On this site I offer Tips, Tricks, and Wisdom for Living Life!

We Demonstrate Our Truth

Today I would like you to consider these words from Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay Social Arms: “Don’t say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.”

I really only remembered the simplification of this quote, John F. Kennedy attributed to Emerson, which I recall as: “What you do speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you say.” I have always used this as my guiding light in raising my children. I offer this as my most profound lesson whenever I am asked, by a young parent, for guidance.

Thanks Jil111 on Pixabay

Thanks Jil111 on Pixabay

Our children learn from what we do. They are constantly watching. Our words mean very little, but the teachings we impart by the life we demonstrate are innumerable. Our children pay attention from day one to our every expression, each action and reaction, all mannerisms, our words, and how well we love. If you ever want to see what you have taught your children, simply observe the way they interact with the world.

Thanks to Alexas_fotos on Pixabay

Thanks to Alexas_fotos on Pixabay

If they see you lie, they will grow up lying.

If they see you hide something, you have left the store without paying for, they will grow up as thieves.

If they see you show hatred, for any reason, towards another, they will grow up failing to see the worth of others.

If they see you showing loving kindness, your children will naturally be gentle, loving individuals.

If you stereotype others or display bigotry, your children will automatically incorporate these actions into their lives without ever examining them.

I share this because your personal spiritual practice is being observed and emulated by your children. If you are living a life dedicated to becoming more loving, your children will eventually share that commitment. Telling them you love them is not enough. You teach love by demonstrating love. This promise of peace will also be passed on to your grandchildren and their children. What we live, teaches each generation after us. We leave a legacy of the life we live. Whether this is a conscious creation or not is up to us.

Thanks Johnhain on pixabay

Thanks Johnhain on pixabay

I will leave you, on the start of this Labor Day weekend (in the U.S.) to consider these wise words from Thich Nhat Hanh:

“There is a child inside all of us – That child is all future generations.” 

It is imperative that we demonstrate the peace we hope to see, we are anyway so we might as well be conscious about it.

Have an amazing Labor Day if you are in America, if not still make this your best weekend yet.

Love is the Only True Religion

Love is the one true religion, in my humble opinion.

True because Love is the only path to true freedom.

Thanks to tscharlie on Pixabay

Thanks to tscharlie on Pixabay

Consider these thoughts:

Love forgives
    even when I feel hurt
    because forgiveness sets me free.
Love communicates
    since wisdom has taught me
    that Healing is born in dialogue.
Love forgets
    because remembering
    destroys my peace.
Love judges not
    because peace is more important
    than needing to be right.
Love sees Light
    where my hurt
    imagines only darkness.
Love never condemns
    for condemnation is an attempt
    to control what is not mine.
Love sets me free
    by releasing the chains
    that all other choices impose.
Love is the only religion
    which actually delivers the freedom
    all other traditions promise.

Love makes room for everyone by creating a heart which is open and expansive enough to allow for that which I may not agree with and sometimes may not even understand.

Thanks to Jill111 on pixabay

Thanks to Jill111 on pixabay

Think about these words from the great Sufi master Ibn Arabi:

My heart holds within it every form,  
    it contains a pasture for gazelles, 
    a monastery for Christian monks.
There is a temple for idol-worshippers,
    a holy shrine for pilgrims;
There is the table of the Torah,
    and the Book of the Koran.
I follow the religion of Love
    and go whichever way His camel leads me.
This is the true faith;
This is the true religion.

Thanks to alexas_fotos on Pixabay

Thanks to alexas_fotos on Pixabay

I love Maya Angelou’s words in her famous poem, titled Touched by an Angel:

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies  
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

My religion is love,
It’s temple is my heart
For this is the only religion
In which I have ever found
Lasting freedom from the pain
That life serves up on a daily basis.

Finally, I will leave you with another short piece of prose which I penned when I was feeling sad and lonely. This was my hearts response to the question “Why am I so unloved?”

When people disappoint youin love
Choose Love anyway.
When people aggravate you
Choose Love anyway.
When people offend you
Choose Love anyway.
When people disrespect you
Choose Love anyway.
When people fail to Love you
Choose Love anyway.

You can never control other people.
You can never make others
Act the way you want them to,
Choose love anyway;
Because in the choosing
You set yourself free:
Free of the bondage
That your anger,
Your resentment,
Your disappointment offers.

Freedom is not free,
Yet it is a choice
Which costs you nothing;
Nothing real anyway,
Nothing tangible,
Nothing but the swallowing
Of ego’s child: pride.

My religion is Love
For in Love’s embrace
My life is a better place.

I Will Great This Day With Love in my Heart

Here is another post I made in July of 2015. Following a Toastmaster’s Meeting in which my friend John Ruck read the following passage from Og Mandino’s book, The Greatest Salesman in the World, I went home and found this passage. I found it in the book listed as scroll II.
Consider these thoughts: SCROLL 2

I will greet this day with love in my heart.

And how will I do this? Henceforth will I look on all things with love and I will be born again. I will love the sun for it warms my bones; yet I will love the rain for it cleanses my spirit. I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars. I will welcome happiness for it enlarges my heart; yet I will endure sadness for it opens my soul. I will acknowledge rewards for they are my due; yet I will welcome obstacles for they are my challenge.

I will greet this day with love in my heart.

And how will I speak? I will laud mine enemies and they will become friends; I will encourage my friends and they will become brothers. Always will I dig for reasons to applaud; never will I scratch for excuses to gossip. When I am tempted to criticize I will bite on my tongue; when I am moved to praise I will shout from the roofs.

Is it not that birds, the wind, the sea and all of nature speaks with the music of praise for their creator? Cannot I speak with the same music to his children? Henceforth will I remember this secret and it will change my life.

I will greet this day with love in my heart.

And how will I act? I will love all manners of men for each has qualities to be admired even though they be hidden. With love I will tear down the wall of suspicion and hate which they have built round their hearts and in its place will I build bridges so that my love may enter their souls.

I will love the ambitious for they can inspire me! I will love the failures for they can teach me. I will love the kings for they are but human; I will love the meek for they are divine. I will love the rich for they are yet lonely; I will love the poor for they are so many. I will love the young for the faith they hold; I will love the old for the wisdom they share. I will love the beautiful for their eyes of sadness; I will love the ugly for their souls of peace.   love-hearts

I will greet this day with love in my heart.

But how will I react to the actions of others? With love. For just as love is my weapon to open the hearts of men, love is also my shield to repulse the arrows of hate and the spears of anger. Adversity and discouragement will beat against my new shield and become as the softest of rains. My shield will protect me in the market place and sustain me when I am alone. It will uplift me in moments of despair yet it will calm me in time of exultation. It will become stronger and more protective with use until one day I will cast aside and walk unencumbered among all manners of men and, when I do, my name will be raised high on the pyramid of life.

I will greet this day with love in my heart.

And how will I confront each whom I meet? In only one way. In silence and to myself I will address him and say I Love You. Though spoken in silence these words will shine in my eyes, unwrinkle my brow, bring a smile to my lips, and echo in my voice; and his heart will be opened. And who is there who will say nay to my goods when his hearts feels my love?

I will greet this day with love in my heart.

And most of all I will love myself. For when I do I will zealously inspect all things which enter my body, my mind, my soul, and my heart. Never will I overindulge the requests of my flesh; rather I will cherish my body with cleanliness and moderation. Never will I allow my mind to be attracted to evil and despair, rather I will uplift it with the knowledge and wisdom of the ages. Never will I allow my soul to become complacent and satisfied, rather I will feed it with meditation and prayer. Never will I allow my heart to become small and bitter, rather I will share it and it will grow and warm the earth.

I will greet this day with love in my heart.

Henceforth will I love all mankind. From this moment all hate is let from my veins for I have not time to hate, only time to love. From this moment I take the first step required to become a man among men. With love I will increase my sales a hundred-fold and become a great salesman. If I have no other qualities I can succeed with love alone. Without it I will fail though I possess all the knowledge and skills of the world.

I will greet this day with love, and I will succeed.

Mandino, Og. The Greatest Salesman in the World. New York: F. Fell, 1968. Print.

I liked this the first time I read Og Mandino’s excellent book. I liked it the day John Ruck reminded me of it. I liked it when I just read it. Some things are timeless that way.

I may share each of Og Mandino’s scrolls from this timeless book, in the next few days. I think he had keen insight into the ways of functioning as a fully spiritual and fully human being.

It Still Sounds so Easy

I published this piece of prose on July 25th 2007 but it was on a different server and the blog was under a different name, so I doubt there is any record of it, save the possibility of someone, on my list at that time, having kept it because it spoke to them.

I came across this writing today as I was up to 2007 in my overcrowded inbox. As I read it, I found it still speaks to me, today, as much as it did eight years ago, so I thought I would share it again. Besides, there are 20k+ people with whom I interact today, who did not know me eight years ago.

I hope you enjoy this piece. I hope you feel like sharing your thoughts with me, if this speaks to you.

It Sounds So Easy
How much I long to begin each day with a clean slate.
It is my hope.
It is my goal.
Thanks to AdinaVoicu on Pixabay

Thanks to AdinaVoicu on Pixabay


Then our eyes meet.

The autonomic data base, I cannot seem to leave at home,
Starts running,
Starts querying
Offers information
Neither sought
Nor desired.

It is not particularly demanding
Although it does expect that the information offered
Will be accepted
As valid and pertinent.
It has been in charge
For so long,
It’s authority seems non-negotiable.

Thanks to Geralt on Pixabay

Thanks to Geralt on Pixabay

So I have an immediate battle
When I try to look at you
Through new eyes.
These input sensors appear loyal
To this autonomic master
Regardless of my demands, hopes or dreams.

I process so much information
I easily lose all hope of seeing anything,
Most especially anyone
With the eyes of a child.

Our history,
Be it real or imagined,
Fuels an expectancy
Which by all appearances
Seems to be insurmountable.

Thanks to Geralt on Pixabay

Thanks to Geralt on Pixabay

If this stored memory
Has been one of joy
I am immediately
Delighted by your presence.

If I have judged
Our prior interactions
As less than pleasurable,
Then I must claw my way
Through a haze of discontent
To even appear to be open,
To the possibility
Of an affable relationship.

I am told, repeatedly,
By sages and sunsets,
Simply “be here now“.
Leave the past
With each exhale.

Thanks to dakzxz on Pixabay

Thanks to dakzxz on Pixabay

Yet I often find I have no present
Not fully defined by the past.
All of my senses seem to
Conspire to keep me
As I have always been.

I know not to judge you.
I’ve worked at that for years.
Yet, sometimes, the best I can do
Is ignore the flashing lights
And whistles
Which insist on warning me
Or alerting me
To what I can expect
From someone who looks like you
Someone who dresses like you
Someone who talks like you
Someone who smells like you
Someone with your history
As defined by mine.

Thanks to omeralnahi on Pixabay

Thanks to omeralnahi on Pixabay

So, in my quest
To see you with untainted vision
I spend all my time
Begging for forgiveness
For this incessant need
To define,
To intellectualize,
To brandish
My perceived skills
At reading people.

When we meet
And you wonder why
I am not great at small talk
Now you know.
I am battling my own inner voices
Begging for sanity
longing to be free of the past
striving to be fearless about the future;
like a little David
hoping to lay his Goliath
to rest
with gentle love and kindness
instead of WMD’s.

Thanks to Unsplash

Thanks to Unsplash

This inner challenge
Consumes me.
Once the life of the party
Now I carry the party with me
Everywhere I go.

Deeper and deeper
I move to my interior
In search of the “off” switch
In search of the “plug to pull”
On the memory storage
Which demands I see you
Through the lens of yesterday.

So, know that I am not ignoring you
When you ask my opinion
About global warming or the price of gas,
I am merely trying to love you
Without falling prey to the voices
Which insist it is not wise to do so
Because of the way you wear your hair
Or the way you flaunt your insecurities
By accentuating our separateness.

I know the Truth is that you and I are one.
I know, beyond any doubt, that the things
I see in you, which cause my consternation,
Are gifts to me, pointing me to where I
Need to learn to fully love myself.

Thanks to chrystal-e on Pixabay

Thanks to chrystal-e on Pixabay

I am so very grateful
That you are willing to play that part
In my life.

I humbly ask
That you be patient with me
As I learn to love myself more
So that I may show up
As real and as authentic as possible
When our paths next meet.

I know the truth about who you are.

I promise to keep discovering
The truth about who I am.

The Serendipitous Life is the Only Life for Me

One of the things I absolutely love about living this moment to moment experience of life are all the serendipitous things which happen in my life. Many are daily and sometimes they are even hourly.

Thanks to Geralt on Pixabay

Thanks to Geralt on Pixabay

Friday, after I had created my blog post on remembering, I went back to work clearing out old emails from an account which have some old saved letters dating back to February 2007. I had saved them, at the time, because I wanted to evaluate them when time allowed, in the hopes that they could contain some treasures.

Lo and behold, I was discarding an email from February 10th, 2007 when I caught a glimpse of a poem at the bottom of the post. Since I had just been answering some comments on my Mary Oliver post of August 6th, it was a pleasant surprise that this old email contained an Oliver poem entitled, When Death Comes.

With a grin on my face, I want to share that writing here:

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse 

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

Thanks to HeidiNydegger on Pixabay

Thanks to HeidiNydegger on Pixabay

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something 
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life                              Freedom Thanks to
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom; taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

– Mary Oliver, from New and Selected Poems

This writing fits so nicely with the post I wrote on the 6th, where I discussed how important it was to me to live my life in a way which I felt opened the possibility of creating a legacy.  This poem could not be more appropriate for me.

I absolutely love the idea of being married to amazement; being married to life as a groom in a constant bridal dance with every hour of each day.

When I think about how important it is to me that I leave a legacy,

Thanks to Brodammer on Pixabay

Thanks to Brodammer on Pixabay

I find this egoistic ambition pales in comparison to my desire to live each day as a child of amazement.

It certainly amazes me that this email found me, Friday, but then I really do live most days tickled by the way Life shows up when I am an open and willing student.

Thank you to Jerry Katz for sharing this poem.
Thank you to Mary Oliver
for penning these beautiful thoughts.
Mostly, thank you to Love
which keeps my eyes open
to the serendipity
which awaits me at every turn.

The Wisdom of Remembering

When we are still in the process of remembering who and what we are, we can be confused by the appearance of separateness. When we fully recall the Truth of our being, all sense of separation vanishes.

Think about these words from Tomas Stubbs:

Thanks to DasWortgewand on Pixabay

Thanks to DasWortgewand on Pixabay

You see an endless vista of mountain tops poking through the clouds. Hypnotized by belief that you are only the top of the mountain, you hardly even suspect your own depth. From this height it’s no wonder you feel isolated.

All it takes is to stop believing that limitation, and you begin to notice breaks in the cloud. When you stop living from the mind (just from the summit of the mountain), the cloud vanishes to reveal you are something far more vast.

Gradually you realize that the other mountain tops are like you, and eventually that all are connected, just ripples in one ground. Through acceptance of what is, acceptance of non-specialness, our true nature is revealed; To the mountain, the mountain top is just another rock.

Courtesy of JohnPriceOnline on Pixabay

Courtesy of JohnPriceOnline on Pixabay

When we actually awaken to the Truth of our being, we find ourselves like the Aspen tree which looks like a separate manifestation, to the naked eye, but just a little investigation reveals that entire groves of these special trees grow from one underground root system. At the core from which they arise, just as from the soul, which is the Truth of our being, there is only ONE. Everything is a manifestation of that Oneness.

I will leave you with these wise words that Tomas has shared on a page of his at NeverNotHere.com :

“Awakening is a funny thing, it´s never quite what you think it is. Even after the fact. For the longest time it seemed like the essential shift happened in a moment of realization. Now I see that the realization was just a moment of crystallisation, the head finally got what the heart had always been yearning for, what it already knew.

Oh, To Be Like Mary Oliver

I have written before how I long to be like Mary Oliver. Oh, I have no desire to be a woman nor do I dream of possessing any of her physical attributes or accumulations. No, my longing is to have such an amazingly discerning eye, a gifted descriptive mind, and a vocabulary that allows for poetic expression without the groping that typifies my efforts in this arena. My desire is that words may flow from me, documenting observations which I have not even learned how to see, even in my most creative moments.

Thanks to kapa65 on pixabay

Thanks to kapa65 on pixabay

I suppose it is O.K. that I will never be a poet like Mary Oliver. I do not want to fight against “what is,” but I do want to read her book on creating poetry and I want to play with everything she can teach me.

While I expect she will help me learn the structure, in which to share the thoughts I have to convey (the “how”) I am not sure there is any hope for the “what” I’ll say. Perhaps the how will suffice until the what can be developed through time and practice, effort and patience.

I used to think that Mary was merely gifted at seeing nature and describing it in a way that allowed me to feel the feather, hear the song, or taste the air she described, but such an idea falls way short of the magnitude of her talent. True, she can perform the magic of translating what she sees into words which move from a page directly into ones heart, but she can use this talent to convey any human perception she experiences, thereby allowing the blessed readers the opportunity to live vicariously through her five senses and her sense of wisdom and intuition as well. I admire the way she holds nothing back.  Consider just the closing four verses from her poem Black Oaks, which I read in her book Blue Iris:

Today is a day like any other: twenty-four hours, a
           little sunshine, a little rain

Listen, says ambition, nervously shifting her weight from
          one boot to another – why don’t you get going?

For there I am in the mossy shadows, under the trees.

And to tell the truth I don’t want to let go of the wrists
          of idleness, I don’t want to sell my life for money,
          I don’t even want to come in out of the rain.

Thanks to glynn424 on pixabay

Thanks to glynn424 on pixabay

What a gift Mary Oliver’s poetry is to the world. I long to leave some type of legacy as my gift to humanity: not for self-aggrandizement, but for posterity, so that, if only in a small way, I can leave the planet a slightly better place than I found it. I wish I had recognized this desire when I was burning rubber in my twenties, killing brain cells which would be useful now, but alas there is no going back. At sixty it is not too late to find my voice and to leave a piece of me for a world that desperately needs beauty, Light, Love and hope.

This is my wish for this terrific Thursday. I would love to hear yours.

Happiness is a Choice

Today I want to briefly examine happiness versus pleasure. Happiness is such a broad topic; I find it remarkably difficult to approach. In the past when I have discussed happiness I have received considerable criticism, mostly from people who disagreed with my perception of what it means to be happy.

Thank you to Jill111 on Pixabay

Thank you to Jill111 on Pixabay

Happiness is an individual endeavor; to say it is a personal choice seems to rub people the wrong way. Yet, I have to believe that it is just that. While pursuing happiness never seems to work, deciding to be happy regardless of the outer circumstances, is the way I live my life, and that certainly is a choice.

This decision is not the same as saying that I enjoy everything that happens. It merely says that I will not have the calm peace of my soul disrupted by the winds of change.

Consider these words from the Dhammapada:

As solid rock
is unshaken by the wind,
so are those with wisdom undisturbed,
whether by praise or blame.
 
On hearing true teachings
the hearts of those who are receptive
become serene,
like a lake, deep, clear and still.
 
Virtuous beings are unattached.
They do not indulge in heedless speech
about sensual pleasures.
They experience both joy and sorrow
but are possessed by neither.

  • Extracted from A Dhammapada for Contemplation by Ajahn Munindo

I feel like this idea expresses the type of happiness that I choose to experience.

Thanks to Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay

Thanks to Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay

This method of living is not swayed by the highs and lows typically associated with happiness or lack of happiness, it is more of an even keel, a middle way. While I do have some movement, moments were I am very joyous and moments where I feel anger, I move very quickly back to the middle, where happiness, for me, resides.

I think some of the resistance I have noticed when I have written of happiness in the past is because people confuse happiness with pleasure. Consider these words from Thomas Merton:

“Do not look for rest in any pleasure,
because you were not created for pleasure:
you were created for joy.
And if you do not know the difference between pleasure and joy
you have not yet begun to live.”

My life has taught me that the experience of pleasure is fleeting. Addiction to pleasure is one of the quickest ways to live a life filled with pain. One does not have to be particularly spiritual to understand that the pursuit of pleasure leads to a frequent experience of its opposite. Take for example the words of John D. Rockefeller:

“I can think of nothing less pleasurable than a life devoted to pleasure.”

Epictetus understood what I am talking about: “It is the nature of the wise to resist pleasures, but the foolish to be a slave to them.”

When we live life trying to find happiness in the desires of the flesh, whether that be physical pleasure or our ego-based needs, we are destined to live as though we were on a roller coaster, with extreme, though short-lived, highs and deep, painful lows. I have lived that life and found the agony of the lows too excruciating for the highs to ever be worthwhile.

Thanks to Skeeze on Pixabay

Thanks to Skeeze on Pixabay

It is sort of paradoxical that when I stopped pursuing pleasure,
as a means of happiness, life became pleasurable all the time.
There is a certain ecstasy, an inner joy, if you will, which
becomes available to the person who is neither seeking the
highs of physical pleasure nor moved by the lows that necessarily
accompany resistance to “what is.”

Consider these words from the poet Ranier Maria Rilke:

Physical pleasure is a sensual experience no different from pure seeing or the pure sensation with which a fine fruit fills the tongue; it is a great unending experience, which is given us, a knowing of the world, the fullness and the glory of all-knowing. And not our acceptance of it is bad; the bad thing is that most people misuse and squander this experience and apply it as a stimulant at the tired spots of their lives and as distraction instead of a rallying toward exalted moments.

Just as the bumper sticker suggests, Joy is an inside job, and in my humble opinion, happiness is as well. Dada Vaswani understands this:

“Happiness, true happiness, is an inner quality. It is a state of mind. If your mind is at peace, you are happy. If your mind is at peace, but you have nothing else, you can be happy. If you have everything the world can give – pleasure, possessions, power – but lack peace of mind, you can never be happy.”

I suspect that most of us will never enjoy pain, but we can minimize its effect on our peaceful state of mind by dropping all resistance to it. A healthy love of the minute to minute experience of being alive goes a long way to insuring we live each day with a happiness which cannot be obtained through effort, but can be our experience nonetheless. couple-in love

I will leave you with these words as I feel they are worthy of thoughtful consideration:

The greatest pleasure of life is love. – Euripides

Loving life, just as it is, with whatever it brings, is the greatest secret to living in peace I can ever offer.

Gangaji’s Perspective on Our Stories

 

Today we are going to look at some of the teachings of Gangaji, primarily from her book Hidden Treasure – Uncovering the Truth in Your Life Story. Hidden treasure: Uncovering the truth in your own life story. (2011). New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher.

Thanks to Ramdlon on Pixabay

Thanks to Ramdlon on Pixabay

Gangaji takes a slightly different approach to our stories than Byron Katie does. Gangaji teaches that we:

  1. Must discover what our story is
  2. We must extract what serves us in the story
  3. And, ultimately, we must set ourselves free from the story

We must recognize that we all have stories. Consider these words:

What is your story? You discover your story by noticing what you are telling yourself over and over. Notice what you tell yourself about your past, your present, and your future. In order to have any lasting impact, our stories have to be told and retold. All stories have a narrative. Your narrative is what you tell yourself through thoughts and images with accompanying emotions. What is your narrative? You can check right now. It is bound to be familiar. It is natural as human animals with developed cognitive abilities to generate and follow the narrative of our stories. It certainly is not wrong to do so. But it is limiting. It limits attention to events that are forever changing. To discover how your attention is being spent, discover what you habitually say to yourself. Listen to your narrative while suspending belief in it.”

Understanding that we live in our stories, we must analyze them and decide to discard what is false and learn to live by only what is Truthful. Gangaji teaches:

“We mature when we realize that some of the stories cherished as the foundation of our culture are flimsy and insubstantial in truth and are sometimes outrightly false.” 

Thanks to Stefan Kunze on Unsplash

Thanks to Stefan Kunze on Unsplash

Part of this recognition process is noticing where we carry our stories in our bodies. Here is what Gangaji says about this:

We recognize the location of the story in our flesh and emotions. From this recognition choice is born. We have most often either chosen to continue the given story or to rebel against that story. Naturally we have been thrilled to realize that we can choose to live a different story, one we feel more in alignment with. There is yet another choice. We have the capacity to take a moment and release all stories. We can experience what it means to be nobody, uncovered even by our primary identity.”

The Truth is that what is real, our actual Beingness, is free of all story. consider this thought:

“In the core of our beingness we are free of definitions.”

Once we are able to get in touch with the Truth of our Being, we can set ourselves free of the prison that our story has been:

“Unencumbered by our definitions we experience ourselves as conscious intelligence aware of itself as open, endless space. This instant of being storyless is an instant of freedom. For even if our story is filled with light and beauty, to the degree that we define ourselves through that story, we are less free.”

Upon recognizing that we have, in fact, been limited by our stories, we are free to choose life, in what Gangaji terms a “naked” manner:

Thanks to TryJimmy on Pixabay

Thanks to TryJimmy on Pixabay

“After such a moment, choice is present where before we were blindly choiceless. When we are not blinded by the stories that have been created for us, or the stories we create, we can appreciate the mysterious vastness that is holographically present in each moment of any story. We can discover what is and has always been here, throughout whatever rendition of story was being lived or believed. Each of us can take any story from our past, and we can discover the treasure that was hidden only through unquestioning belief in narrowly focused assumptions of the time. Stories can then be profoundly appreciated as displays of multidimensional life expressing itself in all forms.”

Both Gangaji and Byron Katie teach that blindly living from our stories can be destructive. Where Katie teaches we need to drop our stories, altogether, Gangaji finds that there is greater value in recognizing what is True in our stories and keeping that, while discarding everything which we have accepted as truth but no longer serves us.

Both find the awareness that we have been ruled by our stories to be of paramount importance. Here is Gangaji’s thoughts on the matter:
“Just becoming more aware of the stories we live, along with their infinite plotlines and subplots, begins to wake us up. In lucid dreaming, we become aware of ourselves as both in the dream story and outside it. In lucid living, as in lucid dreaming, we are no longer tyrannized by the stories circulating around and inside us. The demon in the nightmare can be faced directly; the flying dream can be enjoyed in its ecstatic moment. As we face ourselves in our stories, we have space for perspective. We can stand back and see our personal story as part of a bigger whole.”

To Gangaji, our story is just one more piece of the overall puzzle which can lead us to the Truth of our being. Understanding which parts of our stories have value can help us discover who and what we are and why we are here.

Consider one more idea from Gangaji which highlights how she feels about the value of our stories:

“You can ask yourself how your inner sense of self is expressed, or has gone unexpressed, in the structure and message of your life story.”

It is vitally important, from both teachers’ perspectives, that we stop blindly telling our stories. It is essential that we recognize which aspects of our lives have been lived, unconsciously, in compliance with these identities which, more often than not, were created for us by our families and other authority figures throughout our early development.

Whether one chooses to discard all stories as being the chains chains-that bindwhich they are or if one decides to pick and choose to keep the parts of the stories which are useful while discarding the ones which are destructive, awareness and conscious decision are the keys to freedom. In either case, blindly telling ones story, to ourselves and to others, serves no useful purpose, and in actuality such practice can lead us deeper into the bowels of imprisonment.

Telling our stories, as the truth of our lives, is habitual. We often do it without thinking. All habitual behaviors keep us from being fully present. For this reason, if the others have not been compelling enough, it is important to stop this tendency, right here and right now. Stopping can be done with no judgment, just an awareness, recognition, and cessation. Ultimately, we are all seeking freedom. Choosing to halt the mindless repetition of our stories moves us one step closer to this goal.

Life Can be Effortless

On July 22nd I hastily posted a Secret entitled: Prayer for an Open Heart and Mind and I mentioned that I would like to share some quotes from authors who addressed this idea that “we are not our stories.”

First off, I apologize to everyone for posting such a poorly written piece. I wrote it in the period of about ten minutes when I realized that midnight was approaching and that I had not posted yet.

Courtesy of 95C on Pixabay

Courtesy of 95C on Pixabay

I was working on the house, all day, trying to get ready for carpet, and had let the time, for writing, slip away. I proofed the short writing, but I missed three or four glaring errors. Sometimes when I proof, my own writing, I read what I was trying to say instead of what I typed. This is why I typically proofread my posts five to six times. I did not take that time, on the 22nd, and the writing reflected my lack of attention.

I have since improved the piece, but it is still in need of work. What is interesting, to me, is that I seldom receive many comments on my writings, yet these poorly assembled thoughts generated no less than six kudos and suggestions. One of these comments was a request for me to share some of the quotes, I had suggested.

I had promised that I would discuss some of the quotes I had in mind, but then my laptop quit and I did not post any writings for the whole following week. Today, I want to share one writer’s reflections concerning our stories.

For now, I want to talk about “The Work” by Byron Katie. If you are familiar with any of her books, Loving What Is, I Need Your Love – Is That True?, A Thousand Names for Joy – Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are or Who Would You Be Without Your Story – Dialogues With Byron Katie, then you have been exposed to what she calls The Work. Byron also has another paperback, Question your Thinking, Change the World: Quotations from Byron Katie and a CD Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie: Four Questions That Will Transform Your Life but I have not read or listened to these two.

Before I explain Byron Katie’s “The Work” I want to say that if I were to make one suggestion for “reading and practice” that I thought should be mandatory for every human being, it would be one of these books. Even a simple, one time, reading of this material, forever changes the reader’s perspective on living life without the pain created by the insistence that we “are” our stories.

Courtesy of Radoan_tanvir on Pixabay

Courtesy of Radoan_tanvir on Pixabay

Following a deep, dark depression, Byron Katie, discovered that when she believed her thoughts, she suffered, but when she didn’t believe them, she did not suffer, and she concluded that this Truth applied to every human being. She realized that suffering was optional. She wrote, “I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment.” And “That joy is in everyone, always.”

Katie’s work consists of asking four questions about every “truth” that makes up our “story.”

  1. Is the story true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that this story is true?
  3. How do you react when you believe your story is true?
  4. Who would you be without the belief that your story is true?

According to Byron, “Without your story, you’re perfectly fine.” On her blog, she shares this excellent worksheet for walking through the four step process for turning around any thoughts which we no longer wish to own: Worksheet for reversing judgment.

According to Ms. Katie, we suffer because we have stories which create suffering when we believe them. Consider these words: “A lover of what is looks forward to everything: life, death, disease, loss, earthquakes, bombs, anything the mind might be tempted to call “bad.” Life will bring us everything we need, to show us what we haven’t undone yet. Nothing outside ourselves can make us suffer. Except for our unquestioned thoughts, every place is paradise.

Any time we are tempted to tell our stories, be it “My father was a critical perfectionist and I was never good enough to please him. My mother was jealous and competed with me. My father is an alcoholic. My mother beat me. My children don’t respect me. My ex is a jerk. I’m too fat. I was a bad mother. I’m not living up to my potential. My boss is a tyrant. My spouse nags and doesn’t show any love and affection.” “I don’t have enough money.” or “My lover rejected me and I’ll never love again. I’m stupid.” life is showing us an area where we are in need of healing.

Thanks to Unsplash

Thanks to Unsplash

I will leave you here for today, as I really think this is enough to consider. Tomorrow, we will look at some of the teachings of Gangaji, another of my favorite authors, and I will share some of her teachings concerning our stories, their significance and the dangers in believing in them.

Until then, ponder the Truth in this statement from Byron Katie and know that our continued telling of and belief in our stories creates all of our suffering: “When you don’t believe your own thinking, life becomes effortless.*

*Katie, B., & Mitchell, S. (2007). A thousand names for joy: Living in harmony with the way things are. New York: Harmony Books.