The Seeker of Peace


Keeping Up with the Joneses
April 14, 2009, 1:12 pm
Filed under: Non-duality, spirituality | Tags: , , , ,

I recently did A Course in Miracles Lesson 149, which includes a review of the thought, “When I am healed I am not healed alone.” When I first covered this thought back in Lesson 137, it didn’t affect me much. This time, however, I found it much more profound.

I have always had a tendency to compare myself to others. In many ways, relative status was more important than absolute achievement. As you can imagine, this caused a lot of unhappiness: there are always people with more money, faster promotions, more authority, etc.

I realized this weekend that I’ve carried the same competitiveness into spiritual work. That may sound silly, but I now realize it as something very insidious. At a subconscious level, I would actually dismiss or denigrate the spiritual progress of others. That person is still too wrapped up in the world. This other person claims to be happy, but has some huge series of misfortunes. No one can prove that the Law of Attraction works. Etc., etc., etc.

Why should I expect to have abundance in my life if I wish something different for other people? Why should I expect to be healed if I’m doing it to be more advanced than others? It’s a concept that seems obvious when stated, but was strangely hard for me to realize.

I’ve been doing some work with the Sedona Method on allowing myself to enjoy the abundance of others. I can tell that I have some resistance to this idea, but it’s settling better with me after doing some releasing. Ultimately, others’ abundance is part of my experience, and thus mine too.

So, on that note, I sincerely wish for your success and happiness!



Dealing with Death
April 5, 2009, 3:52 pm
Filed under: Suffering | Tags: , , , ,

I wrote last week about my fear of death, and how it related to the impending death of my dog. Yesterday, the matter went from theoretical to practical: we had her put to sleep.

As I wrote earlier, I believed that her death would mean that I would lose her. After a fair amount of Sedona Method-style releasing, I realized that I had things completely backwards.

In many ways, the dog I loved was already gone. She had constant pain, was mostly blind and totally deaf, and was constantly confused from senile dementia. She had lost any opportunity to enjoy life. Watching her suffer kept me from fully enjoying the memories of the many good times we’ve had together over the past 16 years.

As the veterinarian gave her the injections, I saw her fully relaxed for the first time in months. Having experienced chronic pain myself, I understand well what it’s like to be in pain even when asleep. How selfish would it have been to keep her alive? And, much of the time, I was trying not to think about how bad her condition was. Now, she can be fully present in my mind.

The most painful thing about letting her die was acknowledging that the pet of the past would never return. However, that was already the case. Now that I’ve accepted that, both of us can stop our suffering.



Fear of Death
March 30, 2009, 4:22 pm
Filed under: spirituality, Suffering | Tags: , , , ,

Lester Levenson said that overcoming our fear of death was a key step in going free. An article in last week’s issue of The Economist reminded me of this. The article reported on a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that religious people were more likely to try to prolong their lives with extreme medical procedures.

I’ve written before about beliefs, going so far as to cite them as the source of unhappiness. I would expect that people with strong religious beliefs would also have strong beliefs about life and death. The irony here is that many of these people believed in an afterlife, and thus been less fearful of death.

I suspect that, at some level, even our ego knows that our beliefs are merely that. Who wants to actually test their belief in an afterlife? I’ve heard people actually say they don’t want certainly beliefs tested; a common example is when religious people claim that if there were proof of a god, then there could be no faith. True, but hardly helpful for finding Truth.

Maybe this is why Lester found the fear of death such a key topic. For most of us, death forces us to face some of our key beliefs. To avoid fearing death, we have to let go of our beliefs of what will happen. Otherwise, we’ll recoil when those beliefs are put to the test.

Coincidentally, or perhaps synchronically, death has been on my mind a lot this past week. Not my own in this case, but that of my dog. At a ripe old age of 17, she’s lived a long time, especially for a pet rescued from the Humane Society. Yet, as her health fails at an increasingly rapid pace, I can’t help feeling sad about it.

I believe that when her body fails, she’ll be gone forever and lost to me except for fading memories. How’s that for a belief that causes unhappiness? This appears to be the time to use the Sedona Method. As I try to do so, I see why teachers usually leave addressing the fear of death for advanced courses.



Return to Spirituality
March 26, 2009, 12:21 pm
Filed under: Non-duality, spirituality, World | Tags: , , , , ,

In my last blog post, I mentioned that a week away form spiritual pursuits had given me a new vigor. That vigor was short-lived, as evidenced by the fact that it’s been three weeks since then without a post. I again strayed from doing the A Course in Miracles exercises, and mostly stopped doing the Sedona Method.

I’ve spent those weeks in a pattern of distraction and business. How far I had sunk hit home this week. I was reading an issue of Forbes, which had a list of the world’s billionaires. Apparently, the number of billionaires is down dramatically from last year, with most remaining billionaires still having lost huge amounts of money. I found myself feeling a perverse satisfaction that they were now closer to my net worth. How ego-driven can one get?

When I wrote my last post, I thought that the break from spiritual pursuits had helped. Now, I think that was just my ego indulging in self-justification. When I start enjoying the downfall of others, it’s a big warning sign that something is wrong.

This morning I resumed my ACIM exercises. I picked up where I last left off: Lesson #137, “When I am healed I am not healed alone.” Juxtaposed against the Forbes article, I saw a very clear choice: a path of spiritual pursuits and loving others, or a path of materialism and feeling satisfaction and envy.

I am very glad that I had previously made it far enough in my efforts that I was able to recognize the depth of my backsliding. Now, I pray I’ll have the discipline to overcome my ego and continue down the right path.



Vacation from Spirituality
March 4, 2009, 12:25 pm
Filed under: spirituality, World | Tags: , , , , ,

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve struggled on and off with my spiritual work. Sometimes, I’ve felt okay with this. In general, though, it’s been a little frustrating, which I fully acknowledge is an ego response.

When I do Sedona Method-style releasing, the releases just haven’t felt as strong as they used to. The meditations for the A Course In Miracles workbook have been hard to sustain without even more distracting thoughts than usual. It’s as if I’ve developed resistance to the whole effort.

About a week ago, I decided to just indulge my ego. I took a hiatus for a few days from ACIM. I only released when it occurred to me, rather than trying to do it often. I spent a fair amount of time distracting my mind with reading and computer games. I even let myself get emotionally upset about the stock market, although that still produced much less angst than it would have just a couple of months ago.

(I did not, however, lose my recent health improvement. Even when backsliding, one has to draw the line somewhere!)

This break seems to have helped quite a lot. I resumed my ACIM lessons with a new vigor, and they were again easy. I’m still only releasing as it occurs to me, but I can again feel the relief from the thoughts. I feel much less resistant than I did.

Perhaps it’s all an ego trap to think that progress can come from backsliding. In this case, I’m very glad I took a few days back in the thick of the world and catering to my ego. Maybe I just needed a concrete reminder that what I’m giving up isn’t valuable.



Valuation Analysis
February 15, 2009, 11:10 am
Filed under: Forgiveness, Non-duality | Tags: , , , ,

In my training as a financial analyst, a key component is valuation analysis. This is the discipline of figuring what a stock, bond, company, or other asset is worth. As you might imagine, there are many nuances, and different analysts will often come up with wildly divergent answers. The same thing seems true in other areas of garbage, as exemplified by the old saying, “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.”

This occurred to me when I was doing A Course In Miracles lesson #133, “I will not value what is valueless.” If people disagree over the value of something, its value can’t be eternal. That’s a good reminder not to become too caught up in the material world.

As the day progressed, I realized that I was valuing some of my memories as much as anything material. I’m not talking about cherished memories here: the awful boss I had in 1996, the high school P.E. class I took, and similar slights. I hadn’t realized before how much such memories pop unbidden into my mind, so I can relive the experience and feel superior, victimized, or angry.

What is the value of a bedwetting memory from when I was five? From the way I clutch at them, you would think it provided some bedrock to my character. It certainly provides grist for the ego, which is arguably a liability rather than an asset. Are these memories compatible with inner peace? If not, they are truly valueless.

This lesson was a big wake-up call. After a year and a half of doing the Sedona Method, I thought I had let go of much of my garbage. Now, I see how much I’m still holding on to garbage. I’m pretty sure that, in this case, my garbage is not another man’s treasure.



Taking Responsibility
February 6, 2009, 2:17 pm
Filed under: Non-duality, Suffering, World | Tags: , , , , , ,

Lester Levenson said that we were always “demonstrating” (his word for manifesting), and needed to take responsibility for what we were demonstrating.

One of the big shadows in my life has been Crohn’s Disease. It’s not only debilitating, but very painful (to the extent that drugs like Vicodin hardly touch it). I wrote after last Thanksgiving about how I almost deliberately ate poorly to make myself sick. The following week, I realized that, at some level, I wanted to be sick!

That realization brought home how much I used illness as an excuse to dodge responsibility. I faced things head-on, most notably by making the decision to wind down my business. (Being sick was a great excuse not to work.) I tried to remove any motivation for remaining sick. At the same time, I used Sedona Method releasing exercises to release on the goal of being healthy.

This week, I had a wonderful positive development with my health. I stumbled across a reference to a drug that was very safe, and had very few side effects. (Most treatments for Crohn’s have the potential to be as bad as the illness itself.) This drug isn’t even intended for Crohn’s; it’s actually to help people stop smoking. Since there are some reports of it helping others with Crohn’s, my doctor was willing to try it.

It’s only been a few days, but it’s been days with barely any pain or discomfort. This has made it much easier to meditate, do exercised from A Course In Miracles, and otherwise do spiritual exercises. For that matter, it’s made everything easier; it’s much easier to cook dinner when not doubled over from pain!

My guess is that if I were less stuck in a science-based mindset, I could have had this huge improvement without the medication. However, I’m still at the point where I’d be skeptical of improvement with no physical cause. I think that’s why I needed the pills to effect the change. Still, I have to think that the fact I found the pills is due to my preparing myself not to be so sick anymore.

This is my strongest personal experience so far showing that Lester was correct. I really do need to take responsibility for everything in my life, and not use the bad things as an excuse.