The Essence of Spirituality


The essence of spirituality is the search to know our true selves, to discover the real nature of consciousness. This quest has been the foundation of all the great spiritual teachings, and the goal of all the great mystics.

Throughout the history of humanity it has been said that the self we know — the individual ego — is a very limited form of identity. Ignorant of our true selves we derive a false sense of identity from what we have, or what we do — from our possessions, our role in the world, how others see us, etc. Because the world on which it is based is continually changing, this derived sense of identity is always under threat, and our attempts to maintain it are responsible for much of our “self-centered” behaviour.

Behind this identity is a deeper identity, what is often called the “true self”. This can be thought of as the essence of consciousness. Although our thoughts, feelings and personality may vary considerably, the essence of mind remains the same. We are each very diffferent people than we were twenty years ago, but still we feel the same sense of “I”. This sense of “I-ness” is the same for everyone, and in that respect is something universal that we all share.

When we discover this deeper sense of self we are freed from many of the fears that plague us unnecessarily. We discover a greater inner peace, an inner security that does not depend upon events or circumstances in the world around. As a result we become less self-centered, less needy of the other’s approval or recognition, less needy of collecting possessions and social status, and become happier, healthier and more loving people. In many spiritual teachings this is called “self-liberation” .

Most spiritual teachings also maintain that when one comes to know the true nature of consciousness, one also comes to know God. If God is the essence of the whole of creation, then God is the essence of every creature, and every person. This is why the search to discover the nature of one’s own innermost essence is the search for God.


Truth is a Pathless Land

Man cannot come to it through any organisation, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any philosophical knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection. Man has built in himself images as a fence of security – religious, political, personal. These manifest as symbols, ideas, beliefs. The burden of these images dominates man’s thinking, his relationships and his daily life. These images are the causes of our problems for they divide man from man. His perception of life is shaped by the concepts already established in his mind. The content of his consciousness is his entire existence. This content is common to all humanity. The individuality is the name, the form and superficial culture he acquires from tradition and environment. The uniqueness of man does not lie in the superficial but in complete freedom from the content of his consciousness, which is common to all mankind. So he is not an individual.

Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not a choice. It is man’s pretence that because he has choice he is free. Freedom is pure observation without direction, without fear of punishment and reward. Freedom is without motive; freedom is not at the end of the evolution of man but lies in the first step of his existence. In observation one begins to discover the lack of freedom. Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence.

Thought is time. Thought is born of experience, of knowledge, which are inseparable from time. Time is the psychological enemy of man. Our action is based on knowledge and therefore time, so man is always a slave to the past.

When man becomes aware of the movement of his own consciousness he will see the division between the thinker and the thought, the observer and the observed, the experiencer and the experience. He will discover that this division is an illusion. Then only is there pure observation which is insight without any shadow of the past . This timeless insight brings about a deep radical mutation in the mind.

Total negation is the essence of the positive. When there is negation of all those things which are not love – desire, pleasure – then love is, with its compassion and intelligence.”

The Trouble With Perceptions


The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16: 7b 

  Last week, a wealthy, attractive celebrity met a tragic death. I don’t normally follow the personal lives of celebrities, but I found myself parked in front of my television a couple evenings last week, watching celebrity gossip shows speculate on the death of young actor Heath Ledger.

  Images of his dashing features and promising career brought me back to a conversation I was part of about a year ago. An acquaintance of mine mused, “Why are people like Brittany Spears so unhappy? They have no earthly excuse to be.”

  It’s human nature to look at snapshots of someone else’s life and conclude that they somehow have it better than we do. When I see a famous person like Heath Ledger meet an untimely death — and hear of the inner turmoil that haunted his final years on earth — I am forced to rethink my assumptions about others. Too many times I’ve allowed my perceptions of someone else’s happiness to create discontent in my own world. “God, why are you blessing them, and not me?”

  Not only is it tempting to make assumptions about those who’ve achieve worldly success,but I’ve caught myself and others making wrong assumptions about what it means to be a godly person, a “good Christian.” I hear fellow believers say they feel small or inadequate next to some perceived spiritual giant, or envy some gift or perceived virtue of another.

  I recently came across a reflection from a young woman that gave me a fresh perspective on those I perceive to be “perfect.” St. Therese of Lisieux, a Carmelite nun who lived in the late 19th century, was a model Christian very young in life. Yet, a few years before her own young death at 24, she reflected on how others perceived her in her autobiography Story of a Soul:

  “I cannot say that Jesus makes me walk the way of humiliation

exteriorly. He is content to humble me in the depths of my soul; in the eyes of creatures, I succeed in everything.”

  Therese expressed much discomfort in the compliments lavished on her because “I remember who I am.” She knew the intimate details of her faults even while others could not see them, and often felt the difference between her and the great Saints like Aquinas was as vast as a grain of sand at the foot of a mountain.

  St. Therese wasn’t alone in her discomfort of others’ perceptions.

Mother Teresa often tried to deflect attention because she knew she wasn’t really the true source of her “success.” Mother Teresa‘s personal letters, released last year, revealed her own private periods of darkness laced throughout her extraordinary life.

  Sometimes, the unseen crosses weigh us down more than any outward suffering ever could.There is so little we truly know about other souls — only that which others are willing to share with us. This is why the comparison game is such a sham. It creates a toxic cycle of private shame and envy that isolates individuals in a world

where we’re all trying to “measure up” to fabricated standards. Jim Hancock, author of Posers, Fakers and Wannabes, expressed the dangerous game of comparison like this:

“I judged what I knew about me by what I didn’t know about them.”

  Life, of course, does not have to end with each one of us locked in a private world of faults and failings. Even with their interior crosses, both St. Therese and Mother Teresa knew they did not have to live a life of disconnection, shame or envy. They knew true inner peace rested with the only One who is perfect and yet, with full knowledge of our faults, loves us unconditionally.

  Not only does God love us as we are, but He’s ready to use even our failings for incredible good — perhaps even greater good than had we been “perfect.” When we stop comparing and put energy towards building the most important relationship we’ll ever have, doors open to a life greater than we could have planned or achieved on our own.

  Intersecting Faith & Life: Americans are reportedly some of the loneliest people on the planet. Intimacy flourishes when we let our guards down and allow others to see who we really are, imperfections and all. Set aside a little time this week to strengthen a relationship with a friend or family member. Be open to talking about what’s really going on in each others’ lives so that you can build each other up in the faith.

Change Your Mind………For Good


Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.—Philippians 4:8Recent studies by neuroscientists have shed great new light on the mind.  The human mind thinks up to 60,000 thoughts each day.  Most thinking is done on autopilot with the mind thinking the same habitual thoughts over and over again.  If it seems like you’re hashing out the same mental routine each day, there’s a good chance you are.

The brain protects its storehouse of information – be it good or bad.  Engrained habits are protected so the autopilot lifestyle can be maintained.  But when we’ve repeated a new thought or practiced a new behavior for about 90 days, it becomes part of the brain architecture; voila, we have new hardwiring!

The good news is that we CAN change the way we think.  After that, those new – and improved – redemptive thoughts become habit. A new lifestyle can become the new norm.  The Bible says we can challenge false thoughts by “taking every thought captive.”  By thinking on what is true we overcome low self-esteem, fear and doubt.   We can also have what the Bible calls “the mind of Christ.” Because those lies of low self-esteem, fear and doubt don’t exist in the mind of God, we can think “as if” we are healthy and whole and soon our bodies and spirits show new vitality.

This is a great day to call those stubborn false thoughts by name, write them down and then tear them down. Replace them with noble thoughts, admirable thoughts, thoughts of excellence and allow your new, bigger thought life to open the door to a grander world.

The Will of God

The will of God will never take you,
Where the grace of God cannot keep you,
Where the arms of God cannot support you,
Where the riches of God cannot supply your needs,
Where the power of God cannot endow you.

..The will of God will never take you,
Where the Spirit of God cannot work through you,
Where the wisdom of God cannot teach you,
Where the army of God cannot protect you,
Where the hands of God cannot mold you…

..The will of God will never take you,
Where the love of God cannot enfold you,
Where the mercies of God cannot sustain you,
Where the peace of God cannot calm your fears,
Where the authority of God cannot overrule for you…

..The will of God will never take you,
Where the comfort of God cannot dry your tears,
Where the Word of God cannot feed you,
Where the miracles of God cannot be done for you,
Where the omnipresence of God cannot find you…

..”Everything happens for a purpose.
We may not see the wisdom of it all now
but trust and believe in the Lord
that everything is for the best.”

After This Manner, Therefore, Pray Ye

“After this manner, therefore, pray ye…”  Matthew 6:9-13

We cannot pray “OUR” if we have no room in our life for others and their needs.

We cannot pray “FATHER” if we do not demonstrate this relationship in our daily living.

We cannot pray “WHO ART IN HEAVEN” if all our interests and
pursuits are in earthly things.

We cannot pray “HALLOWED BE THY NAME” if we, who are called to bear His name, are not holy.

We cannot pray “THY KINGDOM COME” if we are unwilling to give up our own sovereignty and accept His righteous reign.

We cannot pray “THY WILL BE DONE” if we are unwilling or resentful of having Yahveh’s will in our life.

We cannot pray “ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN” unless we are truly ready to give ourselves to His service here and now.

We cannot pray “GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD” without expending honest effort for it, or by ignoring the genuine needs of others.

We cannot pray “FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US” if we continue to harbor a grudge against anyone.

We cannot pray “LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION” if we deliberately choose to remain in a situation where we are likely to be tempted.

We cannot pray “DELIVER US FROM EVIL” if we are not prepared to fight in the spiritual realm with the ultimate weapon of prayer.

We cannot pray “THINE IS THE KINGDOM” if we do not give the kind of disciplined obedience of a loyal subject.

We cannot pray “THINE IS THE POWER” if we fear what our neighbors may say or do.

We cannot pray “FOREVER” if we are too anxious about each
day’s events.

We cannot say “AMEN” unless we can honestly say “cost
what it may, this is my prayer.”

The Awakening

“A personal crisis can be a gift on the path to spiritual maturity. Learn to accept this gift and you’ll feel reborn. “

When things fall apart, as they did for my friend, it’s tempting to try to piece them together as quickly as possible and get your old life back. Yet when you do that, you miss what a crisis can offer: an awakening to what’s not working in your life, an opening to the potential for change.

It’s human nature to avoid the emotional roadblocks that pepper the path to spiritual maturity, to seek instead the slow and steady pace of the ordinary traveler. Yet reaching higher spiritual ground requires an extraordinary traveler. It demands the kind of sea change that arrives at key junctures and can transport you to a higher level of spiritual functioning.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
A spiritual initiation—an exceptionally difficult life passage that shakes your foundations and makes you question your purpose—is just this sort of sea change. It’s an opportunity disguised as loss; a chance to strengthen the thread of awareness that connects the outer part of your being to the inner, to descend deeper into the soul.

As a psychologist, yoga instructor, and yoga therapist, I have helped many clients through initiations. Going through this process, I’ve noticed that yoga, which helps reveal the workings of the mind, provides tools to help you navigate an initiation and jump-start your progress on the spiritual path.
Lost in transition
Spiritual initiations are transitional; they leave you between worlds. Like a snake undergoing a brief period of blindness after shedding its skin, you’re temporarily sightless: You’re neither your old self nor a new one. This amorphous, transitional feeling can be challenging—and it can manifest itself in all areas of your life.

A client of mine in her late 50s who had been on the verge of a life change for years came to me with acute anxiety and insomnia. During class, I noticed she moved through the transitions between poses with her eyes closed. She similarly “spaced out” during life transitions, hurrying through or avoiding them, which built up internal pressure. The mission during spiritual initiations is to slow down and look straight into your soul, and to root out the kleshas, the afflictions of spiritual ignorance that can block your progress. (For more about kleshas, see “Klesha Karma”.)
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Heeding the call
The feeling that your life is coming undone is the call to awakening that begins an initiation. The call can take many forms: illness or accident, betrayal by a spouse, the death of a loved one, an urge to enter psychotherapy or to begin a period of self-examination, the recognition of an unhealthy situation or relationship. This is an opportunity to transcend the lament “Why is this happening to me?” and to seek a greater purpose behind the crisis. During this acute phase you’ll most likely experience a klesha called asmita, which is a disruption of the ego, or sense of “I am,” and a tendency to cling to old definitions of Self: the Provider, the Responsible One, the Caretaker, the Black Sheep, the Boss, the Martyr, and so on. When you answer the call to awakening, you leave behind, at least for a while, this familiar territory and may feel unmoored.

You can counter this instability by centering yourself with restorative yoga and by connecting with your breath, either through formal pranayama (breath control) or by simply focusing on the inflow and outflow of your breath. Imagine that thread of awareness connecting your outer mind with your deepest inner Self; with each exhalation, descend further down that thread of awareness into the center of your being. This growing connection to your deepest Self will help during the most difficult parts of your awakening.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Facing the void
As you leave your unhealthy world behind, you may experience a profound sense of separation. This letting go has a parallel in your yoga practice; you may need to temporarily relinquish your usual form of yoga in exchange for a more grounding, internally reflective practice.

One of my yoga therapy clients, diagnosed with cancer, struggled to maintain his vigorous vinyasa practice while exhausted from chemotherapy. If he couldn’t practice vinyasa, he felt, it wasn’t worth practicing at all. Gradually he realized his harsh mental attitude was interfering with his recovery. He began a restorative practice and discovered that its quiet and calm gave him needed support, helping him mobilize his inner resources toward healing.

This is where another klesha, dvesha (an aversion to pain), comes into play. Your challenge now is to take a good look at the way you’ve been living and to weed out old habits and beliefs that once fortified your ego but no longer serve you: an abusive or lifeless relationship, an addiction, a history of powerlessness, overwork, or the glare of self-hatred, for example. As you do this, you’re left to face the great canyon of emptiness that lies underneath. While it can be frightening, facing this inner void clears the slate, making way for change and regeneration.

To renew and conserve energy, you can cultivate pratyahara (a turning inward of the senses), which is the fifth of the eight limbs of yoga. Pratyahara helps you sit with pain without being consumed by it or overidentifying with it.

Finding the oasis
The contraction and suffering experienced with the death of the ego can close your heart and make you feel dry, barren, and exiled. This may seem like a spiritual wasteland, but it’s one of the richest and most verdant paths of your awakening. Although you might not yet see it, the seeds of your new self are sprouting beneath the soil of your awareness. This is often when the klesha avidya (ignorance or delusion) is stimulated: You can’t see what you’ll grow into. You may also have trouble recognizing the last stage of your transition for what it is—a passage through the birth canal.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Instead, avidya compels you to rush into your fledgling spiritual self, to restructure your life, to build a new ego and end this seemingly endless period of waiting. To contain the tension of waiting for your new form, you can call upon dhyana (meditation). Dhyana teaches patience, so you can sit with whatever is present and act in the context of mindfulness. It helps you tune in to the voice of the soul and let that voice guide you.

Beginning again and again
Finally, after all this waiting, you move through the birth canal and are reborn. This is when the klesha called raga (attachment to pleasure) gets stirred up. Now that you’ve moved away from suffering and death, you’re loath to reexperience it. You may rush to form an attachment to your new identity. Yet if you’re interested in spiritual development, you don’t want to get too comfortable. If spiritual maturity is truly your priority, you must be ready to leave the comfort zone and begin again and again, as many times as it takes. Don’t get distracted by the siren song of raga.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
A spiritual initiation is like a carving knife—it cuts and pierces, but also refines and reshapes you. Initiations allow you to reinvent yourself completely, to give yourself over to something greater. They are windows through which you can glimpse who you really are and what’s possible for you. They’re not just an emotional necessity; they’re a spiritual imperative.

As you learn to recognize and accept the extraordinary power of change and develop the art of surrender, you’ll be rewarded with an awakening of the natural alignment between body, mind, and spirit that already exists within you.
Image and video  hosting by TinyPic

Some Spiritual Laws

1. The Law of Pure Potentiality
The source of all creation is pure consciousness… pure potentiality seeking expression from the un-manifest to the manifest. When we realize that our true self is one of pure potentiality, we align with the power that manifests everything in the universe. 2. The Law of Giving
The universe operates through dynamic exchange…. giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of energy in the universe. And in our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep the abundance of the universe circulating in our lives. 3. The Law of Cause and Effect
Every action generates a force of energy that returns to us in like kind…. what we sow is what we reap. And when we choose actions that bring happiness and success to others, the fruit of our action is happiness and success.4. The law of Least Effort
Nature’s intelligence functions with effortless ease…. with care-freeness, harmony, and love. When we harness the forces of harmony, joy, and love, we create success and good fortune with effortless ease.

5. The Law of Intention and Desire
Inherent in every intention and desire is the mechanics for its fulfillment… intention and desire in the field of pure potentiality have infinite power. When we introduce an intention in the fertile ground of pure potentiality, we put this infinite organizing power to work for us.

6. The Law of Detachment
In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty….. in the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.

7. The Law of Purpose in Life
Everyone has a purpose in life… a unique gift or special talent to give to others. When we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.

ered by Qumana

The Thoughts We Choose

Where your mind lives is where your life is headed.
What you think about most willingly, when you have
nothing else you must think about,
will define the direction of your life.
No matter what may be happening in the world outside of you,
you have the power to choose your own thoughts.
And the thoughts you choose can have an enormous impact.
When all is quiet, when the necessities of the day have been tended to,
when your mind is free of any constraints, what kinds of things
do you think about? The thoughts you have at such times,
the thoughts you choose to think, are the thoughts
that will show you who you truly are.
Steer those thoughts away from anger, limitation, worry and envy.
Direct your mind toward thoughts of love, possibility, confidence,
abundance and generosity.

Whatever may be going on in the outside world, your mind can
live precisely where you choose for it to live.
Choose to let it live in an empowering, life-affirming,
rich and creative place.

Choosing the life you want begins with choosing the thoughts
that will direct you to it. Those thoughts
are yours to choose this very moment.