Spiritual, Religious, Atheist, or Agnostic? All Good!

Posted Posted in My Stories, Other Cool Topics, Spirituality/Religion

Hello, good folks. When I’ve written before about stuff that might be perceived as “spiritual,” I know that some might have thought that I hate religion or judge people that follow a religion. So I’m writing this to make it clear that I definitely, absolutely, positively don’t! I’ll admit that I totally used to, though. I’m sure I’ll talk more about where that comes from, which is actually innocent, sometime down the road. But I want to explain this to make sure we all know that we can choose any path that our heart feels is best. Emphasis on “heart” and “feels.” And that’s your path and nobody else’s. Religion, or at least the versions that I’ve experienced, were just not for me. I grew up Christian, going to Episcopal churches with a touch of Presbyterian in high school. I mean, they had a pretty sweet ski trip to Colorado. My buddy and I would show up to the youth group a couple weeks before the trip, saying, “Hey, we’re back. Let’s go skiing!” The churches I went to are all pretty chill and not very fire-breathing or literal Bible. I mean, they call Episcopalians Whiskey-palians, because when two or more are gathered there’s always a fifth. Bam! And that’s a fifth of liquor for those that didn’t get it… It’s all good, I’m pretty slow with jokes myself.

When I was in 12th grade, I asked my mom and step-dad, who was actually an Episcopalian priest, if I could not go to church anymore. It just wasn’t doing it for me. I knew there was some divine in there, but I had trouble seeing through what I knew in my heart was man made stuff surrounding it. The Sunday service was just dead to me, and I really don’t think it was only the churches that I had been to. I was looking pretty deeply at the situation, so even a church with very lively services wouldn’t have cut the mustard. Whoa, maybe that’s why I’ve never liked mustard? And I wish I did because then I wouldn’t have to scrape it off sandwiches like it’s plutonium. Back to the story… Let’s remember that this is only my personal experience. And it’s neutral! Anyway, my request was granted and I went on my way. And I’m very thankful to Mom and Fred for that.

My take is that your path is your path. There’s only one you, so knock yourself out! Do what you feel is best for you at the time. If you like a religion, or many religions, or more “spiritual” stuff, it’s all good. Just be the best person you can be by following your heart. And this doesn’t mean pleasing everybody else, by the way. Quite the contrary, in fact! It also doesn’t mean being what your ego thinks you should be. Been there, done that. And very recently, too! If you’re atheist, that’s fine. And if you’re agnostic, that’s fine as well. My understanding of agnostic means “I don’t know.” And do you really KNOW?? If you’re honest, probably not. You probably believe, and that’s perfectly fine. These are all just a bunch of words, though, labels trying to describe the truth. I can’t think of much that I know, though, and life is always way better the more that I see that and stop pretending to know. Then I can be shown by something that is way smarter than I am.

A quick word on atheists… I don’t know much about it but my take is that what they really have a problem with is religion. It’s not God that they don’t believe in, but all of the false concepts of God that are out there. That’s why I’m soon going to write a post about my recent shifts with what I’ve come to believe the word “God” is attempting to point to. And for a little preview, I’ve learned that God can be substituted for “all that is.” And does anyone not believe in all that is??

[Pause]

You know what just happened? I remembered that I was pretty darn atheist when I was about 21 years old! I said very confidently that when you die, you turn to dust and that’s it. And then lots of freaky, synchronistic stuff happened that really got my attention. The message was loud and clear: “Hey math boy, you don’t really KNOW what’s up. So stop acting like you do. Chill out and pay attention. Move into “I don’t know” and you will constantly be shown what is true.” So I was agnostic after that. My attitude was, “When I die, I’ll tell you what’s up. And in the meantime, I’ll be a good person and have the best life that I can. End of story.”

And things have just accelerated from there. The last thirteen years or so have been especially ridiculous, and the last couple of months have been even more so. And the last couple of weeks and days even more so! Pretty wild… With practice, I’ve done a better and better job of firing Ashley from being in charge of my peace, and I think the Self that we really are has said something like, “Thank you! Now I can take the reins and show you more and more the truth of what you already are. I know exactly how to get you there. Just stay in “I don’t know,” keep feeling your way from moment to moment, and you will have all that you need exactly when you need it. There is a plan. There is an intelligence in charge. And the real You actually IS that intelligence! Just keep getting out of the way and it will all come to you.” So that’s what I’ve been doing, getting out of the way more and more. And wow, it sure seems to be humming now. And it seems like only the beginning. Of course this is only my path. And your path is your path. And that’s perfect, right now in this moment, exactly as it is. All the best to you on this journey of remembrance of what you really are, always have been, and could never not be. And I’m finally starting to get – barely – that it’s way beyond what we could have ever even imagined. And that’s very, very good news.

Viewing People As… Trees? Yes!

Posted Posted in Other Cool Topics

Recently, we talked about the amazing possibility that all things might actually be neutral, as opposed to an ultimate good or bad. We talked about the things we see as well as our thoughts and feelings. The same applies to our experiences, too, as well as to the events in the world. We might like them or not, but I’m pretty sure there’s no absolute good or bad quality assigned to everything. And I know very well that lots of folks would say that there definitely is absolute good and bad. Have you noticed, though, that some things have moved from one of these categories to the other as you’ve lived your life over the years? Who is the judge, then? And I know that many, many people would say it’s called God or some other name. So… my plan is to address that very soon, possibly even later this week. Because I know this is a very important thing to talk about. For now, though, let’s just acknowledge that almost all of us view the world through some pretty thick lenses. Like me! Neutral means we become more and more aware of the glasses. And as we do, the lenses tend to become clearer and clearer as a result. You can see that this might be a very big deal in terms of our peace…

So after I wrote the post about neutrality, a friend shared a quote from the teacher Ram Dass about how he views people. It’s pretty cool, and it fits really well with what we’re talking about, so I thought I’d share it here. In fact, it’s very cool! And if you read it and then instantly see how judgy you are with people, then don’t judge that! Just say, “Wow, this is amazing. This might be fun to play with. This might give me more peace.” Here we go:

“When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You’re too this, or I’m too this.’ That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.”

Isn’t that nice? It’s such an accessible analogy, too, because we’ve all see a ton of trees. And I’ll bet very few of us, if any, has ever been very judgy with a tree. I mean, really?? And feel free to laugh out loud. Or LOL, whichever you prefer… We might like a particular tree or not, but we probably don’t get all emotional or “high and mighty” about it. After all, it’s just a tree! So start to think about this analogy as you notice judgments coming in about the people that you see or think about. Also note that this doesn’t mean that you have to like the person or even hang out with them. What it does mean, though, is that you might have a deeper understanding about why they are the way they are. There’s always a reason. And you don’t even have to know what the reason is, although often you’ll have an intuitive idea. But either way, you will know there is a reason, and that makes a big difference. So while you still might choose to not hang out with the person, you’re making that choice without all the judgment. And the judgment is the toxic stuff that you carry around, so the one that it poisons is you. And who wants that? It is not inner peace, that’s for sure…

Also remember that we always talk here about learning to not judge our judgments (here and here). Because as you read this and then go out into the world, judgments about people will just pop into your head. So rather than getting all contracted about what a bad person you are, or even trying to justify the thought, why not say, “Oh yeah, I remember – that’s just a tree! It might not have gotten enough light. How interesting! I will send that person some love. And I might hang out or not. But I will send love regardless, and I will be in total peace as I do this.” And you will feel much better about the whole thing, and that’s exactly what we want. And it might even inform how you interact with that person. You might have more compassion and understanding, for instance, even while being strong and keeping your boundaries. Pretty cool…

So there you go! Viewing people as trees… who would’ve had that idea? Not me, so I’m glad my friend sent that quote. And the upcoming God post should be interesting, too. It’s funny how I really have tried to dodge the super deep stuff here at this blog, but it’s just not possible. It’s popping up all over the place, more and more all the time. And I’m realizing more and more that that’s why I’m here – to talk about that stuff. But I’m still a super logical math major, too. I like sports. I eat meat. I’m not super visual when I close my eyes. I don’t currently see energy or hear “the other side.” I haven’t had an out of body experience (even though I did the Gateway Voyage Program, aka “conscious camp,” at The Monroe Institute in 2006 to try to have one. I think I tried too hard…). On the surface, I’m a fairly normal dude. But there’s some interesting stuff out there in the world and it’s time to really own that it’s real and talk about it. I know that for me, the result has been WAY more peace. And that rocks! And I have to share. In the meantime, enjoy the walk in the woods. Maybe even go to the mall to walk through a really dense forest if you want to speed things up. And as always, let me know if I can help!

Neutrality

Posted Posted in Other Cool Topics

A friend told me the other night that she had been playing around with “neutrality.” I instantly knew what she meant, because I’ve played around with the same thing. And it is huge! If you want peace, that is… Because the neutrality of all things is, well, a fact. And trust me, I know that it totally doesn’t seem like it here on earth. So let’s talk about this neutrality thing.

If you really, really, really think about it, getting rid of all your beliefs and assumptions for a moment, maybe all things are actually neutral. As opposed to being flat out good or bad. Have you ever noticed how everybody doesn’t exactly agree on what’s good and what’s bad? (Feel free to laugh out loud at that, too). And have you ever noticed how there are things that you once thought were good that you now think are bad, and vice versa? Interesting… What’s more, maybe all thoughts are neutral. And maybe all feelings are neutral. Maybe we actually live in a neutral world, and each of us is constantly superimposing our own unique meaning and judgments onto everything that comes into our awareness. We do it automatically, starting when we’re young children, and we take this fundamental “goodness” or “badness” that we label everything with as fact. I think what’s really going on is that we like certain things and don’t like other things, and this is fine and totally normal. It’s much different than truly believing that things are either good or bad, though, and that this is the absolute truth, period, end of story. That’s heavy, and it creates massive amounts of unnecessary friction in our lives. And it’s not even the truth! If you take an innocent look, you’ll see it more and more. Pretty cool.

When you think about it, nobody can possibly put the same meaning onto the same thing. What I see is not exactly the same as what you see; that’s just not possible. A classic example is two people walking together that see a snake. The first person has a snake phobia (like me) and instantly freezes up, while the other person loves snakes (like my friend) and gets a warm fuzzy. That’s a really obvious example, so I invite you to take a look and see if this still holds true, as fact, in more subtle situations. Just be curious for a while and look for yourself!

You might even notice that you see things differently at different times, depending on how you’re feeling, what’s going on in your life, what stage of life you are in, etc. And you’re looking at the same thing, pondering the same thing. But the “you” that’s doing the looking is different! We are simply creation machines, folks, and very powerful ones at that. All of us. Including you and me. Now. We are superimposing meaning onto everything, all the time. And it’s totally personal, totally unique to us at this very moment, changing all the time as we change. When we’re doing this, what we are seeing is not an absolute reality, folks! But we assume that it is, because our society isn’t evolved enough to teach these fundamental truths in middle school. And it’s really good news that this is not reality, because when we start to consider that, we can start to chill out about things much more. It’s not all black and white, right and wrong. We don’t have to defend how we see things so much. We understand how others see things differently. We might not agree, but it’s all way more okay. We can get along better and compromise more. And maybe not blow up the planet. So we have that going for us…

Now let’s consider our thoughts. Are they are neutral, too? Or do they have this ultimate meaning of good or bad? Or do they just make you feel good or bad. Again, big difference. The more you see that the latter is true, the less you judge your thoughts, which pretty much just pop in your head, anyway. And as I’ve written about here and here, this is huge for your peace! Do you know for a fact that a “bad thought” that just pops in your head (without even asking you) is not okay? Hell no, you don’t! If you’re like most people, though, then you’ve taken this as an obvious assumption your whole life. And then you constantly crucify yourself, because clearly you’re not a very good person because you’re having these bad thoughts or mean thoughts or judgy thoughts or whatever. But does anyone else on the planet notice or even care? Nope! So just learn to watch those thoughts with amusement and let them pass. And they will. And over time, they won’t even pop in your head anymore. And if they do, who cares! They pop right out just as fast; there’s no parking lot for thoughts. As Jack Pransky says in his excellent book Somebody Should Have Told Us, and this quote might not be exact, but very, very close, “It’s not your thoughts that get you in trouble. It’s your thoughts about those thoughts that get you in trouble.” The first thought is actually neutral, but since we don’t know this we don’t just let it pass. We judge it to death. And then we feel terrible. So this is pretty cool, folks – your thoughts are actually neutral. They aren’t good or bad; they’re just thoughts. Obviously some thoughts make you feel better than others, that’s huge. But there’s no ultimate judge deciding that they are good or bad. That just doesn’t exist. Hallelujah!

Finally, what about feelings? Drumroll, please… Yes, they are neutral, too! We might prefer some over others, but as my friend and teacher John Mark Stroud says, a feeling is no different than the color yellow; it’s neutral. Some might like it and some might not. Some might be indifferent. It’s just the color yellow, though, and any meaning is all yours and is totally subject to change as you change. Liking it or not is not the same as some ultimate meaning of good or bad, though. And as hard as it may be to believe, we can actually learn to have an innocent relationship with our feelings, viewing them as exactly what they are: energy that’s flowing through our system and ultimately leaving, allowing us to feel much lighter. You really should consider reading chapter 11 of The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer if you have not, as I recently wrote about. And let me say that feelings can be tricky, understatement of the year… Just keep gently practicing, and read that chapter over and over as needed. And feelings will become less and less of an issue for you as time rolls on.

Now let’s get back to my friend. She teaches yoga, and she’s been viewing her words as she teaches as being neutral. She simply lets them flow without putting the heaviness of “good or bad” onto them. She’s not putting her energy into wondering if she’s saying good stuff or not. Can you feel how much lighter this would be, compared to how heavy we often make things? But here’s the best part: on top of this being a lighter, smoother experience for her, with none of that pressure, what she’s saying has been better than ever before! She has gotten out of the way, simply letting what naturally arises be spoken. Some call this speaking from the heart. Some say that this is the real You talking, which has been there all along, sitting patiently in the background most of the time. So my friend feels less pressure and stress, and the stuff that’s coming out of her mouth is better than it has ever been. Yes, a win-win! A student even told her that her voice sounds different, and in a good way. And the student had no idea that she was playing with neutrality! Also note that her voice was just fine before; there’s just a different energy to it now, a different quality. And this same power, this same ability, this same potential, is within each of us. Including you and me. Right now. Without even lifting a finger. So there you go, there’s a little story of “neutrality.” Explore it, play with it, be curious, and have fun as you’re doing this! And as always, let me know if I can help 🙂