used to be so intense I turned relaxation into an effort and “giving up” into a long-term goal that never got closer.

I’m so much happier these days, and my current themes of ease, trust, accepting, allowing, and letting go of the oars resonate so strongly.

Occasionally things are going so well that I forget. But the beauty of ease is that everything can always get easier. There’s no limit. The wonder of trust is that it just gets stronger the more you do it. There will never be a time to stop trusting, to stop enjoying ease, or to stop letting the current carry you downstream.

There will never be a time when happiness, appreciation and joy aren’t the only game in town.

So remind yourself to let go of the oars, let go completely, and allow God to reach you continuously with all the love and the blessings He has made for you.

Accepting love without earning it

Many of us grow up feeling that our place in the world is not assured, that love and happiness must be earned or accomplished.

We look for ways to please others or keep our own hope alive – the thought that being different, becoming more or better will bring us the love we desire.

As adults it can be hard to disentangle being loved as we are from these patterns of behaviour that are all about being loved for what we do or who we hope to become.

In relationships we tune out the love that is already there, and focus instead on our own promises and ideals about the person we want to be.

Love and momentum

Even if we are loved for who we are, our own self-image may be tied up with “being better”.

We are carried by the momentum of old stories in which we imagined ourselves being more successful, more attractive, more loveable in any number of ways.

But in most cases the people who actually love us don’t know those stories and don’t care either. People love us not for our promise of who we are going to be; they love us for who we have been the whole time.

If we really want to feel that love, it has to start with us. We have to begin thinking thoughts about how loveable we already are, and always have been.

We need to appreciate that we have always been loved in our very essence, quite apart from our qualities and attributes.

And it helps a whole lot to know that who we are in essence is love. Our innermost being is an extension of divine love. Love is less a condition of how others relate to us and more a condition of our very existence.

When you charge your phone you don’t think about whether your phone deserves electricity or not. You charge it because that’s what it needs to function.

Your heart doesn’t beat because you’ve earned it. It beats because that’s what life is.

And this is what love is too: it’s the feeling of life within you, the spiritual essence of your existence here. Love is the greater part of your being, and it’s focused right now and always on your physical experience.

Emotional guidance

In fact that’s why it felt so bad in the first place: the very thought that we might not be worthy of the love we had enjoyed naturally as small children. It’s the falseness and disharmony of this thought that caused us such strong emotional guidance to the contrary.

The more we thought “I’m not good enough”, the worse we felt.

And in that awful feeling of emptiness arose the idea of changing ourselves until we were good enough.

But that just adds more plans and strategies on top of the initial falsehood. We don’t feel bad because we aren’t loved; we feel bad because we keep focusing on thoughts that feel bad, thoughts like “I’m not good enough”.

And the answer isn’t quite “I am good enough”, because love was never something we earned.

Love is natural. Love is who I am. Love is part of my being. Love is the precondition of my existence. Love is my starting point, my foundation. Love is always present to me. Love is the source of my being.

There is nothing I need do. There is nothing asked of me. There is nothing required for love to flow, except that I allow it.

Awakening to your higher self

There’s always been this dichotomy of two selves.

The self you are most aware of is more like a focal point than a separate entity. It’s how you participate in the physical world, but it’s not the fullest extent of your being.

When we worry, fear, struggle and fight, it’s as if we are focused on this self to the exclusion or ignoring of its true nature, and ours.

What people call the higher self, Buddha-nature, Christ dwelling within us, is an awakening to this greater being of which we are a part.

If we say the physical self is a focal point, then it is this greater, spiritual self that is focusing here.

We could live most of our lives focused only on the physical self, with only fleeting awareness of the bigger picture.

But the real joy and ease and happiness comes as we come into alignment with this higher, spiritual self that is an extension of God, and begin to merge those two perspectives.

Our higher self is always united with God. It knows only endless streams of love and appreciation and joy.

Our physical self can, as a focal point, be in harmony with our higher self and enjoy the resonance and beauty of that most satisfying relationship.

That is why ease and relief are important, because from God’s perspective there can be no reason, no obstacle, no thing to stand in opposition or resistance to the love and the light that is His very being.

This higher self, this relationship with God is always within us. It just takes practice of relief, practice letting go of the oars and turning downstream, practice of trust to the point where we can feel its presence as naturally as we feel a cool breeze on our skin or the rhythm of our own breath.

It’s only taken me two years of exploration and practice to cease feeling chronically depressed and find relief and trust available to me at all times.

And in that two years it only took about two months of daily focus to really hear the answers i was seeking: let go of the oars, again and again let them go. Let the current turn you downstream. Stop trying, stop efforting, let go into trust that the universe is good, that God desires your happiness, and rest in the utter totality of trusting the creator of the universe to carry you gently, easily into the love you always desired.

This trust is the spring of life-giving water. It is the abundance of joy promised us. It is everything we desire, and it is available to us always.

Laozi: the only motion is returning

In Tao the only motion is returning;
The only useful quality, weakness.
For though all creatures under heaven are the products of Being,
Being itself is the product of Not-being.

Laozi

This chapter (40) of the Dao De Jing is a classic statement of emptiness, the via negativa, which means God, the source of all existence, is a darkness to the intellect and a Being devoid of all the attributes that characterise our physical reality.

Return, reversal, weakness, softness, meekness: these human attributes are our way of coming to know Him and trust in His power.

Being is you 有 meaning “have”, not-being is wu 無 meaning “without”.

In Christianity and other systems we are taught that God alone is real, and all else borrows its existence from Him. In Daoism and Buddhism the same relationship is expressed as an “emptiness” or “non-being” from which all things come forth.

Either way, trusting God begins with knowing that there’s a spiritual reality behind the reality of things we can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell.

God in all things

It’s such a beautiful day. It’s overcast, crisp and fresh. I’ve lit some incense on the front porch and come out to sit with my morning coffee and write.

The clouds are diffusing the morning light so it seems to come from everywhere. I feel like every physical object is slightly luminous, and maybe the air itself too.

Every day is beautiful. Every physical thing is glowing with a mysterious inner radiance.

That inner radiance is God’s light.

My greatest desire

I tried for many years to see all things in God and God in all things. I believed I could find enlightenment, be freed from ignorance and delusion, see reality the way it truly is.

But my approach was “all or nothing”. I hated my life and wanted something entirely new, transcendent, unobscured.

And isn’t hating life supposedly how you save it?

Well not in my case.

Letting go

I’ve learned so much and come so far these past two years. I’m no longer depressed, and I feel anxiety losing its hold as well.

The answer to depression was my focus on feeling better, then feeling good, then feeling good all day. It took time and practice, but not much of either, relative to my years of depression.

The answer to anxiety seems like trust and allowing and letting go of the oars. I’m slowly but steadily practicing trust, noticing the thoughts that build it and those that don’t.

Pure desire

As these negative emotions diminish, I’m no longer all or nothing. I’m not looking for one violent solution anymore.

And it suddenly struck me, as I learn about desire, happiness, and trust in God, that I still want to have that vision. I still want to see God in all things, not as the answer to a question or the solution to a problem or as freedom from suffering and struggles, but for the sheer joy of it.

It feels so good to see that divine light subtly radiating from every being, in me and around me. It feels so good to feel the whole world of my experience shining with that invisible presence.

This is my greatest desire, and now I know it as a purely positive experience desired for its own sake and a source and a fulfilment of sheer delight.

To be aligned with your desire is to be aligned with God, and there is nothing closer to God than seeing Him in all things and all things in Him.

Except it will grow closer still, because this alignment and this intimacy with our own Source is infinite. The more we enjoy it, the stronger it gets, and the more we enjoy it, and the stronger it gets.

I remember

I remember my desire
Born out of suffering and misery
To awaken another world within me.

I remember being inspired
By poets and mystics
Who promised infinite treasures
If I could follow their meaning.

I remember wanting
To see God in every damned thing
Around me
And within me.

I remember trying
A hundred different ways
Meditation, prayer,
Knowledge and devotion
Desperate and shaking
Blaming myself, giving up
Endlessly addicted.
Dark night or just deluded
Depressed or half-enlightened
Realisation or rumination

And I remember the promise
In the joy of its fulfilment
The revelation and remembering
That all of my efforts
Weren’t wasted, unsuccessful
But they kept me on the path
Long enough for me to shed them
Like the lotus in the mud
To take the joy without the sorrow
And the love without the heartache
And knowing without doubt or confusion