Surrender and Destiny: The Will of God and the Flow of Life

December 23, 2011

D. Vader: “Luke, come to the Dark Side. It is your destiny!”

L. Skywalker: “You don’t know shit, Dad!”

We are all headed inexorably toward our destiny, like water returning to the sea.

Destiny does not mean living up to our potential. We all have untapped potential that we never uncover and use to its fullest possibility; if our destiny depended on doing so, none of us would fulfill it.

Destiny means living out the lives that, from our limited perspective, Life seems to have “planned” for us.

Here are a few possible destinies:

  • raising a future President of the United States
  • leading a revolution
  • dying of alcoholism at a young age
  • writing a series of books about young wizards
  • running over your wife’s cat with a lawnmower
  • making national news because you died in a funny way
  • watching 273 NASCAR races on TV and dying of diabetes
  • winning the Heisman trophy
  • accidentally blinding your child in a fishing accident
  • getting married (and divorced) eight times

In other words, your destiny is whatever will happen in your lifetime. You just don’t know what it is yet!

Whatever we do, whatever we think, however we plan and execute our lives, all of us fulfill our destinies every day, in every moment. At the same time, to a large extent, we choose our own destinies. This is yet another beautiful paradox of Life.

We can kick and fight and scream against the flow of events and experiences in our lives—and if that’s what happens, it is our destiny. On the other hand, we can learn to harmonize ourselves—meaning, primarily, our thoughts—with the flow of Life, accepting and learning from events and experiences instead of fighting them.

If this is the path we choose to take, you guessed it! This, too, is our destiny.

The path of acceptance and learning is the path that leads to peace, enjoyment, and what we call “happiness.” It is the path of surrendering our limited ego-desires to the will of what many people call “God.” The will of “God” is the flow of Life. To this flow we must surrender ourselves. When we do, the Universe starts to harmonize Itself with us. Weird.

Remember, though: we’re all part of the Universe!

Paradoxically (of course!), this path of surrender does not mean that we should resign ourselves to whatever comes our way. If a lion is about to devour you, you do not have to become his next meal! Surrender means learning to understand the way the world works, and what our place is with regard to every thing-else that exists, so that we think, feel, and act rightly—without regret.

Surrender is a process, not an event. It means becoming wise and rising above the things that happen to us, one at a time. This wisdom comes as we realize the nature of Nature, Life, and the Universe.  It comes when we see that we truly are here for a reason, that there is purpose to our individual existence, and that our eventual happiness (perhaps not until beyond this present lifetime) is certain.

This understanding brings us happiness NOW.

It also allows us to let go of our attachments to people, experiences, ideas, and so on (in other words, the dead past or the imagined future), so that we can move on and begin to live better, happier lives.

We are animated by Spirit Itself, to which we are continually nudged from within and drawn from without, by way of the very Universe that so often seems so cruel and unfair. With this understanding, we can relax and let our destiny unfold. As a wild pig once said, Hakuna matata!

(written in 2009)

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Goodwill Toward God

November 29, 2011

Goodwill. Good will. Positive intention. Nice thoughts. Right desires. Correct thinking.

Examine these concepts in order, from left to right, and see their relationship. Recognize the progression from left to right, and take note of the similar terminology. Is “goodwill” different from “correct thinking?” What if they are the same thing?

I believe that goodwill is correct thinking.

Life forms are animated by Life Energy, Consciousness, or Spirit (whichever you want to call it). This intelligent energy is also responsible for the creation and sustenance of the universe. Through the substances and beings It inhabits, the intentions of Divine Intelligence are brought forth into existence and, while we observe, history happens.

In the cycle of life, you could say that the Creator, this intelligent life energy (which I like to call “JUICE!”), “descends” into creation and, once living, thrusts “upward,” from within beings, back toward the Source (Itself) for which It is constantly striving. This thrust is the impetus for evolution and life.

Beings who begin to feel and understand the presence of this Energy within themselves soon recognize the rightness of goodwill toward other people. Eventually they move on to goodwill with regard to life forms, first animals and then plants. If they continue far enough on their path, they begin to emanate goodwill not only toward all creation, but also toward the Creator Itself:

They feel goodwill toward God.

This goodwill toward God can also be called “reverence,” or even “worship.”

The essence of worship is the recognition, within the individual being, of the connection he or she (for those are the only two choices at this level of biology) shares with the Divine Being. The reason this connection exists is the unity of the individual and the Divine. “I and the Father are One,” said the Master. “Atman (the individual spirit) and Brahman (the Great Spirit) are one,” said the ancient Hindus. The same can be said for any person who recognizes that the very spirit which animates himself is the same Spirit which religions seek to personify and describe in their myths and ceremonies.

One’s spirit and Universal Spirit are a unity. This is why spirituality brings one closer to one’s Divine Source. Spirituality is the allowance of Divine Energy within oneself to draw closer to the Source “above” or “out there.” Like attracts like.

Goodwill toward God, then, is goodwill toward oneself—one’s Greater Self, “God in you.” Worship not only recognizes the Divine; it also serves and refreshes the spirit within. True worship is right thinking toward God.

(written in 2008)


The Necessity of Understanding Evolution

November 26, 2011

I was taught as a child that evolution was synonymous with atheism, the devil, and the spirit of Antichrist. I was also taught that the Bible is both unquestionable and literally true. Of course, the Bible implies that creation happened about six thousand years ago.

As I grew and learned, however, I realized several things that were not just important, but absolutely crucial to my growth and understanding as a spiritual person. I eventually had to cast aside my long-ingrained negative views about the idea of evolution in the face of the overwhelming evidence for it—and the impossibility of excluding it in a rational view of What’s Going On Here.

What, indeed is going on here? Why do we exist, and for what purpose? Where did we come from and where are we going? What are we supposed to be doing with our time here? The correct answer to these questions will elude us as long as we try to keep evolution out of the picture.

Why is evolution such an important part of the puzzle for people who seek to understand life, themselves, and the Divine?

There are two basic ways of looking at the universe, humanity, and history. These two perspectives are not compatible, and they produce opposing attitudes toward life. The first is the idea that the universe used to be perfect and has “fallen” to its current state. The second is the idea that the universe has developed from a less developed and aware state into its current, more complex and aware state.

Each viewpoint implies the projection into the future of whichever past trend is accepted. If the world has fallen, it continues to fall; if it is improving, it continues to improve.

The reality is that the universe is, and always has been, in a continual state of improvement that will apparently continue into the future. By “improvement,” I mean progress toward an apparent planned end state or goal. We stand today as the heirs of billions of years of change (evolution) that has produced our world, brains, technology, and spirituality out of the largely undifferentiated state of matter that apparently existed immediately after the Big Bang.

It is a mystery to me why people cling to older ideas of a recent creation and the “fall” of the universe (world) from perfection in the face of overwhelming—and demonstrable—evidence to the contrary. Is it really so difficult to accept, for instance, the idea that a Creator did indeed create the universe many billions of years ago and even now guides the development of that creation to ever-better states of being and increasing complexity?

That evolution happened, and continues to happen, is a fact, not a theory. (Natural selection is a theory about how it happens.) The point of contention among those who accept evolution as truth seems to be the mechanism behind it: the “how.” What makes evolution happen?

To postulate that a Creator or at least an intelligent, conscious force drives the course of evolution (and continually infuses the necessary creative energy into the process) is not in the realm of science. Nevertheless, something has to make things happen, whatever you wish to call it. My view is that acceptance or belief in a Divine intelligence behind evolution (and all of existence) is a healthy and rational perspective. This idea does not hinder or contradict either science or the evidence for evolution, and it allows people to retain their (perhaps natural and necessary) idea of a Creator who (or which) deserves acknowledgement or even reverence.

Creation and evolution don’t have to be mutually exclusive, in other words.

The world isn’t getting worse; it’s getting better, on the average, despite news reports that focus exclusively on negative or harmful events. Evolution is only the visible development of this wondrous and progressive change that the Creator has had in mind all along.


Being Led

October 16, 2011

If you go through life with an undying desire to know, learn, and understand about yourself and your relationship to life, other people, and the world around you, you find yourself being led in certain directions.

You’re in a partnership with the Universe: you open yourself with your curiosity, and the Universe responds to this “request” by arranging circumstances that lead you to fulfill your honest and noble desire to reach your fullest potential in this life.

It’s always your choice to respond to each situation as you desire. You might learn this time, and you might not. But the Universe, ever more loyal to you than the dearest golden retriever , will bring you back again and again to the same sort of circumstances until you learn the lesson—which, remember, you yourself requested!

Every path is different, but all who truly allow themselves to be led will share some of the same kinds of experiences in common:

  • strange coincidences
  • “peak” experiences
  • emotional upheavals
  • intuitive understandings
  • severed relationships
  • a sense of being alone or unique among people
  • fascination with religious, spiritual, paranormal, metaphysical, or supernatural ideas
  • and so on.

At the center of everyone’s path is a growth in our awareness of ourselves as increasingly more empowered and more emotionally free from the binds of our past, even as we learn more about the intimate relationship we have—all life has—with the Divine Urge behind Creation.

(I don’t mean to ruin the ending, but we’re all connected by the Creative Force of Life—”God”—living and learning through us.)

Someone wise once said to “trust the unfolding of your life.” I would add two things to that advice:

  1. Never allow fear to make your decisions for you.
  2. Watch out for those who pretend to know, without the experience to back up their words.

Above all, don’t worry! Your life will unfold according to your inner nature, regardless of anything else that would appear to influence it. As you need to learn, the means to learn will show up in your life.


10 Ways to Increase God’s Power in Your Life

October 15, 2011

The values that follow are not just a listing of nice-sounding qualities that I think someone should have to be a “moral” person. They are parts of a process whereby someone—anyone!—can move from a position of darkness (or ignorance) to a position of light (or understanding).

If followed, these suggestions (along with other tools that will be given or acquired along the way) can lead human beings to greater understanding and spiritual awakening. These steps aremore or less in the order that they must be practiced in order to advance on the spiritual path. Some of them come largely as a result of your practice of the others.

1) Honesty. You must be willing to see and accept Reality as it is, not as you were taught that it is, and not as you think it should be.

2) Humility. You must be willing to accept and admit that you are wrong (because you are in some ways that you might not be happy to admit).

3) Responsibility. You must not blame others, including your parents or other early caregivers, for your condition. You cannot fix it unless you have the power to fix it. You cannot have that power if you assign it to others, which is what you do when you blame (a person, or condition, or circumstance). Other people can never use that power anyway! You have to do it yourself.

4) Receptivity. You must make yourself open to intuitive guidance. Your intuition is the voice of God speaking within you. Learn to identify it and follow it. You can learn to be in touch with God at all times!

5) Determination. Once you have decided on a course of action, you must not give up! But you should always improve your methods if you learn new information or better ways. (See #4.)

6) Patience. You must allow the unfolding of your life in due order and timing. It doesn’t happen overnight. As you grow, you will see yourself as the beneficiary of patience from the Universal Presence that guides you. This can enable you to be more patient with yourself, and with the Presence that works in all things for your good.

7) Humor. You must be able to see the lighter side of things! Many of us have the idea that life is a deadly serious matter, to be deliberated and secured in any way possible. Relax! When you realize that you are an eternal being, you will be able to laugh at things that used to give you anxiety attacks.

8) Love. You must learn to see yourself in all things in your experience. This includes people, animals, plants, and even nonliving things. Unbridled destruction is not a manifestation of love. True craftsmanship is. Cruelty is not. Care-giving is. Whatever you’re experiencing, your mindset brought it into your experience and thus it somehow proceeds from you. To deny or contradict your own experience is to deny or contradict yourself. If you don’t like your life, change yourself! Learn to Love and you will find Love flowing back to you through the previously mentioned people, animals, plants, and even nonliving things.

9) Service. You must eventually learn to serve others as God has served you. As a human being, you are a representative of the most evolved—and therefore most Godlike—species on the Earth. (Okay, maybe except for dolphins.) Help others along the path, as you yourself have been helped.

10) Trust/Faith. You must understand that the Universe is on your side. Nothing happens without purpose behind it. All events tend toward the greater good of everyone. Many times, a negative experience is a lesson to be learned. Determine that you will learn it—so you don’t have to repeat it, or something essentially (in essence) the same as it.

Keep these ideas in your mind and you will bring God into your life. In reality, of course, God is (and is in) everything, including you. What really happens, then, is that these ideas bring your conscious mind to the place where it can recognize the workings of the Divine in your own life.

Then you will know that you are indeed resting in the bosom of God, each moment of your life.


What Is Reality?

October 14, 2011

Reality is what you believe it to be. This doesn’t mean that whatever you believe is true, though. It means that whatever you believe to be true will be shown to you to be true in your own experience.

In other words, as much truth as you are aware of will be the amount of truth you experience in your daily life.

For example, if you believe you’re not good for much compared to other people and that you can’t run ten miles, guess what? You’ll find that you’re not good for much compared to other people and you can’t run ten miles. Your self-limiting belief will be your reality. Someone else’s more or less limiting set of beliefs will constitute their own reality. We see by the amount of light we shine. And where does our light come from? From our True Self within us.

In truth, the only thing in this life that can or does limit you is your self-concept, the collection of beliefs about who you are and what you’re able to do. As you shed self-limiting beliefs, you find yourself able to do more things, better, than you could before.

Realization of these truths isn’t a fast meal ticket to whatever you desire, though. Awakening is a process. You’ll be able to advance toward a more powerful, happier, and more successful mindset gradually, as you learn and as your brain “rewires” itself.

To leap from a “disabled welfare recipient with diabetes” kind of mindset to a “king of industry” mindset is possible, but not overnight. What a shock to the system it would be!

If you reach for, and practice thinking, the least-limiting beliefs you currently hold in mind, you will eventually reach a point, a mindset, that you couldn’t reach from where you were before. From that new vantage point, an even better spot will be visible. Remember to cast aside the old beliefs as you outgrow them, though. Conflicting beliefs can result in inaction or worse.

It is important to note here that beliefs are self-limiting. That’s why they’re in a separate category called “beliefs.” If we knew them to be true, we would call them “facts.” Beliefs can also be called opinions, assumptions, arguments, positions, viewpoints, and assertions.

To know what is true, real, and good, we must rise above such illusory bases of reality and learn to know. This means coming to know who you are and what your relationship is to the world and people around you. It means answering, for good, your questions about God and happiness, among many other questions.

Tomorrow I’ll share one way to do it. You could call it my own 10-step program for finding God in your life.


What Is Reality?

October 14, 2011

Reality is what you believe it to be. This doesn’t mean that whatever you believe is true, though. It means that whatever you believe to be true will be shown to you to be true in your own experience.

In other words, as much truth as you are aware of will be the amount of truth you experience in your daily life.

For example, if you believe you’re not good for much compared to other people and that you can’t run ten miles, guess what? You’ll find that you’re not good for much compared to other people and you can’t run ten miles. Your self-limiting belief will be your reality. Someone else’s more or less limiting set of beliefs will constitute their own reality. We see by the amount of light we shine. And where does our light come from? From our True Self within us.

In truth, the only thing in this life that can or does limit you is your self-concept, the collection of beliefs about who you are and what you’re able to do. As you shed self-limiting beliefs, you find yourself able to do more things, better, than you could before.

Realization of these truths isn’t a fast meal ticket to whatever you desire, though. Awakening is a process. You’ll be able to advance toward a more powerful, happier, and more successful mindset gradually, as you learn and as your brain “rewires” itself.

To leap from a “disabled welfare recipient with diabetes” kind of mindset to a “king of industry” mindset is possible, but not overnight. What a shock to the system it would be!

If you reach for, and practice thinking, the least-limiting beliefs you currently hold in mind, you will eventually reach a point, a mindset, that you couldn’t reach from where you were before. From that new vantage point, an even better spot will be visible. Remember to cast aside the old beliefs as you outgrow them, though. Conflicting beliefs can result in inaction or worse.

It is important to note here that beliefs are self-limiting. That’s why they’re in a separate category called “beliefs.” If we knew them to be true, we would call them “facts.” Beliefs can also be called opinions, assumptions, arguments, positions, viewpoints, and assertions.

To know what is true, real, and good, we must rise above such illusory bases of reality and learn to know. This means coming to know who you are and what your relationship is to the world and people around you. It means answering, for good, your questions about God and happiness, among many other questions.

Tomorrow I’ll share one way to do it. You could call it my own 10-step program for finding God in your life.


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