Wednesday, August 31, 2005

On Worry

One of the sources of excessive worry, besides biological factors, is self-centeredness. (Perhaps you could say that self-centeredness is a form of excessive worry.)

Sadly, some societies seem to promote self-centeredness as a virtue. I am reminded of a poem by Chrystos that about a disease called ICOTU (I am the Center Of The Universe). Living in the U.S., many people, including myself, sometimes suffer from this affliction until there is a shift in spiritual outlook.

Common signs of self-centeredness are thoughts that appear similar to the following:

  • What am I getting out of this?
  • When will _______ just do what I want (often known as "the right way")?
  • I just wish that __________.
  • If only __________.
  • I only __________.
  • Because if he or she ___________, then I would _____________.
Sometimes what can help is the thought, How can this situation be a genuine benefit to someone else?, along with a belief that there is a greater purpose, meaning, or unseen system at work.
What are your spiritual explanations for how things happen and why?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

On Compassion

An armed carjacking took place on the street where I once lived. By providence, the driver ran from the car, taking a bullet in the hand and the leg, ran down the street and ended up in front of our house. The doorbell rang, then we heard pounding and shouting, "I've been shot! Call the police!" It was a dark evening, 11pm, both the porch light and the street light were out. We kept the door closed and talked to him through the double-paned glass window while calling 911. A few minutes later - after much of his shouting to call for help, his fears of the carjackers coming after him, the thieves driving past us on their motorcycles - the police arrived. We opened the door but could not see much. After replacing the light bulb overhead, the magnitude of the event was displayed clearly - an uneven pool of blood draining from the porch and stairs - the man's hand wrapped in a sweatshirt.

Do you ever wonder how you might react in such a situation? I help people to see themselves clearly, to take in their whole lives, their purpose, and to live in alignment with the world as they see it. What surprised me about this incident is the first reaction I felt upon seeing all of the blood - not horror, disgust, blaming, terror, or anger. It was a deep, genuine sadness; a pain about the intention of those willing to harm or kill another person for a living. Upset about organized crime that recruits those who think they have no prospects for the future otherwise, that hires young people to staff their criminal operations. This is how he pays for gas and rent, like anyone just going to a job.

Sometimes I have the urge to do something self-destructive; I was that way for many years. Because of grace and spirit, I am able to maintain a sense of calm and stay away from the shadow side, on the whole. Sometimes I want to say to people who are acting out, who are oppressed, you are already more powerful than your dreams, you are stronger than you realize, you are already who you are meant to be if you have the courage to face yourself and be calm. When you can be still within yourself, things begin to happen that are beyond your greatest expectations.
Perhaps, this man meant to come to our door that one night to find something that he also needed, something he didn't realize that he had.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

On Suffering

Suffering is a part of life.

Often, those in the human potential movement (who promote empowerment, enlightenment, spirituality, or some type of self-help) forget to mention that your suffering may diminish but never vanish. To say otherwise would be like someone telling you that you will never be sad again, and who would really want that, to be partially human.

But that is not a popular line to sell instant gratification - "Become at peace with the world - and still suffer, sometimes."

For those who wonder what happens when you come closer to your true self and self-transcendence, you do have more peace of mind. And yes, you still suffer.

Sometimes at this stage, the suffering can have a purpose, like a wildfire burning down an overgrown hill. Sometimes the suffering is incomprehensible. Sometimes the suffering is just suffering.

The main difference I notice, besides the ability to feel serenity and joy at times, is that it doesn't seem to matter as much whether or not suffering happens. Of course, in the current day U.S., the suffering endured by most is not of a dire or horrendous nature, in comparison to the types of suffering that exist. While some do experience this type of suffering, the rest of us struggle mainly with interior demons.

What can you learn about yourself through your suffering?