Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Refocusing on our Choices

Today, more than at any other times in our lives, as enlightenment-seekers, we must remain vigilant about what we think and eat. It's vitally important for us to stop the busy work of chasing after things -- money, fame, social acceptance, and so forth -- and focus on the importance of working to achieve enlightenment (empowerment).

For many of us, the busy work seems more important, more real, than the enlightenment work. We frequently lose ourselves in the everyday madness of making decisions with cluttered minds. This is the clutter produced from our victim beliefs.

Sometimes, when our minds are cluttered with unimportant things, – money, regrets, status, doubts, and so forth – we don’t have enough space to make good, clear decisions about the important things – family, vision, life, confidence, and so forth – in our lives. Unfortunately, we can't see beyond the clutter.

During moments when we feel overwhelmed by the busy work, these are the times we must find the inner strength to stop, examine, and understand the criteria we are using to make our decisions.

Whenever we take the time to examine the criteria we are using to measure the effectiveness of our actions, we begin to understand how important our decision-making criteria is on our abilities to change how we think and live. Our decision-making criteria is present in all our decisions, even those we think are insignificant.

On this journey, even the minute decisions we make, like choosing where we live, work, and play, reflect what's going on in our minds. Regardless to the importance or, lack thereof, we place on our decisions, they all emanate from the clutter in our minds.

In many instances, our minds play tricks on us. We confuse victim choices with enlightened ones. The clutter from victim consciousness creates this confusion. And it's exacerbated by our lack of awareness about what constitutes an enlightened action.

If we have cluttered minds, then the criteria we use to make decisions emanates from this clutter. Since we don’t what the landmarks look like on the enlightenment road, it’s easy to get lost and to confuse victim actions with enlightenment ones.

To begin this process, we must refocus and make some different choices about how we're continually contributing to our own pain and suffering. Moreover, we must take deliberate actions to quell the noise from the clutter in our minds so we can think clearly about the choices we make as we move forward with our lives.

As we know, there are not too many of us who can say we’re proud of the choices, particularly the seemingly insignificant ones, we have made, and continue to make.

The essence of a victim's consciousness is the clutter and lack of clarity. As victims, those who feel powerless to change their lives, we live and suffer with our clutter. After awhile, we accept powerlessness similar to the way we accept our eyes blinking. It is natural, uneventful. We only become concerned with our eyes when they cause us pain. The same is true with our victim beliefs.

From our confusion, we find it challenging to free enough space to make clear decisions. Even during those moments when we feel we've made a thoughtful, deliberative decision, we frequently realize afterwards that our decisions were not enlightened at all. And we regret ever making them in the first place.

To illustrate this confusion we can examine how mindful we are eating burnt flesh, drinking sugar-laden drinks, snacking feverishly on chips and dip, or gossiping about people and things we know little or nothing about.

Similarly, we don't focus too much on the importance we place on seemingly, small, insignificant things that tend to benefit us. When a clerk or waiter gives us too much change for a purchase, we might find it easy to keep the money rather than return it to him or her. After all, we might say, "it's their mistake. Maybe, next time they'll be more careful."

We might find it even more challenging when a friend or relative approaches us with the latest gossip about some celebrity, politician, or coworker. This requires us to decide whether to participate or not. As we know, this is easier said than done, particularly, for those of us who frequently participate in such discussions.

On our journeys, the small, insignificant choices are the ones that measure our personal growth. The choices we make when no one knows what we are doing determine whether or not we return the overage to the waiter, or if we refrain from participating in mindless chatter

In the meanwhile, regardless to how small or insignificant our choices might seem, we must treat them with respect. For us to disrespect our choices, only invite them to return and bite us with further pain and suffering.

Nevertheless, to measure our progress on the enlightenment road, we first must commit ourselves to removing the tiny pieces of clutter clouding our minds with victim beliefs. This moment-to-moment task is a daily one. It requires mindfulness, particularly as it relates to clearing away the clutter and creating more free space.

These are the things that measure our personal growth on our enlightenment journey. We must take the time to do the small things first. Then, and after much work on ourselves, we will bask in the joy of having cleared enough space in our minds to see clearly what we are doing.

Meanwhile, as continue to work on removing the clutter, we are moving to different levels of awareness about ourselves. Sometimes it is helpful to have companions. We can use unselfish prayer and purposeful meditation as our companions.

1. An unselfish prayer is one that focuses on reaffirming your commitment to achieve enlightenment.

2. A purposeful meditation is one without predetermined goals or objectives. It is just you being free and open with yourself.

The power to choose is the greatest power we have. This power is effective when we use it with clear minds.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Power of Commitment

On the road to enlightenment, we must maintain a strong commitment to overcoming victim beliefs. In spite of what people say about us, we must trust the intuitive process that's guiding us beyond the illusions that money, fame, and political power can overcome victim beliefs. To do this, we must trust, absolutely, that we possess the power to change the way we think and live.

As we know from having been on the journey for a while, it's sometimes difficult to remain true to our commitment to achieve enlightenment. Yet, as difficult as it may seem to us, we begin the process to change when we commit ourselves to the goal of change.

There's nothing magical about change. It is simply achieved by the actions we take to overcome the victim beliefs causing the pain and suffering in our lives. It's nothing more than that.

Nevertheless, for some of us, our commitments don't have very much power. We toss around promises like meaningless words. In most instances, we have no intention to honor them. This behavior is magnified in those instances that require us to address an unpleasant situation like losing weight or changing our diets to eat more healthy foods.

Whenever we are required to commit to doing something for ourselves, we find it easier to procrastinate than honor our commitment. Unfortunately, for us, our procrastination only creates more pain and suffering.

To illustrate this point, we know certain types of foods are unhealthy for us, but we eat them anyway. We rationalize our behavior by claiming we like the taste of fried meats, barbecued ribs, buttered pancakes with syrup, cake, cookies, potato chips, potato salad, and so forth.

Similarly, after vigorously defending our rights to eat whatever we choose, we then kneel in prayer or meditation with our stomachs filled with unhealthy foods.

Nevertheless, in these types of situations, while we believe we're honoring our spiritual commitment, we think very little about dishonoring our commitment to having healthy bodies. Unfortunately, unhealthy lifestyles, like unhealthy spiritual practices, are mirrors reflecting the true nature of the way we think and live. In other words, the body and its spiritual companion are reflections of what we think about ourselves.

In the meanwhile, when we ignore the importance of healthy bodies, we remain half-awake. The good thing about being half-awake is that at least we're not totally asleep. This means we see the areas we need to work on in our lives.

One of the greatest weakness of half-awaken individuals is our lack of understanding the importance of honoring our commitments to change the way we think and live. Nor do we fully comprehend how our everyday commitments benefit us in our work to achieve enlightenment (empowerment).

While we grow accustomed to living half-awake lifestyles, we must not remain complacent in this manner of thinking about life. Even though, there's some light to guide us, we're still overcome with too much darkness.

On the enlightenment journey, darkness is frequently perceived as frightening. It clouds our abilities to feel comfortable about what we are doing to change our behavior. There's far too many times on this journey when we reach points where we feel we aren't making progress.

It is during these moments of darkness that we question not only our actions, but our commitments to achieving enlightenment (empowerment). These are the moments we want to stop and seek refuge in our former victim lifestyles. The practical side of us seems to take over. We feel depressed, regretful, while constantly bemoaning our decision to seek change in the first place.

Yet, it is during the difficult times that the world of things -- money, fame, and power -- seem so desirable. And, unlike the invisible world of enlightenment, they seem more worthwhile for us to pursue. In other words, the practical, material world seems more desirable than the intuitive, invisible world, because it's what we feel most comfortable with.

As we continue on our journey to enlightenment, in the midst of great strife and conflict in our lives, we must comfort ourselves with knowing we have the power to commit our time and energies to changing the way we think and live.

As we travel, here are some suggestions to assist us with strengthening our commitments to achieving enlightenment:

1. Begin and continue to Honor our promises and commitments to ourselves and to others.
2. Envision the body and mind as equally important to us in achieving our goal of enlightenment.
3. We can prioritize our commitments to have parity with other important things in our lives.
4. Recognize that invisible thoughts and goals are the source of all creations.
5. Set aside time to make a commitment to eat healthy foods and empower the mind with clear ideas.

The journey continues with my book "Seeds from the Ashes."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Victims Searching for Enlightenment

During one of my frequent conversations with a friend, it occurred to me that I might never know when I reach my goal of spiritual enlightenment. Perhaps, I thought, enlightenment does not exist for those who have become the victims of this society.

The problem with being a victim is that one rarely knows one is a victim. Victimization slips up on us like aging, being overweight, a sudden illness, or stress. Who among us know when we are suffering from stress? We ignore stress until it wigs us out, then we’re ready and willing to do whatever it takes to remove it from our lives.

For someone like me, who has been conditioned by society to accept my role as a victim, it took me many years to even consider the likelihood that I was truly a victim. Since I had become accustomed to the pain and suffering of being a black man, a victim of skin color, I thought that all victims' goal in life was to endure intense pain and suffering.

A natural part of the growing-up process for victims is to overcome intense pain and suffering in order to assimilate into mainstream society. It's a testing process to weed out the incorrigible.

As victims, most of us don't dwell on it very much. We know the parameters society have set for us. And until we become dissatisfied with societal norms, we accept our roles with little fanfare. This is the awakening process.

Whenever we awaken from our victimization coma and begin our search for enlightenment, we sometime find it difficult to handle the frontal attack waged against us by our victim beliefs. In this case, victim beliefs and societal norms are synonymous. They are both responsible for the darkness in our lives.

Similarly, to overcome the darkness, we use our strong, clear desires as the light to assist us with navigating the torrential storm of self-doubts plummeting our minds daily with victim beliefs.

As newly awaken victims, we find it difficult to know what to do. We seek, we pray, we meditate, we mourn, we weep, then we pray and meditate some more. After much duress, these tools plunge us into depression, self-doubts. This is the exact moment in time, we are able to use our emotions as desires to empower us to go beyond the pain and suffering.

Unfortunately, for many of us, our desires become stumbling blocks to enlightenment. This is partly caused by our misunderstanding of the purpose of the desires.

After we understand that desires are the tools we use to begin our journey, we become clearer about their true nature. Then we clearly know there's much more work, introspective searching, to be done before we reach our goal of enlightenment.

In the meanwhile, it is our lack of understanding of the enlightenment tools that keep us inextricably tied to victim beliefs. In other words, we seek shortcuts to enlightenment by proclaiming ourselves empowered while we're still overcome with victim beliefs.

Perhaps we seek shortcuts, because after exerting so much time and energy into overcoming victim beliefs, we sometime just feel too tired to continue. In other words, we want to stop, quit, and return to what we have become accustomed to doing: complaining, worrying, and thinking of ourselves as being powerless.

After a while, we clearly realize there are no shortcuts to enlightenment. We must do the work, all of the work, before we can lay claim to this treasure.

So, it's important to remember that as we do the work of overcoming victim beliefs, we are still moving closer to achieving our goal of enlightenment. Regardless to how tired we feel or the difficulties we face, we must persevere until we achieve our goal of enlightenment.

By working on our victim beliefs, we go deeper into our minds to the core of their existence. At this level, we clearly perceive the soil they exist in, and the fertilizer we use to nurture them to fruition. It's from this awareness that we begin the process of removing the seeds of victimization from our minds.

Moreover, when we reach the foundation level of victim beliefs, our illumined desires shine brightly upon them so we clearly perceive them as the culprits responsible for our pain and suffering. This is the moment we free ourselves to begin the necessary work to overcome their powers over us. We now know we are no longer powerless to change the way we think and live.

With illumined minds, we are free of the darkness causing us to think of ourselves as victims. We don't have to stumble through life, unable to clearly perceive ourselves with great power. Nor do we need anyone to tell us what to do, we can clearly see how to solve our own problems.

In the meantime, as we work to identify and overcome victim beliefs, here are some suggestions to assist us on our journey:

1. We first must be willing to examine our lives to understand how we became victims -- powerless to solve our own problems.

2. We must be willing to go deeper into the depths of our fears, the place where victim beliefs live, to truly understand the importance of devoting our time and energy to achieving enlightenment.

3. We must believe and know that an awaken, enlightened consciousness is the cure for overcoming victim beliefs and their pernicious effects on the way we think and live.

4. We must recognize the urgency of working diligently to overcome victim beliefs by remaining committed to the goal of enlightenment regardless to the obstacles we face on the journey.

5. We must remain steadfast in our commitment to work daily to free our minds so we are able to change the way we think and live.

The journey to overcome victim beliefs continues with my book, "Seeds from the Ashes."