Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Spiritual Materialism

Today many of us  typically confuse spirituality with religion. With the growing influence of Eastern Religion on many of the "New Thought" religions, the two terms have become synonymous.

It's now considered chic for some of us to claim we are spiritual, but not religious.  Nevertheless, for now, in order to illustrate our point here,  let's separate them by defining spirituality as the part of us that seeks religion to fulfill our hunger for pure enlightenment.

Similarly, we can argue that religion is the structure we use to express our spirituality. And let's acknowledge that religion is not the only source available for us to express our spirituality.

Meanwhile, there's also a great deal of confusion regarding the relationship between spirituality and materialism.This confusion is bred, undoubtedly, from our living in a capitalist society.  For many of us, materialism is the antithesis of spirituality.

On the other hand, materialism is something we can touch feel, enjoy. And if we tie it to our spirituality, then we will have the best of both worlds.

Materialism causes us to desire material possessions -- houses, automobiles, jewelry, expensive clothes, lavish lifestyles, and so forth -- while we seek spiritual fulfillment by relieving ourselves from these attachments. And, unfortunately, many of us become victims of our desires.

The purification or freedom from our desires for materialism is the primary cause of our suffering. We suffer because we spend our time working on achieving materialism.

The more we have, the greater our attachments, the greater our suffering, and the further we move away from spiritual enlightenment.

Meanwhile, as more and more people seek innovative ways to acquire wealth and remain spiritually fulfilled, some ministers have embodied and teach their congregants a so-called "prosperity religion."

They preach that the Creator -- God-Allah-Krishna-- wants them to be wealthy. It's the Creator's way to bless us for having adhered to our spiritual practices.

According to them, the greater our spiritual awareness, the more the Creator blesses us with material possessions. They illustrate their points by showcasing large homes, expensive cars, clothes, jewelry, and so on. They claim the gifts come because of their spiritual practices and their devotion to the Creator.

It's difficult to explain or enlighten ourselves when we are focusing all of our energies on become wealthy. It's even more difficult for us to recognize that we are confusing spirituality and materialism. The former is free of suffering, while the latter is the cause of our suffering.

For many of us new on the path, spirituality is too vague, too hard. We can't pinpoint just what it means and exactly where it is. It's not like a picture of a place where we've never been, but would like go someday.

Spirituality, at least enlightened spirituality, is found within each of us. It's our invisible, faceless, formless, and colorless unconditioned consciousness.

Our unconditioned consciousness is our being without beliefs or limitations. It's the unchangeable within us, conditioning a part of itself to be us. This unchangeable awareness of being, without being anything, is in all of us. It contains the blueprint for how we are to live our lives.

As we seek more and more materialism to fulfill us, we sell our lives (irreplaceable time) to the highest bidder. These actions plunge us deeper into the victimization morass.

And as victims of materialism, it's difficult for us to believe there's something as powerful as an unconditioned consciousness within us. We don't dare even consider something like this as a viable option for living our lives, especially when it's compared to materialism.

At the heart of our contentment is materialism. We feel good with it and lousy without it. And there's little we can do to satisfy our thirst for it.

Nevertheless, by selling ourselves for materialism, and by listening to others telling us about ourselves, we move further away from our unconditioned awareness, the enlightenment which we seek.

And as we do, we are constantly searching for something to make us feel good about ourselves. This is the search for spiritual fulfillment, which some of  us confuse with religion.

The victims of materialism or capitalism are usually the ones willing to believe and accept promises of spiritual rewards. We are confident that we're on the path that leads to spiritual rewards. At this point in our awareness, we have settled the discussion between spirituality and religion.

 There are some of us who believe there's more to achieve, and there's more work to do on overcoming victimization  before we can feel fulfilled. So we continue to work on creating an enlightened consciousness.

We believe an enlightened mind will free us from our limited beliefs that's causing us to suffer an insatiable thirst for material possessions. This is the clarity we need to understand why we devote our lives to accumulating material things.

Whether we like it or not, we're nothing but expressions of our beliefs. The truth about us is found in our beliefs about spirituality and materialism. They're not the same, even though we want them to be this way.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Knowledge of the Self

Today, one of the greatest tragedies in the world is that we don't know who we are or why we use other people's beliefs to define us. It's as if we choose to abdicate our  power so we can claim we don't know what to do about our lives.

Some of us are content with experiencing life from the prism of victimization or powerlessness. We perceive life in this unclear, helpless state of consciousness, because we choose not to wake up and define ourselves with power.

We are accustomed to the visions created from within our darkness. These incomplete, unclear visions of what we want for ourselves inextricably tie us to a permanent state of victimization.

We are constantly asking ourselves over and over again: What's the meaning or purpose of our lives?

We want to know why we constantly have these empty feelings, and regardless of how many things we bring into our lives, they're still present. We seem to always have these  feelings that we should be doing something else with our lives.

There are some of us who believe we obtain the answers, at least we achieve a greater degree of clarity about life, by engaging in self-discovery. Self-discovery basically means examining the origins of our beliefs and their utility in providing us with the answers we seek regarding our questions about life itself.

Many of us know we want to feel happy rather than sad. We seek success, whatever that means to us, rather than failure, which we interpret to mean unsuccessful. Obviously, we can continue with this vein of thinking ad infinitium and never truly understand why we desire certain things versus those we don't.

Unfortunately, this type of reasoning only confirms our victim beliefs about life, it doesn't really tell us anything about the essence of our existence.

Most of us, practically all of us, perceive life from limited awareness. We are limited by what we have been taught and accepted as being accurate descriptions of our lives. If we are of a certain race, we perceive the world from this perspective, and by whatever societal descriptions are used to validate these beliefs.

So when we say we love everyone equally, we mean it only from the limited beliefs we have about ourselves.  We don't, in fact, believe everyone is equal to us anymore than we believe all people have the same skin color, gender or social status.

By saying something like this, we tell ourselves that we have broken free of our traditional beliefs. While we know this is not true, we trick ourselves into believing it is so. We want to believe we can change while remaining the same person.

To change from one set of beliefs to another requires first an understanding of the former. We must understand that all of our beliefs are expressions in the intellectual gymnastics game we play with each other. And in this game, we are not really searching for the origins of our beliefs, but seeking new ones by holding on to the old ones.

We really want to hold tightly to our carefully crafted self-images and build from this foundation. We don't want to become no-thing. We need reference points: family, friends, society, and so forth to confirm our existence. Otherwise, who are we without our beliefs?

From a different perspective, we are trying to build a new house with the same materials. So the end results have us  believing it's a new house while it's really the same house that we're perceiving to be a new one.

Meanwhile, we have all types of beliefs. Some of us believe Heaven and Hell are places existing in time and space, while some others believe they're simply something we have been taught by others. And regardless to which beliefs we hold, we argue fervently that our beliefs our correct.

Similarly, some of us believe we are victims, while some believe we're not. We judge ourselves and others according to our beliefs, which means the true answers lie outside of our limited and biased definitions.

Nevertheless, none of this stops us from searching for the answers to the questions we have about our feelings that something is missing from our lives.

We are forever searching for something to make us feel complete, fulfilled, and adequate. Unfortunately, this search is usually conducted outside of ourselves.

Self-discovery is one, some of others believe it is the primary method, process of searching that leads to an understanding of the self.  This self is described by its lack of beliefs and by its knowledge of the world itself.

Self-discovery illumines our consciousness with the clarity to see the world without traditional beliefs. It helps us to awaken from the darkness preventing us from seeing where we are going and what we are doing.

Knowledge of the self comes from within each one of us. It's not something anyone can teach us. We gain this knowledge by taking the time to understand how we acquired our beliefs, and the power we have to overcome them.

At some point in self-discovery, we clearly know that it's our thoughts and beliefs that's causing us the problems. The more beliefs we acquire, the further we move away from the Self.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Wake up to Enlightenment"

It's our awareness of life that's responsible for our suffering. And it's our unwillingness to be mindful of our actions that's imprisoning  us in the cesspool of darkness and preventing us from find the unconditioned power of being within us.

From a practical, rational perspective, we are always aware of ourselves as being something. We are constantly conjuring up all types of images of ourselves. And without question, we intend for all of them to make us feel happy.

This little mind game of intellectual gymnastics is our way of playing with ourselves.  It's what we use to assuage the suffering and deny its existence. This keeps us inextricably tied to the darkness of victimization.

On some occasions, we use our self-awareness to create images of ourselves as victims:  individuals without adequate power in any given situation. Some of us do this because our images of happiness didn't turn out the way we wanted.

Similarly, we sometime create images of ourselves as sycophants aimlessly drifting from one situation to another in search of the next injection of pain and suffering. We do this to confuse our awareness, to make it more illusory. This is our way of remaining asleep.

There are times when we create images to anthropomorphize ourselves as spiritual teachers. These are the images where we cloak ourselves in an elevated awareness -- an awareness greater than those with whom we interact -- to conceal our own suffering.

After we create so many images of ourselves in different forms and states of awareness, we fall into a coma of darkness, overcome by suffering. While in this coma, we continuously relive our images by engaging in past-living scenarios. 

By reliving our past images, we remain in a dream-like state all the time. Even though, we believe we are actually awake and free of the illusions causing us to dream, we are still consumed by the darkness created by years of conditioning our minds to function as victims.

For us to awaken from our comas, we must create an awareness of being that's not contingent on anything we have been taught about ourselves. It's the awareness of ourselves as being  faceless, formless, and colorless. This is the awareness that allows us to become anything we desire to be.

The light of enlightenment is available to all of us who find ourselves living in the darkness of victimization. And while we might call it awareness, it is so much more than that. It is awareness without the limitations of our victimized beliefs and values.

Nevertheless, most of us go through life without ever living our lives in clarity. We struggle for freedom, when we already have it.

We struggle for love, when we already have it. And we struggle for happiness, when we already have it. All of these things and more are contained within the limitless states of clarified awareness available to each of us.

The happiness we seek is found in our interpretations of our actions and the actions of others. When we find the clarity to change our knowledge of ourselves and others, we will use different information (an enlightened mind) to interpret our actions.

Some of us are already living in the space of clarity, which allows us to accept personal responsibility for all of our actions. This is the clarity we need to go further into the deeper levels of light to guide us as we remove the darkness of victimization from our lives.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cleaning up our Minds

Some of us find it difficult to go beyond our fixed beliefs and values. If we believe something, then there's nothing else that's greater. And it's this type of thing that make us victims of our beliefs and values.

Similarly, there are many times when we want to change or at least explore other beliefs. We feel something (intuitive consciousness) in us prodding us to search beyond the tried and true.

It's unfortunate most of us don't follow through on our desires to change. It seems that whenever we think we're ready to try something different, we are reminded by our beliefs to stop this nonsense. Yet this doesn't stop the desires for change from continuing to exist in our thoughts.

Meanwhile, at some point in our lives, we must begin to realize that we cannot change as long as our minds are holding on to our lifelong beliefs. The change we seek is beyond the limitations of our present beliefs about life.

This doesn't mean that by exploring other ideas and philosophies in the world we must immediately change our beliefs. No, it only means our awareness has expanded beyond our present limitations. 

As the Sufi Poet says, "Out beyond the ideas of right doing and wrong doing, there's a field (awareness) and I will meet you there."  For us to reach this level of awareness, we must be willing to clear or cleanse our minds of the beliefs causing us to remain victims of the limitless possibilities available to us.

As some of us know by now, we must engage in self-discovery to fully become aware of our beliefs. By our willingness to engage in self-discovery, we are able to understand why we act the way we do. This also allows us to envision our lives beyond the current beliefs causing us so much pain and suffering.

Many of us suffer because we don't know what else to do. We cannot believe we're living with suffering because it seems so natural. We have all the things -- status, education, money, religion, and so forth -- that make us feel somewhat secure, successful.

When achieve a lot of things, we believe we're living the "dream" life. So it's much harder for us to accept that we're actually living in a nightmare. Yet this is the level of awareness we all must arrive so that we're willing to listen.

After having traversed the difficult challenges in life, we find it difficult to believe our lives remain unfulfilled. It's difficult to believe we're responsible for the nightmare.

So we try to escape by engaging in angst living by jumping from one cause to another. This allows us to teach others about enlightenment, empowerment, religion, spirituality, materialism, and so on.

Although we practice our crafts and believe we know what we're talking about, we continue to remain resistant to going beyond our present beliefs and values. Many of us believe we have reached the highest level of awareness that's possible for us to achieve.

So if we're a teacher, we use the same books and teaching methods over and over again, too afraid or too lazy to explore new books and new methods. 

If we're a minister, we preach the same sermons over and over again while clinging to the self-righteousness that validates our faith.

If we are civil rights activists, we use the same worn out ideas and strategies by disguising them as contemporary changes.

If we believe in struggling for freedom, we continue to overlook the limitless opportunities of freedom within our consciousness.

The journey to enlightenment is made with a clear mind. We must be willing to let go of all of our beliefs and follow the path to enlightenment.

This is a path without struggles.