Archive for December, 2008

How You Know When You Are Free

December 30, 2008

A conversation with Jim Dreaver – a Kiwi living in California.

dreaverjimI gave a lecture once at a conference, and afterward, a woman came up to me and asked: “How do you know when you’re free?”

“You just don’t take yourself to be anybody anymore,” I replied. “You no longer hold onto any concept or image of who you are. Therefore, when you look inside yourself there’s no conflict, no darkness, no edges, no more tension, no fear. There’s just this ever-fresh, ever-new experience of clarity, spaciousness, ease.”

“And you always feel like this?” she asked

“Essentially, yes. When realization happens, you know the truth of who and what you are, beyond all the beliefs and stories that previously gave you your identity. And, once you know, you know. Like knowing your name, or where you live, you don’t forget. Even when your body is tired, hurting, or sick, you always feel good inside. In the core of your being, your fundamental peace and well-being remain untouched. And this is true whether you’re waking, sleeping, or dreaming.”

“You’re always happy, then?”

“Not necessarily. If you just suffered a substantial loss—maybe someone you love just died, or maybe you just lost your life savings in a stock market crash, or an investment gone bad—you are not going to be happy. But you will always be at peace. Nothing, not even a great loss, has the power any more to disturb your inner peace and equanimity.”

Her eyes widened. and her face took on a dreamy, faraway look. “It sounds truly wonderful,” she said.

“It’s just being very present,” I said, as I reached out and touched her hand, bringing her back to the now. “It’s not about wonderful states in another dimension. It’s not about being somewhere else. You know you’re free when you realize that there is only the present, this moment now, and you’re always one with it. You’re always at peace with this moment now. You, as an expression of consciousness, are juiced, turned on, by the unfolding of creation in this moment now.”

She breathed deeply, started to relax. But then she frowned. “What about ambition, hopes, dreams, the desire to do something with your life?” Suddenly, her voice rose again. “What happens to all of that?”

“Desire is still there, you’re just no longer attached to it. You still have likes and dislikes, preferences, but they don’t run you anymore. If a desire arises, to make love to your partner, for example, and then it doesn’t happen because he or she says no, there’s no sense of frustration or disappointment. Or if there is, momentarily, you just let it go. It falls away naturally. You’re always in the moment, and there’s always something new and interesting happening in every moment.”

“What about ambition, having a sense of mission or purpose in life?”

“Ambition is there too, it’s just no longer so personal, it no longer comes from the ego. You realize that this body/mind that you, as pure consciousness, are inhabiting, or expressing through, is here to do something. Once you find the freedom that is your true nature, what you are here to do—your personal mission, or destiny—becomes very clear. Startlingly so. Then you set about doing it. The beauty is that you’re no longer worried about success or failure. The joy truly is in the journey.”

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Vernon Howard

December 30, 2008

vh2I really like Vernon Howard. He had a talent for straight-talk.

In 1983 Michael Benner of station KLOS in Los Angeles, California said, “Vernon Howard is one of the most powerful speakers I have ever interviewed. He has an uncanny ability to cut through the fluff and puff and jolt people into seeing who they really are. At times humorous and gentle, at other times demanding and forceful, Vernon Howard holds the record for generating responses to our KLOS talk shows. Not everyone likes his message, but I can’t imagine anyone turning him off.”

Here are some quotes from him:

* You have nothing to do. You have everything to be. People are so confused about what to do with their family affairs, love life, finances, health. And no matter what they do, nothing helps very much. Of course it doesn’t. Nothing can be truly different until the individual is different, really different internally. Doing without being is a dreadful way to spend the day, as millions know. But you can be different.

* Millions love the voice which blames others for their griefs, which is why millions continue to suffer.

* A child was told by several adults to be good. Observing the behavior of the adults, he concluded that goodness consisted of envy, sarcasm, and trickery. Years later, as an adult himself, he was resentful and greatly perplexed. He wondered why a person as good as himself should attract so much unhappiness.

* Anyone can conceal anger, but the spiritual hero is one who ends its cause, which is unconscious egotism.

* A clear understanding of negative emotions dismisses them.

* A truly strong person does not need the approval of others any more than a lion needs the approval of sheep.

* All forms of self-defeating behavior are unseen and unconscious, which is why their existence is denied.

* Beauty is only skin deep, but it’s a valuable asset if you’re poor or haven’t any sense.

* Freedom begins as we become conscious of it.

* It is a true miracle when a man finally sees himself as his only opposition.

* Learn to see things as they really are, not as we imagine they are.

* Our freedom can be measured by the number of things we can walk away from.

* Quit thinking that you must halt before the barrier of inner negativity. You need not. You can crash through… whatever we see a negative state, that is where we can destroy it.

* Remember above all that mental stability comes by examining the contents of the mind, not by avoidance.

* Truth is not a matter of personal viewpoint.

* You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.

Quotes from Chuang Tsu

December 30, 2008

zhuangzi9664“The birth of a man is the birth of his sorrow. The longer he lives, the more stupid he becomes, because his anxiety to avoid unavoidable death becomes more and more acute. What bitterness! He lives for what is always out of reach! His thirst for survival in the future makes him incapable of living in the present.”

Chuang Tsu also said, “All theories are false.” This statement is about theories relating to life. It is such a clever summary of Jnana Yoga. The intellect is a mechanism that operates with fragments and parts and points of view and thus cannot see the whole. The whole cannot be found by analysing parts, except to discard them. Wholeness is found prior to the arising of the intellect, as Being, the silent consciousness that observes the functioning of the mind and its contents.

Churches Duel Over Dog Souls

December 21, 2008

These churches are across from each other on a busy street. This is hilarious!

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Lord Ram and His Wife Sita

December 20, 2008

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Quote

December 20, 2008

When I was young, I admired clever people.
Now that I am old, I admire kind people.

– Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

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Perfectionism

December 9, 2008

On Sunday I went to a fair in Milford and had my palm read. The lady who did it was actually very good. She said that I am a perfectionist. Strangely enough I had heard this same comment while working with Ana Barner, a Voice Dialogue facilitator, a few weeks ago. Before then I never considered myself a perfectionist.

So I looked it up and have to admit that in some ways I am a perfectionist. I do aspire to being a perfect yogi. There is nothing wrong with aiming for perfection when it is done consciously. The problem is when perfectionism is unconscious and is an imbalance in the personality.

For example, appropriate perfectionism would be, “I am aiming for an A in my exams. I am working hard for it, but if I don’t get it then it won’t be the end of the world.” Imbalanced perfectionism would be, “I must get an A in my exams. If I don’t get an A then what is pointing in continuing my studies? People who get B passes are stupid and lazy.”

Imbalanced perfectionism is indicative of a disowned self – ie the opposite quality in us is repressed. The opposite character to the perfectionist is someone who doesn’t mind imperfection. Someone who is at ease with imperfection may appear as easy-going, unaware, lazy or slobish depending upon what the standard of perfection is applied to.

Someone who embodies our disowned selves is likely to annoy us, because they represent something that we don’t like about ourselves. Someone who is a perfectionist in the use of the English language may be highly irritated by a spelling misteak and have alot of judgement and criticism towards these people. These unhappy feelings are unnecessary.

One of the interesting things about disowned selves is how they show up in our lives. Subconsciously we attract them into our lives to be integrated. The more polarised we are in one direction, the more powerful the other direction will appear in our lives. The higher the peak of a wave, the lower the trough, and they always exist side by side. Our disowned selves often appear in the people who are close to us.

The trick is flexibility. If we are flexible and aware of our perfectionism, then we know when it is appropriate and when it isn’t. When our inflexible attitude generates anger, intolerance, frustration and other unhappy feelings, then we know that we have parts within us that need addressing.

I recommend Voice Dialogue by Drs Hal and Sidra Stone for getting unstuck from happiness-killing habits like perfectionism and also the Demartini Method by Dr. John Demartini.

Here is a perfectionism test. You can take it online here.

1. In general, the prospect of making a mistake angers me.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

2. I am frequently disappointed in my mate/friends/kids/co-workers. – Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

3. I get impatient with people around me – they always screw up in one way or another.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

4. It seems that my mate (or friends, if you’ve never had a partner) always falls short of satisfying me. S/he always misses the little details and nothing is done just right.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

5. If I make a mistake, others will think that I am incapable.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

6. I believe that if I do things badly, others will reject me.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

7. My partner is likely to reject me at some point unless I am better (smarter, better looking, etc.) than any other potential mate.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

8. With most tasks, I feel that there is a “right” way and a “wrong” way to do them and I am not comfortable with alternative ways of getting them done.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

9. I have been told by people around me that I focus on the problems in life and, even if everything is okay, I will always find something that bothers me.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

10. I would rather work harder and do things myself then delegate tasks to other people.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

11. Being ‘average’ is a terrible thought for me.
– Completely true
– Mostly true
– Somewhat true/ somewhat false
– Mostly false
– Completely false

12. I usually/often/sometimes/rarely/never feel that my loved ones are focusing on my imperfections.

13. I usually/often/sometimes/rarely/never find that I am angry with myself because I cannot tackle all that I need/want to do (household renovations, weed the garden, clean the car, further my education, etc.).

14. You are taking a class in which your work is typically excellent. The teacher has repeatedly commented on the quality of your work. For one of the smaller projects, you receive above average (but not exceptional) results. The comment from the teacher is a straightforward, “good work”. How do you most likely feel?

– Upset or angry with myself for not having done better work
– Upset or angry with the teacher for not recognizing my excellent efforts
– Slightly disappointed that I didn’t excel this time
– Satisfied that I did well enough
– Very disappointed in myself
– Totally elated with my efforts and the praise

15. When my plans don’t go as I envision, I
– get extremely stressed out.
– get very stressed out.
– get somewhat stressed out.
– get a little bit stressed out.
– don’t experience any stress reaction.

Keep Cool Till After School with Olly Olsen

December 8, 2008

Flashback – Child Of The Eighties by Maria Hand.

Did Santa ever leave you a Viewmaster under the Christmas tree? If you don’t know what I’m talking about then maybe this story isn’t for you. If you do, then please accompany me on my stroll down memory lane.

Are you an eighties child? Are you a Kiwi child of the eighties? – the days when we’d “keep cool till after school”.

I write this as a loud and proud eighties child. I was born in Timaru in 1978 and though I’m not claiming to be typical of all kiwi kids of my era, I’m betting that a lot of these memories are common from Cape Reinga to the Bluff.

hangingI’ll try to take this in a chronological fashion. My earliest memory is kindy. Picture this, I’m swinging on the tyre swings, probably wearing corduroy knickerbockers, red patent leather shoes and singing “Believe it or not I’m walking on air, I never thought I could feel so fre-e-eeee!”

I’m jumping ahead, hopscotch-like, to primary school. At “Playlunch” we’d play elastics, marbles and have double-Dutch Jump rope for heart days.

And (okay I’m probably speaking mainly for the female half of the population) after school we’d groom our My Little Ponies or plait the hair on our Cabbage Patch kids. Watch Jem and the Holograms on the box, colour in our Rainbow Brite colouring-in book with help from a Crayola crayon carousel.

If we were allowed up late enough we might have watched a bit of Macgyver. Charles was in Charge. We had the Huxtable family to impart family values. We liked to invite aliens into the living room like Alf and ET, and when Fame came on the tele’ we’d dance along in our legwarmers, crop tops and sweatbands.

We’d kick around in our jellies, later our kung-fu shoes. Socks were worn blindingly fluorescent and slouched. Our hair was worn up in a banana clip or a side ponytail. The boys would have ratstails if they were really cool. For special occasions, crimping your hair was the way to go to look elegant.

We’d sing along with the AM radio or RTR countdown with Robbie Rakete. Allow me to indulge in constructing my compilation cassette tape (we didn’t know about CDs and DVDs back in the “good old days”):”Funky town”, “Locomotion”, “Bad”, “Respectable”, “Walk like an Egyptian”, “Pass the Dutchie”, “Melting Pot”.

smurfs2If I was a good girl at school or at the dental nurse I’d get a reward afterwards. Mum would take me to the BP service station, to get another Smurf to add to my collection.

This story screamed out to me to be written. I was in Wild Pair (a shoestore) the other day and couldn’t help but get misty-eyed with memories looking at their array of psychedelic legwarmers. I looked in the paper and saw women’s group, When the Cats Away, are back touring. The radio has been pumping out remakes of 80s classics like “Up-town girl” and “When the going gets tough”.

transformer3Transformers, more than meets the eye

I consulted with a friend about his experience as a boy of the 80s. “Transformers define the 80s for me – and the Dark Crystal,” he said. He openly told me that he was into all those macho bands like Poison and Guns ‘n Roses. “Those guys had huge hair but were considered tough”. Ian would read pick-a-path books, was a member of the Christchurch Star’s Starlets Club. He had a banana seat on his bike but his bike was not adorned with “spokie dokies” as he thought they were “geeky”.

Ian laments that in “the 80s seemed to go on forever and now it’s all downhill”.

Ah yes, those golden days of Telethons, back when we still called KFC “Kentucky Fried Chicken” and I made my television debut as a home viewer on Sale of the Century. (You don’t remember me do you? Well how about Steve Parr and Judith Kirk?)

Milk was cheap and milkmen dressed up as Count Homogenised (at least mine did!). A hot day would boost sales of polar pops and those blurples that made your mouth turn all sorts of vulgar colours your Mum hated.

Children had Supergran and Constable Keith and Sniff as role models and all we had to worry us was things like: Does the man in the yellow hat have a name? What is McGyver’s christian name and does the evil Murdoch have a cat’s share of lives? What does the Muppet Babies’ “nanny” look like beyond her green and purple striped socks?

We didn’t need Kleenex tissue softness, for we had the Care Bears who lived in the clouds. Our models ate trumpets and one was even crowned Miss Universe.

Those days are gone, my friend, but just like Halley’s Comet will make their comeback.