How a Spiritual Perspective Changes My Experience

How a Spiritual Perspective Changes My Experience

dennis_gaitherLike most of us, as I abide in this realm of perception I have spent much of a lifetime looking out through the filters and limitations of a perspective that tells me I am separate and ultimately alone, that the world is a place filled with dangers where a sense of scarcity and competition rules and where everything that I have, even life itself, can be taken from me in an instant.

I too have tried to buy some sense of security in this world in countless ways:  relationships (or in the avoidance of them!), jobs, roles, and possessions to name but a few. I have built up a certain sense of who I am and what “reality” is.  Never mind that this sense of self and reality is so very malleable over time and from person to person.  Never mind that this way of being would have me imbedded firmly in this world, identified with a physical form called a body, subject to all of the body’s limitations, vulnerabilities and its inevitable end in death.

It is such a fearful perspective from which suffering is inevitable and always seems caused by outside events.  It is part of my human experience, one we all share, to identify myself as body and define myself in terms of that form, by how it looks or what it does. Maintaining such an illusory self-concept requires constant vigilance and vigorous defense. A sure way to trigger upset is to have self-concepts challenged or questioned.  Even one that causes so much pain, such as a sense of victimization, can be defended and held onto as if it were something essential.

From this thought system of separation, the EGO, my prospects can seem very bleak indeed, a life of constant struggle, one problem after another.  The best I can hope for is some compromise in which I might manage my life to avoid pain as well as possible and get what enjoyment I can.  But even in moments of pleasure there is always lurking a fear that it can be taken away in an instant.

According to A Course in Miracles, our tolerance for pain may be great, but it is not without limit and eventually each one of us realizes that “there must be a better way.”  This is a crucial step, because until we are willing to see that our suffering comes from within through our own thought system we will continue to play out our ego-based self concepts, feel helpless, betrayed, angry and in pain.  It is through our willingness for “a better way” and our willingness to take responsibility for our own experience that we can begin our Journey to true healing – a healing of the perception that we are beings separate unto ourselves.

If this ego perspective of the world is not all there is, then what else is there?  And how can I see that world instead of this world that seems so real?  Whatever this other perspective is it is not one that I can see with my eyes in the usual fashion.

Beyond this world of form there is a world of Spirit.  It cannot be perceived with the senses, but it can be experienced when I am willing to question and let go of all that stands in the way of it.  The defining emotional state of the world of form and separation is fear while that of Spirit is love.  The path of awakening then is one of letting go of all of the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence

I am here today having an experience of being in this body, in this world.  But I also have a growing awareness of a sense of Self, not at all confined to this body, this place, or this time.  My, and our, awareness may be limited only to our bodily experience but we are having a spiritual experience nonetheless.

There is in each of us a part of our mind that does remember our true nature as Spirit, our Oneness with all that is.  It is called by many names:  Higher Power, Higher Self, Holy Spirit, Christ Consciousness, Buddha Nature, AtmanThe words themselves are not important except as symbols that point toward an experience of a Oneness and Love that does exist within each of us no matter how deeply it can seem to be buried at times.

It is that realization, that yearning, that calls to us and guides us along our path and helps us to release our blocks to awareness love’s presence – our grievances, resentments, guilts, hurts, wounds and perceived need to be separate and special.  In those sweet instants of deeper awareness, perhaps in special moments with a loved one or child, with nature, in prayer or meditation, or with scripture that connects us with the sacred in us, we notice the contrast between the quiet inner peace of Spirit and the noisy clamor of the ego world.  A deep, long hidden desire to return home, to reconnect with our true essence, our Source, awakens within us.

The Journey home now becomes more intentional, more directed to that one purpose.  We find that we can use every situation as a means to help realize our goal, to awaken from the dream of sickness and separation.  We become more willing to take responsibility for our ego thoughts, look honestly at them and their results, and realize we have another choice.  We learn that we can offer them to our Higher Self perspective to be transformed and healed.

In our confusion and pain we have all said and done unloving things.  This does not change the essence of who we are, but it does greatly affect how we feel about ourselves.  Our attack thoughts and actions do affect us.  They lead us to feel anxious, depressed, guilty, exhausted, alone, separate and physically ill.  The belief in guilt in our minds is mostly kept unconscious and projected onto other persons or situations.  This keeps the sense of guilt out of our awareness, but does not protect us from its effects.   On the contrary, by keeping it unconscious we guarantee that it will continue to produce effects in the form of physical and emotional symptoms.  Undoing the unconscious guilt in our minds by first bringing it into our awareness, releasing the emotional energy of it and then being willing to allow a new understanding from our Higher Self perspective is an essential part of real healing. This process of healing we call forgiveness.

With each forgiveness I experience a sense of peace, of healing.  I see that forgiveness is really not something I am doing for someone else, but something that offers healing to both, that brings me peace and frees me more and more from my own limited perceptions.  As I forgive others, I free myself.  As I see the innocence in others, I know it in myself.  As I extend the Peace of God to others, I experience it for myself.  In offering healing, I receive it.

There is joy in learning to see this world through the eyes of Spirit, recognizing that we are all on a Journey together despite the myriad forms it may take.  In forgiving we feel less angry, fearful and alone.  Instead we see the love, peace and joy that we extend out into the world reflected back to us.  Feeling more complete within ourselves we are more at peace and less in need.  Recognizing that our real home lies within we need not fear its being taken away.  And that is a gift I truly treasure and am profoundly grateful for.

Peace, love, blessings to all,

Dennis Gaither

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What It Means To Be Truly Humble

Lately, I have been exploring the concept of humility. What is it? What does it mean to be truly humble? Is it even possible to be truly humble? If so, how can one achieve this state of being? Why would one even want to achieve this state of being?

I invite you to explore these questions with me now, and let’s begin by attempting to define humility. Webster’s definition goes like this: freedom from pride or arrogance : the quality or state of being humble. Great! That really helps. So, what does humble mean? We defer again to Webster: 1: not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive. 2 : reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission, a humble apology. 3a : ranking low in a hierarchy or scale : insignificant, unpretentious…. This definition strongly implies that we consider ourselves as somehow less than, that we put ourselves in a place of deferring to others, that perhaps we are not as good as others.

I suggest that when we examine the spiritual definition of humility, we walk a different path of meaning, exposing a great paradox. A state of true spiritual humility reveals to us that we know nothing and we are nothing, and that means each and all of us – we are equal on the playing field of life. This state appears to be a difficult place to hold; often met with great resistance. After all, we may say, “haven’t I been on a spiritual path for a long time; embracing meditation, sitting in silence, moving into healing, becoming enlightened, mastering the heart over the mind, reading all the books from the gurus and following their guidance, and even touching that state of bliss?” When we compare ourselves, we may observe that we have mastery where others do not, we perceive that we have risen in importance as evidenced by all those that defer to our great wisdom and seek us out, we can see that all our hard work on the path has led us to become powerful healers, and so on and so on. Yet, all this work for nothing! And, we are nothing!

Yes, when we can fully embrace that we are nothing, we can open to the reality that we are Love. As Christ’s teachings expressed through “The Way of Mastery” state, ….you are created and not the Creator, that you are effect and not cause, that something called Life is not yours, that there is something beyond your capacity of containment and intellectual understanding. ….That Life is what you are. That Life is the presence of God’s Love, the depth of the ocean welling up into the waves of creation.” When we can internalize these concepts through our willingness to let go of our need for egoic grandness, embracing our nothingness, then true grandeur will begin to pour forth into and through us, and we become everything. That is the paradox. Reaching that place, even for a moment, brings us into a state of bliss, and in that sacred moment, we can truly know ourselves.

So I ask myself, then “How can I achieve this state of pure humility?” As I look at the daily unfolding of my life, I become aware that Life presents me with many, many opportunities to practice. Often the practice comes in the form of judging thoughts that might look like this: “I really want him to see how well I solved that problem.” “ I have great wisdom, and they should be able to recognize that.” “I have many friends who truly admire me; I must be special.” “Ah, it feels so good when others ask me for help.” “ I wish I could have said that as well as she did; I’m obviously not as good as she is.” Do you engage in any of those thoughts? You may have your own to contend with. Or, the practice may take the form of humbling experiences. As I age, I am more aware that I can no longer do some of the things I did in my youth, nor am I as fit. I am not remembering things I knew how to do in the past. It takes me longer to learn new things than it used to. I cannot multitask as well as I did before. As I embrace this awareness, I can step into either a moment of judgment, or a moment of deep humility. The choice is always mine.

The truth is that all of these thoughts and experiences do not matter, whether we’re judging them or not. We are all equal in our nothingness, and we are all equal in our everythingness – created by God through Love, becoming beings of Love, and allowing that Love to flow through us to others. All we need do is remember who we truly are, in each and every moment. That is the experience of true humility.