Hello Again (A Love Letter)

December 18, 2011

(This is a note to me from my True Self, but it applies to all.  —Ven)

My dearest,

No one on this Earth loves you like your mother loved you. Even she didn’t love you like Spirit loves you. Why shouldn’t you love yourself the same?

Spirit is the guiding Force, Love, and Intelligence behind the Universe. The Universe can seem to be cruel and unforgiving because of where you are. In the end, though, if you look to Spirit to provide everything you need, It will reach you. It will reach out to you through the Universe, and through your own inner self.

You are draped in love and cradled in forgiveness. You are here! And you live. You make mistakes, you learn, and you conquer the wrongness within yourself. That is right, and it is good.

You are doing what is best for you to do, and that is best for the All. Who wouldn’t love you for such a thing? And yet, even if you didn’t do these things—and you don’t do them perfectly yet anyway—you would still be Loved.

What do you want for your children? To be held down and miserable, because of something they did in the past, still suffering even after they saw their error and went through the agony of correcting themselves—alone?

Would you want your children to live in guilt and unforgiveness because some other person doesn’t see the good inside them?

No!

You would want your children to move forward and step into new light and a new, better way of living. You would want them to have endured suffering, pain, and hardship so that they could earn an even greater and happier existence because of it.

You would want to see your children thrive.

You are the child of your mother. You are the child of the Universe. You are the child of Spirit Itself. You are beloved. You have no need to go on in misery, doubt, and self-blame. No one who loves you wants this for you.

Why can’t you see this? (The ego talking.)

Don’t listen to the ego. Listen to the truth: you are worthy of love and you are worthy to be loved. You carry love within you and it is your right to share it with the world around you. If there is a part of your world that does not accept your love, withdraw it.  Remove yourself from that negative influence and focus your love where it can grow and produce more love.

Where is that? (The ego talking.)

It’s all around you. It’s everywhere. Even people who don’t know you well have given you their support and encouraging words. If they can see your goodness, how much more will someone who truly knows you see your goodness?

Do not limit yourself to satisfy some long-lost directive given by someone with lesser understanding, long ago. You know what is best, and you know what to do. Step out, in faith, and let go. Remember, you have wings! You will fly.

How do I stay positive? (The ego talking.)

Focus on the positive in your life and eliminate the negative. Change whatever you have to in order to live well. Free yourself from the chains that you allow to bind you! You have that power. You know it.

And remember: you are loved, no matter what.

So, my beloved, Hello! Welcome to the Universe again. You are welcome here, and there is much help to guide you along the way. You have no need to fear. You need only take the first step from where you are.

Do not let that which matters most drown in the puddle of that which matters not. There are mountains to be moved. Move them!

Hello, and welcome back.

Love,

Me

(written in 2009)

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I Can Relate

December 16, 2011

I’m so happy and grateful that I can relate. I can relate because I have suffered (and caused harm) and overcome.

Have you been hurt by someone, on purpose? I can relate. Watched a loved one endure pain you can only imagine? I can relate.

Stood by your mother and watched her breathe her last? Been the victim of senseless violence? Lost the love of your life? Fallen into depression, addiction, or self-mutilation? Been divorced? Lost your role as a parent to your own kids? Watched your current or former mate fall into someone else’s arms and bed? Had to give up on someone you love because only they can help themselves? Realized—too late to fix it—the immense pain you inflicted on someone close to you, who trusted you with his or her heart? Had two close friends die in the same way, on different continents, before age 25? Had a young friend take his or her own life? Been violated or otherwise abused? Watched somebody you love die from injury or illness? Carried your mother’s body to the funeral home vehicle? Been homeless for months? Had your heart and sense of self-worth stomped into the ground when you were little?

I can relate. We all can. We all share human life. Life isn’t always fucking peaches and cream.

Suffering is all the same, but it’s different. It all involves loss, it all makes us change the way we see ourselves and the world, and it’s all temporary. You can never lose that which is most important. As someone wise told me this week, “The pain goes away, but you keep the lessons you learned.”

We are strong. We are made of stuff so powerful that we can’t imagine our own strength until we are tested. Life throws pain and heartbreak in our direction so that we can become better because of it.

It’s like being refined in fire. How do you suppose steel would feel as it becomes stronger, better, and more beautiful and useful in the foundry? A samurai sword is bent, folded, hammered, and heated to intense temperatures to make it a worthy weapon in battle. And it is beautiful.

We are powerful, you and I. True power is beautiful. Take that fact and instill it in your bones. Weakness is temporary. Our strength endures.

We are Beauty, incarnated. We are Spirit, caught temporarily in the visceral, gritty web of this physical existence for awhile. We are here to endure, and overcome, and be better than we were yesterday, last month, or last year. We are not here to succumb to the storms of life. We are here to learn to navigate our vessel through every kind of weather, squall, gale, and hurricane—and to return our vessel to shore, whole and complete and functional.

We have the skills, the talent, the ability, and the will to overcome whatever Life throws at us. As another person said, “You will not be tested beyond what you can endure. But when you are tested, you will also be given the power to kick life in its ass.” (I Corinthians 10:13, paraphrased)

(Your King James Version and New International Version New Testaments use the word “tempted” instead of “tested” in this verse. The Greek word peirasomos can mean either “temptation” or “adversity.”)

Time does not heal. The unimaginable power of the human Spirit heals. It just takes time to do it because…well, because we’re human.

And we can do it over and over again, getting better and stronger every time.


It’s Not About Me

December 14, 2011

I blind my eyes and try to force it all into place,

I stitch them up, see not my fall from grace.

I blind my eyes, I hide and feel it passing me by.

I open just in time to say goodbye.

—from “That Was Just Your Life” by Metallica

The New Year finds me at or near the end of a long, underground tunnel where I’ve spent months digging through muck, gathering nuggets and gems, and seeking the light that I hoped I knew must be at the end.

It was both an exercise in faith and a lesson about faith. It sucked, horribly—but it was a profoundly meaningful experience for me. I recently arrived at the end of that particular tunnel, and it takes a little while for my eyes to adjust to the newfound light again.

But it isn’t all about me. I’m just the guy writing and sharing, the guy who has gone inside and plumbed his own depths a little and told others what he found down there. I’m not a bottom-dweller, but I think that to ride the river it helps to know where the rocks are. You can see them a lot better underneath the surface.

If my words seem to be loaded with heaviness or melancholy or “sludge,” it’s only because my time below has been so recent. Like a miner who emerges from a long day’s work, a nice shower and some rest makes everything better and shinier again.

I don’t intend to live in the darkness of pain and suffering. In fact, I’ve emerged from it now anyway. At this point, I’ve reformed my inner world so that it’s more in harmony with Life. Now I’m taking steps toward celebrating life again.

And I’ll share that part of the journey, too. Why? Because I don’t see anybody else doing it in quite the same way.

Like I said, it’s not about me. It doesn’t matter what I have endured to reach a point of greater understanding. All that matters is that we learn from our experiences and don’t get dragged down (emotionally) by life experiences we can’t control.

My life is the same as yours: a function of the Universe, a point of Consciousness, a lesson, a wave to be ridden for all it’s worth. And to go back out and ride again and again and again.

I’m not special. I just learned in 2008 to surrender to the Will of…Whatever You Want To Call It.

And you got to have a ringside seat.

(written in 2009)


2008: A Look at a Year of Suffering-and-Healing

December 13, 2011

At the end of 2007, I was stoked about 2008. Gleefully, I said: “2008 is going to be my year!” I had many exciting plans for 2008, and in a short time I had set them in motion.

As it turned out, 2008 was the most challenging year of my life. I won’t get into the reasons why. As a result of 2008, though, I’m bringing in the New Year with no one to kiss at midnight.

At the beginning of 2008, I was in a very good place—and a very bad one at the same time. I was very confident and optimistic about the plans I had made. Things were going well, and I felt like I was on top of the world. This is the bad part: From my lofty (mental/emotional) position, I felt that I could look down on the rest of the world, separate from its ills, pains, and tragedies. I almost felt superhuman.

My intentions were good, but my thinking was foolish. I didn’t yet understand that there is no insulation from the ups and downs of life as long as we are still in it. Life will continue to throw us curveballs and present challenges, even though we have overcome many of our problems and solved some of the riddles of Life.

As they say, pride cometh before the fall. This is because the Universe loves us.

Because of the events that happened in my life in 2008, many of my wrong ideas about life and my part in it were destroyed. That’s not a bad thing, but it hurts. If we aren’t able to let go of the hurt—if we cling to the wrong ideas we had cherished for so long—we stay in the pain and our life begins (or continues) a downward spiral toward depression, ill health, and early death.

This is the “normal” way of human functioning, unfortunately.

I was determined not to follow this downward spiral that I recognized in so many people, so I learned. I studied. I got introspective and dug into myself. And I suffered, consciously and willingly. 2008 has made me an expert (if there is such a thing) on pain, suffering, and healing. My recent writings are evidence of my search for understanding and relief. I’ve made a lot of progress.

I’d be proud of myself, if I hadn’t become so humble from the experience.

In 2007, I thought I had killed my ego. As it turns out, I had killed only a significant part of it, and another part rose up in its place. 2008 was the year I killed that part.

So, I suppose 2008 really was my year, in a way. I didn’t accomplish a lot of the plans I had made, but Life knows better than I do. It didn’t want me to go out into the world, prematurely, with a half-baked idea of what life is all about. It wanted me to endure a bit more, to share in certain sufferings that I had never shared before, so that I had a better understanding of other people’s pain—and greater Love, compassion, faith, strength, humility, and patience because of it.

Life wanted me to lose so that I could gain from my loss. I think it also wanted to prepare me for more challenges to come. More importantly, I think it wanted me to see that it’s not all about me. It’s about me, and you, and him, and her, and us, and them—the Whole Ball of Wax.

An important lesson, with a heavy price.

(written in 2008)


Big Love

December 11, 2011

There is love, and there is Love. Let’s call them little love and Big Love.

Little love is easy to find, have, and feel. Big Love is not as easy.

We all have little love. We feel it toward many things in life: people, animals, experiences, sensations, feelings, movies, foods, music, ideas, and so on. When we talk about “love,” we usually talk about little love.

Romantic love is little love. (“Big” little love?)

We feel little love when something from outside ourselves fills a hole within ourselves. Little love makes us feel better.

Little love comes and goes. Sometimes it comes back. Maybe many times. But when it leaves we have that hole again, which we then seek to fill again with some other object of little love, which can be quite different from the object we lost.

Because little love fills a hole within us, it causes us to identify with the object of our love. We mistakenly see it, or him, or her, as a part of ourselves. Then we seek to control it, or him, or her, as we would control ourselves. Thus, little love, left on its own, tends to lead to control.

That is a Big Mistake.

Big Love is more elusive, but less fleeting. Its most common expression is a probably a mother’s love for her child. Another common expression is a wife’s love for her husband. But either of these relationships can be little love, not Big Love. Any relationship can be little love, and most of them probably are, for most people.

Big Love is unconditional love. It does not depend on outside circumstances. It does not come and go. It is, patiently. Big Love can be hidden, for a while, underneath wrong thoughts and negative emotion (in fact, this is the state of most of us!), until we get rid of the wrong thoughts and negative emotion somehow.

We all carry Big Love inside, near our core, but most of us have lost view of it underneath a pile of junk.

Romantic love is a great way to get rid of wrong thoughts and negative emotion, so that we can grow into Big Love—if we and our partners are strong enough to handle the process! Parenthood is another way (if we—and our little ones—can handle the process!).

Little love seeks to fill oneself; Big Love seeks to share with another. Little love clings. Big Love lets go. Little love wants what’s best “for me.” Big Love wants what’s best.

Little love can lead to Big Love, with a little patience, understanding—and balls. It’s not easy to let go of what you treasure, or to risk opening the gaping hole in yourself to loss (again). The reason why we have holes in the first place is because of losses we experienced in the past.

Big Love can heal us from those losses. In fact, Big Love is the state of being healed from loss (which then leads to more healing, in ourselves and in others). Big Love is the result of freedom: freedom from the fear of loss, freedom to choose where to bestow the Big Love we carry within us.

We must be free before we can Love.

Freedom is self-determination. Freedom is the ability to choose how we live. Freedom is power. We do not have to be alone to be free, though! Like Big Love, freedom is an interior condition.

Big Love flows from within ourselves, outward to the world, and we bestow it wherever we choose. Little love sucks outer things inward and tries to draw them from the world into itself.

This is not to say that little love is wrong; it’s better than hurting all the time. But how much better it is to heal the holes that make us love, so that we can Love!

(written in 2008)


Acceptance

December 5, 2011

According to an amateur numerology reading I had years ago, I’m supposed to “reach the highest spiritual state possible.”

It might sound silly, but some time ago I realized that I might not ever reach the “highest spiritual state” of a human, at least not in this lifetime. I reach and reach as far as I can from where I am, and I make progress—but that goal is so far away that I can’t see it, or even understand it most of the time.

I have glimpses.

At this point, I don’t want it. I feel a greater purpose on my Path from here to there, and that is my priority, at least until I’m ready for the other.

Maybe I’ll get “there” and maybe I won’t. It’s not even really up to me (a strange thought!), and I’m not worried about it anymore. I have a purpose for being here, and it isn’t a self-centered purpose. In other words, I’m not going to go off and meditate in a cave. I am here.

Here—the place I was trying to escape! But it wasn’t a place. It’s a state of being. It’s just a different one now.

Besides that, I’m learning to accept who I am, where I am, and how much I can reasonably expect of myself. In the past, I’ve constantly striven for more and more progress and I’ve been hard on myself when I make mistakes. This has caused me problems that I won’t even begin to explain right now.

On top of pushing myself mercilessly toward self-growth (which seems dumb from where I am now), I’ve also let my fears about other people’s perception of me determine some of my thoughts, feelings, goals, habits, and behaviors. Whew! How the hell did I not notice it for so long?

The truth is, I did notice it, a bit at a time, over time, and each bit seemed like it was small enough not to worry about. But when you put all those bits together, you end up with a condition. Every “bit” that I ignored was a symptom of the greater condition. My condition has been that of thinking I’m something I’m not, and trying to act like something I’m not. It’s an uncomfortable condition, and each time I noticed it I felt some discomfort.

It’s a psychological law that we treat others the same way we treat ourselves, according to Vernon Howard. I’ve also noticed this tendency in my own experience. I’ve expected more from others than I should, as well as myself. This was unreasonable. Who am I to determine such things?

These negative conditions can only go on for so long, if you’re honest with yourself (which I try to be). I did eventually realize my condition, and I decided to change it. The energy it takes to hold up a false image of myself is better used in something else.

Anything else.

I’ve learned not to be so hard on myself. I can only do what I can do, and some things are simply out of my hands. To try to inject myself where I’m either not wanted or not needed only causes problems. I can’t fix everything. Now I don’t want to. I’d rather enjoy what I have, problems and all. No problem is forever. I’ll handle them when the time is right—and I don’t determine that!

The Path is a process, a journey—not a race.

Do you know what caused my problems? The usual culprits: wrong ideas and unexpressed negative emotions.

(written in 2008)


Captains on the Ocean of Life

December 1, 2011

How could he know this new dawn’s light would change his life forever? Set sail to sea but pulled off course by the light of golden treasure…

—from “The Unforgiven III” by Metallica

We are all as ships’ captains, sailing freely on the sea, guided by the golden light of the ever-setting sun in the distance. If we point our ship toward the eternal sunset, its light guides us always toward our destination—which we eventually learn is no destination at all, but rather a journey of continual growth and improvement.

The wind stays at our backs if we remain steadfast at the rudder, and we move surely and swiftly that way. This takes great faith, intention, and determination, for the journey is long.

The water all around us stretches like shimmering golden carpet beneath the blue ceiling of the sky. Multitudes of ships, each with a single captain/passenger, point in every direction and sail at different speeds—each one toward sparkling gold. Some move toward the sunset and many more move away, against the perpetual easterly wind, sometimes in diagonals or even straight sideways as if keeping the light to one side so as to avoid losing it completely.

There is much danger of collision in these erratic courses.

Gold is sparkling all around us: in every direction, the water-reflected light from its Source dances on the ocean.

In our lifelong quest for the light, we are often distracted by the promise of gold to be had today, or tomorrow, or next year. Perhaps we know at our core that we will never reach our true goal in this lifetime anyway, so these little excursions seem to be worth our time and effort.

Grown accustomed to the little lights flickering everywhere, we sometimes catch a very bright glimpse of gold and gasp, “Oh! It’s so close! What a find!” And so we turn our rudder and pursue the unusually bright light we see close at hand.

Often in our pursuit, the light from this newfound “treasure” flickers as waves enturbulate the surface between us and it. Now it’s there, now it’s not. “No, there! I see it!” we exclaim, and our faith—in the attainment of this new goal—increases. Our goal becomes the attainment of gold, here and now, so we can rest from our journey and rejoice that we have found something worthwhile.

Ships travel every which way, running down fool’s gold, running down the reflection of the light—the reflection that promises so much, which delivers nothing but the fleeting joy of pursuit and can never be reached.

When the fool’s gold we seek disappears (as it always does, sooner or later), we find ourselves lost. Pointed in the wrong direction. Isolated. Confused. In the worst moments, we risk colliding with other ships or unseen rocks below the enturbulated surface.

Hidden enturbulation sometimes causes the shiniest “gold.”

None of this ocean-bound gold has substance, and none of it rewards effort and pursuit, except to teach two lessons: first, that shimmering light can signal danger instead of treasure, and second, that only faith and steadfastness in the Source can bring peace and harmony among captains.

The ocean exists to carry us toward our eventual goal, and its golden illusions are a necessary part of its nature. The ocean is not evil, and neither are its sparkles. Evil comes when captains risk their ships, and those of others, by ignoring the beauty of the ever-unchanging sunset and forsaking its goodness in the pursuit of the illusions that lie all around—without regard for others.

And it is so easy to do.


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