This month ends another year on our calendar. We have one last month of 2008, and then it's on to 2009. Can we make the most of ending this year on a high note, before moving on to the next year of our life?
If you are a regular reader of the blog, and especially if you are taking the course Living in the Truth of the Present Moment through email, you know that I keep emphasizing the importance of maintaining a positive outlook, a positive approach, positive responses to things, positive thoughts, and positive feelings--all of which are available only in the present moment.
In the course, we not only explain what needs to be done, but how to actually do it in our own life.
After discovering the principles of Truth as a teenager in Mississippi during the early sixties, and after sharing these same principles with others around the world since the beginning of my original course through mail in 1975, I have seen one thing very clearly: it is not enough to merely "know about" or to "agree with" the principles in theory.
The only thing that is actually relevant is: are we actually applying the principles of Truth in our life right now, as it manifests in this current moment?
Too many people know about, and even teach others about, the principles of Truth, yet few actually apply them in all situations and circumstances, and in all aspects of relationships, all the time. Yet this is the goal--consistency in practice. Mere theory or philosophy is not enough, no matter how brilliant we might be.
Okay, as is our custom, we will now present a few of the questions and answers from the "comments" following the last entry. I truly appreciate all of your contributions, and I feel that our dialogue has been excellent since beginning in July. There is a lot in the
"comments" following all the entries that each person on earth can relate to in some way or another if they contemplate how the principles apply to their own life.
If you are new here, I recommend reading all the previous entries as well as the "comments" following each entry, as there is a lot of great stuff to contemplate. The dialogue has been exquisite. The easiest way to read comments under each entry is to simply click on the title of the entry, and then all the comments that follow it will be presented in large type. Now on to some questions and answers:
Michael: What place do faith, hope, and love hold in sadhana? Do you see them as virtues to cultivate, as ongoing practices that gentle the mind and open the heart, and/or as processes that will eventually culminate as the last samskara is discharged?
DRB: This is one of the most challenging questions I have received yet, Michael. Leave it to you. I had to get out my dictionary.
Looking up "faith," my dictionary says: "1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing. 2. Belief not based on logical proof or material evidence."
According to these two definitions of faith, I'd say it is definitely a virtue to cultivate this quality. First of all, it is most important to have faith in our own Self, in our own value and worthiness; secondly, we can develop faith in the source of our spiritual inspiration, and the great value of the principles of truth; third, we can have faith in the community of seekers that we are a part of, and give up any sense of being alone on the path, or of isolation from loved ones.
If I were to add another valuable use for faith, I'd say we need to develop faith in the goodness of our lives, and in the truth that only good will come to us and our loved ones, and that everything happens for the best.
Moving along to "hope," my dictionary says: "1. To wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment. 2. To expect or desire."
Well, hope doesn't look very hopeful for spiritual purposes, if we go by the dictionary definition. For spiritual growth and maturity we need to be free from wishes, expectations, and desires.
Many people unfortunately substitute "hope" for "faith," and "hope" that the best thing happens, uncertain of whether it will or not, instead of having a firm faith that everything happens for the best, with a firm certainty.
So, for the most part, we can learn to be free from hope and replace it with positive affirmation. Generally speaking, to "hope" something happens is to rest in the belief that it very well might not happen. Therefore, for practical purposes, "faith" is much superior to "hope."
My dictionary defines "love," as: "1. An intense affection for another person based on personal or familial ties. 2. An expression of one's affection."
I don't particularly like this definition of love, at least in terms of spiritual work. The dictionary definition seems to refer to the common melodramatic uses of love, which often result in attachment, obsession, possessiveness, jealousy, and all that gunk that the sooner we are free from the better.
From a spiritual perspective, love is the feeling that arises when we experience our oneness, or at-one-ment, with another. When you and I experience our oneness, love arises between us. If an entire group feels its oneness, as we used to experience at our weekend workshops, then a feeling of great love arises among the entire group. My teacher used to say that love is the secret sensation of the Self. That is certainly as good a definition as I have ever come upon.
Mely: Talking about love...
What does it mean to love? Where does love come from? Why is love related to the heart? Is love only in the heart?
DRB: As far as what does it mean to love, my answer is that it means to tune into the love that already exists deep in the heart center. As we will explore in the section of the course focusing on love, we do not use love as a verb. I have yet to witness anyone demonstrate what they do to "love" someone. All you can do is tune into your own inner love, which already exists in all its fullness.
Love does not go anywhere. We simply become unaware of the love already in the heart by focusing the mind on mundane matters that seem momentarily important yet only contract and limit our experience of the moment.
Where does love come from? Love does not come from anywhere. Love is already here. Love is already present even before our first thought arises. Everything comes from love. Everything starts with and ends in love. We live in an ocean of love, and asking where does it come from is like a fish asking where water comes from.
We have no better chance of intellectually understanding where love comes from than a fish has of understanding the source of water.
Why is love related to the heart, and is love just in the heart? We are not referring to the physical heart here, although there is a connection. In yogic terminology, we are referring to the heart chakra, the heart center, which is the center of love in the individual. When we fully feel our love, our heart swells with the sweetness of love. Love is not just in the heart. Love is all-pervasive and eternal. It's just that the individual experiences love in the area of the heart--corresponding to the heart chakra, which is the inner energy vortex where love is centered.
We will explore love in depth in the lessons, and there is much to understand about it. We are limited in how much we can discuss it in a blog, but we've made a good start.
Teri: I have just recently come across your writings for the first time, and for some reason your teachings, even the title of your course, remind me of Eckhart Tolle and his work. Would you say that your teachings are similar?
DRB: I had to laugh when I read that, Teri. I remember a few years ago, when Tolle's first book came out, so many people wrote me to say something like, "The fellow who wrote this book is obviously someone who has been taking your course and attending your workshops. Everything he says sounds like it came from you."
Amusingly enough, the first time I actually heard one of Tolle's talks, several years after first hearing of him, I truly did have to laugh, because it sounded like hearing myself talk with a British/German accent. He actually was speaking very similar ideas to what I had been writing in my course since 1975.
Anyway, obviously, I have a great appreciation for Tolle and the work he does. The amount of preparatory work he did in the broadcasts with Oprah has opened many to the idea of inner work who might have only recently glimpsed for the first time what is truly possible for us in this lifetime, and the incredible potential that lies ahead for those who are willing to seek the Truth wherever it leads them.
I am happy there are people like Tolle out there now still traveling and giving programs and meeting with people. I did those things from 1975-2000, and now I am happy to sit here and work with folks online and let people like him do the legwork, so to speak.
I am sure if the two of us were to ever meet, we would share a lot of laughter together.
There are definite similarities between our style and teachings, yet we also each have our specialties. He goes into some stuff that I don't get into, and I emphasize some things--such as the creative power of thought and the even greater power of focused attention--that he doesn't go into that I know of.
We had different teachers and different backgrounds, and so of course we would have different strengths. I appreciate his work, and I imagine if he ever were to actually read something I wrote, he'd appreciate mine as well.
At least he hasn't yet had anyone create an anti-Tolle site, or an ex-Tolle site, or a leaving-Tolle site. That's a pretty outstanding achievement for a modern-day spiritual teacher, during these days when anyone can gossip on the Internet about anything or anybody as though they know what they are talking about.
There are even sites where they lump all spiritual teachers together and spin all the negative stuff about all of them that they can come up with. Now that's wise use of someone's time and energy. That really helps us all; thank you very much for your great contribution.
Our Course of Training available through email is all-inclusive, and excludes no one's way of thinking. Anyone can practice any path or religion and live by the universal principles as taught in the lessons of the course. There is no conflict with anyone else. Not only that, no one can rationally argue against any of the principles explored, except by resorting to dogma and blind belief.
The principles as taught in the course are universal, and apply to all times, places, and all people living anywhere on the planet. The course is a handbook for living on the planet during this particular era.
Sara: I have a question about lesson 2 and readjusting our future karma. Say someone tries to drag me into an argument and in working on not reacting, I just watch the drama unfold. However, on the inside every trigger has been pulled and my ego is totally reacting (resentment, anger, etc). So on the outside I appear calm and observing, but sometimes what's going on inside is explosive. I understand that by not reacting and being dragged into someone else's drama, I can change my karma with them, but if the ego is still reacting inwardly against my best wishes, what happens then? How do I work with this?
DRB: Sara, that is a great question. There are just too many people out there who seem to want to drag us into fights and conflicts as soon as they can manage to do so. Egos thrive on doing this. This is particularly difficult to deal with when the person trying to draw us into conflict is our husband or wife or partner or friend or associate.
Most of us were raised by parents who fought through their whole relationship, and many were emotionally abused by parents who, in the name of doing what they thought was best for us, emotionally intimidated us with their anger, frustration, irritation, and downright oppression.
I know I learned at a very early age to keep quiet and out of the way as much as possible. As a child I lived in my own world. I tried to remain aloof and unaffected by my parents' fights, and that aloofness remained with me for many years.
Over time I trained myself not to care about things, especially regarding any hurt feelings or emotional pain I might have. As an adult, I had to deal with chronic depression for many years. I was also deeply reserved and inhibited. At parties, as a young man, I stayed in a corner and watched, with very little active participation with others. I was a loner in every sense of the word.
Fortunately I found a great teacher who worked with me on all these things, and brought me out of myself and finally into the freedom of spontaneous expression, where I could come from the heart without intellectual interference.
Anyway, you are doing very well if you can deal with the triggers of anger and resentment without exploding and being drawn into the argument or fight. People want us to bicker with them, they keep digging at us, doing their best to provoke us. This is a primary feature of the ego, and in most people today the ego has absolute power to control us in any way it is conditioned. The only way to avoid this is to stay away from people altogether. From this one can glimpse the features of monkhood. Of course, for most of us, this is neither practical nor good for our spiritual work, as it is through coming in harmony with others that we grow.
You can become free from being affected by other people in this way, but it requires a great deal of discipline that is usually developed over a period of time. It requires true discipline, not simply the discipline to practice yogic postures or to sit for meditation or to wake up early or eat healthily, or whatever your idea of discipline might be.
True discipline is living according to the principles of Truth in everyday life--from moment to moment--not just thinking about them or agreeing with them or believing in them, for these things in themselves result in no transformation whatsoever.
As I write, I realize the true answer to your question can only be answered through the lessons of the course, where we can progress from one level of understanding to the next, more expanded level of understanding. In this way we move up the ladder of the evolutionary process. We can learn to help, and we can begin helping ourselves simply by not getting in the way and stopping ourselves from learning and growing.
We have to learn to remain centered within, perhaps in the column of light that corresponds to the spine of the physical body. In this column of light there is power to act and create and the strength to remain unaffected by the outer world, including the words and actions of others. The inner column of light is indestructible; if an atomic bomb exploded next to us, the inner column of light would remain unaffected.
There is also the formless light. Being formless, it must logically be all-pervasive. It can't be formless and only take up a little bit of space, otherwise it would have form. When we learn to center our attention in the formless white light, or the golden light within our own being, then we are never dragged into the conflicts and negativities of others. They bounce off us like drops of water in the shower. Yet, like I say, it truly requires a great discipline.
As you progress through the lessons, you will understand more and more what I am speaking of. It will become more clear as you go from one lesson to the next, and you will grow stronger in your practical application of the principles.
Ari: It's been great reading everyone's contribution in these blogs. Sure beats what is being written on some sites on the Internet these days!!! Glad I can focus my good energy and continue to have great experiences with the very same practices others are now bashing.
I do have a question pertaining to our bodies and experiences with pain. With these lessons I have started to incorporate how I think with how I end up feeling with some old injuries I have. I experience some degree of pain in one part of my back and have for years. I am starting to change the way I view this part of my body. Before it was always "I have a bad back, this part of my back is stiff and hurts". Now I am visualizing my back feeling normal and speaking well of my back. Do you think I'm on the right track with that or should I just practice witness consciousness?
DRB: Ari, you already know how I feel about the "bashers" on the Internet. Don't even get me started. I know that everything is an expression of the one God, or the Infinite Omnipresence, but Internet sites bashing the spiritual work that others do are worse than mosquitoes, ticks, and skunks in the grand scheme of thing--just to mention a few of the things I can't grasp why the Infinite decided to manifest as.
I can only believe that their resistance must aid the growth of those who move forward toward the light. Since this current age, Kali Yuga, is the darkest and most spiritually ignorant time to live in, yet the very best time to do spritual work for accelerated advancement, I figure all the bashing sites are simply an aspect of Kali Yuga.
Seems like everyone would just pitch in and help everyone else, instead of having to make a point of being against something, or bothering to point out their opinions regarding flaws and imperfections in others, but that's just me. My teacher said, Anyone who says anything about another person is deluded. To me that is cutting through the BS and resolving everything back to the basic Truth of Being.
How we perceive others is determined by our own conditioning and our own vision. It has much more to say about us than it does about the others we think we speak of. We each use our energy either as we are conditioned or as we consciously choose, and the latter is definitely a great minority.
Regarding the pain, that's a hard one. I'm sure you've heard the story of the woman whose child died and she went to the Buddha and asked him to bring the child back to life. The Buddha told her to go around to all the homes and find a family that had never known death, and he would then be able to help her. After a while the woman came back with renewed understanding, for she could find no homes that had not known death.
It's kind of the same thing with pain. Everyone experiences pain. Dealing with pain would take a whole lesson in itself, if not a whole section of the course. I agree that you are doing the best thing by "seeing" and "feeling" that your body already exists in radiant health. As is explained in the lessons of the course, radiant health is the goal, not simply health.
Focusing on what you actually want is turning on the light; focusing on the pain, or on what you don't want, is like trying to push the darkness out of the room.
From my perspective, pain seems to be a certain aspect of the physical world. Even saints and sages and great beings of all traditions experience pain. The Christ was cruxified on a cross; imagine how that felt. Today there is the persecution of the "bashing sites" that you mentioned. All this persecution sends more pain out into the world. That is their contribution: more pain.
It is not really possible to live in a human body and not experience pain. It simply goes with life in this world. It's as though pain is one of the elements required to make up the physical world--or at least the polarity of pain and pleasure. Probably if we were above experiencing pleasure we would also be able to transcend pain, but that is a discussion far beyond the scope of the blog.
Rico posted a comment regarding Ari's question, and I fully agree with his approach. Rico said, "Since I first injured my back, pain has been a more or less constant companion. I have tried just about every treatment available short of surgery. I've tried visualizing a healthy pain-free back. All of these methods have offered some varying degree of relief, but it never goes away entirely and often when I am physically active the discomfort can be intense.
"After all this time I have finally come to realize that trying to avoid this discomfort or make it go away does no good. I have come to accept it and if not quite make friends with it, at least I don't have an active aversion to it anymore. I do all I can to take care of my back doing hatha yoga and Tai Chi stretching before any physical activity.
"To paraphrase the Buddha, pain is a part of life. Once I stopped trying to avoid it the impact pain had on my experience was greatly diminished."
Rico has sincerely practiced sadhana (spiritual work for greater freedom and expanded awareness) for many years now, and I find his advice to be very wise. We can't really win our war against pain. Better to understand and accept it for what it is, and then focus on something more positive that we actually do want instead (radiant health.)
There are many more comments and questions and answers worth going over, but this seems a good length for a blog entry. For those of you who write that you "can't get enough" this will give you something to focus on for a while. Participants in the course receive a new lesson today, and recently received the Thanksgiving Newsletter. That plus this is plenty to chew on for now.
If you do not take the course by email, and would like to receive a copy of the Thanksgiving Newsletter, simply write us and we will send it to you, free of charge and no questions asked.
If you happen to be among the "bashers" referred to above, who might be checking this out for whatever reason, I invite you to join us here for positive discussion and a positive focus instead. It is easy to get caught up in a wave of being against some teacher or organization, yet that path leads nowhere. To approach true freedom, we must aim for and consciously work toward something positive, some uplifting and expansive conclusion to things, maintaining the possibility of transformation.
There is no future in simply being against something. We serve no purpose through opposition, or through focusing on negavity, limitation, or imperfection of any nature.
Think of what you actually want, on what feels good to you; stop considering what you do not want, or on what feels bad to you. The principle is simple enough that a child can understand and practice it, yet for many of us the actual practice of it seems so elusive.
For now, let's work on what we can do. We can apply the principles of Truth in our own daily life, if we will. Do we have the will to actually do this? It is a question we must each answer for ourselves.
To receive the Thanksgiving Newsletter, or for information about D. R. Butler's Course of Training available through email, write: firstname.lastname@example.org