Monday, May 24, 2010

Tearing Down the Walls

When there's pain in our lives, there's love. When there's anger, there's peace. When there's hope, there's action. When there's action, there's change.  When there's change, there's the door to enlightenment.

It's difficult to shine enough light (enlightenment) on so much darkness in our lives. Even as we work to bring light into our lives, we are, by our actions, unknowingly creating more darkness.  A victim mind is a terrible thing to keep.  Yet many of us cling to victim consciousness because of our unwillingness to exchange information with others in an open, nonrestrictive dialogue. An openness where we are willing to stop defending our beliefs and refraining from criticizing others because we disagree with them.  

Nevertheless, by letting go of the toxic victim beliefs we're holding on to, we open our minds to examine other options available to us. This small exploration of our inner awareness  is a significant step for neophytes on the enlightenment road. It's our first foray into the power we have to search for tools outside of our comfort zone.

Similarly, we must learn how to become independent thinkers and free our minds of the prejudices and doubts victimizing us. This means we must free ourselves from our attachments, particularly those beliefs that cause us to believe we must maintain the status quo.  

To free ourselves from our attachments is not an easy task. Many well-intentioned and committed people have tried and failed in their quests to do this. It's especially difficult for those of us who are attached  to religious dogma, political affiliations, and societal definitions of who we are and the power we have to overcome powerlessness. These are the beliefs that inextricably tie us to dysfunctional lifestyles.

Some of us, even with new information, remain firmly attached to our old beliefs. Unfortunately, most of our lives have been devoted to mastering victim beliefs, not overcoming them. As loyal followers of victim beliefs, we remain committed to staying where we are in life and not listening to new ideas. It's very difficult to change after so many years of living as victims.

The strain, the wear and tear on our minds and bodies give our illusions such great power that we forget where they came from.  Since we have been victims for so long it's difficult to recognize that our beliefs came from others. The world and all its beliefs were waiting on us to become a part of it. And with no input from others, we entered a world where others believed their beliefs were basically sacrosanct.

 In this world, we accepted whatever our parents and teachers taught us.  If they were Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and so on, they taught us beliefs consistent with their own. And like others before them, they believed if we adhered to their teachings, we would ultimately be saved from the pain and suffering in the world. We would live virtuous lives and someday achieve enlightenment, even though they had not done so themselves.

After a while, we embodied others' beliefs as our own and set out to teach them to others.  We were proud to identify with a certain political, religious or social ideology. And it would only be much later in our lives that some of us would begin to question our beliefs. By questioning our beliefs, we risked alienating ourselves from our parents, teachers, friends and so forth.

 Nevertheless, when the first questions begin to awaken in us, we begin to experience the pain and suffering from trusting ourselves. There's a natural fear that comes from standing alone. It's a fear that cuts deeply into our minds and carves away the stench of victimhood. It allows us to experience the freshness of clarity and perceive life without judgments about who we are.  In the stillness of clarity, we are no longer attached to the right or wrong thinking.

With our newly formed clarity, some of us begin to go further, deeper into our minds for the answers to our beliefs. At the deeper level, we can see the wall that's separating us from ourselves and others. This is the wall built by generations of victims to teach, protect, and transform us into believing we are powerless to escape from our beliefs. And unless we stop living behind the wall, we, too, will teach our children how to live without ever expressing their full potential. This is the wall we have built to prevent enlightenment from entering into our lives.

Unfortunately, most of us teach from behind the victim wall. Whenever we decide we want to help others to live better lives, we steadfastly hold on to the beliefs that we received from behind the wall. These are the beliefs that cause us to believe we have sufficiently mastered the victim beliefs and we're now in an exalted position to teach others. It is from this level of awareness that we begin to cling to righteousness of our beliefs and doubt everything outside of the wall. 

As we teach from behind the wall, we offer others, those who believe in us, money, personal comforts, fame, power, peace, security, and so on.We provide them with elaborate presentations and testimonials to demonstrate the success of living behind the wall with victim beliefs. We tell them this is enlightenment. Everyone wants what we have.  The world idolizes us.

Similarly, as begin to build our own walls within the walls of others, we become more confident that we made the right decision. As we look at the beautiful walls shielding us from the suffering in the world,  we work harder and harder to ensure they will never be destroyed. No one can challenge what we are doing because it's right.  We must shield ourselves from others so they don't come and try to destroy the victim beliefs protecting us from the world.

Meanwhile, the harder we work to create victim beliefs, the more we become lost in a victim euphoria of righteousness. And some of us begin to believe that enlightenment beliefs built the great walls around us. Unknown  to us is all the pain and suffering behind our walls. However, since we have never seen a world without pain and suffering, we believe the suffering around us actually comes from enlightenment.


Today, we must awaken from this nightmare and begin tearing down the walls --belief by belief --shielding us from enlightenment.  This means we must begin to create independent minds that are open to examining and changing our beliefs. To some of us, this is frightening because the mere thought of exploring something else is unthinkable, blasphemous. Yet we cannot have unity of purpose without first understanding how we became victims in the first place.

 Our judgments come from our beliefs. And until we achieve enlightenment -- the ability to live without attachments to people and things -- we are judging others from behind the walls preventing us from seeing what's really happening in the world.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Power of Self-Reliance

Sometimes, regardless to how hard we work on ourselves, there are times when our behavior shocks us. It usually happens during a momentarily lapse in control. This is the moment that we allow dysfunctional behavior -- angry outbursts toward others -- to creep into our lives. And for most of us, it's difficult to believe we are capable of such behavior. 

In our quests to be good people, we frequently struggle with reconciling our dysfunctional behavior with the attributes we have assigned to our good person image. And it becomes very difficult to believe that a good person should act in such a dysfunctional manner. Yet, in most instances, this is the way we act whenever we forget to be the good person we are working on becoming.

A great philosopher, Howard Thurman, said, "I had forgotten how easy it is to forget."  At some point in all of our lives we forget to focus on our work to achieve enlightenment. And it's during those moments of uncontrollable anger, unsuspected jealousy or blindly seeking power over people that we must pause and remind ourselves to remain focused on bringing love and happiness to everyone we come in contact with. 

We should treat our emotional challenges as opportunities to change the way we think and live and not succumb to thoughts of regrets and further victimizing ourselves.These are the moments to express our greatness or as Dr. Thurman said, "Keep fresh before me the moments of my high resolve."

When we remain mindful of the power we have to overcome difficult problems, we have, for that moment, cleared away the doubts and beliefs causing us to forget who we are. The clarity of purpose found in a mindful consciousness is sufficient enough to overcome all obstacles. This is the awareness that causes us to focus on personal responsibility and the power of self-reliance. And to remind us that all power comes from within our consciousness.

With this power we have no enemies, except the way we think of ourselves. It's very difficult for some of us to believe we have this power.  We find it easier to believe others have it. We have been taught for too long to believe that our problems are created by other people. They are responsible for what's happening to us now. They are responsible for our being overweight, drinking too much alcohol, smoking too much weed, complaining about not having a good job,  failing to take care of our families and so on.

Somewhere within our victimized minds we have forgotten than all of our problems must have a creator who is with us all the time. And like it or not, we are that creator. We create problems and solutions all the time by thinking and acting on our thoughts. Sometimes we create anger, doubts, lack, limitation, struggle debts, and so forth.

While at other times we create compassion, love, peace, understanding, creativity, and so on. Anytime we want to bring a problem into our lives all that is required of us is to think and act on our thoughts. Conversely, the same applies to solutions. It's that simple.

Unfortunately, when we forget we are the creators of our problems and everything that's happening to us, we begin to search for others to blame for the decisions we made. During our external search for someone to blame for our behavior, we find a plethora of people and things to blame. We can blame our parents, children, supervisors, society, banks, credit card companies, teachers, friends, and so forth. The list of people to blame is endless. And regardless to the number of people we add to the list, we inevitable return to ourselves.

Nevertheless, even as we seek to attach blame to us for our misdeeds, most of us seem to know we are somehow responsible for our own  behavior. And while we might have some nagging intuitive thoughts about it, we don't quite know how to admit to ourselves that we don't know how to trust our inner power to solve our problems. So we continue our downward spiral deeper into the victimization process shunning our responsibility for creating and solving our own problems. .

Meanwhile, at the heart of forgetting the power we have within us is the suffering we cause in our lives. Each forgetful moment means more suffering. Each time we shun our creator's responsibility for what we are creating in our lives means more suffering.

After a while, our actions produce so much suffering that we cannot imagine we actually created this nightmare ourselves. These are moment when we become so overwhelmed by our own creations that we give them power they don't really possess. This creates the environment for us to begin daydreaming about magical solutions.

When we reach the level of suffering that causes us to rely on daydreaming, we have become encapsulated with powerlessness. At this level of awareness, there are not enough government programs, stimulus, bailouts, health care, and so forth to help us overcome the powerlessness we have embodied into our consciousness.

We are the only ones who can change the things we have created in our lives. And unless we accept personal responsibility for creating the problems (challenges) in our lives, we cannot become self-reliant and solve our own problems.

As enlightenment-seekers, our goal is to achieve enlightenment.  However, if are serious about achieving enlightenment, then we must remain mindful of the power within our thoughts and actions. This is the power that causes us to forget who is responsible for the suffering in our lives. So it is important for us to remember that we have the power with our thoughts to create both happiness and suffering.   

As Howard Thurman said, "Keep fresh before me the moments of my high resolve."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Going Beyond the Victim Mind

There are so many us who feel overwhelmed by our current circumstances.  We feel powerless, detached from the decision making process. And to make matters worse, we are unable to gain access to those who are making the decisions for us. It seems like the stock market, unemployment, home foreclosures, bank bailouts, health care, and so on are spiraling out of control and there's nothing we can say or do about it.  And for the first time in some of our lives, we are truly beginning to understand what it feels like to be victims.

For some of us endowed with societal credentials and its ancillary attachments, we are too proud and  embarrassed to believe we could ever become victims. We we equate victims with failure, illiteracy, poverty, and dependency. Some of us even rationalize our own internal suffering as something other than being victims. We believe internal suffering is a part of life and something we must manage in order for us to become successful. 

Similarly, for those of us overcome by intense suffering, we don't perceive it as being a fatal flaw in our social armor.  We have institutions and people available to assist us with our suffering. We can go to religious places and people or to psychologists and psychiatrists to heal our suffering.  We can hide our internal suffering from others. And similar to a toothache, we live with the pain until it becomes unbearable.

Our lives mirror our bodies.  We can have some type of virus in our bodies and live with it for months, even years without ever knowing that it's there.  While we recognize that overeating, drinking too much alcohol and soft drinks, smoking too many cigarettes, and taking too many prescribed and illegal drugs will ultimately cause us great suffering, we continue to deny this to ourselves.   And like the victimization process, we continue to engage in it until we can no longer withstand the suffering. It's at this point that we become ready to seek treatment.

Meanwhile, whenever we seek treatment for anything that's ailing us, we do it to remove any obstacles preventing us from achieving our goals. For most of us, the most important things in our lives are our goals: the things we desire to have.  Whenever we set goals for ourselves, we become participants in the power game of victimization. 

This is a game where we demonstrate to ourselves and others the power we have to achieve things -- education, money, fame, material possessions, and so forth -- that elevate us beyond the wretched of our society.  It is our things that prevent us from thinking of ourselves as victims.  The more things we have in our lives, the less we identify with the internal suffering metastasising through our bodies and minds. Consequently, there's little or any need to work on healing ourselves.

The day we begin to understand powerlessness and its effects on our actions is the time we begin to seek solutions to change how we think and live. The healing process for victims is a long one. It takes a significant amount of surgery and recovery time to overcome the cancerous psychological disease of victimization. And, unless we catch the disease in time and begin the treatment, most of us will succumb to its pernicious effects.

The primary cure for healing victims is to establish a goal for achieving enlightenment. This is important because it provides us with the vision to identify the end results of the mind-body treatment program we must undergo.  Some of the salient components of this program, which some of us refer to as empowerment solutions, are as follows:

"1.  Vision:  This is the stage of development where you sit quietly with yourself and imagine what you want to express in your life. It takes some time to form a vision that is free of lack, limitation, struggle, doubts, and thoughts of unworthiness. This means you must continue to clear your thoughts so that you are able to perceive yourself with the power to express your greatness.

"2.  Embodiment: After you have created a clear vision (without victim beliefs) of yourself existing with power in the present moment, you must assume the identity and behavior of the new person,  You must immediately act as if you are what you have envisioned yourself as being or have what you have envisioned yourself as having.

"3.  Acceptance: You accept yourself as the source of your power. You and the intuitive power within your mind created the vision of yourself with power. This recognition and acceptance of yourself with power is what you need to nurture your idea (vision) through the necessary time interval between conception of the vision and its expression in the visible world.

"4.  Action:  All change requires action. It takes action on your part to form a vision of empowerment, embody the vision, and nurture it through the necessary time interval. You must develop a daily action plan to work on your vision of empowerment. This means that you focus all your actions on the work you need to transform yourself into a new person."

These four steps are outlined in "Seeds from the Ashes."