Living in the Moment

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.  ~Buddha

When I first heard the phrase “living in the moment” I found myself laughing sadly and shaking my head at the gullible fools who would buy into something so inane.  Live in the moment?  What fool would settle for living in the moment?  Man oh man, talk about boring!

I didn’t want to live in the moment.  What I wanted was to live my dreams, to achieve my goals; to make something of myself so that when I died the world would remember me!  Forget about this living in the moment stuff. Obviously it was a cop out by those who hadn’t done anything with their lives; people who perhaps had once dreamed big but who had failed to follow through and were now regretting it; something to fall back on in order to make themselves feel better.

I knew better.  I knew that if you wanted to be anything in life; if you wanted to make something of yourself, you had to remain in control; not only of yourself but of everyone and everything around you.  Leaving anything up to chance was just plain foolishness.

If you wanted to get anywhere in life you needed to focus on your goals and break your projects down into small steps that you could accomplish and then, when all of the steps were completed, presto, your goal would be achieved.  Well, that was the plan.  And hey, it worked for businesses, why not for me?

There was just one problem. The goals that I had set for myself were not in alignment with my soul purpose.  Hell, I didn’t even know what my soul purpose was.  I had created a nice neat fiction for my life; a belief that when I attained a specific level of financial security or professional achievement that I would, at last, be happy. Well, that was the plan anyway.

And so it was that even when I had achieved each goal there was always something missing.  It was like baking a cake.  I’d followed the steps – added all of the ingredients in the proper order – and had a perfect cake sitting in front of me, but even though it looked perfect, it didn’t taste quite right.  What had I done wrong?

Over time, however, I have discovered something; I found out what was missing, and it was far simpler than I could have imagined and all the more difficult because of that to implement.  What I was missing was living (dare I say it?) in the moment; enjoying what I had already achieved without the expectation of what came next; of what I could do better next time around.

For all of my lists and my schedules; for all of my hopes and dreams and plans; for all of my visualization and projection; without being able to step aside and get out of my own way I ended up with a picture perfect cake that had little if any flavor.

This isn’t to say that we can’t dream.

This isn’t to say that visualization will not bring you your heart’s desire.

All this means is that we need to take the time – right now – to enjoy the moment that we spent all of our yesterday’s dreaming of and visualizing.  It is the enjoyment of the moment that we have created that brings us the flavor of our days. And it is here, in the quiet of appreciation and the letting go of expectation where we will find that happiness has been waiting patiently for us all along.

 

 

Living In The Moment

To take each day as it comes

To live each moment as it arrives

To hope for nothing

To fear nothing

To expect nothing

Makes each moment a priceless gift;

A gift from the universe

Straight to your heart

A gift to be treasured and adored

A gift to be enjoyed, experienced

And then released.

~SSHenry

 

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The Price of Love

As strange as it may seem, it is possible to love without attachment.  I’ll grant you, that is an alien concept in a day and age when the concept of love has been watered down to the point where it is used in regards to your like of soft drinks and computer games.  But it IS possible.

Love without attachment is also love without expectation.  The object of your love is not required to do or be anything other than exactly what it is.  If it should change from one moment to the next; if, like a rabid dog, they suddenly turn on you and attack for no reason other than the fact that you are there, it won’t change the fact that you still love them.

Most people can get to the point of wrapping their brains around the idea of unconditional love; of love without expectation and attachment when it comes to a parent’s love for their child, but what about love for a perfect stranger?

For love to be truly unconditional it has to be based on more than what the person (or object) can do for you (give you love back in return, provide you with financial or emotional support, give you validation for your choices or provide you with a justification for being alive).

Truly unconditional love comes from a realization that all of us; you, me, the person standing next to you, the homeless man on the corner, the obnoxious politician – all of us; that each and every one of us is instrumental to the well being of the universe and of life on this planet.  It comes from an acknowledgement that even though we may each seem completely different, at our deepest core WE ARE ONE.

The True Price of Love

 

True love comes with a price – the price of pain;

 Of giving up a tiny bit of yourself to the one you love,

Knowing full well that you will never get that piece back;

Of knowing that as long as they live they will hold a tiny piece of your heart and soul.

 

And the true cost of living a life of love – whether it is the one love of a lifetime

Or many loves throughout your life – is that by the time you are done;

By the time your heart stops beating; there is nothing left of your heart.

It has been spread across the world – across the universe.

 

It has become a part of everyone and everything you have ever interacted with.

No matter how large or how small a part they played in your life,

You loved them; and in loving them you gave them a bit of your heart;

And in them your heart beats on and loves forever.

~SSHenry

The Smelting Pot

Why is it that so many people have such a deep-seated fear of oneness?

Honestly, you say the word and you can feel people cringe; that is when they are not jumping all over you for promoting ‘New Age claptrap’ or un-American sentiments.

Un-American? Really?  Last I heard America was the ‘Great Melting Pot’ where Peoples of different races and religions came together and became something more together than they were individually; a place where thoughts and concepts and ideas could mix freely and homogenize into something altogether different; something stronger and more unique.  Well, that’s how we billed ourselves, Once Upon a Time.

Times, it seems, have changed.

Once upon time the concept of the Great Melting Pot actually made sense.  It didn’t matter who you were, or where you were from.  You could come and add your own uniqueness to the mix; you could learn new ways of thinking and doing and being and, out of them, create a life for yourself that was richer and stronger than would have been possible if you had continued to go it alone; like taking a plate of Iron, melting it down to its most basic, fundamental levels, removing the impurities, oxidizing it, and ending up with steel; something far stronger and more durable.

The problem is that over the years the concept Great Melting Pot has turned into the great Homogenizing Plant, and homogenization isn’t about increasing strength and stability of any one person or group of Peoples.  Homogenization is where substances are brought together and emulsified until what made them “them” is distributed evenly throughout the mixture and there is no uniqueness or individuality left.

Steel is still Iron; just iron that has been purified and strengthened.  When you homogenize milk, on the other hand, while it loses its impurities, it also looses much of the richness and flavor that made it so enjoyable to begin with.  If you don’t believe me, stop by a farm sometime and take a drink of milk fresh from a cow, there really is no comparison.

Believe it or not, this is the same problem that people run into when they think of the concept of spiritual unity and oneness.  Instead of seeing oneness as a smelting pot; a process that enriches the individual; a process that not only removes your impurities but strengthens you with concepts and ideas that you might never otherwise have encountered, they see it as homogenization; as a loss of everything that made them an individual.

They have somehow got it into their heads that when you subscribe to “oneness” you give up all of your individuality; all of your flavor; everything that made you “you.”  Actually, they couldn’t be more wrong.

Oneness isn’t about becoming the same as everyone else.  It isn’t about losing your distinctness or merging into some sort of protean soup where you give up your ability to think for yourself.  In fact, as long as we live in this physical universe and subscribe to physical duality that is patently impossible.  Our very existence as human beings here on this planet indicates that we are here to live as individuals and to thrive, each of us in our unique and distinct physical package.

What oneness is about is acknowledging that at our most fundamental core, each and every one of us is made up of the same substance.  Oneness is not something that we strive for; it is something that we remember because it is something that already happened.

We all come from that great smelting pot where the iron was crafted into steel.  Through the process of living, each of us takes on different strengths and weaknesses.  We’ve had different alloys added into our mix to make new and unique metals.  We’ve been cast into beams to hold up sky scrapers and into fence posts and belt buckles and kitchen kettles.  We find our place as cookware or flatware or decorative objects that have to be highly polished.

But underneath it all; underneath all of the polishing and decorative coats of paint; underneath all of the plaster and plumbing that have been built up over us; underneath of the circuits and computer chips and plastic casings; we’re all the same.

No matter how we may fight the knowing, we ARE all one.

There is no getting around it.

Acknowledging the fact that we are all, at our core, spiritual beings and that we are made up of the same stuff does not mean that we will stop being who and what we are, that we will have to melt down the sky scrapers and the flatware and the belt buckles and the jewelry and give up our individuality for some sort of homogenized boredom.

All it means is that by acknowledging that we are all made up of the same stuff we will go about our lives with a fresh perspective; the knowledge that no matter how different we may seem, at heart we ARE one.

And that, my friends, can make all the difference in the world.

One Twisted Sister

I don’t know how many of you remember this, but during the 1980’s there was a heavy metal band by the name of Twisted Sister.  (Note:  Actually, I believe that they are still performing, but I lost track of them after their break up during the late 80’s).  Anyway, my freshman year in high school they came out with a song that spoke to an entire generation of young people and became the battle cry for change, or at least for rebellion.

That year it felt like We’re Not Gonna Take It was playing everywhere.  You heard it at parties and on the radio and kids screaming it in the halls.  It was the classic case of teenage rebellion against parental control; against societal expectation; a million kids standing shoulder to shoulder and screaming that they would be damned if they were going to become their parents.

Well, just as with every other generation, we focused so hard on what we didn’t want that we brought it to us.  All you have to do is look around at the 40-something generation to see that (with a handful of exceptions) they have become what they most feared; they have become their parents.

So what happened?  How did an entire generation of kids so determined to NOT be their parents end up drinking the Kool-Aid, buying houses in suburbia and haranguing their own sons and daughters to get haircuts and clean up their rooms?  Frankly, it was a lack of intention.

You see, one thing that many of the Law of Attraction gurus fail to focus on is that without adding intention to the mix you can focus on happy happy thoughts until the end of time without ever seeing any change for the better.  In fact, if your focus is fear of something (in my generation’s case a fear of becoming like their parents) just wanting to NOT be like them was (obviously) not enough.

So going back to 1984; you had a generation of kids screaming that they weren’t going to take it; that they were NOT going to be like their parents (many of whom had been a part of the flower power generation in their own time but who had then gone mainstream), and for a while it worked.  These kids (like every other generation of teenagers in the history of mankind) went out and did the exact opposite of what their parents wanted.  They let their hair grow and played guitar loudly in the basement.  They refused to give a crap about their education or to take life seriously.  They escaped the demands of reality by escaping into video games and shut out the world around them by strapping on their walkmans.

But for all of their breaking away from reality, for all of their refusal to conform to societal standards or to give a crap about anyone other than themselves, it all fell apart due to their lack of intention.  They knew that they wanted to change, that they wanted their lives to be different; to have actual meaning and purpose, but they had no idea what exactly that meaning or purpose should be.

And so, like so many generations before them, these 80’s children went from screaming “We’re not gonna take it” to accepting it in order to get a job that would pay the bills to bending over and taking it in order to keep the job and continue being able to pay the mortgage and their own children’s college bills.

Yes, as with every other generation there have been exceptions to the rule; individuals who broke free from the traditions and the expectations and who focused their intention on creating a life for themselves free of restrictions.  But for the most part, those without intention; those who were not able to focus their wants and desires into actual decisions simply lost their momentum and turned into replicas of their parents; working within the system if not by choice then out of necessity.

Regardless of what generation you grew up in, just because you find yourself stuck in a (seemingly) unalterable lifestyle does not mean that change cannot happen.  All it means is that you are less likely to break free from it than you were as a teenager when there were fewer obligations and responsibilities weighing you down.  Change can still happen. It just isn’t as easy.

Indeed, if you can pause in your rat race for long enough the need for change can become an overwhelming urge; the desire to break free from the traditions and expectations that have turned you into something that you are not can wash over you with the force of a tsunami and the race for an authentic life; one lived from the heart and not from someone else’s expectations of who and what you should be can take on a driving force all of its own.

But what is to keep you from failing again?  What is to keep your dreams of a fuller, richer life from being just that; dreams?  The answer is in intention.

Just knowing that you want something more; something different is not enough.  Every teenager wants something different. For that matter, many adults do too (even though they repress it with their need to be responsible and ‘mature.’)  What it takes is intention to turn your dream of something more into your reality of the life you know that you were always meant to live.

Mind you, as adults you have more baggage to sort through, and it is going to be harder to let go of many of those expectations that have become ingrained parts of your life and that are keeping you from creating your dream life, but it can be done.  It is possible to create the life you always wanted; you just have to be able to live life intentionally.

When you can do that, when you can turn the universe’s perverse sense of humor (bringing you what you focus on; in most people’s cases – fear) to your own advantage, everything will fall into place and you will cease regarding the universe as a twisted sister who keeps you from getting what you want and see it instead as simply the source of your own power for change and intentional living.

The Enlightened Art of Chasing Rainbows

You’ve run into them, I know you have, those New Age ‘gurus’ who sell a method or process of enlightenment that is “guaranteed” to work.   Well, you have to buy their book or their 10 disc CD set or sign up for their online course (where you get a personal spirit coach and a free reading on your etheric colors).

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not knocking their methods.  In fact, I have read a huge number of “how to” and “self help” books that contain some extraordinarily awesome suggestions; tips and techniques that have definitely made my own spiritual journey far richer and more interesting than it would have been if I’d continued to keep slugging away through the underbrush on my own; forging my own path with absolutely no outside help and only a semi-sharp machete.

I only have one problem when it comes to these sorts of spiritual teachers, and that is the overall attitude that there is just one way to enlightenment – their way – when in truth the process of enlightenment is more like chasing rainbows.

Didn’t you ever chase after a rainbow as a kid?  You can see it, its right there!  And yet, when you get to the point of the rainbow’s origin, what do you find?  Nothing but mist and sunlight; nothing tangible; nothing substantial, and definitely nothing that you can lay your hands on and say “hey look, I’ve got me a rainbow!”  In fact, once you reach the point where the rainbow seemed to touch the ground, chances are that you will have found that it has moved on to the top of the hill; the top of the mountain; always a step ahead of you and just out of reach.

As you get older you learn about how rainbows are made and even the knowledge that it is nothing but raindrops and sunbeams doesn’t deter us.  Even the knowledge that the array of colors is due to the prismatic effect of refraction doesn’t keep us from our goal.  We still try.  We might even consult with others who claim that they know how to pin one down.

Yes, there are teachers who have a grasp on ways to help you see the colors more clearly.  There are those who can give you a step by step description of what each color means and others who will be able to walk you through the process of refraction and be able to discuss the philosophical meaning of rainbows and the importance they play in the human drama, but there is not one teacher out there who can teach you how to lay your hands on that rainbow.  Why?  Because it can’t be done.

That’s right.  There is no such thing as “achieving” enlightenment.  I don’t care how hard you run or how many mountains you climb, you will never “achieve” enlightenment.  There will never be anything that you can hold out and say, “Here is enlightenment.  It is within my grasp.  It is mine.”  Why?  Because enlightenment is not something that you get; it is not something that you get.  Enlightenment is the process of stepping back and discovering that enlightenment was inside of you the entire time.

You are the sun.

You are the rain.

And it is in your heart and mind and soul that the rainbow not only has its origins but where you will find your pot of gold as well.

 

 

Let Me Love You

There are some things that are very difficult to put into words.  Love; real love; unconditional love is one of those.

When those of us who have been raised in western socieities think of love we almost always associate it with things like romantic love, passion, sex, intimacy and those things that lead up to these.  But there are so many kinds of love!  There is the love for a lover, yes of course.  But there is also the love of a parent for a child, a child for a parent, for a sibling or a friend or even for a stranger.   But there is also love that comes from the feelings we have for a place, or an experience.  The kind of love we have for words and food and beatiful artwork.

In truth, anything that stirs the soul can be said to contain a bit of love; a spark of the divine to which our own souls gravitate.  But then of course,  there is unconditional love; an all encompasing love that includes every type of love that you could ever feel for any person place or thing that is or was or ever will be.

You see, unconditional love is not dependant on anything outside of itself for its existence.  It does not need to be acknowledged by those to whom it is given.  It needs no one to return it in order for it to be justified.   It requires nothing in order to exist.  It simply IS.

There are some people who can love like this – totally and completely – and who require nothing in return.  This doesn’t mean that they do not appreciate being loved in return or having the love that they give acknowledged and appreciated.  It simply means that regardless of whether or not anyone even notices, or cares, they will continue to love.

It is simply who they are.

It is what they DO.

They ARE love for they have touched the infinite, and once the soul has felt that grace, there is no turning back.  It is part of you, forever and always.

 

LET ME LOVE YOU

Let me love you.
Let me pour out my spirit, my soul;
let it wash over you until you are drenched in my love.

Let my spirit soak into your skin
and fill your eyes and mouth;
your heart and soul with the river of my passion.

Let the soft current of my desire
scour away any doubts and fears
let it sweep you past the point of no return
to where the waterfall of eternal bliss
cascades into the mists of eternity.

I never knew that my heart was made of wax,
But here it is melting every time I look into your eyes.
Maybe I flew to close to the sun of your smile
Because I feel my wings beginning to slip.
It doesn’t matter if I plummet to earth.
I’ve known the warmth of your touch
And my heart will never be the same again.

The Empty Circle

There is a yearning in every human heart; a seeming emptiness that cries out to be filled.

Some people feel this emptiness as a lack. They feel that there is something tangible that is missing in their lives and attempt to fill it with whatever makes the feel better; drugs, sex, alcohol, food, shopping. It doesn’t seem to matter. They feel that if they can just get enough of whatever thing or experience has made them feel good in the past, that they can fill up this emptiness even if it is a temporary fulfillment.

Some people feel that this is a spiritual emptiness; a yearning for God. I’ve heard sermons where preachers claim that it is the voice of divinity or the Holy Spirit speaking to the heart; that if an individual just give up enough of themselves, surrenders themselves; that God will take away the pain and emptiness and fill it with something even better.

But what if it isn’t an emptiness at all?

Zen Buddhism has a symbol – an almost circle called an ensō.  This almost circle is painted with a single brush stroke and it is symbolic of the moment when the mind is free to simply let the body/spirit create.  It  is said that with practice the mind can be taught to leave that center space open on purpose in order to give the body and the spirit room to create the life that you have always wanted.

Seemingly related is the center point of the Chinese Bagua; the eight sided (nine spaced) cosmological chart that is used in order to practice Feng Shui (the art of placement).  In this particular practice the center point – the center space of the Bagua is always (if possible) left open and empty so as to invite in new energy and to give you room to create the type of home that you truly desire.

Indeed, what if this openness; this space inside of each heart is anything but empty?

Think about it.  What if this space that we perceive of as emptiness and equate with loneliness and lack is actually a part of the system design of our body/soul interface?

It’s not that far-fetched really.  All of the most useful and practical of machines are made not only with specifically designed working parts, but with spaces in which those parts can work. Gears have to turn.  Levers have to shift.  Even when it comes to computers, there has to be memory space in order for calculations to be made; places for all those ones and zeroes to gather and process.

What if – instead of fighting the emptiness; instead of trying so desperately to fill it up, we instead embraced it?

What if we accepted that empty space inside of our minds, hearts and spirits as the space in which dreams come true; as the workspace of our souls where it can get to work on putting together the life that we have always wanted?  What if it is here, in the emptiness that our conversations with our souls can begin?

Perhaps then the emptiness would take on an entirely different meaning.  Instead of emptiness and loneliness we would find peace, comfort and understanding, and we would stop trying so desperately to fill something that is simply a necessary part of the way that we were designed.