The Seeker of Peace


Seeing Spirituality
May 28, 2009, 11:51 am
Filed under: spirituality | Tags: , , ,

Rather than the do the traditional Memorial Day barbecue, I spent Monday in Los Angeles attending my father’s ordination as a rabbi. There were roughly sixteen people being ordained that day, split between rabbis and cantors (clergy members who specialize in religious music).

I’ve written before about the difference between spirituality and religion. The ordination service was a perfect example to me of the dichotomy. As part of the service, each ordainee spent a few minutes talking. I heard many deeply spiritual things, as people discussed finding god in all things, building a life of love, and similar themes.

The proceedings included a full Jewish afternoon service, with the traditional liturgy. The liturgy is far from spiritual. It beseeches the Jewish god to “vanquish our enemies” and otherwise provide blessings to his “chosen people.” (Please note that I’m not criticizing the Jewish liturgy compared to any others – most traditional liturgies have content such as this.) The only mitigating characteristic of the Jewish liturgy is that it’s in Hebrew, meaning that many people don’t understand what it says.

How does an ordainee reconcile a spiritual journey with traditions that are rigidly religious? From hearing them speak, I think the answer is to see the traditions as merely that: a cultural heritage. Many of these newly minted clergy didn’t sound religious at all, instead expressing heartfelt personal experiences.

This reinforced what I wrote in my earlier post: that for spiritual people, their religion turns to cultural tradition as they gain spiritual experience. The ordination service also taught me something new: that there are schools training a whole generation of spiritual clergy. Perhaps this provides some hope for religion after all.



The Consequence of Boredom
April 29, 2009, 10:20 am
Filed under: God, World | Tags: , , , ,

Do enlightened people get bored? Jed McKenna, who claims enlightenment, spends much of his time playing video games. Why would he do that if he weren’t bored?

I certainly don’t claim to be enlightened, yet I certainly share Jed’s sense of boredom. When I closed my business a few months ago, I was so sick that I had very little energy to do much of anything. Now that I’m feeling much better, I feel as if I don’t have enough outlets for my energy.

In this void of activity, I felt a sudden compulsion to become a schoolteacher. Before I started my investment advisory business, I laid down several criteria that were important to me in a job. I had down such things as a flexible schedule, low stress, not having to work in committees, etc. Teaching as a career fails on every count. Yet, it somehow feels right to me.

In what seems an eternity ago, I wrote the fifth post of my blog. In that post I described how I felt an urge to start blogging. I worried whether that urge was valid guidance, or something from my ego, and decided that I could tell the difference by how easy it was.

Now, I have a similar concern. Is my compulsion to teach a form of divine or intuitive guidance? Or, is it my mind casting around for things to do to fill my day? The latter would be a particularly insidious trap. By choosing a career that meets none of my “rational” criteria, my mind could usher me into a situation where I have far too much mental noise for any spiritual practice.

So, I’m going to fall back on my previous insight, and see how easy it is. So far, it appears that it might be almost frighteningly so. I may qualify for a program that would let me take education courses in summer school, and be in a classroom this autumn. When the idea occurred to me last week, I had no idea that I might actually be in front of students four months later.

Now, I’m waiting for the university’s transcript evaluator to decide whether I have enough qualifying college courses in the relevant subject areas to qualify. If the answer comes back yes, then that would be a major indicator that this path could be easy.



Why is Self-Love So Hard?
January 6, 2009, 10:40 am
Filed under: Forgiveness, God, spirituality, World | Tags: , , , , ,

A few months ago I wrote a post about self-love. I had realized that forgiving myself was easier than loving myself.

I had an insight yesterday into why loving myself is so difficult. I was doing A Course In Miracles lesson 110, “I am as God created me.” The core of this lesson, that there’s a core of divine perfection within, is something that the Workbook has covered many times – I guess it just took a lot of repetition to get through to me.

Loving myself, in the sense of true, unconditional love, effectively requires me to let go of my ego and separateness, revealing the divine inside. My existence in the (illusory) world has been full of problems, guilt, blame, and judgment. How could I possibly love myself in that context? My actions in this world don’t merit love.

Therefore, to love myself, I have to put aside what I’ve done in the world (and what the world has done to me). Loving myself, in effect, requires dropping my whole story, my sense of separation, my being special and unique. Isn’t that the end goal of the path to enlightenment? It’s a difficult place to start.

Maybe some people have an easy time jumping into self-love. As I wrote earlier, though, it’s easy to instead fall into the trap of searching for worldly deeds to pat ourselves on the back about, thus reinforcing the ego.

As I let go of my story, I have more moments of love towards myself and others. For me, it seems to be a consequence, not a catalyst, of letting go.



Happiness as an Obligation
December 17, 2008, 10:02 am
Filed under: Forgiveness, God, Suffering | Tags: , , , , , ,

Over the past few days, I’ve come to an important realization: we have an obligation to be happy.

I credit this insight mostly to A Course In Miracles. I recently did Lesson 100, which states, “My part is essential to God’s plan for salvation.” The lesson goes on to explain that my part is to be happy. I can then spread joy to everyone else. Seen this way, wallowing in misery is a downright selfish choice.

It’s been hard for me to be happy. Between my chronic Crohn’s Disease, the stresses of my job, and the continual drumbeat of terrible national and world news (which I must follow thanks to my job), it’s been much easier to be sad and depressed.

One of my recurring self-destructive ego thoughts has been that I don’t deserve to be happy. A Course In Miracles addresses this very directly. Sin is not real, and anything undeserving I think I’ve done is merely illusion. In fact, the workbook covers this in the context of happiness in Lesson 101. However, knowing that intellectually hasn’t made it much easier.

However, seeing happiness as an obligation changes the equation. Regardless of whether I deserve to be happy, I owe it to everyone else to be happy! It’s not selfish to be happy, it’s the ultimate charitable act.

Much of the earlier Course material made sense on an intellectual level, but I had trouble applying it on an emotional level. I understood that feeling guilt was pointless, but my ego kept piling it on. Now, I have a very rational counter to the ego: even if there were some value in the guilt hurting me, it’s wrong to let my guilt hurt the world.

Yesterday and today, I’ve been using the Sedona Method to work on the goal statement, “I allow myself to be happy.” I’ve tried to do that before, but my ego got in my way. Now, I’m rapidly feeling happier than I have in a long time.

I finally understand that we can simply choose to let ourselves be happy. I had heard this before and not believed it. Now, I see that I simply never allowed myself to make the choice!



Asking Too Little
December 8, 2008, 10:25 am
Filed under: God, Non-duality, World | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I wrote recently about my attempts to use free writing to get answers from God, first on my job, then on accelerating my spiritual progress. In both cases, the answers were clear, but did not give me specific guidance on what to do in the world. That is, the answers essentially told me to focus on Truth, rather than giving guidance about what to do in the illusory world.

I mentioned last month my desire to have the divine guidance cited by some followers of A Course In Miracles. Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford would even ask for guidance on where to hail a cab or what to order for dinner.

I recently read Kenneth Wapnick’s book Absence from Felicity: The Story of Helen Schucman and Her Scribing of A Course In Miracles. He makes the point that since God deals in reality, not illusion, any guidance we get is necessarily filtered through our separate mind (ego). While the content of the message is always the same, our ego must apply the form that allows it to apply to illusion.

Wapnick even goes so far as to say that students should be “suspicious of any specific guidance they receive.” Apparently, Schucman had a whole collection of scribed predictions, ostensibly from Jesus, of (mostly positive) events that would occur. None of them happened as predicted, clearly demonstrating that she played a active, if unknowing role, in creating them.

This also helps me better understand a conversation I had with a friend a couple of weeks ago. We were discussing spirituality, and I mentioned my desire for divine guidance. He cautioned me, telling me that he knew several people who regularly received guidance, and “their lives are a mess.” I wondered why that would be, unless they were mistaking their own ego’s thoughts for divine guidance. Now it makes sense: the ego’s thoughts have to be involved in any guidance regarding the world, or else the guidance wouldn’t be comprehensible. And that ego involvement can distort the form of the message.

Perhaps I should be glad that my ego hasn’t intruded enough on the purity of my answers to give worldly guidance. Not only might it not be good advice, but after reading Wapnick’s book I would likely be doubting it anyway.

I think the key point here is that I’ve been looking for guidance on petty things. I’ve been wanting guidance on how to deal with a multitude of illusions, whereas there’s only one real answer: embrace reality. While I still need to make decisions regarding these illusions, maybe it just doesn’t matter whether I get divine guidance. Certainly, the more I embrace love and peace, the better I can cope with whatever the world dishes up.

So, I’m going to take my answers so far as a loving reminder that I’ve been asking for too little. I should be asking for the ultimate prize, the only one that really matters, to see the light of reality.



Trying Too Hard
December 5, 2008, 1:29 pm
Filed under: God, Non-duality, spirituality | Tags: , , , , ,

It’s been two weeks since I tried free writing to get a message from God about my job. Since that attempt was so intriguing, you might think I’d have tried again before today. However, I’ve felt tremendous resistance to doing more free writing. I guess my ego doesn’t like my having a competing source of instructions.

I finally tried again today. I wrote the question “What could I do to best accelerate my spiritual progress?” at the top of the page, and cleared my mind. Here’s what came out:

You need do nothing. Your desire for action is the root of your problems. You want action so that you can feel that you are taking control of the situation. Yet the “situation” is itself illusory, and thus any action is counterproductive.

Remember that your ego wants to seek but not find. Your actions reflect this. Allow yourself peace, and I will take care of action for you. Do not let your ego tempt you into activity. Look around you, and see how much of your life stems from darkness, not light.

Relax and embrace the light. Once you stop your ego’s fruitless quest, you will see the light is already there.

That certainly doesn’t sound like something my ego would say. On the contrary, it sounds as if I’m still too prone to falling for ego tricks.

I can’t help but wonder: who is the “I” in this message? My inner self? God? Jesus? (I’ve never believed in the Biblical Jesus, but perhaps reading A Course In Miracles has let me to a Jesus archetype.) This is probably exactly the type of question where I should use the Sedona Method to let go of wanting to figure it out.

Regardless, the message reinforces what I realized several weeks ago when I was feeling stuck: It’s far too easy for me to want to do something to make progress. This message makes clear that I should relax, and try easier.



Writing with God?
November 21, 2008, 2:21 pm
Filed under: God, Suffering, World | Tags: , ,

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how I was waiting for God to give me guidance on what to do. Two days ago, I wrote about my lack of passion about my job. With the stock market hitting a five-year low yesterday (something that directly impacts my job as a money manager), it’s been especially hard for me to find peace at work.

I’ve read of people who were unable to hear God’s voice in their head, but were able to get advice through the mechanism of free writing. For those unfamiliar with it, this is simply the process of sitting down with pen and paper, and writing whatever comes without thought or censorship.

My first few lines were clearly my thoughts. They sounded like me, and were written in the first person. Then the text abruptly changed to being in the second person, and started sounding like something out of A Course In Miracles. I wrote:

Do not confuse worldly deeds with function. Any deeds can be an expression of love. The world is merely illusion, whereas love is real.

You seek a decision, but there is no decision to be made regarding your job. Stay or quit, the outcome is the same. Rather, your decision is one of happiness versus despair. Choose happiness, and your job will be a source of happiness. This must be so, as the job merely reflects either God’s reality or the ego’s illusions.

What do you seek from your job? Approval, control, security? None of these exist within an occupation. They are the birthright of a child of God, already yours, hidden by the ego’s delusions.

I was hoping for more, but my writing stopped with a sense of finality. I guess it answers the question. Even if I were to leave my job, what would I do? Some other job, where I would seek to get approval, control, and security through my work? I’ve been seeking those in my work for many years now, and I have to agree that they’re not there to be found. This verifies what I wrote earlier, that no matter what my job, I need to bring the happiness to it.

I guess the last question is whether this was really a message from God, or just the wisdom of my subconscious. I’m trying to take the same approach as I did a month ago: it just doesn’t matter. Maybe God communicates with me this way rather than vocally because it leaves more room for ambiguity, and is thus easier for me to accept.